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Too Bad, Now You’re A Client!


This past week I was reminded of an old joke about a man who dies and goes to Heaven. Finding it a little dull, he asks if he might be allowed to explore the “Other Place,” and is allowed to go down for a visit.

Upon his arrival, the Devil shows him a beautiful cavern filled with soft light and soothing music, incredible food and all kinds of delights, making it almost impossible to choose to spend eternity anywhere else.

Shortly after his visit, the man asks permission to return for eternity to that delightful place. Although permission is granted, he is warned that the decision is final and he can never return to Heaven. But why would he want to, having seen what it is like down below?

Once the gates are closed behind him, the man is shocked to find that the cavern is unbearably hot. The soft light has been replaced by harsh, searing flames. The sumptuous food has been replaced by inedible, unspeakable things and there is terrible pain in place of the delights.

“I don’t understand,” the man yells to the Devil, “Yesterday, you showed me a wonderful, delightful place and today, it’s THIS???”

“Yesterday, you were a prospect,” replies the Devil. “Today, you are a client.”

Some time ago, I hired someone to assist me with a project. I’ll call her Tina. My initial conversations with Tina were enchanting. She talked about really listening to me so she could understand and meet my needs. She talked about weekly communication and working within budgetary and time constraints. She sent me a detailed questionnaire to work on, asking me about my goals for the project and my preferences with regard to several matters, and her contract was serious, but warm and friendly.

I was happily hooked. Then…I became a client.

During the first two weeks, Tina asked me twice to supply her with information I had already provided on her detailed questionnaire. Beginning with the second week, there were no more weekly updates. There were some occasional e-mails about a website access problem she encountered that I needed to fix and a couple offering me some choices for the first phase of the project, but no word about how the project was progressing. The first phase of the project was to be completed within a month, and maybe it was-or maybe the problem delayed its completion, but I had no way of knowing.

Near the end of the second month, I received an e-mailed bill for over 20 total hours of work at the agreed rate. There were no details–no explanation of what had been done for 20 hours or the status of the project. So, I asked for an itemized bill and some communication about the status of our project. Two weeks went by and nothing was sent by her.

I was a prospect. But then, I was in the “Other Place.”

Maybe Tina had been working hard on our project. Maybe she put in a lot more than 20 hours and was kind enough to cut it back for me. Without communication, however, how can I know? And the lack of communication caused me to pull the plug on our relationship.

Too many advisors work without the help they need, and things get delayed or put aside. I’m hoping that for them the message is clear…communicate with your clients. When the news is good, share it. When there are problems or delays, share that, too. Maybe it won’t be heaven for your clients, but it won’t be the “other place” either.

Maybe if Tina had told me she was having problems, things would have been different.

Communicate constantly with your clients, and keep REACHING…


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