Turning contacts into clients
By BRETT DAVIDSON
One of the most important skills for any adviser to master is converting new clients. That is, taking a new enquiry all the way from initial contact right through to becoming an ongoing client.
And while any adviser who is currently in business must know how to do it at a passable level (otherwise they would have starved to death), you’d be surprised at how ineffective many advisers are in this area. And I’m not trying to be hyper-critical here. I just want you to know that if you suspect you could be better at converting new clients, then you’re certainly not alone.
There are six major pain points that I see in my role as a consultant.
Low conversion percentage
Not enough prospects are buying.
Poor pre-first meeting boundaries
Advisers aren’t setting out the rules of engagement from the get go, so the client dictates the process.
Too much "telling"
In a valiant but misguided attempt to get a prospect to see the value in the financial planning process, advisers spend way too much time “telling” prospects how great they are.
Fact finding that's full of friction
Gathering all the hard data that is required to give compliant advice is a massive sticking point and a barrier to doing business.
Strategy presentation that doesn’t engage the client with their solution
There’s too much focus on presenting the mere technical and not enough on the client’s emotional engagement with the strategy. No buy in, means no business.
Dropping the ball at implementation
A less than stellar implementation process means advisers are missing out on an instant referral to their next on-target lead.
What can you do to fix these issues?
The key is creating a standard process for engaging with new clients. One that’s been well thought out and is repeatable with client after client.
I can hear the push-back already:
"But I'm a free spirit, dude"
"I hate process"
"It'll take away my flair and creativity"
Let me explain what I mean by a standard process.
You need to systemise the 90%, so you can customise the 10%, just like they do in a 5-star hotel.
Which hotel gives better service, a 5-star one or a 2-star one?
Clearly it's the 5-star version.
Because in the 2-star hotel, the couple who run the hotel do everything; cooking the meals and running up the stairs to deliver them, checking you in, cleaning the rooms etc. They are jacks-of-all-trades.
In a 5-star hotel, they systemise everything that can possibly be systemised to make it slick and efficient (the 90%), which frees up the staff to be able to handle client interactions that do require some flair and people skills (the 10%). What’s more, everyone knows their role and focuses 100% upon it, meaning they get really good at doing it and they often come up with ways of doing it better.
You can do the same when thinking about your new client engagement process.
Break down your sales process into its constituent parts
As you contemplate systemising your sales process, break it down into bite-sized pieces, otherwise, it can feel a little overwhelming.
These are six areas I'd be focusing on:
Do you record precise data on each part of the sales process from first contact right through to becoming an ongoing client?
If you do, you'll be able to tell me:
The source of every new enquiry
Percentage of leads that move to an initial screening call
Percentage of screening calls that book a first meeting
Percentage of first meetings that are held
Percentage of first meetings that engage for a fee and receive a strategy presentation
Percentage of strategy presentation meetings that lead to implementation
Percentage of implementations that complete
Percentage of implementations that become ongoing clients
Percentage of implementations that make an immediate referral (e.g. within 30 days of becoming a client)
I can hear some of you saying, "but that’s a lot of work for me or my staff to do, is it actually worth the effort?"
In my experience – absolutely. With data like this you’ll be able to pinpoint exactly where prospects are being lost in the process. Facts not guesswork.
Without great data you don’t really know the truth.
Great data lets you pinpoint the real issue, so you can deal with it.
2. Pre-meeting boundaries
When you receive a new enquiry it’s exciting. However, don’t get over-excited before you’ve confirmed that the lead is of the right quality.
Set up an initial screening call to find out more about the prospect and their needs before you go ahead and book in a first meeting. You’ll save yourself some time and disappointment by filtering out the inappropriate enquiries right up front. Your prospective clients will welcome the initial contact too, whether or not you take them on as a client.
Also make sure that you’re doing meetings on your turf, which in the modern world means at your offices or on Zoom. Never at the client’s home or place of work.
And even more importantly, always see couples together, never separately.
3. First meeting
You don’t demonstrate your value by ‘telling’. You allow the client to ‘discover for themselves’ how great you are by asking interesting questions.
The most important objective at the first meeting? To get the client emotionally engaged with their own issues.
This is not sleazeball sales stuff. Getting clients to engage emotionally is vital if you’re going to help them really dig in and make life decisions that are in line with their deeply held values. Only then can you make the financial choices and come up with the strategies to support that.
4. Discovery or fact find
This is the trickiest step in the process.
Remember to look closely at your data. How many people drop out here, or get stuck at this step for months, not returning information that you need to give good advice?
Your job is to remove the friction.
Technology is a great way to make the process slick and convenient to the client – and to save you time also.
When it comes to ease of doing business you are being compared to Amazon, not other financial advisers. Clients just don’t want and won’t accept clunky anymore.
5. Strategy presentation
The big question to answer here is “How do you want clients to feel after you give them your advice?”
Once you’re clear on that you can ask yourself, “How will I achieve that outcome every single time?”
There needs to be an emotional element to your strategy presentation process otherwise it all feels cold. Remember, emotion is engagement.
And lastly, can you deliver advice without creating a written report for the client? (Ooh, controversial I know).
How will you maintain the energy, excitement and momentum when product providers might be doing their best to elongate the process by weeks and months?
The key will be frequent and informative communication.
Whatever you do, don’t drop the ball here thinking you’ve made the sale. The goal of your process at the implementation stage is to win your next piece of work (an instant referral), it’s not merely to complete the business and get paid.
Get all of this right and you get referred instantly to your next on-target client.
By putting in that extra 20% of effort at every step of the new client engagement process you create a steady flow of on target leads for you and your business.
That extra 20% of effort will save you 1000% of costs down the road (time and money) that most firms are forced to spend on expensive marketing support.
Is it time to take a closer look at this most important of processes within your business?
Let me know how you go.
BRETT DAVIDSON helps financial planners take the headache out of running a business, so that they can get back to doing what they love — looking after their clients.
This article was first published on Brett’s blog and is republished here with his permission.
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