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

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.

William Chettle: On Brand, Experience, Persuasion, and the Little Things

Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big impact. In this episode of 16 Ways from Sunday, I interview William Chettle, the Director of Experience and Engagement for Symmetry Partners.  William is responsible for helping Symmetry and its affiliated companies build greater brand awareness, foster deeper engagement with clients and enhance their overall experience. He oversees the firm’s marketing and communications as well as practice management and events.

This episode is all about branding, development, persuasion, and the little things. Want to make big strides by doing some little things inside your practice? If so, this is the episode for you.


If you haven’t already subscribed, you can do so here:






The post William Chettle: On Brand, Experience, Persuasion, and the Little Things appeared first on 16 Ways from Sunday.

S2:E5 Buying a Practice

On this episode of Advisor Skinny, Mike Walters discusses business valuation from the buyer’s perspective. He explains what it means to buy a business rather than a job and how that will ultimately lead to a more successful transition and future growth.

Listen here:

S2:E5 – Buying a Practice


Google Play


S2:E4 Selling Your Practice

On this episode of Advisor Skinny, Mike Walters discusses business valuation from the point of view of the seller. He shares his thoughts on finding the right buyer, how to structure a practice so it’s more valuable to a buyer, and how to approach the sale with clients to allow for a smooth transition.

Listen here:

S2:E4 – Selling Your Practice


Google Play


S2:E1 Business Value and Alignment

On this episode of Advisor Skinny, Mike Walters starts the discussion around business valuation. He shares his thoughts about beginning the process, engaging professionals to help, and mistakes to avoid.

Join Mike for this engaging new season of the Advisor Skinny podcast!

Listen here:

S2:E1 – Business Value and Alignment



Google Play


Official launch of 16 Ways from Sunday podcast : Exploring Financial Advisor Marketing From Every Angle

I’m thrilled to share with you the official launch of the 16 Ways from Sunday podcast. This podcast is a podcast for high-performing financial planning professionals that are committed to improving their craft. It takes a rifle-approach with a focus on financial advisor marketing and business building.


Each episode provides actionable marketing ideas and insights, typically delivered through candid interviews with some of the top thought leaders in marketing and/or the financial advice industry. From digital marketing to traditional direct-response marketing, each episode delivers straight-forward and engaging content that any financial professional can use to improve their bottom line and grow their practice.

You can subscribe via iTunes, Google play, and a number of other podcast apps.

Visit my podcast home page to get all the details and check out past episodes.

The first three episode titles and links are below:

Episode 01: Mark Mersman: On the Sales and Marketing Funnel for High Performing Advisors

Episode 02: Mike Lover: On the Imporance of Process and Elevating the Client Experience

Episode 03: Brian Hart: On Turning Press into Profits: Simplifying Public Relations for Financial Advisors

I’m looking forward to this endeavor and anticipate at least two new podcasts to be released each month.

All the best,

Mark Mersman

The post Official launch of 16 Ways from Sunday podcast : Exploring Financial Advisor Marketing From Every Angle appeared first on 16 Ways from Sunday.