With the pandemic still making it difficult for many advisors to meet frequently with prospects face-to-face, many of them are looking for methods they can use to acquire and engage clients in this COVID-19 environment.
InsuranceNewsNet recently asked John Pojeta, Susan L. Combs and Bryce Sanders about what it takes to build a thriving financial practice in today’s world, and this is what they had to say:
Pojeta is vice president of The PT Services Group, Combs is president and CEO of insurance brokerage firm, Combs & Company, LLC, and Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions, Inc.
According to Pojeta, one of the most important steps advisors can take is to blend their marketing. “By blend, I mean to utilize multiple platforms – LinkedIn, or social media in general, blog/articles, podcasts, webinars, videos, phone calls and your website,” he said.
Advisors should also maintain consistency in their message and in the tone they use, Pojeta added. This allows prospects to gain exposure to you and your services on the platforms your prospects prefer, while ensuring they are interacting with the same key messaging.
Two additional pieces of advice that Pojeta offered in the marketing realm: “Develop thought leadership pieces for your content [no one wants all sales, all the time] and two, be sure to still make the ask. Be specific, such as 'let’s meet on Tuesday,' or 'I’ll send you an invite for Thursday at 9 a.m.'”
Pojeta also advised financial advisors to “get away from Zoom as a first appointment unless the prospect asks for it. PT Services has seen a big drop-off in the number of appointments actually meeting when set as a Zoom call for the first engagement. Use Zoom in future meetings.”
Pojeta’s last piece of advice is for advisors to hire a sales coach. “You probably don’t need help with referrals and COI introductions. Shaking up how you engage, and learning how to do it well, will help you immensely with prospects who are earlier in the process of working with you and therefore have more skepticism,” he added.
Meeting People Where They Are
Combs said that her firm has always had clients across the world and has always tried to “meet people where they are,” whether this is via in-person meetings or through telephone call meetings, email conversations, or video-conferencing.
For advisors who are new to the industry, she thinks it will be very difficult for them to acquire a high number of clients if they don’t have the capital to buy a book of business.
“So much of what we do at my firm is making connections and networking. If you haven’t established yourself in the market, it will be difficult,” she said.
The good thing is that many networking groups have also gotten creative and have moved to video platforms, she added. “Consequently, you can literally have a 'virtual coffee' with someone and build the social capital within that relationship to gain referrals.”
Using social media to establish yourself as an industry expert and provide content to others right now is crucial, she said. “People are looking for information, but they don’t want the canned responses that they can just Google; instead, they want the human aspect,” she added.
Even during the pandemic, Combs said that she has seen an uptick in the desire of many consumers for face-to-face meetings since many of them are desperate to have a reason to suit up and show up. Her practice is in New York City where there is a vaccine mandate now.
“So I think we will see even more face-to-face meetings in the near future,” she said.
With that said, she added, “I think it’s important to offer a myriad ways to meet with networking partners as well as prospects and clients. It shows you not only have your finger on the pulse, but you also want to be considerate about their comfort levels.”
Give More Attention To LinkedIn
As many advisors ramp up their online interactions with prospects in their efforts to gain more clients, they can give LinkedIn more attention by focusing on two areas, advised Sanders.
First, visit LinkedIn Notifications every morning, he advised. You will see birthday, work anniversary and job change prompts. Answer each one of these prompts, he said.
Don't send the boilerplate greeting, he added. Instead, personalize your message. For example, "Happy birthday" might be replaced by "Happy birthday, Bob! How are you celebrating?" You will be surprised by the number of people who will respond to this greeting.
This leads to the second area of focus, Sanders said. Review "Messages" on LinkedIn every morning. You can sort by "unread," which shortens the list. This is where you will find responses to your birthday, work anniversary and new job notifications. Send these respondents a message.
It might start with "[First name] thanks for taking time to send a message back.” You can then ask a question about their new job or what they did on their birthday. You now have a dialogue going, without being too intrusive or pushy, he said.
Ayo Mseka has more than 30 years of experience reporting on the financial-services industry. She formerly served as Editor-In-Chief of NAIFA’s Advisor Today magazine. Contact her at [email protected]