EP 77 | Amplifying Clients’ Voices and Becoming a Referable Advisor with Julie Littlechild

12.29.21 | 0 Market Scale

Julie Littlechild is the Founder and CEO of Absolute Engagement, a company that helps financial advisors and financial advisory firms use client feedback to drive engagement and growth. Julie is committed to leading Absolute Engagement’s research and insights to help financial advisors create a differentiated client experience. She has been twice recognized as one of the 25 Most Influential People in Financial Planning. In addition to her role at Absolute Engagement, Julie is the co-host of the Becoming Referable podcast and the author of The Pursuit of Absolute Engagement. 

Julie joins me today to discuss the value of collecting client feedback. She highlights the relationship between client engagement and business growth, and describes how financial advisors can use feedback from their clients to improve their businesses. She also reveals the leading reasons clients don’t make introductions for financial advisors and shares her advice on encouraging clients to make business referrals.


“Helping clients understand the problems we solve using words that they use becomes the storytelling piece that fuels their willingness to refer.” – Julie Littlechild


This week on The Model FA Podcast: 

        Julie’s career arc and what made her interested in the financial services industry

        Absolute Engagement’s research on investor and client expectations, experience, and referrals

        How financial advisors can bring their clients’ voices to life

        The relationship between deep client engagement and business growth

        How advisors can use client feedback for business development

        Two ways to think about client referrals and the top reasons clients don’t refer business to their financial advisor

        Why being aggressive when asking for referrals doesn’t work most of the time

        An effective way to ask for client referrals and the power of focusing on connectivity

        Using content sharing and the Give-to-Get offer to build connections with prospects

        The beauty of gathering client input and feedback


Resources Mentioned: 

        Book: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t by Jim Collins


Our Favorite Quotes: 

        “Advisors can implement feedback to improve and elevate client experience.” – David DeCelle

        “Aggressive ways of getting introductions can impact your relationship with clients, but if you pour love into a client, they’ll understand that referrals are not the only thing you’re after, and that you care for them as a human.” – David DeCelle

        “If the client is at the center of your business, then their voice needs to be a part of the engagement strategies that you implement.” – Julie Littlechild


Connect with Julie Littlechild: 

        Absolute Engagement

        The Absolute Engagement Blog

        Podcast: Becoming Referable

        Book: The Pursuit of Absolute Engagement: Intentionally Design a Business That Supports the Life You (Really) Want to Live

        Absolute Engagement on LinkedIn

        Julie Littlechild on LinkedIn

        Julie Littlechild on Twitter

        Email: [email protected]


About the Model FA Podcast 

The Model FA podcast is a show for fiduciary financial advisors. In each episode, our host David DeCelle sits down with industry experts, strategic thinkers, and advisors to explore what it takes  to build a successful practice — and have an abundant life in the process. We believe in continuous learning, tactical advice, and strategies that work — no “gotchas” or BS. Join us to hear stories from successful financial advisors, get actionable ideas from experts, and re-discover your drive to build the practice of your dreams.


Did you like this conversation? Then leave us a rating and a review in whatever podcast player you use. We would love your feedback, and your ratings help us reach more advisors with ideas for growing their practices, attracting great clients, and achieving a better quality of life. While you are there, feel free to share your ideas about future podcast guests or topics you’d love to see covered. 

Our Team:

President of Model FA, David DeCelle 


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Julie Littlechild  0:07

We're actually much more interested in what we think of as client input, which is things like what are your clients concerned about? What do they need? Where are some of the unmet needs that you might not be filling? What's their referral behavior? What are their expectations and preferences? The kinds of things you would actually use actively in your business to personalize communications, to have deeper conversations, to expand the scope of the relationship, and this is active stuff that we can use day to day.


David DeCelle  0:42

Welcome Model FAs, David DeCelle here, president of Model FA and host of the Model FA podcast. Really excited for all of you joining us today, and also excited about our guest, Julie Littlechild. She's a founder and CEO of Absolute Engagement, which is a firm that provides innovative technology tools and guidance to help advisors and advisory firms use input from their clients to drive profound engagement and significant growth. Julie has worked with and studied successful financial advisors and their clients more than 20 years, and conducts one of the largest investor research studies to examine exactly what clients need, want, and expect. She's the author of a popular blog, the co-host of the Becoming Referable podcast, and the author of The Pursuit of Absolute Engagement. Julie also sat on the national board of the Financial Planning Association, was twice identified as one of the 25 Most Influential People in Financial Planning, and won the Influencer Award in practice management. She works in the US, Canada, UK, and Europe, and holds an MBA from the University of Toronto. So without further ado, Julie, welcome to the show.


