By Jason Levy
Being a financial advisor is a competitive endeavor. The industry is changing constantly, and prospects are hounded by sales pitches. To succeed in this environment, you must find ways to stand out from the pack so that your message, your offerings and your service resonate with your prospects.
Saying that you should “stand out” is easy. But actually developing the new business strategies that are different and effective at the same time is a significant challenge. As an appointment setting firm, our staff has these kinds of conversations with advisors on a regular basis because when we call a prospect on an advisor’s behalf, we need a compelling message that captures interest and motivates the prospect to take a meeting.
Even after that first appointment is set, standing out still matters. As a result, we’ve seen a few trends throughout the new business process that might help you to find new clients as well. Here are some of the highlights:
- Understand what makes you different. We walk advisors through a storyboarding process that helps us to uncover and build upon their unique strengths or specialties. If you are working with an appointment setting firm, your first instinct might be to skip worrying about the first meeting. However, if your marketing messages don’t communicate what makes you different, you will blend into the sea of advisors calling on prospects for new business.
For example, we worked with an advisor who worked with more nonprofits than any other advisor we had ever met, but he never talked about that specialty or capitalized on it. Think about your niche. Do you work with a special kind of client? Are you offering a new kind of service? Do you structure your work differently?
- Rethink the first meeting. We are seeing more advisors take their first appointments via Skype or GoTo Meeting. This accomplishes a few things simultaneously. Conducting a meeting through one of these services saves driving time while still having an element of face-to-face intimacy. Even with that face-to-face component, the meeting can be less intimidating. A savvy prospect might appreciate your willingness to incorporate some of the “new school” into your practice. It demonstrates that you are on pace with change and are adapting your business accordingly. In addition, it gives a subtle nod toward your expertise.
- Work with technology, not against it. The ability to hold a meeting over the internet is one way that technology is influencing the industry. But that’s relatively small in comparison to the growth of online portals and the increasing comfort that consumers have with robo advisors.
The value that you can bring to a prospect is not changing, but how a client accesses that value or how you deliver your services over the duration of the relationship might be changing. For example, you might have a client portal built into your website that offers a dashboard-style view of your work with a particular client. Again, this is partially a way to demonstrate that you are on the cutting edge, but it’s also a way to provide the kind of experience that many prospects are looking for.
- The long-term game matters even more. When prospects have no shortage of choices, the sense of urgency to make a change can start to fade. You aren’t going anywhere, and your competitors aren’t either, so why be quick to switch away from what they know? Although drip campaigns are not new, many advisors still underestimate their power to generate return on investment.
One of our longtime clients routinely closes prospects that he met five or six years prior. By keeping in touch and consistently demonstrating his value over the course of multiple touchpoints, he is able to capitalize on the kinds of opportunities that other advisors might have given up on after a year or two. This suggestion seems simple and easy, but too often we underestimate the value that an email or newsletter can bring when its delivered over the long haul. And we let that activity fade.
Finding opportunities to innovate in your marketing and new business efforts takes consistent, dedicated effort. Although these ideas can get you started, standing out from the crowd is an ongoing process of learning from what you’re doing now, looking to other spaces and trends for inspiration, and listening to your clients and prospects. If being different is a goal that you consistently work toward, we’ll be writing about you next time, and everyone else will be following your lead.
Jason Levy is vice president of client services for PT Services Group. Jason may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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