BILL CATES: Welcome to the Top Advisor Podcast brought to you by ProudMouth’s Influence Accelerator Academy. I’m your host Bill Cates. In each episode, I interview one of the financial service industries top performers to learn their secrets to sustain success. These short interviews will get right to the heart of what each top advisor is doing to acquire more right fit clients.
You’ll be reminded, renewed, and inspired to take powerful action. You’ll impact more lives and increase your income at the same time. Now onto the show.
With me today is Bryan Sweet. His firm is Sweet Financial Services, and he’s been an advisor since December of 1979. Bryan also coaches advisors in various areas of practice management.
In this episode of Top Advisor Podcast, Bryan and I will be discussing a program he uses to onboard his new clients that he calls the 90 Day Dazzle. And I am confident you will find this concept and Bryan’s execution of this concept extremely helpful. So, Bryan Sweet. Welcome to Top Advisor Podcast.
BRYAN: Great to be here Bill. Thank you for having me.
BILL: Great to have you. I was getting ready to make a joke about your name. It’s sweet to have you, but I’m sure you’ve heard that a few times before.
BRYAN:: Maybe once or twice.
BILL: Yeah, I get the Bill Gates thing. As you know, Bryan, before we get to the topic at hand, a couple of things I’d like to cover, first of all, give us a brief glimpse into your business so everyone listening can get a sense of the context from which you’re coming.
BRYAN: Sure. As you alluded to earlier, we’ve been in business for 42 years. We are in a small town in Minnesota with a population a little over 10,000. We have 16 team members, two interns, and manage approximately a billion dollars.
BILL: That’s wonderful. That’s like the magic number these days.
BRYAN: It really is. Yeah.
BILL: It’s nice to say a billion. Anyway, I know some of the folks listening want to get there. Some of the folks listening have already passed that mark, but in any event, an important part of client engagement, referrals, client acquisition is about your belief in the work that you do.
I like to start these interviews with asking you, what is your client focused belief? Meaning why do you believe in the work that do you, what is the why that keeps you performing as a top advisor now?
BRYAN: I would say it’s because we know what we do for clients really helps people. And our unique process is called The Dream Architect™ and it’s really the intersection of mindset and money. And we really deal with helping people understand all that’s possible and actually trying to dream big. What we’ve found is people when they get older, they don’t dream big anymore. And if we try to get them back to their childhood where you could be anything, and we’ve found that just helping them look at how can they make their life amazing and if anything were possible, what would they like? That’s kind of what The Dream Architect’s all about.
BILL: I like that. And just to follow up to that, I mean, there’s nothing worse than an unfunded dream. Right? So if you get them the dream, then obviously you got to connect the money to that in some way. Right?
BILL: That’s great. Talk to me about this 90 Day Dazzle, right? How did you start this? What is the point of it? Why did you do this? And just give us a starting point for all this?
BRYAN: Absolutely. What we found is that the first 90 days of any new relationship can really make or break the relationship. And so we really want to stand out in the client’s mind, be different and make that initial experience as exceptional as possible. And so that’s essentially why we created it. In simple terms, it’s something our entire team follows. They have every little detail of what happens and they’re really the ones that engineer it.
They have the flexibility to make changes and customize it as we go. And it’s really well thought out. Almost like a defined process that we put people through. You really wouldn’t understand it or think it’s that way when you come in. We try to keep it like orchestrated if you will, as much as possible.
BILL: I’m guessing you don’t tell your brand new clients that we’re going to put you through the 90 Day Dazzle Program, do you?
BRYAN: That wouldn’t be actually one of the words we would use, we would just let them experience it.
BILL: Yeah, that makes sense. So what are, so this is the whole onboarding. I like to call it client onboarding.
And like you said, those first few weeks and months you want to help them feel good about the decision to work with you, right? Sometimes you’re waiting for assets to transfer and there’s a little angst that they might be feeling. So they feel better about that decision. What are some of the specific results or benefits to both you and the clients that you’ve observed over the years, doing this onboarding process of yours?
BRYAN: Probably be the best way to describe it as to actually give you a client example. So we’ve had a client go through the process and obviously the 90 Day Dazzle was part of it. But during that 90 Day Dazzle, one of the things that we do is we create a dream board for the clients. And it’s really an accumulation of all the things that they would love to accomplish over their lifetime.