Julie Littlechild  2:00

Thank you. That's a mouthful, that bio.


David DeCelle  2:03

But it's better when someone else reads it compared to if you were to read it, because if you read it, you'd be bragging. But if I read it, I'm just edifying you. So I think it works out well. Awesome. So tell me a little bit about, before we go into some of the topics that we're going to be discussing today, which is giving a voice to your clients, as well as various referral strategies that you deploy with the folks that you work with. I want to learn a little bit more about your background. I know that you've been in the industry for more than 20 years in terms of your current capacity and helping advisors. But what do you do before that, and what got you interested in this industry specifically?


Julie Littlechild  2:45

I mean, I was going down, if I go back far enough, which is a lot of years, I was going down kind of a marketing and PR track. And I had finished undergrad at the time and got a job, and you know that most of these things are never plans. They're happy circumstance. But I met someone who was starting to do some, probably for the first time, some actual research on why advisors succeed, like what sets top producers apart and that kind of thing. And I ended up joining his business, working with that small company for many years, and then just staying in the industry at that point. I'd gone back to get my MBA at some point. But it was, I just became fascinated by the industry and by advisors, and what was possible, and it's morphed over time, but what has been consistent has always been with financial advisors the whole time.


David DeCelle  3:38

Can you unpack a little bit? As I was reading your bio, it mentioned that you conduct one of the largest investor research studies to examine what clients need, want, and expect. Can you tell me a little bit more about that? Like what sort of questions are being asked? Is that an annual thing? Or what sort of cadence is that? And then is that something that folks who are listening today could deploy on their end as well? How does all that stuff work?


Julie Littlechild  4:04

So our industry study we do once a year. And we've actually, I started it in 2008, and I wouldn't say it was every single year. For a period, it was a bit more sporadic, but for sure now, it's every year. And at the time, this is probably my personality, more than anything, I just felt the need to have evidence whenever I talked about anything. It just was something that I kind of live by. So we began to say, look, if we're going to talk to advisors about what they should be doing in how they deliver client experience, or what their clients’ need, surely we need to have some evidence from clients as to what those things are. And so, that began the process. So we go out every year now across North America, we actually split it into a Canadian and US study, but we talked to about 1200 High Net Worth investors and it's a big study. I mean, 100 plus question kind of study, we focus on things like satisfaction, net promoter score, and all of those key metrics, but we dig into the things that might drive higher satisfaction, every aspect of the relationship. We talk about a referral behavior. Each year, there's usually some theme that we dig into in a deeper way, like client reviews. It's very broad based. But it all comes back to client experience and referrals in some way, shape, or form.


David DeCelle  5:22

Awesome. Now, is that something, let's say an advisor is listening to this, and they're like, hey, I want my clients to go through that; I don't have any sort of tool that does that in a scalable way. Is that something that anyone can kind of tag along with?


Julie Littlechild  5:37

Well, our primary business is working with firms and advisors to help them gather feedback and input. So we have — my day job is entirely built around a process to help advisory firms do that separately. So they're not tagging on to the study, although we use it for benchmarking. So whenever our clients are asking questions, we wanted to have the most robust benchmark. You could go down one path and say, well, the benchmark is all clients who've worked with us. The problem is, they're completely self-selected; it’s not actually a particularly robust sample. It's a huge sample, but it's not that robust. And so we always want to have that touchstone so that we can say, this is how you compare to the industry.


David DeCelle  6:21

Okay, so it's a tool for comparison purposes, it's not a tool for advisors to use, and you're helping them do that kind of one to one and see how they stack up, so to speak, to that more generalized sort of data that you're gathering.


Julie Littlechild  6:36

Well, we are with our — so our main program that we run that's a full platform is called Client Insights. And Client Insights is how we work with individual advisors or advisory teams to gather input from their clients. So that is very much a robust process that we take them through to make sure that they've integrated the voice of the client, and then the research becomes the benchmark that we integrate in there.


