With all the technology out there, you would think finding, engaging and converting prospects would be more straightforward. Wrong!
Instead, it's more complicated, time-consuming, and if you haven't noticed, there's a race to zero when it comes to fees and commissions.
Working for free is not why you're in this business.
The one question I consistently hear from advisors is:
All sales and marketing efforts are geared to answer this one question.
How are you doing so far?
Is your phone ringing off the hook because of that insightful article you posted on social media?
Do clients love your e-newsletter so much that they're sending referrals to you on a monthly basis?
How thrilled are you to continue chasing prospects that are hesitant, flaky or too busy to decide to engage your firm?
If you're frustrated with how low or empty your pipeline currently is, you're not alone.
In this series, I'm going to give a fast four-step overview of how to effectively and efficiently find, engage and convert prospects without wasting more time and money. (Haven't you done enough of that already?)
Having a modern looking website is essential to credibility. When prospects search for you what will they see?
Scandalous advisors have created a guarded environment where people are too afraid of being lied to and stolen from to seek financial advice.
This is a real hurdle that fiduciary-driven advisors face daily.
Fortunately, it's not insurmountable; it just takes good ole-fashion trust-building strategies to overcome.
Your website doesn't have to be fancy, but it does need to give prospects the confidence that you're focused on quality across the board.
If you take short-cuts with your brand, where else will you take shortcuts (prospects may think)? Leave no room for speculation or doubt.
I won't go into the details, but there are plenty of advisor-centric website platforms that can get you up and running. Google it.
Just don't get sold on the digital extras until you've finished this series.
99% of the advisors I speak with say they want to engage executives, business owners, and high-networth individuals.
Ok, so does your competition.
When I ask how do they find these big-whales, the typical responses include...
1. Silence. No clue.
2. I'm networking like crazy.
3. Sporadic referrals.
4. I sponsor charity-X.
5. I've hired a lead-gen service, digital marketer, cold-calling center, etc.
7. Mergers & Acquisitions. Buy someone else's book of business.
8. A hodgepodge of all of the above
Regardless of the response, there's usually no strategy in place.
For advisors who have a presence in multiple states, they're marketing to everyone with no way to track what's working or confirm upfront if a prospect is even a good fit.
Here's a novel idea: Seek to dominate your local region first.
Local meaning the state you live in.
If you're in Colorado, that's where you start. Don't worry about Texas or any other state you're licensed in until you've exhausted your local prospects first.
Once you make up your mind to build your pipeline locally, the next obvious question is - Where do you find qualified prospects?
Say hello to Big Data!
It can be one of your most significant assets if you leverage it correctly.
First, understand that not all Big Data is created equal.
Having access to "Top Prospects" is too broad and subjective.
Let's get specific, especially if you're in the retirement space.
1. Where does the information originate?
The source determines everything. If you need an excellent source, get in touch.
2. What type of filter options are available?
Who is servicing the plan? (Go after your competitor's book of business)
Detailed contact information?
3. What type of analytical information is available to give you a legitimate reason to contact the plan sponsor?
Calling out of the blue to "benchmark a plan" is cliche.
This means you have no clue what's going on with the plan and you're hoping the plan sponsor hands over information so you can identify problems that your firm can potentially fix.
First, your competitors are proposing the same thing.
Secondly, why should a plan sponsor trust a complete stranger with confidential business information?
Thirdly, it short-cuts the trust-building process that you need to convert a prospect into a client.
However, the game changes when you have an impactful reason to connect with a plan sponsor.
Knowing that their plan has compliance issues, performance issues or risk factors before they turn over documents ignites that door-opening question: "How did you know that?"
Now your talking-points are not generic, but specific.
Now your phone call or email is not salesy, but helpful.
Now you're seen as an expert to listen to and meet.
All this happened because you took the time to get specific about your region and get educated about what's going on with the plan sponsors in your state.
It's mind-boggling, but the financial industry does not have a "try before you buy" service for prospects.
Prospects have to take a leap of faith towards an advisor's abilities and only over the course of time discover if they're working with a professional or an amateur.
Free consultation. Free strategy session. Let's grab coffee, lunch, or dinner. While all these are traditional ways to engage, they don't give you an opportunity to prove your value.
Give prospects something that's low-cost to you, but has a high perceived value to them.
