Clients look to a broker as a means to finding much-needed capital for their company, and they want to find the broker who can provide them with the best service and lowest rates. This means that making the right first impression can make or break a potential deal and should be taken seriously. Here are six tips for making the best impression you can.
Dress the Part
One of the easiest ways to present a professional appearance to a client is through dress. Most people will make a snap judgment about who you are before you even open your mouth, based solely on the way you’re dressed. You need to make sure you look professional when you’re meeting potential clients in order to earn enough initial trust to carry you smoothly into the start of the conversation.
Don’t go straight into the pitch
Most people don’t want to be sold to. They would rather not spend an extended period of time hearing a sales pitch or being pressured to commit to spending money. Starting off with direct selling also makes clients feel unheard. Instead, start by getting to know them better. What are their current business challenges? What are their hobbies or interests? What drew them to their field? Where are they looking to take their business? This makes people feel like they are valued and heard.
An easy way to establish this feeling of rapport is to take note of what they say and repeat it. This ensures that they understood that they have been heard, and also allows for you to better remember important facts.
Take time to learn the problem
Most clients are coming to a broker because they have a specific problem which prevents them from getting funding through traditional means. Otherwise, they would simply get a loan from a bank. Taking time to learn the exact problems they face can make a client feel like they are speaking with someone that is aware that is aware of their issues and who is more focused on listening than talking.
Once you know what their lending goals are, you can not only make it easier for a client to trust you, but you can also ensure that the rest of the process runs smoothly. The broker is positioned to better represent their interest while they search for a lending option. The simple guideline is to hold off on any pitch until you understand the customer’s pain points clearly.
Ask questions and listen effectively.
The better your understanding of each client, the better you can serve them. Take the time to do a deep dive into their business and their financials. How is their company structured? What type of legal entities are involved in this deal? Who are the principals in each firm and what are their ownership percentages? How has cash flow been over the past 3 years? What assets are available for use as collateral? Are they owned outright or are there other encumbrances on those assets?
This helps the client feel comfortable that you are doing your due diligence. But of equal importance, it allows you to overcome obstacles early in the process. If a deal can’t be done, it is much better to know that and walks away at the outset rather than having it die when you are 90% of the way through underwriting. Similarly, if there is a hidden opportunity for better loan packaging, it is much better to discover it early than to find it out after months of declines from various lenders.
This doesn’t mean give away your services for free, but it does mean to provide significant benefits to clients in addition to those services. Build a strong relationship by giving more than just lending options. Give insights and knowledge. Share tips, ideas, and industry info that pertains to their situation and goals.
This helps them to see you as an expert and someone they can trust. Provide connections unrelated to financing to help further their goals. Who else could help them? Who would be a good client? Who can help them solve part of the problems you’ve uncovered? Each of these provides a benefit for the client beyond the financial and helps ingrain the benefits of a partnership with you.
Finally, it is essential to set expectations on how the work will move forward. Establish clear expectations for next steps and what you will need from the client. This shows a proactive attitude, but also helps to keep the process on track. You will need forms and information from the client, and the more clearly you have established expectations the easier it will be for the client to collect this info beforehand. It keeps the process moving forward and ensures that any snags hit along the way are prepared for.
You only get one chance to make a great first impression. Presenting your self professionally, while still giving the client the sense that you view them as more than just a deal, is a difficult tightrope to walk. If you would like to know more about client meetings and how to best connect with potential clients, we can help. Our weeklong and short-term classes cover client communication, promotion strategies, deal assessment, packaging, and much more.