David DeCelle  6:59

Understood. Okay, cool. So perhaps that parlays well into, I know one of the topics that we want to discuss today is bringing the voice of the clients to life in the business specifically, and I want to chat about how advisors can actually think about doing that. So perhaps, if you can riff for a little bit on, because I don't want to say, well, it's obvious why their voice is important, so talk about, like, why is it that their voice is important to bring to life? And what exactly does that mean? And ultimately, what does it accomplish?


Julie Littlechild  7:31

Well, you're right. I mean, I think when you say it out loud, it sounds entirely obvious, right? That we should, if a business is built around a client, their voice should be prominent. The problem is, it's not. As obvious as that — it's not always done in a robust way. And I think part of the problem is, naturally enough, advisors are very close to their clients, where they have these deep relationships that have built up over many years. And one of the traps that I think we fall into, in that case, is that we start to believe we're a proxy for the individuals that we work with; that we understand their needs, that we don't need that input. And I've always argued that it's not a good idea in a business, and it’s not a good idea in your personal life, either. In no world would you go home and say, hey, honey, I really don't need to ask what you're thinking, because I feel I know. That’s not going to go very far. And so, for all the right reasons, I think we don't necessarily do it in a robust way. But our view is very much that if the client is at the center of the business, then their voice needs to be part of the engagement strategies and growth strategies that we implement. If we don't do that, just by default, we're leading by assumption, and we're human. So assumptions can be outdated or flawed or completely wrong. And that means our strategies might be outdated or flawed or completely wrong. I mean, I think that the logic is simple enough, at the same time, a relatively low percentage of advisors will tell you that they actually have a robust process in place to gather — we separate feedback and input — but to gather those things from their clients, which is, it's curious, I suppose, at best.

David DeCelle  9:07

So if an advisor is gathering this feedback from the folks and being able to give them a voice so that they have an input as to what their experience and the overall process that they're going through, they're able to control that to a degree or at least give that advisor guidance. Outside of obviously making them feel heard, what does that then lead into in terms of, why should an advisor, again, I don't want to say it's obvious, but why should an advisor care? What are they going to do with that information? What do you suggest that folks do?


Julie Littlechild  9:41

There's a few different reasons. One is, as you say, it's the right thing to do for clients, and I think that's a reasonable place to start. So about three quarters of the most engaged clients that we talked to in our research say that having an advisor who invites input in a formal way is actually demonstrating commitment. So, I think we need to listen to that voice. But from a business perspective, what it does, I think, is it allows advisors to not only measure how they're doing, I mean, frankly, that's a nice to have, but really to gather the input that will help them deliver the right offer, the right experience in order to engage clients, and engaged clients refer. So if we want to really draw that connection out, there's a connection to growth and deeper engagement. I think when we talk about feedback, no matter what words we use, I think we often hear things like, well, I'm just asking my clients if they're satisfied. And that's nice, it'll never hurt, and it's a great metric to have. But we're actually much more interested in what we think of as client input, which is things like, what are your clients concerned about? What do they need? Where are some of the unmet needs that you might not be filling? What's their referral behavior? What are their expectations and preferences? The kinds of things you would actually use actively in your business to personalize communications, to have deeper conversation, and to expand the scope of the relationship. And this is active stuff that we can use day to day.


David DeCelle  11:11

Cool. Now, once they get that, or during this process, I would imagine, this isn't a survey that goes out via email when you're working with the advisor directly. This is like one on one meetings, I just want to confirm that, right?


Julie Littlechild  11:24

It's actually a range. An individual advisor, it typically is a survey that we customized to meet their needs, and then slice and dice and drill down the results to client level. A lot of our work is with larger enterprises where we're building much more of a robust voice of the client strategy, which could mean they're doing a quarterly touch base on satisfaction, and they're gathering input before review meetings, and they're gathering input when somebody becomes a client. So it's much more about multiple forms of input at different times throughout the client's life. So, that's the bigger version of it. But largely, when we're working with individuals and advisors and teams, it really does come back to that survey, that tends to give the most cost effective and the best input.


David DeCelle  12:11

Well, what I like about it, I don't know how much you know about Dan Allison on our team.


