By Colin R. Parkin
…The purpose today is to share some of my secrets to selling in a virtual world…Clients can hold various assets on our platform; to give you an example: portfolio of stocks and shares, unit trusts, OIECs, mutual funds, pensions, ISA cash, ISA stocks and shares, onshore and offshore bonds, and have a cash account. I realize these will differ in other countries, but these are what are available for me to work with.
Once we started to get clients involved and embracing the technology that we had put in place, we used our IT department to support us in this matter.
Our IT department asks clients to bring in their laptop when they attend an appointment so that they could be configured to interact with our system. If they only have a home PC, it is very easy to send someone out to their home to do the same setup. Yes, I agree that this did take some time and we had to put some resources into this, but we found this was a valuable use of our resources to help us interact with our customer base.
By this time many clients were communicating with us by webcam, using Skype or MSN. I found that more and more appointments were being scheduled to use Skype. During the course of those appointments many clients would say, "How can we access this? How can we do that?" They were interacting with the platform well but did require additional help.
Listen and learn from clients
It is most important that you listen and learn from your clients and encourage them to interact with you as you never know where the best ideas are going to come from.
While I was talking to one client, she suggested that maybe we should do some kind of training course to help clients fully understand the intricacies of the system we were operating.
It was at this point that the idea of developing night school classes for clients was formulated. We decided on the working title "How to Turn a Basic Investor into a Sophisticated Investor," so I set about designing a basic course for clients to use our system.
The first course was written and developed, and we decided to trial this with ten clients. We hired a hotel room, included refreshments, and set up the laptop attached to a big screen projector so that we could show clients page by page what we were asking them to navigate their way around…. After clients complete every course, they are awarded a certificate that says that they have successfully completed that particular part of the WRAP training course….
Sometime back, I had been asked to serve on an MDRT committee and received an e-mail giving me login details for a webinar conference call, and, as instructed, I logged in at the appropriate time. There were ten people on the call from all over the world, making it very easy to have a meeting at arm's length.
Well, I thought, if MDRT can do this, so can I!
We started to send clients e-mails suggesting that they log into our system at a predetermined time for further training on the portal. We built the cost of this into our overall client proposition. We felt that the cost of the course should be £150; this figure worked for us, and we were more interested in the increased business it generated.
Let's try and analyze this a bit further. The first thing I have to say is that it got me from Court of the Table to Top of the Table in one year.
How would you like to double or triple your income? These are the kinds of goals you should be setting. The cost of the course was really irrelevant; we just chose the hourly rate for an advisor.
Our typical client will now have assets of between £150,000 and £750,000. This is the sector of the market in which I find I am very effective, and the ongoing management of these accounts is relatively easy to maintain. We do two complete reviews a year, which are e-mailed to the client.
A typical e-mail that we send out to clients with their review report includes an authority letter for us to rebalance the account if necessary and stresses the importance that they sign, date and return this as a matter of urgency.
We keep pictures of our clients. They are standard family snaps, which we all have, and are important to us as they represent people who are important in our life. These pictures create sales opportunities if you know and understand the questions you need to ask.
So, for example, in one picture, the granddaughter was the very important factor. A possible sale in that case would be putting assets in trust for the benefit of the grandchildren.
For every single picture, if you ask the right questions, you can develop sales opportunities. This is why we believe it is important to interact with clients using webcam, Facebook, and e-mail as well as face-to-face….
Colin R. Parkin, Dip FA, Cert CII(MP), is managing director of his own firm, Ample Financial Services, Lincoln, England. A 35-year MDRT member, he has eight Top of the Table and seven Court of the Table qualifications and has served as a PGA volunteer for many years and also as a member of several committees. He became involved in the wealth management industry six years ago. Above is an excerpt from “The Actual Secret to Soft Selling in a Virtual World,” his presentation at the MDRT 2013 annual meeting in Philadelphia.