Can tech solve your toughest problems? — Filling the sales pipeline
Advisors are finding technology makes it easier to connect with prospects and find the prospects that are just right for their practice. Here are some examples of how tech is helping fill the sales pipeline.
Although most of Craig Lytle’s practice is focused on helping clients with life insurance and financial planning needs, sometimes a client needs help with something else. That’s where technology comes in.
Lytle is CEO of Income & Estate Planning Partners in Newark, Del., and is a Goosehead franchisee. Goosehead’s Digital Agent is an online tool that leverages relationships with hundreds of insurance companies to build a home and auto bundle that suits a client’s needs.
Client leads go into Lytle’s Salesforce. He then can help create the kind of coverage needed by the client. In the case of a client who lives out of Lytle’s area, he can work with a local agent where the client lives and then can split the commission.
In one example of how he was able to use Goosehead to help a client, Lytle said he was contacted by a mortgage loan officer in New Jersey to help a client who was relocating to Texas and needed homeowners insurance. “I’m not licensed in Texas, but I was able to have the lead referred to a Goosehead agent in the ZIP code where the client was moving,” he said. “We collaborated to get the client the coverage, and we split the commission.”
In another example, a client who relocated to Oregon needed help with insuring their car and RV. “We were able to use this technology to help them get their coverage,” Lytle said.
“Without this technology, people moving to Texas or Oregon in the past would have just gone away to work with another agent someplace else,” he said. “But for the client who wants to work with me because they are familiar with me and trust me, it’s a good way for me to help them. It’s also a good way for me to work with a local agent in the place where they are moving because of the particular nuances in each state as well as the licensing issues in each state. It’s a win-win all around.”
No more ‘plain vanilla’
The use of technology for lead generation means that advisors have to devote less time to filling the sales funnel and have more time available to close sales.
Taylor Schulte uses his podcast, “The Stay Wealthy Retirement Show,” as a way to build awareness of his practice and lead his search engine optimization on Google. Schulte is founder and CEO of Define Financial in San Diego. He describes his podcast as the top of his sales funnel, as he wants prospects to find it when they go online to search for “best retirement podcast” on Google.
“After we show up in SEO, then we want to move prospects to the middle of the funnel, which is to subscribe to our newsletter or to our podcast,” he said.
But converting those who move to the middle of the funnel into actual clients takes time, and that’s by design, he said.
“We have a very detailed sales process. It takes about four to six weeks for somebody to go through it from start to finish,” Schulte said. “We always say, if you want to hire us tomorrow, we’re probably not the right fit. What we do is we offer a free retirement and tax analysis. You can think of this as kind of a life financial plan.”
Schulte specializes in working with people who are over age 50 with $1 million or more in investments and have tax problems in retirement. He directs prospects to his website, where they are routed to a landing page that gives them information on how they can obtain that free analysis.
“If they feel like we’re potentially a good fit, they can schedule their call directly on our webpage. We use a scheduling software called Acuity Scheduling. That allows them to get the introductory phone call scheduled so we can discuss whether we’re a good fit to work with them going forward.”
Schulte also uses Acuity to send prospects automated educational emails while they are going through the sales process. “So, it’s not radio silence from us,” he said. “We’ve used technology to create a good client experience. We’ve taken a very plain vanilla sales process that many advisors use, and we’ve created an amazing experience out of it and leveraged a lot of technology to do that.”
Using platforms to grow community
Trent Grzegorczyk created his private community, Retirement Planning Club, which is hosted on the Skool platform. Grzegorczyk is founder of Resilient Financial Planning in Traverse City, Mich.
He uses his YouTube channel, The Retirement Planning Coach, to direct prospects to the club. After they join, they can take three of his classes for free. From there, they can sign up to purchase some of his advisory programs and services. “The end goal is for them to eventually become our wealth management clients,” he said.
In the five months since launching his community, he has seen it grow to more than 180 members. “I think those results are good, considering it has only been around for a short time,” he said.
Grzegorczyk said his niche client is an individual over the age of 50 who has been doing DIY investing for a number of years and has accumulated some money but needs a second opinion or has decided they need a professional advisor. He said this type of self-directed client already is comfortable with receiving an education online, and he wants them to get that education from him.
He also wants to begin using an online tool, New Retirement, which will enable him to work alongside clients who want to direct their own retirement planning with the help of an advisor.
“Building an online community is nothing new,” he said. “But for independent advisors who are looking to grow online, this is a good model.”
Automation with personalization
Adam Cmelja likes to quote the saying “Never delegate something that can be automated, and never automate something that can be eliminated.”
As for lead generation, Cmelja believes that’s something that should be automated instead of delegated. He is president of Integrated Wealth Management, a practice based in Carmel, Ind., that serves independent optometrists.
Cmelja said that he uses automation to schedule appointments as well as to capture the right prospects for his practice.
Using technology enables him “to capture important information that you would like to know about the potential relationship.
“For instance, you can create online forms that will ask a prospective client to fill in some qualitative and/or quantitative pieces of information about themselves. We have an integration built into it that says if you check this box and you want to receive our newsletter, it’ll automatically add you to our email newsletter list. They are giving us permission to market to them in the future. And it also allows the advisor to put constraints around when they want to have calls with prospective clients. So, it’s this idea of blocking your time so you can control how prospects reach out to you, and it also puts guardrails around your time and frees you up to work on your business.”
Although Cmelja is enthusiastic about using technology for scheduling, he also sees it as an opportunity to do some personalized marketing to the prospect.
“You can set up a generic appointment confirmation email, but that’s a missed opportunity to communicate with a client and personalize that interaction,” he said. “With us, the first email they get after booking an appointment with us is something like ‘You may not believe this right now, but we’re doing a little bit of a happy dance over here at the office because we’re so excited to engage in another conversation with someone who is looking to work with us.’”
He described technology as one way to “communicate to a potential relationship your values, your purpose, your perspective, your culture, your mission and your firm’s personality.”
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