Julie Littlechild

He’s great.


David DeCelle

Your strategies, I'll say they rhyme, they're very similar. There are some differences. Some folks, and I'm glad that you brought this up, some folks will say, oh, well, I don't know how much feedback I can get; they just became a client last week. I'm like, what? No, no, you're misunderstanding the process. You’re getting hung up on the templated questions that we have as examples. You need to reformulate those questions to be specific to what they just experienced, and meet them where they're at. So in that case, it would be all about their onboarding experience and the discovery process and how they were introduced to you and things like that. So just kind of meeting them where they're at. So I'm glad to hear that you have kind of multiple branches of feedback that you're getting, depending on the stage of that client relationship. So then, an advisor, what I'm gathering so far, if I can kind of reiterate this, as they're getting feedback, the adviser is then able to, of course, implement that feedback, because hopefully, it's not just, hey, yeah, things are awesome. Hopefully, they're politely being constructive, so that you can actually improve, and it's not just a compliment party. So it allows them to improve upon not just the client experience in general, but you brought up a point about how they like to be communicated with. So it's like, okay, certain clients may prefer a phone call or email or text or whatever. So you're able to be hyper personalized to those clients, make a note in your CRM so that you can follow through on that moving forward, and there's a lot of value in a client saying that, and then you doing that with them. Because they're like, okay, David heard me, Julie heard me, and you actually did something about it. So it helps elevate that, I guess, experience to the client. Now, how does this kind of trying to segue a little bit, how does this serve as the beginning stages of a business development tool to be able to grow their business and not just grow their experience?


Julie Littlechild  14:14

For sure. And I think it does both. The way it supports business development, I think, is to some extent, is based on the opportunities that a particular advisor sees. So depending on the business, they might look cross selling opportunities; others might say, absolutely not, that's not even part of the way we think about business, we're focused on referrals, other COIs. But I think that input can be the starting point, and I know Dan and I have talked about this, like we’re in violent agreement on these particular issues that it can be the start of a more targeted effort. In our industry research, we gather a lot of feedback and input on why clients refer, when they don't, how often they do — all of the things that would help us to have a better conversation about referrals. We started asking these questions again back in 2008. And it was almost revolutionary at that point to say, clients aren't referring to help you. I remember coming out with some of these statements; it’s like, you're kidding? And now, of course, we all know that that's the case. So part of it is just based on the psychology of referrals, understanding why people refer and when they don't. Now that's helpful, irrespective of whether you use input or feedback as part of the process. It gives you the insights that you need to focus on the problems that you solve, to help clients spot referral opportunities, to craft and share stories that are meaningful and get shared, to use content to drive referrals. I mean, you don't need feedback for any of those things. But if you do use feedback, what it does is it gets very targeted. So it allows you to say, well, here are the 40% of my clients who think they've referred to me, but I didn't meet anyone. So what's my conversation with those individuals? It will say, clients who have referred, and not even clients, this is Bob, your client. And Bob said he referred you in the last 12 months, and he did that because a friend was having a particular challenge. So you can actually get all the clues you need to have a hyper focused conversation. When we think about referrals, we do think of it in two ways. There's the referrals driven by client input, which we live and die by, but there's also just generally what's driving referrals. And I think that's as helpful a conversation to have, because not everybody's gathering input, of course.


David DeCelle  16:37

Right. Now, I guess I'm smirking, because I'm hoping for some interesting answers. I don't know if it's like open ended, or if it's like on a scale of one to 10, or whatever. But what are some of the most glaring reasons why someone, why a client, would not refer business to their advisor? Because I want to, in case someone's listening, and they're like, oh, crap, I'm doing that right now, maybe that's why I'm not getting referrals. What’s some of the input that you've gotten from clients where you're like, whoa, no wonder why this guy or gal isn't getting any referrals? They're doing this, or they're not doing this.


