Posts Tagged ‘Last Monday’
Wednesday, October 24th, 2012
by Dan Richards, ClientInsights.ca
Most advisors tell me that once they meet with prospects, they have an excellent success rate converting those prospects into clients. That’s why I got an exceptional response to last Monday’s article on how approaching friends and casual acquaintances about the possibility of working together, using a low-key technique called signaling.
In my article, I wrote about an advisor who chatted with a lawyer he knew casually at a client’s 50th birthday party and then sent him an email the next day offering to put the lawyer on the distribution list for his monthly client emails. The article also mentioned that this advisor plans to give it a few months and then to make a follow-up call, suggesting they get together for a coffee to talk further about the prospect’s financial situation.
Why you have to pick up the phone
I got an email from an advisor, thanking me for the article but with a question: “I hate being harassed by people trying sell me things and I hate harassing prospects” he wrote. “Is it really necessary to pester prospects who are getting your material?”
I had a two-part response to his note.
First, while these follow-up calls can make prospects feel harassed and regret that they said yes to receiving material, done right that doesn’t have to be the case. Provided the calls don’t happen too often, few prospects who’ve agreed to be put on your distribution list and are seeing value in the information will object to a professional follow-up call, inquiring whether there’s interest in sitting down.
I told the advisor that part of the problem might be that he sees these calls as harassing and pestering prospects – and that the issue might be more in his mind than with prospects. The key to making this work is that you have no hidden agenda. You’ve been clear from the outset that you’re interested in sharing the investment related information you provide clients, which makes the transition to talking about the prospect’s own financial situation much easier.
On the question about whether this is really necessary, the unfortunate answer is yes. In the perfect world, we wouldn’t have to be reaching out to prospects, we’d be doing a terrific job for our clients, prospects would see that and would call us as a result.
Regrettably, in the real world that seldom happens – if you want to maximize meetings with prospects, no matter how good a job you do of delivering value and building your credibility through the information you send, you ultimately have to give them a call or have someone call them on your behalf.
As one example, I spoke to a financial planner who built a large pipeline of prospects through his extensive speaking engagements. At the end of his talk, he gave the audience the chance to enter a draw for a book and to receive his free online newsletter. He got lots of people saying yes to this but few meetings – until he hired a summer student to follow up and ask if there was interest in sitting down to meet.
With regard to frequency, people are getting monthly information, I’d say four to six months after they start receiving information is about right; if the email goes out quarterly, I’d give it nine to twelve months. If someone isn’t interested in meeting, a simple “I understand how busy we all are, could I check back with you in about nine months?” will often clarify the prospect’s interest.
It’s never been more important to have a strong pipeline of prospects with whom you’re building awareness, trust and credibility. But to make that pipeline pay off, you need to build regular follow-up into your week – consider blocking off 30 minutes a week to follow up with prospects who you’ve spoken to in the past and who are receiving your material.
To read last Monday’s article about how approaching casual acquaintances, click here:
Tags: Casual Acquaintances, Client Emails, Coffee, Distribution List, Email, Financial Situation, Hidden Agenda, Last Monday, Lawyer, Leads, Outset, Prospects, Success Rate, Th Birthday Party
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Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012
In last Monday’s article, I talked about how client development has changed from an event in the 1980s and 1990s to a process today, and the critical importance of having a healthy pipeline of prospective clients as a result.
Back in the 1990s, a pipeline was much less important. When you met with a prospect back then the prospect might not sign on; but at least you typically got a yes or a no. In essence, client development was an event.
In today’s world of longer decision making cycles, it normally takes prospective clients much longer to decide. Business development has become a process, and with that shift comes some fundamental implications for how you have to operate.
The new reality of business development:
I concluded Monday’s article by highlighting three implications for business development activity.
First, you are going to have to be more patient in communicating with prospective clients than was the case historically.
Second, the number of qualified prospects in your pipeline is a key measure of your future success, and just like any other key variable you need to set goals for the number of prospects in your pipeline. Put activity in place to achieve those objectives and track your progress against those goals.
