The Enemy of High Performing Advisors: Product, Price, and Performance

I’d like to share a story and a lesson that was the result of a recent conversation with an advisor who has just joined our firm. Our conversations about transitioning to USA Financial started about 5 months prior to his official decision to make the move. To say that he did his due diligence on us is an understatement.

The motivation for him to start the hunt for a new firm was because the RIA he was affiliated with was experiencing a prolonged stretch of poor performance. The irony was that the week he was planning to officially transition, the RIA he was affiliated with announced a merger with another RIA. He felt this was the final sign he needed to feel that he was making the right decision.

The primary driver for this advisor to explore a move was performance. There were other factors involved of course, but the first was performance. As he began his due diligence on our firm, he put his focus on three things: products, pricing, and performance. After all, these were his biggest pain points with his current affiliation.

What I’m about to share with you is an example of practicing what we preach. We weren’t afraid to share information with him. In fact, our firm (USA Financial) has an extremely compelling offering that addresses those three things (the products, pricing, and performance). However, we couldn’t let this be the basis for forming a relationship with this client (in our case, advisors are the client).

So, how do we circumvent this without giving the appearance of evading the questions related to his main concern?

Process Matters

The answer is simple… we don’t veer from our process. We took him through our Discovery Experience like we do every other advisor considering a relationship with us. Our process (the Discovery Experience) involves some intense fact finding (we do this through a gap analysis), followed up with individualized time with different people at our firm who have specific specialties in different areas of an advisor’s practice. From marketing (that’s me) to compliance and operations, and everything in between. This even includes getting into the weeds on products, pricing, and performance. But the product, price, and performance are not the first things that are discussed. There’s a simple reason for that…

Value Must be Understood First

Nearly two decades ago (right before entering the financial services business), I was fortunate enough to spend some time in the auto industry. I worked for a large car dealership in Arizona in sales and then financial and insurance. During the first week of training, it was stressed to me that you MUST take the customer for a test drive before discussing numbers. At first, this seemed strange to me. I couldn’t understand why we needed to always do this, especially if the customer came in and was clearly ready to buy.

To prove the point and emphasize the importance of the test drive, my manager allowed me to conduct an experiment. For one month, he let me take deals with or without a test drive, but he made me document whether or not the customer did, in fact, test drive the car. At the end of that month, we reviewed the financials, which revealed that those who went on a test drive ended up paying nearly 20% more for each vehicle. I was convinced. And the reason was that value cannot be realized until it has truly been experienced.

In the case of the advisor we transitioned to our firm, this became very evident after the time I spent with him. At the onset of his search, he had convinced himself that marketing services weren’t important to him in his evaluation of a new firm. That quickly changed once he saw that we could bring value to his practice through some of our services.

Choice is Important… Too Much Choice is Paralyzing

The benefit to being an independent advisor is obvious to most professionals. You get to decide how your practice is constructed and what offerings you will utilize within the financial plans of your clients. This is the area that can get a little fuzzy for some advisors. My advice here is simple: you want to align yourself with a firm that provides enough choice and flexibility to serve your clients effectively, but too much choice can wreak havoc and lead you down a difficult path.

Consumers inherently want to feel like they have a choice. Auto manufacturers have figured this out, which is why most of them bundle some of their most popular options into packages or different trims. If every bell and whistle were entirely optional, they’d put their dealers in a terrible position trying to find a unicorn car for every customer. Your practice is no different. Don’t make life more difficult on yourself and your clients by creating a false sense of need for too much choice.

You Live and Die by the Rules You Set

Think about the relationships you have with your clients. Are they overly focused on product, price, and performance? Or have you set the rules of engagement to be focused on process, value, and choice? Do you “wing it” with each new client or does everybody follow the same process? Are you clearly articulating your value before getting into the costs of doing business with you or is price a central focus in the early going? Lastly, are you inviting analysis to paralysis with too much choice? Or are you positioning yourself as the trusted professional that makes the recommendations based upon a thorough review process of their situation? It’s your practice. You make the rules. As a result, you’ll live and die by the rules you set.