Julie Littlechild  17:14

Yeah, we tend to look at it in general terms. So I'll give you a couple of answers, I guess there. If we just look at the data, which isn't getting the individual stories and craziness that we hear sometimes, what is clear is that when we ask why you didn't refer, the vast majority, as in 70 or 80% of clients are saying, either I didn't know who to refer, or I just haven't met anyone I thought needed an advisor. And for years, we seemed to labor under this assumption that the reason people don't refer is because they're uncomfortable doing it. It's simply not true. They just don't know who to refer, or they don't spot a referral opportunity, is the language I might use. But that also takes us down the path of why do people refer? Again, a minority say it's because my advisor asked me for a referral; like a small minority. And when you start picking that apart, I think that's where we see the eyebrow raising, kind of the standards we hear, I get paid two ways, and all of these sorts of things. To some extent, I don't know if they'll completely offend anyone. I might not love it, but I'm not going to judge if they're going to offend anyone. But what we can see is they just don't work, frankly. So that should be enough to tell us that we, just, give me the names of your top 10 richest friends. We've heard hysterical stories of people kind of — I mean, I’ll go back years. It was a guy used to visit his clients at home at the time, and he used to joke that he’d pull out a pair of slippers at one point and say, well, I'm just going to get comfortable unless you can give me the name of someone I can contact and all this. Oh, my goodness.


David DeCelle  18:53

I'm laughing on my end, because my first seven years in the business was at Northwestern, and it's a much more salesy, aggressive way to get introductions. And what I would say is that oftentimes, it did work, but more often than not, it changed the vibe of the relationship. What I noticed happening was whenever I would reach out to a client, it was always because I wanted their time, their money, or their network. So when I was always making withdrawals from those relationships, what ended up happening was, they would answer my calls or emails or text messages less, if at all. So I may have gotten those names in the moment, because they felt more uncomfortable than I did, but I paid for that negatively moving forward. So like my take on it, Julie, and I agree, you can't just go straight in for the ask every single time. But I feel like the example I always give is if you open up a bank account, and you put their minimum deposit in and just all you do is you withdraw and you withdraw and you withdraw, they're going to kick you out eventually, because you over drafted on that account. But if you're making way more deposits than you are withdrawals, then that's going to be a healthy banking relationship, and I view it to be the same with clients as well. If you're pouring love into them, and if you are having 50 touch points with them over a year, instead of over 10 years, then they're going to understand, at least what I've found, is that they'll understand if one or two of those 50 touch points, if you ask for something, they know that that's not all you're there for, and that you actually care about them as humans, because you've so overweighted the relational deposits in between those asks. And it's almost like, they're like, oh, yeah, of course, I want to help my friend. But I really like David, too, because he really likes me. So if this helps both people, yeah, I’d be sure — but, that's kind of like the internal dialogue that they have. So that's kind of my take on you can ask, but it needs to be overweighted by what you're doing for them.


Julie Littlechild  21:05

I couldn't agree more. And I would add to that by saying, and then it becomes about how do you ask, and I'll put air quotes around that, in a way that is actually going to lead to action? Because you could have a wonderful relationship with someone and say, look, I'm looking to grow my business, I love working together, if you'd be open to making an introduction, I'd really welcome that. And of course, I would, and everybody's happy. But then they go out in the world, and they don't. And it's not because they're not motivated to and it's not because they wouldn't, but they don't always recognize a referral opportunity. And I think that's where we've got some cool opportunity. Because I mean, if in the same situation, if somebody came up to me and said, do you know a good financial adviser? Let's hope that, the advisors, clients would think of them in that train. If they don't, there's a whole other issue. Now, how they refer, do they make an introduction, how do they actually execute on that? That's a big deal. But the more I think we can help clients understand the problems that we solve in the words that they use, the more they're going to think of us in that moment. And that becomes, in my mind, that's the storytelling piece of it. So if I take it out of the industry and say, look, you're at a restaurant, and the waiter comes up, and you've had a wonderful meal, and you love the guy, and he says, look, if you know anybody who wants a recommendation to a restaurant, can you give them our name? You say, absolutely. The problem is I don't often always meet people who are looking for a good restaurant; maybe I would, maybe I wouldn't. But if that conversation was, I really appreciate that you enjoyed the meal, part of what we do is we follow this kind of 100 mile rule, and our focus is on local, and we want to give back to the community, and this is part of — and on and on. I can tell you in a minute, I can think of people I've had conversations about that with. And so that's the nuance, I think, to help almost pour fuel on what you just talked about, which is their willingness to refer.


