Written by: Dave Alison
Considering the current climate of not physically meeting clients due to the Coronavirus, how can we adapt the situation? How can we meet with new prospects, new clients, get new business in the door, and continue to deliver a good experience to our existing clients without meeting with them face-to-face?
Q: Do many clients and prospects have experience with virtual meetings?
A: While this may be some first experience with virtual meetings, some are in the professional space and used to doing a GoToMeeting or Zoom meeting. Also, many grandparents get on Skype of Facebook to virtually interact with grandchildren. Over the last two years, this learning curve at every age demographic has improved of their willingness and adaptability to jump on virtual meetings.
Q: What digital platform is recommended?
A: One digital platform should be chosen to allow for scalability.
Navigation between computer and tablet and screen sharing usability should be considered. The Zoom and Ring Central platforms offer a user-friendly perspective and are a bit easier to navigate through the virtual meeting.
Q: What features are important in a virtual platform?
A: A personalized meeting ID or key is helpful and allows each meeting to have its own unique identification.
Also, a virtual scheduling system like Calendly is helpful. Prospects and clients can book their own meeting online or by calling the office.
As soon as the meeting is booked in Calendly an email automation is sent confirming the meeting, providing a link with the phone number and the meeting code, and a quick piece of information about how to test ensuring installation exists. Some of the challenges with any of these technologies is the first time they are used, the person generally has to install something on their computer which could take a few minutes.
Q: What are some tips for holding these meetings?
A: As with any technology, we highly recommend testing the system in advance.
As a best practice, do not use the computer audio, because this can use a lot of bandwidth. Instead, use your phone and ask your client/prospect to do the same.
Apple Air Pods are great for virtual meetings, because they allow the user to talk without holding his or her phone and have hands free to be able to sketch concepts out on a tablet.
Q: What are some of the visual components to include?
A: To ensure the online experience is as close to the in-person experience as possible, it is best to have a couple of cameras and a tablet. One camera is the normal laptop camera, strategically positioned to give a close-up of the face. Keep the laptop just far enough to see from the mid-part of your stomach up. It is also good to position to see your hands to allow for additional connection when gesturing with hands.
A Logitech camera with an extension cord hooked to the laptop is also recommended. This has a much wider angle and is used in second and subsequent meetings when someone else is in the office taking notes. Both can be seen when this is included.
The main page of the Zoom or Ring Central meetings shows a simple icon that allows to flip back and forth between the cameras.
Additionally, setup is important. Having a stack of Bucket Plan® books and the Family Estate Organizer behind on a table is helpful. So, if my prospect’s eyes are drifting, they’re going to things that are either going to catch their attention or continue to establish why they should hire me and the credentials and the designations that we bring.
Q: Are there times when clients can’t get on visually with you?
A: Yes. At this point it is necessary to be flexible. You can try to say, “Well, are you by your email? May I email this to you?” or “May we take five minutes if you’re by your computer, your laptop or your tablet?”
Then, it can be followed up with “Seeing each other face to face isn’t as important. But I really want you to see what’s on my screen. Are you able to get your tablet or you iPad?”
Q: What happens when a client or prospect is on a computer and can see your screen but not your face?
A: When this happens it is important to slow the pace down, because you can’t read their facial language. To avoid talking over each other, you slow your cadence down and take simple pauses between statements and allow your client/prospect to talk. You don’t want to lose that inner connection between asking great questions and sitting back and listening.
Also, ask a lot of confirming questions such as, “Are we on the same page?,” “Do you have any questions,” etc.
Q: What materials do you use to encourage a smoothly run meeting?
A: Without a streamlined documented planning process you’re just winging it. When you can’t meet with somebody in person it becomes harder and harder to deliver on charisma and a wink and a smile and making people feel good. You need to have a staged, set process that you follow because the technology can be clunky at times.
It is helpful to have two devices running: a laptop that powers the meeting and cameras and a Microsoft Surface Go. The computer is hooked up to the Wi-Fi with the backup and that’s running the camera and the actual meeting. The Surface Go allows to sketch and share files, including writing on top of PDFs. This can be used to write on top of the Bucket Plan, illustrating client’s money on the three buckets.
The Ring Central meeting I slogged on through the laptop as well as from the tablet. The video is then turned off of the tablet and its used only to share the screen.
Four folders include saved files on the tablet: Step One, Step Two, Step Three, and Step Four. Meeting materials for each meeting are housed accordingly and opened in advance of the meeting.
As a note, do not simply just click “Save” and save over your master files because then you got to go restructure those folders each time.
Q: Why is it so important to have such an organized process?
A: With our financial planning, we deal with a lot – everything from simplified retirement income distribution planning to very complex planning for high net worth individuals. Everything to differentiate you is included in these folders. You are able to not only show tools for the first meeting but also share what the next three meetings would look like, including the plan delivery.
The annual review process is shared as is the fact the client could sit and fight traffic for 20 or 30 minutes and drive into your office or we can do this from the comfort of your living room and your office.” I think people actually are appreciating that more in today’s era.
Q: How do hosting virtual meetings create an advantage outside of the social distancing requirements?
A: Consumers are going to seek out the best adviser for them, not only in their community but in the virtualized world. Also, an opportunity is created considering we don’t have closed marketing borders. If you’re not ahead of this, you can be phased out.
Q: How are you able to make a personal connection through a virtual meeting?
A: This is an art, and a big challenge of virtual meetings is making and bridging that human connection.
Doing a phone call with the prospect or new client first helps. This call is typically 20 minutes and focused on things like understanding what the client is looking for, how your firm is different, what resources you have and then agreeing upon the fact that it’s worth investing time to set up a virtualized meeting.
Going through the Connection Questionnaire, asking important big picture questions about goals, objectives, and family helps to make the connection. It is important to not just dive into how much money they have and where it is, not just to go fix the issues that they have, etc. Instead, make the connection.
Q: Do you record your meetings?
A: I do not record the meetings. We get into some very deep, meaningful conversations with our prospects and clients that would not happen if we were recorded. However, I do take very detailed notes, written and via Mobile Assistant.
Q: What are next steps?
A: If an adviser is challenged in this environment and looking for solutions the first step is to get trained on the Bucket Plan® Best Interest Planning Process.
Going through all the resources will make you a better advisor, give you a detailed process to increase your conversion ratios, systematize your business, and increase your efficiency with staff. Also, you’ll be able to expand your marketing efforts allowing you to not only survive but thrive through this period of time.
It’s going to allow you to survive by continuing to bring on new prospects and clients because clients are scared with what’s going on in the market right now. They can’t come meet with you face to face or they don’t want to. But they want advice. They want a plan and the Bucket Plan can absolutely help eliminate their concerns or fears.
On the go? Listen to the full podcast for the Best Practices for Hosting Virtual Meetings.