So one client actually took this to an amazing extent and they traveled and any time they went and accomplished any of the things on their dream board, they had that with them and they would take a picture when they’re on vacation, she wanted to write a book. Whenever one of those things were occurring, they took a picture of it and sent it to us.
So one, we were actually helping them experience it, but they were letting us in on the experience themselves. And the crazy thing about this is they virtually accomplished, literally everything on their dream board. And then she got very sick and has not been able to literally get out of the house, but they’ve got all these great memories that were created and they can look back on those with very fond thoughts.
BILL: Wow. A gift you gave to them by just getting them into that mindset. Right. And to execute on that.
BRYAN: That one always sticks with me.
BILL: Yeah. I mean, I’m thinking, you’re talking about what do you want to accomplish in life? And yet what age clients are you attracting? And are you attracting folks that are a little older, closer to retirement, knowing that people are living longer, you’re giving them a whole expansive of view of the last third of their life or quarter of their life or whatever that might be.
BRYAN: Yeah, we have actually three little niches, I guess, that we work well with, those closer in retirement. We work really closely with business owners and then women in transition, but it really would work with any age it’s really dealing with understanding the background and the why’s and the mindset that you need to have it be effective. So it really has turned out to be quite the attract and repel model. Because a lot of times you start going through this with people and it’s like a little bit of a woo woo, if you will. And people go, that’s not for me. Well, then that wouldn’t really be for us either.
BILL: Yeah. Well, I’m sure that when you generate referrals, introductions, people say, look, they’re going to put you through this process and it’s great. And you’re right. You want to have your value proposition be communicated in a way that attracts the people you want to attract, then repels the others cause it’s not the right fit.
I’m curious about the pandemic. We’re recording this. I want to say as the pandemic is starting to slow down, or wain, we only hope knock on wood, hit my head, but how has the pandemic made you adjust the program if at all? And are there any adjustments that you’ve made that you want to keep now that you’ve done it in a more virtual environment?
BRYAN: Yeah, actually the pandemic I would say is turned out. Unfortunate all the negative things that have happened, but it’s kind of, how do you turn those into positives? We’ve always had a virtual presentation, those kinds of capabilities long before the pandemic, but what it really forced us to look at is if we had a potential client come in, that wasn’t able to come in personally. So we have a really amazing process. If you come in personally, and it got us to realize that we need to create the successional experience for virtual clients. And so how do we create that experience when you can’t be here? So one it’s allowed us to say, instead of only attracting people in a 60 mile radius of where we live and the people that come in one. Now we actually feel comfortable doing this as a nationwide presence, but it’s forced us to one create this virtual office experience so we had a video crew come in and now we can closely replicate the experience that we have when you come in and share that with others.
And that’s been very good, but it’s also then required us to tweak our 90 Day Dazzle because people that aren’t here, you can’t always do the same things. And so we’ve kind of applied it to every process that we have.
BILL: So I want to ask you to go on just a little bit more detail, about two or three, a few of the elements that are actually part of the dazzle program.
But first let’s listen to a quick word from our show sponsor.
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BILL: So with me today is Bryan Sweet of Sweet Financial. We’re talking about onboarding, we’re talking about 90 Day Dazzle. So as promised Bryan, let’s get more specific. Just give us two or three of the things that you do. What are a couple of the elements of the 90 Day Dazzle?
BRYAN: Well , it’s a really multi-phase process.
I think that the most interesting thing with a 90 Day Dazzle is everybody has different things that they think are important, or they want clients to learn. The best part of that process is that my team runs it and controls it. So I don’t have to be involved and they are able to enhance it along the way, and they have the autonomy to do it.
The best lesson I can kind of give in this is that you just need to lay out the vision of what that experience needs to be or what you’re trying to accomplish. And that allows us to one, turn those details over to staff and then it allows the advisors to spend all of their time seeing clients and not having to worry about workflows and processes and things like that.
And so that’s worked out extremely well and each team member knows their particular role and the timing it’s all on our CRM system. So it’s all built into a workflow. So I would just tell you when you build one that fits your particular business, just make sure you get your team involved because there’ll be a lot more creative and be able to customize the experience to that particular client.
BILL: So I’m dying to know at least one thing though. I mean, you talk about you do these things over 90 days, what’s one or two things that, that you would do. Is it a conversation you have about a certain topic? Is it a gift that you send to someone? What, give me a couple of ideas.
BRYAN: One thing we mentioned is the dream board.