Patrick Brewer  23:05

Hey Model FAs, I know you're enjoying this conversation, but I wanted to take a quick break to talk to you about the Model FA Accelerator. This is a unique collaboration between us and you, where we help you build a financial advising practice that you can be proud of. We focus on the foundational concepts around how to pick a niche or a specialization, how to price your services, how to construct an offer that people are going to buy, and then how to market it and sell it in a way that'll get people to sign on the dotted line and become clients of your firm, all while giving you the information to scale and set up workflows and operational processes that will allow you to reclaim your time and build a practice that doesn't run you. So if you'd like to hear more about that, go to www.ModelFA.com/accelerator or www.ModelFA.com. Hover over Work With Us and click on Accelerator. Hope to see you in the program.


David DeCelle  23:55

So I want to run something by you that I do and that some of our clients will do. It's uncomfortable for some folks. I basically want to toss it at you and see what you think. So if executed appropriately and with some grace, I think it can be very, very effective. If done the wrong way, you come off as a salesperson. So, let's just say that I'm niched, I'm niched down, be it business owners, physicians, whoever, and the client I'm talking to is in that niche. So what I found to be helpful is, of course, identifying if they're willing to refer or not, because if they're not, I'm never going to have that conversation with them again, and that's okay. And part of how I suggest folks segment their clients, one of the metrics is, regardless of how much revenue they're generating for you, are they willing to refer and if not, maybe they're not an A plus client. So once I identify that they're able to refer, I'm kind of putting my future and my growth and the people in the community that I'm helping in their hands, if I'm not figuring out a way to be proactive without just saying, who do you know. Because as soon as you say, who do you know, they got 500 names running through their mind. So what I’ve found to be helpful is, if I reached out to you, let's assume that we've been working together for years, have a great relationship, and you're willing to refer and perhaps you even referred someone already. And I reach out to you, and I say, hey, Julie, hope you're doing well, whatever. And then, hey, the reason why I'm giving you a buzz, I'm not sure if this is a long shot or not, but I noticed on LinkedIn that you are connected to this person who's also a business owner in your area. As you know, I primarily work with business owners, and I was planning on reaching out to them, just because I think that they be a great person to know and perhaps I'm able to help them, but didn't know if you actually knew them, so that, in the event that you do, perhaps could help bridge that gap for us. I guess, being on the receiving end of that, rather than I wouldn't show up with a list of like 20 people, oh, I think that you know all these people, and then I'm taking an hour of your time. But if it's more hyper specific, and I focus on, before I bring you that name, I focus on connectivity. So if I see that you both own a business in the same town or city, I see that perhaps you both went to the same college together, and you're both on the board of a particular organization, I know that you know each other, so I increase the likelihood that you'll actually know. How would you feel on the receiving end of that if it was delivered in that way?


Julie Littlechild  26:29

So that works for me, for sure, and I'll tell you why. Well, it's for some of the reasons that you just pointed out. It's targeted, and you made it easy for me. So I mean, half the challenge of would you refer, sure.


David DeCelle  26:44

It’s thinking to someone.


Julie Littlechild  26:47

Honestly, I don't care that much that I'm going to sit down and write down a list of people. And then I have to know, do they need a financial advisor, because this is kind of random, right? I don't know any of that. I don't talk to my friends about that stuff. So the fact that there is a few things in there that I think actually feed nicely, and one is that it was targeted. Two is that, as you've said, you've already built the relationship, so that's a non-issue. But it was actually about value to some extent, depending on how deep you go. Like, it's another business owner, I work with business owners, this is how I can add value. So, even the idea of we know that business owners are dealing with these few challenges, and this is an area that we can really help with. Bingo, because now I want to help my friend with those challenges. I still don't know if they need an advisor, but I might be willing to make a light introduction at that point, or at least connect you. So I have to imagine — I'd be interested in how many people that you see who go to the effort of actually doing all that research. I think that's why a lot of people don't go down this path.