Finally, you need a way to build trust and to stay in front of prospective clients. Calling to say “Just checking to see if you’re ready to buy yet,” may be better than no call at all but certainly won’t maximize the chances of those prospects becoming clients.
“Just checking to see if you’re ready to buy yet:”
I got an email in response to that last sentence in which an advisor with a bank-owned firm put his finger on why the “just calling to check in approach” risks positioning you as a pest, in your mind if not the prospect’s.
Here’s how he started his email
“I worked for Xerox many years ago where we made many, many calls on potential customers.
I quickly realized that busy people running successful businesses… the ones we want to connect with… hate the calls that begin “…Just calling to touch base/see how you are doing/ask if you are ready to sign up the paperwork yet? If you are not bringing value to a prospect you are wasting his time. Therefore it was my goal to always have something of value to share with them.
In the copier business it was some feature he might have missed and a new way I had thought their firm could take advantage of the capabilities. As an advisor, it was some fact about a company in his industry, or something I knew they were following or maybe currency changes if I knew he does cross border business.”
Two kinds of follow-up:
This advisor focused in on direct follow-up with prospects. In fact, this is one of two different kinds of follow-up.
Before direct follow-up with prospects comes unobtrusive, lower key follow-up that keeps you top of mind and demonstrates value. The best form of that follow-up is to share with prospects the communication that goes to clients. Here’s what communication with a prospect might look like:
“Given turbulent markets of the past few years, once a quarter I invite clients who are interested to a breakfast to discuss recent events. As well, I send clients a twice monthly email where I select one or two articles that I’ve found especially relevant and insightful. I’ve had a great response to these breakfasts and the articles. With your permission, I’d like to add you to the distribution list for the articles and the invitation list for the breakfasts.”
Most prospects will agree fairly readily. For some, it’s a low cost commitment on their part that holds the promise of value. For others, it’s simply the route of least resistance to say yes.
You can’t expect prospects who receive this low key follow-up to act on it, and in fact any direct action arising from this is a bonus. What this form of low key follow-up is designed to do is to prime the pump; to lay a foundation of awareness and credibility for when you do call.
“Calling as we agreed:”
It’s that direct follow-up when you pick up the phone and place the call that many advisors shy away from because it’s here that it can feel like you’re bothering prospects.
There are two ways to deal with this: first by getting permission to call, and second by ensuring that you’re calling on something that’s directly relevant.
Here’s how the first part of the conversation might go:
“I hear loud and clear your concerns about (fill in the blanks: ways to increase income without incurring additional risk; strategies to reduce your overall tax bill; methods to achieve some of your goals in helping your children and grandchildren.) I’ll think about this further and stay alert for opportunities that could meet your needs and with your permission check back in about 90 days.”
Note that you’re not asking a question, you’re making a statement to which you’re asking the prospective client to respond. Depending on the tone of the conversation and any urgency on the prospect’s part to take action, 90 days might be too soon or too long. What’s important is not the duration until the call, but that you get the client’s agreement that you can call.
When you do call (and likely leave a voice-mail), your follow-up should relate back to your last conversation:
“It’s Dan Richards. When we last spoke, we agreed that I’d be following up about now. I have a couple of specific ideas that I’d like to discuss with regard to the concern you expressed about increasing income without incurring additional risk.”
There is one downside to this approach. It’s much more work to use this strategy than to say: “Just calling to follow up to see if you have any questions on the last article that I sent you,” (which in truth is a more professional way of saying “checking to see if you’re ready to buy yet.”)
But by following this three step process, getting prospective clients to buy in to receiving ongoing communication, obtaining agreement to a follow up call, and ensuring that the call relates to their specific situation your chances of success go up dramatically. And in the process, your risk of being seen as a pest and feeling like a pest drop dramatically as well.
Tags: 1980s, 1990s, Bank Owned, Business Development, Critical Importance, Email Response, Essence, Fundamental Implications, Last Monday, Met, New Reality, Pipeline, Positioning, Prospective Clients, Qualified Prospects, Success, Xerox
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Wednesday, February 1st, 2012
The information sources that persuade clients
In last Monday’s article, I made the case that today’s investors want more frequent, shorter contact. That means advisors should schedule regular short telephone meetings with their most important clients — say once a quarter for top clients.