Join Me on an Upcoming Webinar

I’d love to have you join me at an upcoming webinar. I have a number of them that I’ll be hosting with my colleague, Kevin Roskam. The upcoming webinars are taking a closer look at our Turnkey Asset Management Platform: USA Financial Exchange. You can register using the link below.

Webinar: Advisory Platform Introduction – USA Financial Exchange

Matt Halloran: On Financial Advisor Podcasting

In this episode of 16 Ways from Sunday, Mark Mersman interviews Matt Halloran, Partner and Podcasting Expert with Top Advisor Marketing.

This episode is all about podcasting for financial advisors. Matt shares tips, tricks, and best practices to consider if you’re a financial professional who is looking to add podcasting to your marketing mix.


Ep. 22 – Matt Halloran: On Financial Advisor Podcasting

Coach Micheal Burt on Follow Up, Structure, and Activation of Prey Drive

In this episode of 16 Ways from Sunday, Mark Mersman interviews Micheal Burt, aka Coach Burt, Founder of Micheal Burt Enterprises, a coaching and consulting business that teaches sales professionals, business owners, and those interested in rapid growth the five areas to get significant life in their business. Tune in on your favorite podcast app or check it out HERE.

Learn Social Media from Bob Ross

If you’re not familiar with the name Bob Ross, he is most famous for his PBS show The Joy of Painting where he dawned his trademark permed hairstyle and could always be heard uttering the phrase “happy little trees.”  While he didn’t live in the time of social media as it sits today, his tactics are the perfect roadmap to developing your social media accounts into client acquisition vehicles, let me explain.

You may not know this, but Bob never earned money from recording his T.V. show. He also donated his paintings to PBS and was only interested in educating his audience.  He strictly used his show to educate the masses about “the joy of painting,” and it paid off in a big way when he worked with Annette Kowalski to create Bob Ross Inc., a 15-million-dollar revenue company today.  Bob built a trustworthy brand through a three-step process – Educate, Engage, Ask.


We live in the age of information.  There is nothing you can’t find online with the click of a mouse.  If you break it down, consumers are only getting online for two reasons, education or escapism/entertainment.  If you want to be successful in social media, you have to take one of these roads before attempting to sell your audience.  The general public may not be looking for advice when they come across your video, but if it provides value without them having to commit to anything, odds are much stronger that they will tune in again.


Once you have your target audience’s attention, you need to engage them on the platforms you are using.  Bob would have crushed social media as he received over 200 letters a day!  He wrote back to his audience daily, and there are even occasions where he called them to make sure they were okay when he hadn’t heard from them!  Any long-term relationship, no matter the communication medium, requires both parties to engage reciprocally.


Asking is the part that comes last.  If you reverse these steps, it has the opposite effect on someone coming across your social media post.  If you skip right to the ask, you drive more people away then attract them.  Do you enjoy seeing ads online?  So why would a potential client? Think about an initial client meeting.  Do you immediately go in for the sell?  So why would your online strategy be any different than a face to face meeting?

Online client acquisition is a slow process that starts with creating a trusted brand; there are no shortcuts.  If you want to up your online presence this year, consider using the tactics above.

For more tips and tricks on enhancing your social media presence, we suggest downloading our Facebook Cheat Sheet and LinkedIn Tips for Financial Advisors.

3 Tips for Virtual Appointments

By now you’re most likely consuming every bit of information on how to run your business from home. But how much of this information pertains to you, and your practice, as a financial advisor? General advice doesn’t always suffice, especially when the blogger or source is missing crucial information about our industry in general.

We’ve been working hard on creating content that actually relates to how a financial advisor’s business works and have been adapting our best material for the “virtual space”. For more of those articles, sign up for alerts on this page, or take some time to peruse our latest updates.

One of those crucial pieces of advice we often relay is about the appointment process. We also realize your appointments right now probably look a lot different. If you need help with how to run virtual appointments, check out our whitepaper on becoming a Virtual Advisor. Or if you prefer something a little more down to business, here’s our Communications Checklist.