David DeCelle  27:50

So what I'll tell you is, when you first start doing it, it seems like a lot of work. And then you start to get the hang of what data to look at and cross reference. So even to the extent of if there's a business in the same area, they're connected on LinkedIn, they're also friends on Facebook. They know each other, right? So, you’re able to do that in five or ten minutes. The other thing to make it easier for the client, we have a thing that's called give to get offer. And essentially what that is, is think of an entire financial plan is like a pie. All you're doing is you're taking a slice of that pie, and you're offering that to a prospect, or to a client to incentivize a prospect, to meet with you. Something that you're going to do on the house, and it's easy for you to complete, but it's very valuable to them. So as an example, the reason why I thought to reach out to you first before reaching out to this person on my own was because you remember that business valuation that we did a little while ago, and how helpful that was for whatever reason. And they're like, oh, yeah, that was great. Well, I'm planning on offering a handful of those this month for free as a way to meet more business owners in the area. Do you think that this person would appreciate going through that same process that you went through? And if they decided to continue conversations, great. If not, they'll get that same report that you got and walk away with value, but what are your thoughts on that? And I would imagine that that client, knowing that they were delivering value to their friends, would be more likely to bridge the gap for you, as opposed to you calling and saying, hey, John, it’s David, friends of Julie's, and then you're kind of trying to do it yourself.


Julie Littlechild  29:29

Absolutely. And again, to some extent, what you're saying just reflects what we see in the research, which is you have an action. By doing what you just described in the first and second instance there, it's not that you're saying, can you make an introduction because of the work we've done? You're actually suddenly saying, can you make introduction because we think we can help? And here's how we can help. That's a completely different thing. The second thing that you just talked about, which I love that idea, it makes me think of some other data that we pulled in last year’s study which relates to content sharing. So I appreciate that doing a business valuation is not content, but the idea is that when clients refer, they're about three times more likely to share content with people they know. So it's kind of a chicken and egg thing. I think if they have valuable content that is actually targeted to the things they talk to other people about, like business value, tell me business owners who have not had this conversation about what's my business worth? And when am I going to liquidate? It's 100%. So I think that means you get very intentional about the kinds of offers, whether that's an article or something more substantive, like going through a valuation that links back to the problems that people solve. That I'm going to offer. You send me a market update, I might say, that's lovely. Thank you very much, I like it. I think it's interesting. I'm not sending it to anyone.


David DeCelle  30:49

Fair. Okay, cool. So I'm glad that we were able to — so just to reflect so far on the conversation before we transition to the next portion of it — important to get your clients to be able to voice their experience so that you're not making assumptions. There may be some constructive things that they share that help improve the experience across the board, while also making the experience to that particular person hyper specific. The example that we talked about was the way in which they like to be communicated with, or the medium in which I should say; we talked about how that can, in turn, create a more referral experience in general. And then some ways that you can think about asking for introductions more directly, assuming that you're pouring way more love into them than what you're asking for in return; and then empowering that client to be able to offer that prospect something of value so that as a business owner, in this example, their time is valuable. They don't want to just meet someone for the sake of meeting with someone; they want to make sure that that's going to be a valuable use of time. So before we transition over to a segment about one of your favorite books that you want to just talk a little bit about, anything that we missed that you think would be helpful to color in between the lines? Or do you feel as if we did a good job kind of covering the topics that you're passionate about?


Julie Littlechild  32:11

I think that if we tie it right back to the beginning conversation about input, I think, and layer that on, the beauty of having input from clients is it allows you to get hyper targeted on exactly the right client. It takes the guesswork out of who you should be following up with and uncovers that opportunity. So, I think that's where that fits in. But yeah, great conversation.


David DeCelle  32:32

Awesome. So for those of you who are listening, if this is your first episode, I want to give you a sense as to why we go through this next part, and if you've listened to our episodes before, you know the deal. Basically, I find that a lot of advisors, if they are continuously learning, they tend to do so within the confines of our industry, because we want to be in the know with any changes that are going on so we can say on top of it on behalf of clients, of course. I don't want to discount that at all, but I feel like a lot of folks have that tunnel vision where there's so many more things that you can learn, be it from other industries or personal development books or generalized business books, that you can then take and apply to your business or perhaps increase your value proposition to your clients. Because you know about more stuff that you can talk about, as opposed to only talking about financial planning related topics, which in turn, helps you deepen the relationship with them. So we ask all of our guests what one of their favorite books is, and just talk about the impact that it had and some takeaways that they had from that book. So, Julie, you mentioned it's actually one of my favorite books as well, I read this kind of early on in my career, and it just stuck with me. Even though the title itself sticks with you, but it's by Jim Collins, and the title is Good to Great. Tell us a little bit more about why you chose that book and the impact that it's had on you, and perhaps even some of the people that you've served.