But for many investors that’s still not enough — some are looking to have that contact supplemented on a regular basis with a relevant article speaking to important market developments
Notice that we’re talking article, not articles — in a less is more world, many clients are looking for advisors to screen down the content they receive.
And we’re talking about relevant — something that speaks to what’s happening today, not generic content that could be sent anytime.
We’re also talking regular frequency — many investors are looking for monthly updates between personal communication with their advisor.
Even if you deliver on all that — one relevant article each month, there’s one final factor for your communication to be well received — and that’s for it to come from a credible source.
The role of third party sources
We all recognize that we live in an age of scepticism — when it comes to advice from central bankers, doctors or financial advisors, to name just three examples, compared to past periods consumers are much less prone to accept what they’re told without question.
That means that we need to borrow credibility wherever we can. Every advisor recognizes that the right article can be a powerful force in reinforcing your advice — that’s why articles featuring bullish pronouncements from Warren Buffett ricochet around the internet at warp speed.
The reason for this isn’t the content of the articles, but rather the source — it’s because of the credibility of anything that Buffett says. In fact, a strong case can be made that Warren Buffett has assumed the role that news anchor Walter Cronkite occupied in the 1960s as “the most trusted man in America.”
The credibility hierarchy for information sources
Accepting that the sources of information that we send clients can be as important as the content has significant implications. In fact research with investors demonstrates a clear hierarchy in terms of the credibility that clients ascribe to different information sources, with four tiers of credibility.
Tier One credibility sources are the leading financial and business publications — examples would be the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Financial Times, Forbes, Fortune and Bloomberg Business Week. Even though it’s not a financial publication for many investors the New York Times would be in this category.
Tier Two credibility sources are general news publications — Time, Newsweek, US News and World Report. Even though not specialized on financial issues, especially for older investors, these bring considerable name recognition and credibility.
The third tier are local newspapers; this would also include Canadian news publications such as Macleans. Fairly or not, many investors take the view that they look to their advisors for content that they would have difficulty accessing on their own.
The bottom tier of credibility are publications from product suppliers and internal firm publications. Unfortunately, today’s investors are quick to see ulterior motives — many are sceptical about anything that comes from product suppliers or the firms their advisors work for. The sole exception would be those cases where firms employ an economist or market strategist who has built visibility and expert credentials in the broad media.
The bottom line is crystal clear — the same article will have a dramatically different impact depending on its source. An email link to an article in Fortune or Forbes will resonate in a fundamentally different way than if that link is to the same article in the local paper.
As you think about how you communicate going forward, keep those four elements in mind — in future, successful communication will be defined by more frequent, shorter, relevant and credible contact.
Tags: 1960s, Cred, Credibility, Credible Source, Financial Advisors, Generic Content, Information Sources, Last Monday, Market Developments, News Anchor, Party Sources, Periods, Personal Communication, Pronouncements, Relevant Article, Ricochet, Scepticism, Walter Cronkite, Warp Speed, Warren Buffett
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Tuesday, November 16th, 2010
[Last] Monday’s article talked about three flaws in advisor thinking about referrals — here are four more misconceptions that stand in the way of referrals.
Misconception 4: It’s all about satisfaction
Your goal should be to have clients who are satisfied
Research commissioned in 2009 by Vanguard and conducted by research firm Advisor Impact demonstrated that for clients to initiate referrals, they have to be more than satisfied — they have to be engaged.
Among the keys to engaged clients are a discussion of clients’ full financial needs, a written plan and strong, ongoing communication — as well as a connection between advisors and clients that goes beyond a mere business relationship.
At one time, satisfaction with an advisor was good enough … but not today.
Misconception 5: Keep client relationships purely professional
You should operate on a purely professional basis, no differently than an accountant or lawyer … getting into “soft” issues undermines your image of professionalism
There’s an old expression that “clients don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Unquestionably, there are some clients who have a “just business” mindset … some time-pressed CEO’s and entrepreneurs or super analytical engineers and accountants, for whom it’s all about the numbers.