In the past we’ve created material around the appointment process, including do’s and don’ts, questions to ask and more. Those rules still apply but may take on a different tone considering the virtual interface. While I’m sure you’re fearful that a video conference lacks the same intimacy as an in-person meeting, that’s simply not the case. A video conference still allows you to see facial expressions and body language, in addition to hearing tone of voice. This is what’s necessary to form that bond with a prospect, and all are accomplished in a video format.

So how do you run a virtual appointment? The answer is – a lot like how you run an in-person appointment. You want to make a good first impression, and a lot of that has to do with how you prepare for the first appointment. We always suggest running a “test” appointment with an employee or even family member if available so you can knock out any kinks that may pop up. But if you’re appointment process was struggling while you had an office to meet prospects, then keep reading. A video screen won’t correct for a bad first appointment.

  1. Send an agenda and digital welcome packet.

Having an agenda ready helps your prospect formulate questions before the meeting as well as gives them an opportunity to see how long this appointment is expected to take. It’s easier right now for people to take a lunch break meeting due to being at home, with the added benefit of not needing to commute to your office. Take advantage by giving them a succinct first appointment. A digital welcome packet prior to the meeting also helps them become familiar with the discussion that’s going to take place and you won’t need to explain little details if those materials are sent before the appointment. Get your prospect in the headspace for this first appointment by supplying them with questions to think about.

  1. Include spouses in the meeting

Encourage married prospects to include their spouse in the meeting, and make sure you set a time so both can attend. Ask this question prior to the meeting and make sure to reach out to both of them with the necessary welcome materials. You want both partners involved in the process as they tend to have different financial goals. You don’t want to help a client with a plan only to discover much later that their spouse isn’t on board. Include in your welcome packet something like this: Conditions of Satisfaction Survey. This will help clients start thinking about their planning priorities. We always ask clients to complete it independently – without their spouse. This way you’ll get each partner’s interpretation of the questions, their goals, and expectations. This will help you plan a tailored solution to meet those goals.

  1. Have the Right Questions Prepared

What you’re trying to do during your first appointment is figure out what expectations the prospect has, the opportunities they have for growth, and gauging their risk tolerance. This is incredibly challenging as you’re asking a prospect to trust you with some very personal information, and they may not feel comfortable giving it to you at first. That said, the way to discover their expectations, risk tolerance and opportunities for growth means getting to know them with questions tailored for the information you need in order to proceed with formulating a personalized plan. Here’s where Kinder’s Three Questions comes into play. Fill out the form on that page to receive the document.

Don’t be afraid to schedule in 5 to 10 minutes of general getting-to-know you questions, or a space to talk about what’s currently affecting the market. Let your prospect vent to you, and make sure you listen! Noting personal details like sports teams they’re missing out on, how many children they have and whether or not they’re in need of assistance can help you build a relationship. Even if now is a bad time for them to transfer assets, they’re more likely to leave the meeting feeling heard if you leave space for them to speak freely. They’re also more likely to remember the interaction as pleasant, which is also a plus.

Please click on the linked material in this post as a lot of the resources are incredibly valuable – especially for that first appointment. This post is meant as a bird’s eye view of the appointment process, and the related attachments get into details that are imperative for a successful first appointment. Remember: the same rules apply for virtual meetings. The only difference is the screen between you and your prospect. If you’re having difficulty setting first appointments right now, check out our post on prospecting while remote. This should help you get aligned for running a digital business.

The post 3 Tips for Virtual Appointments appeared first on Advisor Elevation.

New Podcast Episode – Jonathan Arnold: On Partnering with the Mortgage Industry to Grow Your Practice

Join me on the latest episode of 16 Ways from Sunday for my interview with Jonathan Arnold, branch manager with Inlanta Mortgage. Jonathan discusses the importance of strategic partnerships and how the right mortgage professional relationship can be mutually beneficial to wealth management and financial planning professionals.

Tune in on your favorite podcast app or check it out HERE.