Julie Littlechild  33:56

It is in the title, I think. Good to Great impacted me and continues to impact me, I think in a couple of different ways, quite different ways as well. In one sense, it's about mindset. And I don't think this is typically the way people look at it, because it's more of a business book and getting the right people on the bus and the flywheel and all of that. I think there's some interesting conceptual ideas about how we create traction in a business and how we grow a business. But for me, the mindset piece just has to do more with our tendency to be satisfied with good and to get complacent with things if they're ticking along. And even if we went a level deeper to not necessarily take the risks or have the courage to do bigger things. And for me, this has always been a challenge. It's just stepping out and saying, no, we're thinking big here and we're doing it; and I've battled that for so long. So this kind of book for me was a reminder that you're settling if you're not doing that, and when we do that, it's not good for us. It's not good for our family. And for advisors, it's certainly not good for our clients. So I have a deep respect for advisors who continue to innovate, who think outside the box, who are looking, and are students of client experience. So in a way, that's what it represented to me, as much as some of those key concepts which I still live by, like the right people and the flywheel.


David DeCelle  35:26

Right. I love that, and it always makes me think of a saying that someone has shared with me a while ago that has just stuck, which is ‘you're either greening growing, or you're ripe and rotting.’ So if you're not continuously looking to get better, whether that's personally or professionally, you're going the other way. So there's not necessarily a spot in your development or a time in your development where you're like, alright, I made it, I know everything. The folks that continuously learn, those are the folks that opportunities seem to always come their way because their perspective has broadened, and they're able to compile all those great ideas and implement it into whatever it is that they're doing.


Julie Littlechild  36:05

Yeah, absolutely. I wrote a book a few years ago, and the premise of it was really the fact that I was observing advisors. I could see two advisors who had the same size of business, but one was happier, lighter, there was something about them that was different; we wanted to understand that at a deeper level. And I'm also, I think not just in our industry, but we pay a lot of lip service to these things, but you do not have to scratch too far on any entrepreneur to find the vulnerability and the concerns and the worries and the fears. And I think the older I get, which is pretty old now, the more I want people to just talk about this stuff; because for entrepreneurs that are coming up, there's some real stuff to talk about. And this is one of them, just this confidence to say, I'm going to draw a line in the sand, and I'm going to go big, and I want to be great and doing what we can to get there.


David DeCelle  37:03

Love it. Well, I've really enjoyed the conversation. I appreciate you joining. Before we go ahead and sign off, I know, obviously, you have a company in our industry that we've alluded to so far today. You have a podcast, you have a book, all that type of stuff. Can you just share where to find all that stuff? And we'll make sure to link all this stuff in the show notes as well.


Julie Littlechild  37:23

Our home base is the website at AbsoluteEngagement.com, and where we share most of our new research and any new thinking is on the blog. You can also link to it right from AbsoluteEngagement.com. So I think it's the best starting point to access the research or learn about what we do.


David DeCelle  37:40

Awesome. Appreciate it. So with that being said, for those of you who are listening, as you know, we always have just two minor asks for watching the show. And the asks come if and only if you got some value from it. So if you did, feel free, of course, to share this with one of your peers or someone else in the industry that you think would find it valuable. It would really help with the exposure for the show and of course help them in their life and their business as well. And if you would be so kind as to leave us a review on iTunes, that would be fantastic as well. If you took a screenshot of that review and shoot me a text at 978-223-2338, again, it’s 978-223-2338. What will happen is you'll get an automatic reply to just enter in first and last name so that you're added to my contacts, and then beyond that text, it's actually me texting you. So if you do that and just have the screenshot of the review and just put Julie Littlechild in the text as well, what I'll do is I will draw a name and offer you a free 30-minute coaching session as a thank you for doing so. So with that being said, Julie, again, appreciate your time. Go out and check out Julie's website and resources, subscribe to her podcast as well, and hope to chat soon. Julie, thanks for joining.


Julie Littlechild  38:57

Thank you, appreciate it.


David DeCelle