There’s no doubt about it: The past six months have changed our business. It’s not just because those of us in the financial advisory business have changed. Our markets and our clients have changed, too. Their habits and behaviors are different.
Case in point: Those of us of a certain age remember closing lots of sales at the kitchen table – often late at night. But with the pandemic, few people are going to invite a salesperson into their home. That way of doing business was disappearing even before the pandemic. Now it may be gone forever.
Here are four communications challenges your peers are facing – and a few words on some possible solutions. We’ll have more in depth content on each of these topics in the future. But here are the basics to get you started.
Challenge #1: Staying top-of-mind when clients are going through crises of their own.
Many of your clients are going through some tough times right now – both financially and personally. Calling their Financial Advisor may be the last thing on their minds.
A year ago, email was still an incredibly valuable tool for maintaining top-of-mind awareness among clients. Even if they didn’t click on your email, they still saw your name come up regularly.
These days, email boxes are getting jammed. You may have had a business email address for a client who’s gone out of business. Or who is avoiding emails because of business problems.
But you can still use email to get clients’ attention. Here are a few ideas.
Improve email subject lines.
To cut through the email fog, your subjects need to be more relevant than ever. Speak directly to your clients’ real-world concerns, and offer the hope of solving real problems right from the subject line.
If you spend 30 minutes composing a sales email, spend at least half that amount of time fine-tuning and perfecting your subject line.
Improve email timing.
Studies from Constant Contact show that the best time for financial advisors to send emails is Wednesday afternoon at 6 PM. These emails are the most likely to get opened and read. Communicate in at least two additional mediums.
Don’t hide behind your email campaigns. You should be reaching out to your clients personally on a regular basis to stay in touch. Other mediums include:
- LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – wherever your clients follow you on, there’s where you should be active.
- Don’t be a weakie. Pick up the phone.
- Direct mail. Nothing beats a hand-written note in a hand-written envelope from a trusted advisor.
- People are increasingly going to YouTube for answers to their questions and concerns. You should be there. I am.
Challenge #2: Generating leads when ‘networking events’ have been shut down.
The ‘meet and greets’ won’t be coming back anytime soon. This is your chance to up your game with niche interest and affiliation marketing. Social media is a terrific tool for this. Use it.
Here are a few ideas you can start implementing right away with your Compliance department approval.
- Generate some reports, white papers and blogs, and get them promoted on social media.
- Create a webinar on a topic of specific interest to your niche.
- Have a ‘round table’ discussion with a panel of financial or business experts on Zoom. Collect emails from those who log in. Upload it to YouTube. (Pro-tip: Some of these panelists could be clients of yours. It gives you one more reason to call them and stay in touch!)
- Start a podcast.
- Start an ‘entrepreneurship club’ or a financial book club.
- Hold a Q and A session on YouTube or social media. (You can write the questions, if you need to).
If you’re looking for ways to keep your appointment book full, get the mp3, 12 Prospecting Ideas for Financial Advisors.
Challenge #3: Running your business from home.
Home can be very distracting. It’s tempting to succumb to diversion. Chores. Cleaning. Honey-do’s. Guitars. Family activities.
Well, do all these. A lot. But you’ve got a business to run. You have got to take control of your home environment, or your home environment will take control of you.
Here’s how to take control:
- Establish a room or work area that is 100 percent for work.
- Eliminate all distractions from this work area.
- Create a schedule – plan out your ideal work day – and stick to it.
- Get your family’s input into creating your schedule. That way, they’re more likely to respect it.
- Plan your family activities in your schedule.
- Delegate chores and household tasks as needed. Hire that housekeeper or handyman, for example. Your focus should be on prospecting, selling and serving clients. Those are your core business tasks for 10-12 hours per day. Non-core tasks should be ruthlessly eliminated.
Challenge #4: Managing a staff that works from home.
It’s tough to keep your staff on track when everyone is working from home. But it can be done. In fact, some advisors are having great success. Here are some ideas for you to try with your team.
Coach your team.
Help coach your staff on how to take control of their home office environments just as you have. Lead by example. But be understanding, because everyone’s home environment is different.
Avoid the temptation to micromanage.
Tell your staff what you need to get done – and why, so they can anticipate your needs and can act without specific direction. But aside from training people on technology and office procedures, don’t tell them how to do it. People will surprise you with their ingenuity.
Know when to make a change.
Not everyone is cut out to work independently. Some will fail. Consider bringing them back into the office, modifying their tasks or schedules, and set them up for success. If it’s a work ethic or integrity problem, and you can’t correct it with counseling, then don’t be afraid to let them go.
Appoint an office manager.
Deputize someone who can make decisions and keep the back-office ball rolling when you’re unavailable. Hopefully you’ll be unavailable a lot because you’ll be meeting with clients and prospects every day. The better you are, the more valuable your second-in-command will be.
Again, these are just a few of the communication problems we’ve seen, and some strategies for dealing with them.
Have you had to deal with these challenges in your own practice? What worked? What didn’t? What would you do differently if you had to do it all over again? Send me an email, or drop a note in the comments.
Now go do some prospecting. People need to hear from you.