Research shows that these clients are in the small minority. Even if you’ve succeeded in “engaging” clients, most people want to feel good about their advisor, to have the sense that you’re motivated by more than the revenue they generate.
Of course, activity to show you care is only effective if it’s delivered on a foundation of strong value and solid service.
But once you’re delivering that value and service, to maximize the relationship with many clients, you have to do more — and take the relationship to a personal level.
One of my recent columns talked about an advisor whose clients rave about her because she regularly sends them funny, upbeat books about key events in their lives. And it’s not about the cost — she’s in the bottom 10% of top producers in her firm on the amount spent on client recognition, but in the top 10% on client loyalty and share of assets. The reason these books work is because they’re personal, unexpected and tap into positive moments in clients’ lives.
In general, the feedback on this idea from advisors was very positive … although I did hear from one dissenting advisor, who wrote “I have a CFA and came into this business to be a professional, not a concierge at the Four Seasons.”
Life is all about choices — and if staying detached from personal aspects of client lives is your choice, that’s a legitimate decision. But remember that if you ignore the emotional aspect of relationships, for many clients you are putting an upper limit on their level of attachment and you’re kidding yourself if you don’t think that has an impact on their tendency to provide referrals.
Misconception 6: Clients provide referrals to help you
If you’ve done a good job, clients want to help you out and in fact will feel an obligation to reciprocate with referrals.
Today, most clients take the view that the reward for your doing a good job is that they’ll stay a client — and feel no obligation whatsoever to refer people they know to you. Yes, they’ll pass your name along to friends who ask, but they’re unlikely to take the initiative on this.
Tags: Accountant, Accountants, Business Mindset, Business Relationship, Ceo, Client Relationships, Course Activity, Expression, Last Monday, Lawyer, Misconception, Misconceptions, Personal Level, Professional Basis, Professionalism, Referrals, Satisfaction, Small Minority, Solid Service, Vanguard
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Sunday, September 19th, 2010
“I’m a huge bull on this country … we won’t have a double dip recession. I see our businesses coming back almost across the board.” .…Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway
“GE is now finding it profitable to build manufacturing and service centers in the United States rather than overseas, because it is more competitive to do so.” … Jeff Immelt, CEO, GE
“I am very enthusiastic about what the future holds” .… Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft
One of the most important roles for advisors is to be an emotional anchor for clients … preventing the highs from being too high and the lows from being too low.
Today, many Canadians are pessimistic about the U.S. and global economies … driven in large measure by daunting headlines about slow growth, weak housing prices, high unemployment and deficit problems in much of the developed world, as well as political discord in Washington.
This pessimism is amplified by the media coverage given to voices of gloom such as Nouriel Roubini and David Rosenberg.
Presenting an upbeat outlook
That’s why a conference that took place just last Monday gives advisors the chance to provide clients with some offsetting perspective on the mid and long term positives for the United States.
Speaking on Monday September 13 to 2000 business and political leaders in Montana, Warren Buffett, Steve Ballmer of Microsoft and GE’s Jeff Immelt talked about good news at their companies and a positive outlook for the future.
Here are two articles on this conference that you can send clients, one from Bloomberg and other from Yahoo News:
And here are some of their comments:
Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway:
“I’m a huge bull on this country … we won’t have a double dip recession. I see our businesses coming back almost across the board … … it’s night and day from a year ago.”
“I’ve seen sentiment turn sour in the last three months or so, generally in the media. I don’t see that in our businesses … we’re employing more people than a month ago, two months ago.”
“The things that worked for the country through a century of two world wars, a depression and more — all while increasing the standard of living — will work again.”
“Banks are lending money again, businesses are hiring employees and I expect the economy to come back stronger than ever.”
Steve Ballmer, Microsoft:
“There soon will be more technological advancement and invention than there was during the Internet era and that will help drive business growth.”
“I am very enthusiastic about what the future holds for our industry and what our industry will mean for growth in other industries.”
