Lost Opportunity: Most Advisors Have a Gaping Hole in Their Prospecting Process
Question. What percentage of prospects, who take the time to meet with you, become clients?
I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that it’s high. And while ‘high’ is a good thing, the question masks a real problem. There’s a more important (and potentially uncomfortable) question I need to ask.
What percentage of the prospects, who stopped by your site, took the time to meet with you?
Let’s face it, it’s easy to get a little self-congratulatory if we focus only on our conversion rates from prospect meeting to client. However, if you’re only meeting a small percentage of the potential clients who pay you a ‘virtual visit’, you could be missing out on a much bigger opportunity. Like the water that seeps through holes in a bucket, too often we let prospects slip through the cracks without ever knowing they were there.
Prospects hear about you from their friends and from their other professional advisors. They may see an article you wrote, find you through a google search or drive by your office. However they hear about you, your website is likely the first place they’ll go to learn more about what you do. And if you don’t have a compelling message and a process to capture information on them, it’s as if they were never there. You’ve lost the opportunity.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little planning and a commitment to using a few new tools, you can plug the holes in your process and begin to engage with significantly more prospects.
The 7 Steps
There are seven critical steps to engaging prospects in ways that add value and help you build deeper relationships.
- Add value before a prospect becomes a client. Provide prospects with meaningful information that adds value before they become a client. Give them something (such as an article, report or checklist) that reflects their needs and helps establish you as an expert in meeting those needs. Give before you take.
- Align the messaging on your site with the needs of your ideal client.Ensure that whatever you offer to prospects is completely aligned with your message and the needs of your target or ideal client.
- Plug the prospecting holes. Capture contact details of the prospects who are interested in the information you’re offering.
- Personalize your communications. Send prospects an email with access to the information they requested and share a bit about who you are and why you work with clients just like them.
- Gain deeper insights on your prospects. When you share the information that the prospect requested, ask them to respond to a single, simple question that sheds light on their biggest challenges.
- Customize communications based on need. Provide a follow-up that directly addresses the challenge shared by your prospect, while creating a second, meaningful ‘touch’.
- Stay in touch. Create a process to communicate on a regular basis.
Let’s look at a plan that integrates these seven steps. The flow might look something like this:
A warning. This section is only for those who want to dig in on the details. Stop reading and send this link to someone on your team immediately if that isn’t you!
Not long ago I wrote about some of the tools we use in our business if you’d like a behind the scenes look. I know how much you invest in the core technology that you use to run your business. And I’m not suggesting you stop doing that or prioritizing that investment. However, I truly believe that the most progressive firms have become students of engagement and marketing tools that take their businesses to a new level.
Let’s look at the specifics of the flow I outlined above and the tools that can bring it to life.
#1. Use your website to tell prospects about your lead magnet.
The process starts with an invitation, on your website or blog, that offers your prospects something of real value. The ‘marketing-speak’ for that information is a lead magnet. Your lead magnet should reflect the specific needs or challenges of your ideal client and add meaningful value. It could be a checklist, a series of curated articles or a report. It can be written by you or your team, or you can provide access to relevant information written by others. Curation is still valuable.
To make this available, give your lead magnet some real estate on your website. Visitors to your site would see an image of your lead magnet, a brief description of the value and an invitation to download the material.
#2. Capture email addresses.
You can have your developer create a form that will capture names and email addresses. However, if you don’t want to do that kind of development, there are simple tools to help.
For example, you can easily use a program that allows you to create custom landing pages, as well as forms to gather contact details. And you can do all of that without having to do complex programming on your site. We use Leadpages and this is an example of a page that we created for one of our programs.
When a prospect clicks on the link on your site they’re taken to your custom landing page. There they’ll see the same image of your lead magnet and a form (which you can easily create with a few clicks). Prospects are invited to enter their first name and email address. (Hint: If you’re tempted to ask for more information, talk yourself out of it. Prospects don’t owe you anything at this point.)
#3. Say thank you and engage further
Once the prospect clicks on the submit button for the lead magnet form, they’re re-directed automatically to another landing page (also created through LeadPages). There you can let them know that the report (or other lead magnet) is on the way. And, you can add a poll to ask respondents your follow-up question about their challenges.
#4. Engage with prospects
This is where the magic happens. When prospects request information and/or respond to your question, their contact details are automatically integrated with your email distribution system, such as Mailchimp. You can filter prospects into different groups, based on their responses to your question, and send a customized email. Better still, the entire process can be automated.
For example, if I selected ‘cash flow planning’ as my challenge, I would automatically receive an email along the lines of the following:
Thanks so much for your interest in our report, The Top 10 Online Resources for Business Owners. You can click the link for immediate access. Before you do, I have a question.
Being an entrepreneur is a tough gig and we understand that. Can you tell me what you consider to be your most pressing challenge today?
