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.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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The three questions you must answer for prospective clients (and the two questions to answer to keep them as clients)

The three questions you must answer for prospective clients (and the two questions to answer to keep them as clients)

Many will argue that “sales is sales.” I’ll contend that the financial services industry has two paths that professionals can take when approaching new client acquisition (sales): the transaction-based sales path or the consultative sales path.

In a transactional sales model, the value is found within the product and price is often the focus. The consultative approach to sales puts the value emphasis on the planning services offered, with the product and price being secondary.

The transactional relies more on emotion and solving “a problem.” In the financial services world, it tends to be very short sighted and singularly focused. People who do business with these types of financial services providers tend to be customers, not clients.

The consultative approach tends to have a much longer sales cycle, puts a heavier focus on a the relationship, and results in a relationship that is more aptly categorized as a client.

Prospective clients who follow an advisor-driven consultative approach to sales have three primary questions they want answered from an advisor:

  1. Do I like this person? It sounds simple, but a prospective client needs to like you if they plan to do business with you from a consultative standpoint. A transaction customer puts far less importance on the answer to this question. Think about it like this… when I go to buy a new stove or pair of jeans, I don’t really care that much about whether I like the salesperson. Don’t get me wrong, it helps… but it’s not the basis for my decision
  2. Do I trust this person? Trust is at the core of any relationship, especially when it has to do with money. There are plenty of things you can do to earn one’s trust. Third party validation and credibility are one. Quality time is another. Study after study suggests that you need to spend a certain number of hours with somebody before you can trust them. Translation: the one or two call close just ain’t gonna get it done.
  3. Do I think they can get me to the bright, sunny future that I hope for? This is far more important than you may realize. This is where honesty is important. You can tell them that it can happen, but if you aren’t being honest with them, they won’t remain a client for long (keep reading to find out way. Show them how to help them reach their future goals… but don’t start doing this until questions number one and two have been answered yes.

 

Once they’ve become a client… they need you to continually answer two questions:

  1. Am I still OK? 
  2. Is my bright, sunny future still in tact?

Those two questions have plenty of overlap, but those need to be the focus of every review you have with your clients if you want them to remain clients. I’ve oversimplified things a bit, but if you can put your focus on being able to continually answer these questions for prospective clients and existing clients, you’ll be in a much better spot to continue to build a referral culture within your practice. At the end of the day, a clearly defined sales process can be one of the most important marketing tools you possess.

Enjoy!

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