How to create your relationship plan: “Yesterday you were a prospect, today you’re a client!”

Over the past few years, I’ve heard the joke that ends with this punch line: “Yesterday you were a prospect, today you’re a client!” It resonates in the sales world because of the feeling some clients have once they sign on the dotted line.

It’s a feeling of under appreciation and loss. Why? Because before a client has signed, they’re courted as prospects – receiving high touch, responsive and on demand service.

But, once the sales experience is over, the prospect becomes a client and gets handed off to a different set of people and processes. And sometimes, all  of the sudden, the courtship is over! The end of the attentive service is significant, because as I’ve said before: your clients are your competitor’s best prospects, and the end of this courtship experience is exactly what I’m talking about.

The good news is that moving out of the courtship stage doesn’t have to be a letdown. In fact, there are plenty of great retirement plan teams that haven’t lost a client. Why? 

They’ve taken the time to address a post-sale process we’ll call the “relationship plan.” This is different from your commitment of services, which is a document that outlines what clients pay you to deliver. The relationship plan is how you’ll interact with the client – your contact strategy.

Client contact strategy = Relationship plan

A great book that has stuck with me over the years is The Supernova Advisor by Rob Knapp.  One idea I’ve used extensively from Knapp is 12-4-2. It’s a simple way to think about your contact strategy.


  • 12 – Touch base once a month
  • 4 – Conduct quarterly meetings
  • 2 – Twice a year hold the quarterly meetings in-person

I’ve made one change to this rule to make it more applicable to the retirement plan business.  It’s still 12-4-2; my only change is the 2 – use 2 for some type of value add that goes beyond reporting. 

You can continue to personalize this process. Many advisors and financial professionals also do employee education, so you can add those touches as well. For this blog, I’ll stick with 12-4-2.

Client relationship plan sample

If you read my post on client segmentation, I’m sure you took the time to segment your clients into 2-3 segments. Here’s a sample client relationship plan using three client segments:


A Clients

B Clients

C Clients


Monthly (12) Phone call Mix of emails and phone calls from service team Email Use the same content – just alter the delivery
Quarterly (4) Face-to-face meeting with committee Two webinar meetings/two face- to-face meetings Virtual meetings with committee with an annual review Confirm with the committee – most would opt for quicker and more virtual quarterly meetings
Value Campaigns (2) Value add – personalized to their situation Seminar or webinar – built from client feedback Webinar – built on feedback from clients Ask clients what’s important to them – see this interview guide for questions that will help you develop value campaigns
Baseline Annually Client appreciation, client interview Client appreciation, client survey Client appreciation, client survey Use this survey template to get started

This is just a sample. Much like anything I ever ask you to do, the goal isn’t to boil the ocean.  Keep it simple and ask yourself if what you’re doing adds value; if it doesn’t, then don’t do it. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel either – lean on your trusted platform and investment providers for content and quarterly/annual reports.

At the end of the day, your clients are weighing what they pay you vs. their perception of the value you bring. If that balance is off, that’s what your competition is going to leverage –taking your client from a prospect to their client.


In addition to blogging here, I also tweet regularly about advisor-focused practice management topics like sales and lead generation, marketing, service and management/operations. Follow me on Twitter at @Rschutty.

Affiliation Disclosures

Insurance products and plan administrative services are provided by Principal Life Insurance Company. Securities are offered through Princor Financial Services Corporation, 1-800-547-7754, Member SIPC and/or independent broker dealers. Securities sold by a Princor® Registered Representative are offered through Princor. Princor and Principal Life are members of the Principal Financial Group® (The Principal®), Des Moines, IA 50392.

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  • As a financial advisor, one of your key concerns is the quality of your client relationships.