Luxury hotels do it all the time!
That glass of champagne and welcome amenity upon your arrival costs the hotel a few dollars, but now you feel great about spending $800 a night.
Low-cost service. High-perceived value. Win-win.
It's a formula that works.
So how do you replicate this formula?
Say hello to your prospect's retirement plan.
Do you know how many executives receive NO personalized advice on how to maximize their personal retirement account on a regular basis?
Chances are their plan advisor shows up once a year to show face and that's it.
Now imagine instead of you approaching a business owner with the generic consultation pitch on whatever it is you're offering (wealth management, retirement plan audit, or insurance) you ask this one door opening question -
"By the way John, is your current advisor giving you strategic advice on how to optimize and protect your personal retirement account every quarter?"
Shhh, don't say anything. Let the silence do its work.
The response will range from "Uhhh" to "No".
That's where you nonchalantly offer to add value. How?
One way is with the Active 401k technology that allows prospects to actively engage with advisors before they commit to a more substantial engagement via non-discretionary retirement advice.
The game-changer is that advisors can still get paid for their advice and develop a value-driven relationship with new prospects, reconnect with old prospects, and activate referrals nearly effortlessly.
The stealthy part is that even if your prospect has an advisor, you can still offer a valuable service that can convert them to your firm.
It's that simple. If you know of a better way to fast-track CEOs inviting you into their financial world, please tell me about it!
The best advisors are using a smart combination of technology and old-school relationship building strategies to build their clientele.
It's not just connecting on LinkedIn. Or mailing. Or emailing. Or calling.
It's all of the above. However, it needs to be apart of a strategic process.
I'll give you a high-level framework so you can do it yourself or if you're too busy/have no internal help, we can help. Just take action today.
1. Identify qualified prospects from a Big Data database.
2. Snail mail them an introduction letter.
Notice I said introduction.
Not a sales letter. Not a brochure. Not a prospectus.
The goal is to turn a cold prospect into a warm one.
3. Locate the prospect on LinkedIn and connect in a non-salesy way.
4. Make a live-connection.
This will vary depending on how confident and comfortable the advisor is with communicating with prospects.
You could connect via a phone call to follow up on the mailed letter.
Alternatively, an email stating a phone call will be made on a specific day or ask about their availability to chat.
The point is your digital and print communication must evolve into a live human to human conversation.
There's no way around this.
Texts, emails, chatbots, and mailed letters are excellent for the initial effort, but at some point, there must be a vocal exchange.
5. Next Steps
This will vary.
After the initial connection, if the prospect is a good fit then hopefully your engagement process is structured to have a high win rate.
As soon as you know the prospect is an excellent fit you need to stand-out immediately and compete on a level that goes beyond price.
Here are a few things you can do:
- Add them to your mailing list to receive a quarterly copy of your branded magazine. If you don't have a branded magazine, we can help with that.
- Snail mailing things of high-perceived value, but low-cost to you is crucial to having a unique selling proposition and staying top of mind because your competitors are looking for the cheapest way to engage prospects and their dismal pipeline is proof.
- If you're smartly using the Active401k technology, invite them via a promo code to access you trial-advisory service (at no cost or low-cost) to experience the value you provide clients.
- Ensure to include your promo code in your snail mail and digital assets. Make it easy for prospects to take you up on your offer via multiple channels.
- Avoid sending them your e-newsletter. It's spam if you're in the beginning phases of developing a relationship. Hold until after they're a client and even then, keep it to a monthly cadence to avoid a high unsubscription rate.
Let's recap -
In four steps I've outlined an effective, efficient, and impactful pipeline generating strategy that will serve as a foundation for the rest of your efforts :
1. Communicate a strong brand presence.
2. Target a specific region.
3. Offer a simple way to engage with your firm.
4. Systematically develop a near-automated high-touch action plan to build real relationships that infuses a ton of perceived value (without losing your shirt).
It took me over a year of research, trial and error to figure out the right components to help advisors connect and convert prospects into clients.
My experience in high-end hospitality taught me that if you want affluent clients, you need to connect with them online and in-person with quality infused at every step.
This framework will get you started.
If you're the type that prefers to delegate this undertaking or would like to learn more about the tools I mentioned, let's schedule a time to chat.
All the best in your efforts to build a robust, revenue-generating pipeline.