- Managing cash flow
- Finding a successor
- Building long-term value in the business
Two weeks later I would automatically receive another email along the lines of the following:
I hope you found the list of online resources we provided of value. I know you mentioned that cash flow planning was your biggest challenge. Based on the work we do with business owners, I know you aren’t alone.
I thought you might find this article of interest. I came across it recently in the Harvard Business Journal and think it provides some great points on managing cash flow.
I appreciate that things feel more complex when we dig into the detail of new technology. However, you can start simply and make a single offer on your site and capture email addresses. At a minimum that will ensure you can communicate with the prospects who would otherwise disappear. When you’re comfortable with that, consider taking it up a notch and using these tools to create deeper engagement with your prospects.
Solving Your Biggest Client Issue May Be at Your Fingertips
Written by: Shileen Weber
When the American Funds’ Capital Group asked 400 advisors last year to name the biggest issues they face in their businesses, it wasn’t the DOL, market uncertainty or the economy that sat in the center of the idea cloud of answers.
It was client issues.
At a time when regulatory concerns and market turbulence would seem to be at all-time highs, the advisors who answered the survey were most concerned about servicing their clients as well as ways to find new ones and grow their businesses.
It’s one of the ironies of the business, that the things most people find so hard to manage – creating financial plans, managing assets and staying ahead of events – are what advisors find to be the easiest parts of the business. Marketing - the business of selling themselves – can be the area advisors find the hardest elements to master.
In this age of instant communication, it can be even more intimidating to market your practice, especially to younger clients for whom many traditional methods like newsletters, postcards and phone calls don’t work anymore. For them, email is the preferred way to get information, and, if it’s important, they are more likely to respond to texts, not phone calls.
But, it doesn’t have to be that hard. The digital age gives you access to ideas and content of all kinds you can use to touch your clients in a way that positions you as a valuable resource. The key is to keep it simple, stick to some basics and create consistent outreach that clients and potential clients are interested in and will appreciate you sharing with them.
Here is a common-sense approach you can take that will not require you to hire an expensive agency or take valuable time away from managing your clients’ assets and running your business.
Content is King
Create a content calendar for the year: Think about reasons to touch a client 13 times during the year – that can be once a month and on their birthday. (The common rule of sales is that it takes at least 7-13 touches to make a connection.) The number is limited and keeps you from inundating the clients who likely already feel inundated with content. You can take the seasonal approach – tax planning in the fall, January for account review content, college financing in the spring – and supplement it with topical events during the year. Creating a calendar will help you stick to a plan. Here’s one resource for a content calendar.
Review what content is already available to you: Basically, this means finding the resources you already have and determining what pieces will be most valuable to your clients. Start first by checking out content your broker-dealer already generates that you can personalize. Many firms have economists who write regularly about the market. That’s content you can pass along to keep clients up-to-date they would not have access to anywhere else. In addition to your broker-dealer, mutual funds, your clearing firm, and money managers are all excellent sources of informative and even analytical content.
Personalize the content you use: Add your name, the client’s name or some way to avoid making it feel like canned content that you are using just to check the outreach box. See what capabilities your email program may have to help you.
The birthday strategy: One advisor used clients’ birthdays in a new way. Instead of the card or lunch date, the advisor asked the client’s spouse for a list of friends he could invite to a birthday lunch and made it a memorable event that was also a soft approach to getting referrals.
Become a curator of good content: What your review will show you is that you don’t have to generate the content yourself. You can point clients to pieces you find insightful. You are likely already doing this every day just to keep yourself informed. The next step is to compile it and send out the very best pieces to your clients, again, with a note with your own thoughts about why you found it valuable.
Find out what is working and do more of it: Use your client interactions, in-person and online, to find out what types of content clients liked and any they didn’t. You can use tracking on your emails to see how many were opened as a measurement tool, but the personal interactions tend to provide more insight than raw data.
Be disciplined about your execution: Get help from an office assistant or schedule the time each month to do the content development and outreach. As any good strategy, if you make it a habit, it won’t seem so hard.
Most importantly, be yourself and be personal: You may want to regularly get personal by talking about your family and hobbies. The ultimate is if you can provide content that is personal to your clients, not just about their investments – they get that from their statements, apps and online portals. Think alma maters, hobbies, children and parents.
Of course, as a disclaimer, you have to make sure all content and communications are complying with regulations and the rules of your own broker-dealer.
The process of creating a plan will get you thinking about your clients in a new way. That exercise alone can re-energize your business and get you seeing marketing opportunities in places you may never have seen them before.
Shileen Weber is Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications at GWG Holdings. She was previously Director of Online Strategy and Client Experience at RBC Wealth Management, where they placed first in two JD Power and Associates U.S. Full Service Investor Satisfaction Study (2011 and 2013).
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