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Practice management: From success to significance

The major theme of Bob Buford's book, Finishing Well, is the difference between "success" and "significance."

Wednesday, July 1st 2009, 12:28PM

Buford writes: "Success commonly means using your knowledge and experience to satisfy yourself with fame and fortune. Significance, however, means using the same knowledge and experience to serve others - that is, to change lives."

There are many things you and your staff can do for each client beyond the sale that will add value to your relationship with them and make a difference in their lives. Consider these examples I learnt from MDRT:

  • Do you provide a financial summary after the sale? How comprehensive is your summary?
  • Do you point out the weaknesses in your client's risk management? Do you give ideas for future consideration?
  • Do you recommend that they see their attorney to write a will, update their will, review or establish trusts, give written directives in case of disability for health and property?
  • Do you suggest a "family love letter" to accompany the client's will spelling out suggestions to survivors that are not included in their will?
  • Do you recommend a "family meeting" and suggestions for the agenda? What about a "fire drill" that assumes the client died yesterday? What will the heirs do?
  • Do you regularly keep in touch with your clients and prospects by means of an "annual review check list" or some other method of automatic follow-up? Each client's life, like your own, is in a constant state of change. You can gain significance in your professional practice if you stay in touch and provide advice as circumstances change.
  • Do you have a system to comfort the bereaved with meaningful condolence notes, a gift of an appropriate book such as Living When a Loved One Has Died by Earl Grollman, a family visit, or a contribution to a charity meaningful to the family of the deceased?
  • Have you ever suggested a "joy list" that reminds them of the things they really enjoy in life?
  • Do you know if your client has a great interest in a particular charity? Have you explored with the client if he or she has an interest in funding a perpetuating gift to the charity?

When a client loses his or her spouse and later remarries, you can be of help. Children of a new marriage are often concerned, usually for financial reasons. Do you have a sample remarriage letter you can share with such clients or friends?

People who set goals usually increase their accomplishments in life versus non-goal oriented persons. Have you helped clients set and achieve goals?

Have you ever discussed with clients the MDRT Whole Person concept - how to build balance in their life?

Millard J. Grauer, CLU, ChFC, is a 51-year member who holds five Top of the Table honors. Active in the Round Table, Grauer was the 1980 MDRT president and is a Diamond Knight of the MDRT Foundation. In 1996, he received the John Newton Russell Award. His entire 2008 annual meeting presentation is available at

« Practice management: Transforming wealthy friends into clientsHelp clients prepare with critical illness insurance »

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