Helping people achieve their financial goals and provide security for their families is one of the greatest, most rewarding career paths on the planet. But it’s a very tough business to succeed in, especially in your first few years.
Here are the five things you must do, if you want to maximize your chances of surviving your first five years as an advisor.
1. Prospect, prospect, prospect!
Sure, you’ve heard that advice in the past. And it’s a very easy thing to say. But it’s not an easy thing to do. Too many new financial advisors don’t know what the massive level of prospecting you need to do in your first few years looks or feels like. Too many don’t have a track to run on.
So, I’ll tell you what successful prospecting looks like: It looks like three scheduled, confirmed appointments on your calendar every day for the next week to speak with people about their money.
And two per day every day for the week after.
Next, I’ll tell you how to get there: There are two ways. The old-fashioned way and the new-fangled way. You should become skilled at both.
The old-fashioned way is this:
- 20 ‘walk ins’ to local businesses, asking for the owner;
- 50 phone calls to prospects, referrals or leads. Many of which you got from your 20 walk-ins;
- 1 event. It could be a networking event (paid is better than unpaid; the participants are more serious), a charitable or industry event, Toastmasters, a Chamber of Commerce get-together, a Kiwanis meeting, teaching a financial management class at the library. Whatever floats your boat.
All this and three booked appointments a day for this week, and two per day for the next week.
There will be some emails, too. I hesitate to mention those because too many people hide behind their emails pretending it’s prospecting, but in reality they’re avoiding prospecting. But with today’s do-not-call lists, and people just preferring email and text contact to phone contacts, it’s often the best way to contact some people.
So, do this: Send your emails. But do so only after you’ve done your 20 walk-ins and 50 phone calls.
You can buy leads. But you still have to call them. These leads can count toward your 50 calls.
If you can do all these things, and keep three booked appointments with prospects or clients, give yourself a pat on the back. This is a “perfect day.”
This is what to strive for. String as many perfect days together as you can. Many times you won’t make it. An appointment will cancel. You can’t prevent that. But don’t ever lose a perfect day because you were too lazy or undisciplined to make your 20 walk-ins and 50 phone calls.
Now, here’s the new-fangled way to fill up your calendar – read on.
2. Master the art of inbound marketing.
“Inbound marketing” means having a website that is optimized to attract local search traffic. Or traffic related to your niche. And once the readers are there, they have engaging, relevant content to read or videos to watch that truly add value for them and make you look like an expert. (And you new FAs need to be studying hard and busting your tails at night and on weekends to make sure that you really are an expert! Company training by itself won’t do it.)
Lastly, a successful inbound marketing plan means your website provides an incentive for readers to provide their contact information so you can add them to your email list and start sending them emails (including automated campaigns).
Better yet, your website should encourage visitors to contact you directly and make an appointment.
The beauty of inbound marketing is this: Your website and inbound marketing system continues to work, even while you’re sleeping. It’s a great feeling to wake up in the morning and have ten new leads thanks to a great website and inbound marketing system. If you can make appointments with just three of them, you’re well on your way to a “perfect day!”
I believe that most advisors should outsource or delegate their inbound marketing efforts to a digital marketing services firm that specializes in financial advisors, planners, insurance agents – whatever your niche is. Few new FAs have the skills to do a first-class job – and you’ll blow a lot of time trying to do it yourself. Delegate that to someone better at it than you, so you can focus your time on prospecting, scheduling appointments and helping people with their money.
3. Become a master of time.
A lot of things in this business, you can’t control. You can’t control what the market does. You can’t control whether your prospects will show up on time for your booked appointments. You can’t control how many business owners will be in the shop when you do your 20 walk-ins per day. You can’t control how many people will pick up the phone while you make your 50 calls.
But you can control your time! Don’t let it get away from you.
But according to a Research from the FPA Research and Practice Institute only 13% of financial advisors say they have complete control of their time.
Rudyard Kipling wrote in his wonderful poem “If:”
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
So how do you fill that unforgiving minute? You start by getting out of bed on time.
You organize your day. Make a schedule. Use your planner, or online calendar. Or use a “to do” and scheduling app like ToDoist. What matters isn’t what system you use. What matters is that you develop and use a system.
Your time management system is what can help give you a running start on every day’s activity levels. And I want your everyday prospecting and appointment levels to be massive.
4. Stay focused.
In some ways, it was easier when I started. We didn’t have so many distractions. We didn’t have social media. We didn’t have email to hide behind. We didn’t have blog posts to write. When we went to work, we had to work. There wasn’t much else to do!
Well, social media and email are tremendously valuable tools. But you have to control them. Don’t let those distractions control you!
The latest revenue ruling from the IRS? You don’t have to read it.
That hot new Department of Labor rule for ERISA plans? Unless you have a prospect or client you will be meeting within the next day who needs to know the details, save it for the weekend.
Don’t let things that don’t matter distract you from the things that do. Focus on the basics!
Remember, at this stage in your career, your yardstick for success is a full appointment book. Everything you do, day in and day out, should be focused on that goal: Fill your appointment book with people who want and need your help!
5. Follow up.
This is related to time management and organization, but it’s critically important. Following up means sending “thank you” notes after every appointment. (The single best investment you’ll ever make is a big stack of “thank you” cards.)
It means calling when you said you would call.
It means getting back to that prospect with that information you promised them.
Five years into his or her career, the advisor who is disciplined about following up is going to be three times more successful than the advisor who doesn’t.
Twenty years in, the advisor who is disciplined about following up is going to be 50 times more successful than the advisor who doesn’t. Maybe more.