How would you like to get so many referrals that they’re your number one source of inbound leads? You potentially could—if you’re willing to to take an honest assessment of your approach to service models.

If you’re like many other advisors, you probably segment your clients according to profitability. Then you create a different service model for each segment. The most profitable clients—call them level “A”—get face-to-face quarterly meetings, nice leather-bound financial plans, maybe some football tickets. The B-level clients get vinyl, not real leather, and they can’t sit in the skybox. And down it goes. It’s a very typical model (and yes, I’m exaggerating to prove a point). But I have a problem with it.

Here’s where things get awkward.
If I found out I was a “D” client, why wouldn’t I leave and go someplace where I could be an “A” client? If your book is really segmented “A” through “D,” that means you are intentionally giving suboptimal service to 75% of your clients. In an industry that lives and breathes referrals, how is that supposed to help you grow?

I believe you can make your service model into your number one marketing tool—a true referral-generating machine. But to do it, you have to ditch the idea of segmenting by profitability. Instead, you have to focus on defining your ideal client persona.

You need to really know your clients.
When I ask advisors to describe ideal clients, they often say, “a million dollars in investable assets,” or “a net worth of five million.” But assets tell me nothing. You need to paint a picture in such detail that you can develop strategies tailored to that person. What keeps your clients up at night? How do they like to communicate? And why did they choose you?

Do your clients like to text you rather than come in? Then forget all the extra meeting time and the mahogany offices. Your service model should focus on technology, 24/7 access, and mobile interaction. Train your staff to focus all your resources on delivering that model—instead of dividing your attention among four different service models, where three are intentionally subpar.

Some clients and prospects won’t fit your ideal model. That’s okay. Those outliers represent a huge business-building opportunity; hire a partner or junior advisor to create a different service model for those kinds of clients.

Unleash your secret weapon
Advisors keep trying to fill their pipeline with new prospects they’ve never met before—and ignore the potential of their existing client base. Your client service model is your number one marketing strategy. Focus on one model—your best—and watch the referrals come rolling in. You may not need anything else.