BRYAN: But we have little acts of kindness throughout the whole process. We’ll send little gifts. When the clients come in for their experience, I have two people sitting up front. One’s a director of first impressions. So the first thing that they do is instead of greeting them from behind the desk, they actually get up sit on the same side of the table as the client sits down and chats with them. We get all of our client’s preferences so that when they come in the future for the follow-ups during the 90 days, we know exactly what kind of drinks, we know exactly what kind of presents they like. We know the music, we have a three page input sheet that we have that records, all these things. And so when the client comes in or something occurs that a client service person, or just one on the team that’s part of the 90 day dazzle, they can look on that input sheet and know exactly how to customize the experience to them.
BILL: Great. So you have a memory there and you record it and the client goes, wow, how did you remember that?
Well, we wrote it down, but no, well,
BRYAN: we’ve found it’s this, the accumulation of little things that show that you really care about the client and they don’t get that experience at other places. And it just adds up to them feeling very comfortable, which then really creates the relationship where they feel comfortable referring you to others.
BILL: Yeah. That’s great. Have you found that by doing this, once you implement this, that you’re getting more referrals earlier in your new relationships than before you did this.
BRYAN: Yeah one hundred percent. I think one of the things that we’re guilty of is sometimes we wait for the referrals and one of the things I’m training our advisors to do is after they’ve had this magnificent experience, we send out a survey.
A 90 day survey at the absolute end, asking for their input, then that lets us know where we might have dropped the ball, but that’s been a really helpful thing is just kind of learning any nuances at the end.
BILL: Yeah, that’s great. So I always like to ask my guests, what is one thing or maybe two things that you’ve learned about your business or the industry in the past year? Meaning how has Bryan Sweet grown over the past year?
BRYAN: How long of a podcast do we have here? I’ve got a long list, but no, a couple of things that have been reinforced this year is, one would be stop trying to do it all yourself. There’s an amazing book that I’ve read three times now called “Who Versus How”, and it’s written by Ben Hardy with Dan Sullivan’s concepts.
By getting other people involved and complimenting your team, by having people that have opposite strengths of you really is helpful. And I think that’s a big mistake that we do. We simply think we can do it all, or we can always do it better than others. And I’ve just found that the more I turn it over to others and tell them, here’s what it looks like when it’s done right. I’m not going to tell you how to do it, but these are the parameters. People are amazing. People want to do well. People do want to impress you and with people out of the office and just crazy things that have happened because of the pandemic. I’ve just been amazed at how my team has stepped up and taken me out of so many things.
So Bill, if you don’t mind, I got quick thought that maybe you could answer a question I’ve always wanted to ask you. I know you coach and interview other financial advisors with different business models, and I’d like to hear what you think about the client onboarding processes and why it’s important and maybe what other advisors are doing in that area.
BILL: I mean, the first person that I learned about this whole onboarding really was from you, Bryan is the 90 Day Dazzle, but I, since then in, in my interviews and coaching, I’ve learned how powerful this is and that when people decide to work with you, and if they’re, let’s say going into underwriting with life insurance policy or they’re transferring some assets there’s a little angst. There’s a little nervousness. There’s a little uncertainty. Did I pick the right firm? Did I picked the right person? Is it going to go as smoothly as it seems like it will. And so by having this extra bit of contact early on in the relationship it puts people at ease, it makes them realize they made the right decision.
I have coached people, pretty successful folks in this business. They’ll deliver a plan. And then the client doesn’t hear for them for months. And it just doesn’t make sense to me that you’re going to do all this work, this relationship gets built and then where are they now? Right?
This great person came into my life. And for you guys, doing the dream board, and if all of a sudden they didn’t hear from you after doing that, it would just feel like something was missing. So what I’ve learned is that this is the part of the relationship that often many advisors neglect, right?
They there’s the courtship, the client, the prospect experience. And you do a lot to earn the business, right? Provide value, ask good questions. And then you stay in touch with your clients in a great way over time. But it’s that early on, part of the relationship that I’ve found really can make a big difference.
And as you’ve already acknowledged, can generate referrals/ introductions without even asking. Hope that makes sense.
Bryan Sweet, Sweet Financial. Thank you for all you do for the industry, the coaching you do with other advisors, the incredible work you do for your clients, which is what drives me to help you reach more people with the important work you do.
Thank you for being on Top Advisor Podcast today.
BRYAN: It’s been a pleasure Bill. Thanks again.
BILL: This is Bill Cates reminding you that ideas do not make you more successful, only acting on those ideas will bring you the success you desire.
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