How to Prospect During the Pandemic

Right now you’re probably home getting used to a different work routine. While your business has been disrupted from the virus and the economic downturn, there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the future and even just the next two weeks. Hopefully you’ve been keeping in contact with your clients, answering their calls, emails, texts and soothing their panic. If you’ve been avoiding those conversations, you need to reassess. Hiding now will only serve to dampen your credibility. At the onset, you should have discussed risk management with your clients before investing their funds. But as we all know, even if we discuss risk and a client’s expectations prior to investment, when the market hits a slump, those expectations tend to change. At USA Financial we’ve been taking this time to get our advisors used to working remotely – and helping them navigate those tough conversations. We’ve been updating them on how to use current technology to keep their practice moving and helping them reroute marketing activities, like seminars, and placing them online. A lot of change is happening very quickly, and the speed at which technology has changed over the last ten years or so means the necessary tools are readily available. But how do you create professional contrast online? Right now, everyone’s chasing after the same communication mechanisms due to limitations on in-person meetings. This is where you have to take a moment and figure out creative ways to stand out from the crowd. Take a step back and ask yourself: why is it a good time to begin online prospecting? Well, a few good reasons include:
  • Many people are going to feel slighted by their current advisors. When economic downturns happen, a lot of advisors retreat in fear of being confronted about strategies.
  • Chasing a new demographic – perhaps a lot of your clients are older, and you see digital as an opportunity to expand your reach and help a generation that’s been hit with two recessions before they’ve barely made a career for themselves.
  • Build and scale your current practice – you’re looking to take advantage of digital opportunities to begin prospecting to clients you haven’t touched base with yet.
Whatever the reason, it’s important to track and measure that goal. Achieving success in prospecting online happens when you’re able to delineate between what’s working and what’s not. A few topics we’ve covered in the past will help you reassess those goals and create a name for yourself online. Those topics include: Perhaps you have a reputation in your community. That doesn’t always translate online where everyone self-selects their tribes based on interests rather than location. Even if that’s the case, you have to start from somewhere, and you have to build your brand to be consumer facing where your potential clients hang out. Once you’ve built a reputation for yourself online, or at least the infrastructure to showcase your brand, it’s time to work on your prospecting strategy.

Creative Digital Prospecting Strategies for Virtual Financial Advisors

  1. Referrals, referrals, referrals – From your best clients

A tried and true method is always replicating your top clients. But how do you go about getting these referrals? You could ask. But what are you doing right now for your top clients? The services you provide aren’t enough to inspire your best clients to become advocates for your practice. To do this, you need to begin going above and beyond for those clients, and they’ll return the favor in the form of friends, like them, in need of financial guidance. If those referrals aren’t coming in, and you’d still like a way to replicate your top clients that’s when client segmentation comes into play. Figure out who your top clients are and write down their similarities. Perhaps they’re in similar careers, or all have graduate degrees. Maybe they live in the same zip code or even have similar interests and hobbies. Having those traits outlined makes it easier to begin prospecting online. There are many ways to prospect using what you’ve found during that client segmentation process. You can filter out audiences on Facebook and begin running ads, you can target or remarket to those audiences using Google Ads, or if you have access to LinkedIn Sales Navigator, you can use their advanced search tools to search for potential clients that match your current best clients. Replicating those people should be your top priority, and where you drive most of your online energy.
  1. Try Sales Navigator on LinkedIn

For a small fee each month, you can gain access to LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator tool (mentioned above) and that can really make the difference between targeted ad campaigns and personalized outreach. You can use Sales Navigator to search for clients that match your current best clients, save lead lists and start reaching out through engagement with their posts, sending them connection requests or sending them a personalized messaged inviting them to a webinar you’re hosting. You can read more about how to prospect for leads in our LinkedIn whitepaper, but for now, a great way to start is to look for people in your area that are high-ranking in their company or career. Terms like “President,” “CEO,” “Owner,” or even “PHD,” are good places to start. After performing this search, you can usually see who is connected to connections you already have. The reason you want to start with connections of connections is because you can ask for that warm introduction. Reaching out to leads cold has a much lower success rate, so prioritize potential leads by who you can be introduced to.
  1. Host webinars or virtual client events