“We will see new technologies that move beyond the Internet to tie together computers, phones, televisions and data centers to create amazing new products. And the pace of innovation will increase as technology makes workers more productive.”
“All areas of science today are moving forward more quickly. The speed of scientific breakthrough is accelerating.”
Jeff Immelt, GE:
“Angry political rhetoric is not helpful and headlines are too focused on finding negative indicators.”
“Business at GE is improving. Signs across the world show growth improving as evidenced by a rise in GE’s orders.”
“GE is now finding it profitable to build manufacturing and service centers in the United States rather than overseas, because it is more competitive to do so.”
“The U.S.‘s central challenge will be to speed growth. We need an increase in exports of manufactured goods to help compete globally. Expansion will be further bolstered when smaller businesses and consumers regain confidence in banks and are able to borrow more.”
“We need people to be able to feel like they’re going to get loans, the process is going to work and that they understand the rules.”
“The U.S. is going to need to adjust, though. The economy since the 1970s has been driven by consumer credit and a misguided notion in building a “lazy” service economy. Manufacturing, with an aim to reduce the trade deficit, is the key.”
“The push for an exclusively service-based economy was just wrong. It was stupid. It was insane .The future of the economy has to be as an exporter.”
Tags: Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett Rules, Ceo Microsoft, David Rosenberg, Discord, Double Dip Recession, Economy Leaders, Emotional Anchor, Global Economies, Jeff Immelt, Last Monday, Lows, News Yahoo, Nouriel Roubini, Pessimism, Political Leaders, Positive Outlook, Steve Ballmer, Upbeat Outlook, Warren Buffett
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Wednesday, July 21st, 2010
Many advisors are using the holiday break to reflect on their business.In two columns last fall, I detailed ten lessons from a 2004 trek up Mount Kilimanjaro that might be helpful as advisors think about plans for the year ahead.
Last Monday, I highlighted the first four lessons. Today, I summarize six more takeaways from a trek up Kilimanjaro and complete my “top ten” list.
Last week’s business planning lessons were:
1. Set stretch goals
2. Invest the time to pick the right strategy
3. Put a plan in place that tilts the odds in your favour
4. Pick your partners carefully
This week’s lessons from Kilimanjaro:
5. Ensure you have the right team behind you.
Kilimanjaro: While climbers get the glory, the real heroes are the porters who haul the gear, unacknowledged but instrumental to success.
Advisors: Successful advisors are almost always supported by capable, motivated staff — and investing the time, energy and money to put strong support staff in place is essential.
6. Focus on the immediate step ahead.
Kilimanjaro: When tired, discouraged and faced with tough conditions, climbers need to concentrate on taking the very next step, not the entire journey ahead of them.
Advisors: When daunted by the magnitude of the challenges facing them, advisors need to focus on making the very next meeting or the very next call successful.
7. Focus on the big picture.
Kilimanjaro: If all they do is look at the rocky ground where they’re putting their feet next, climbers miss spectacolour views behind and ahead of them and the motivation this brings. Climbers need to balance focus on the next step with an occasional glance at what’s behind them and ahead of them.
Advisors: To stay motivated, advisors need to take time for an occasional pause to reflect on where you’ve been and the bigger picture — and to reflect on where all the individual steps are taking you.
8. Suck it up when the going gets tough.
Kilimanjaro: Getting to the top of Kilimanjaro inevitably means working through some pain and discomfort along the way — when encountering this, complaining isn’t productive, all you can do is summon up the discipline to stay focused on your goal.
Advisors: Every successful advisor has encountered setbacks, disappointments, frustration and discomfort along the way. To achieve true success, you need the determination and commitment to work through these.
9. Enjoy the moment.
Kilimanjaro: While natural to celebrate when reaching the top of Kilimanjaro, it’s also important to recognize milestones along the way — a tough hill climbed, a hard day behind you. It’s those celebrations that help provide the motivation to work through adversity.
Advisors: Build time into your quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily routine to reflect on and acknowledge the small successes — taking the time to enjoy what you’ve achieved will help provide energy for the path ahead.