Right now, a way to show appreciation for your top clients (and a great way to give them motivation to introduce you to their friends) is to host virtual client events. Select a topic to discuss or plan to host a virtual Q&A session. Think of ways you can make those in-person events you’re used to throwing something you do through a Zoom meeting. Ask your clients to invite any friends who may be interested in attending. Ideas like a virtual happy hour, or a virtual coffee will allow you to connect when in-person events aren’t an option. You can build rapport with attendees by asking everyone to introduce themselves and have some unexpected discussion points that spark interest among the group. Perhaps everyone is a big sports fan or enjoys a new TV show. If you choose to instead host a webinar, then select a topic that’s going to be of interest to your current clients and plan on hosting it LIVE so you can interact with your attendees. Everyone is more likely to join you when they’re not too busy so select a time that makes sense, like lunch time, or late afternoon when a lot of the day’s busy work is out of the way.
  1. Check on your existing network

Have you ever referred one of your clients to a real estate agent friend of yours? How about a CPA? You have other professional friends that work with top clients of their own. If you’ve ever referred business their way, now’s the time to cash in on that favor. Build a network of your professional friends and use that to make introductions for them and ask for that service in return. A lot of professionals are probably dealing with a host of client concerns, especially financial ones, that they aren’t prepared to answer. Let your network know, you’re open for business. Offer free consults for referred clients. If you’re professional circle is small, or not quite specialized enough to pass along quality leads, go back up a step or two in this list. Instead of prospecting only for clients, try and do some networking with other business owners in your area. This may be the best time to extend a helpful hand to your community and make connections that can continue serving your practice well past this pandemic.
  1. Offer to talk to the kids

A lot of your clients, especially your top clients, have adult children who may need a financial advisor now. As you’re continuing to keep close tabs on your existing clients, and especially your top clients, let them know you’re offering a free, virtual consultation for their children and extended family. At some point your top clients will pass along a financial legacy to their children or grandchildren. By connecting with their offspring now you’ll be handling those assets when the time comes. Invite your clients to have virtual family meetings to see how you can help, or request that the kids sit in on any upcoming sessions you may already have planned. The post How to Prospect During the Pandemic appeared first on Advisor Elevation.

Seminars: The Best Presentation Advice One Can Receive

The majority of the financial presentations delivered in our industry are not actually created by the person giving the presentation. This isn’t highly unusual and is only a real problem when “Awkward memorization” presents itself. That’s a term used by one of my favorite marketers, Seth Godin. In fact, he  penned a blog a while back that I thought would be worth sharing with my audience…

Awkward memorization

The spread of TED talks means that more and more people are being put on stage and told to memorize their talk.

This almost always leads to failure.

It’s not because people memorize too much, it’s because they don’t memorize enough.

Watch a great performance and you’ll see no artifacts of memorization. Instead, you will see someone speaking from the heart.

This is what it means to know something by heart.

Memorizing the words is half of it.

And woefully insuffiicient.

My suggestion: Don’t memorize your talk. Memorize your stories. Ten stories make a talk. Write yourself a simple cue card to remember each story’s name. Then tell us ten stories.

Be you.

We didn’t come to hear your words. If that’s all we wanted, we could have read the memo and saved a ton of time.

Bring your heart.

Image result for heart

So to summarize…

  1. Know the material (regardless of whether you created it or not)
  2. Tell stories. (Real ones work best.)
  3. Be authentic (this is one of the most important components to building a community… check this out if you want more on it.
  4. Bring your heart (be passionate… the audience can tell)


The Monday Plunge

As the markets seem intent on adding to their volatility this week, this episode of Advisor Skinny is focused on commentary related to the stock market environment caused by the drop in oil prices, and accentuated by the fears surrounding the widening coronavirus outbreak. I share how and why the “circuit breaker” triggered in the S&P 500 on Monday of this week, and how you can use this information to help your clients better understand the market, and properly manage their concerns.