10. Begin by beginning.
Kilimanjaro: There are lots of decisions entailed in climbing Kilimanjaro — and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by these. Ultimately, the most important part of the journey is the commitment to start it, to begin by beginning.
Advisors: Some advisors are paralyzed by the many decisions in their business — here too the key is to focus on one decision at a time, make that decision and then move on to the next.
As you reflect on your plans for 2009, consider what lessons from past experiences can guide your business forward and help you reach your full potential.
For those interested in reading the complete articles about lessons from a trek up Kilimanjaro:
Part One: http://www.investmentexecutive.com/client/en/News/DetailNews.asp?Id=46227&cat=30&IdSection=30&PageMem=&nbNews=&IdPub=168
Part Two: http://www.investmentexecutive.com/client/en/News/DetailNews.asp?Id=46656&cat=30&IdSection=30&PageMem=&nbNews=&IdPub=170
For more information, please visit http://www.getkeepclients.com.
Tags: Big Picture, Business Planning, Challenges, Climbers, Favour, Journey, Last Monday, Magnitude, Motivation, Mount Kilimanjaro, Occasional Glance, Odds, Porters, Real Heroes, Stretch Goals, Support Staff, Takeaways, Time Energy, Top Ten List, Trek
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Wednesday, May 5th, 2010
Last Monday’s email focused on crafting a 10 second elevator speech to summarize how investors benefit from working with you.
Today’s article moves to the next step.
Suppose a prospect agrees to meet with you. Now you need to explain what you do and how clients benefit from your work in a way that’s engaging, interesting and compelling
In an interview on today’s site, I talk to Dave Paradi, author of two books on effective communication, including one picked by the Globe and Mail as a top ten business book for 2008.
Dave made two critical points in our presentation.
Less is more
First, too many advisors overwhelm prospective clients with way too much information.
We need to be discerning about providing enough information to give prospects a good sense of how we work and a feeling that we offer substance, without having them feel swamped.
One approach is to provide an overview of your process with a few key points under each step– but without all the detail.
Then you could say to a prospect:
“I have more information on each of these steps.
Which one or two would you like to focus on?” or “Which of these would you like more information on?”
Pictures versus words
The second trap is how you present the information.
The approach that most advisors use is to provide prospects with a piece of paper with a bunch of words on it, organized in lists, paragraphs and bullet points.
Again, this risks overwhelming people. Quite simply, it’s not organized in a way that lets prospects absorb the information, relate to it and remember it.
Instead, Dave Paradi suggests that advisors remember that most people are visually oriented and relate to visual images.
So if you’re talking about a roadmap to success, he suggests using a visual aidof a roadmap with stops along the way to mark the key steps you use in helping clients meet their goals.
A prospect may not remember the individual steps but they will remember the roadmap.
Depicting your process
Another common discussion point when meeting with prospects is how you go about building portfolios and selecting investments.
Some advisors will talk about using screens and filters to identify the funds or stocks that best meet a clients needs.
Again, fine in concept, but hard to relate to and remember for many prospects if you’re just talking about this.
Instead, he again suggests employing a visual aid.
You may show the universe of potential investments in a column on the left, then a depiction of a filter to block out those that aren’t relevant, with a shorter list of investments in the middle.
And then another filter to select the ones that are most appropriate, ending up with the recommended investments in the right hand column.
So you go from a long list to a shorter list to a short list, with a two step filtering process.
Explained that way, a prospect is much more likely to understand your process, to relate to it and to remember it.
For most advisors, getting in front of qualified prospects is hard work. You can’t waste those opportunities — consider taking the time to rethink how you tell your story to prospects, so that you’re getting maximum mileage from every meeting.
To sign up for Dave Paradi’s free communications newsletter and view free resources to make your presentations persuasive, go to www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com
Tags: Bullet Points, Business Book, Critical Points, Effective Communication, Elevator Speech, Focus, Globe And Mail, Good Sense, Investors, Last Monday, Paradi, Paragraphs, Piece Of Paper, Prospective Clients, Prospects, Roadmap, Success, Two Books, Visual Images
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