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Increasing Prospect-to-Client Yield for Accelerated Growth

In my previous blog post, I set the structure for an adviser’s sales funnel with an objective to achieve efficiency since the adviser’s labor content increases with each successive stage.

While efficiency addresses productivity of applied resources, it doesn’t determine if the marketing and relationship content delivered at each stage connects with the prospect’s decision criteria. Yield measures the effectiveness of converting prospects to clients, and a firm’s marketing ROI increases dramatically with small increases in yield across the stages.

The Impact on Client Acquisition
Two marketing systems that start with the same number of leads will have dramatically different results at each stage by increasing yield.

A 51 percent increase in yield at each sales-funnel stage produces a 300 percent increase in the number of clients. For a fee-on-AUM model, there’s a huge profit payoff to increased yields as the firm’s one-time client acquisition costs are offset by ongoing revenues.LouryBlogPic1

Steps to Increasing Yield

  • Lead Generation. A lead from the firm’s marketing program has a higher order value because the prospect has taken the initiative in starting a relationship. Already, some level of inertia has been broken.
  • Yield Issue: Match up the prospect’s stated needs to the benefits the firm is able to deliver.
  • Tactical Consideration: After talking to leads, if there’s a frequent mismatch between the prospect’s needs and what the firm’s benefits deliver, the first place to look is the marketing content’s messaging (e.g. websites, emails, presentations, blogs, etc.)

A prospect conducts the first-level evaluation by reviewing digital content (even if through a referral), and if this content fails to define the firm’s services, and those most able to gain benefits, there will be mismatches and lower yields.

  • Interest Qualified. During this stage, one of the firm’s advisers establishes the business relationship. The two core purposes are: 1) identifying the prospect’s top needs; and 2) making relationship connections.
  • Yield Issue: The biggest issue in hiring any professional services practitioner is the fear that what is said during the sales process will fail to materialize after the hiring decision.
  • Tactical Consideration: In every initial meeting, the adviser will hear various needs, anxieties and aspirations; these represent the content an adviser’s solution ultimately addresses. Take the prospect’s top need—say retirement planning—and schedule a follow-on meeting for a focused educational session of that need.

The prospect directly experiences the adviser’s approach and quality; it is akin to product sampling or test driving. There’s no more powerful tool for increasing yield than this type of customized educational outreach during the sales process.

  • Business Qualified. It’s now time to make planning concepts concrete by producing a proposal showing how the adviser will meet the client’s need, anxiety and aspirational inventory.
  • Yield Issue: Prior baggage with other advisers sets a risky edge to forming a new practitioner relationship.
  • Tactical Consideration: Many prospects come into an evaluation having had a poor recent experience with another adviser. Before forcing a long-term commitment, give the prospect a choice to phase into the full-service package. For example, begin by implementing a retirement plan or a portfolio restructuring using a project-based fee.

Choice offers the prospect more control in right-sizing the package to his or her risk/anxiety level in beginning a new advisory relationship. Taking a smaller—and successful—step gives a more comfortable pathway to a fuller relationship.

  • Solution Verified. The proposal will be presented.
  • Yield Issue: Advice solutions often involve complex concepts, emotional issues, and anticipated results, and it’s difficult to digest it all in a single presentation meeting.
  • Tactical Consideration: Structure the proposal with the needs/anxieties/aspirations inventory as the lead with the firm’s ROI benefits following. Then, send the proposal to the prospect a few days in advance to allow a paced initial review before the more formal meeting.

The final yield results in a prospect becoming a client is them saying, “Yes.”

  • Yield Issue: Some people have difficulty making a final decision, particularly in light of previous adviser experiences.
  • Tactical Consideration: If possible, the most powerful method for eliminating buyer’s remorse is to set up a meeting with an existing client to mentor the uncertain prospect in how the adviser delivers on the solution. The next best option is to schedule a follow-on meeting in the near term; giving a person space to get emotionally prepared for a new relationship.

Yield Determines Profitability
An adviser that increases yields in the sales process improves profitability by reducing waste and fruitless relationships, while also launching accelerated and long-term revenues through better-matched clients.

Kirk LouryKirk Loury
Wealth Planning Consulting Inc.
Princeton Junction, New Jersey

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Unclog the Pipeline: 3 Ways to ‘Find Your Flow’

Recently, during one of my group coaching sessions we were discussing the topic of turning strangers into clients with what I refer to as the “9 Step Client Acquisition Process.” After I explained the details of each of the nine steps, we role-played them. After our initial role-play session, one of the advisers said, “You made is sound so natural.” He paused and added, “I need to find my flow.”

He was referring to the ability to seamlessly respond to anything a prospect or client may say in order to take them down the path of helping them understand why they would want to accept his recommendations and ultimately buy them. When you can do this—and practice it often—you will naturally find your flow.

Let’s take a closer look at how you can find yours.

  • Finding the Clog: We all have a clog (or two) in our pipeline. It may be getting a first appointment or securing a second appointment or closing the sale. In order to “find your flow” you have to be honest with yourself and find your clog(s). The best way to do this is to ask yourself, “What would need to happen in order for me to find new business?” The easy answer might be, “I need to prospect.” For the sake of argument let’s assume that you are prospecting. Then you need to figure out whether your clog is in your prospecting technique or somewhere else.
  • Unclogging the Pipeline: At this stage, it’s important to figure out specific solutions for your specific challenges. For example, if your clog is not getting the first appointment, then a possible solution is to learn how to handle objections better. If your clog confusing clients and prospects because you can’t explain your recommendations in easy-to-understand terms, then your solution is to learn story-based selling. This is the art of using metaphors, analogies or stories to help make a better connection with your prospects/clients. The point is you may need to figure out your weaknesses and do what it takes (training, coaching, finding a mentor) to assist you in mapping out a plan to turn those weaknesses into strengths and thus clear out those clogs.
  • Perfecting the Process: When my client pointed out that I sounded natural, I quickly assured him that I didn’t always sound that way. It had taken years of perfecting the process. However, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel—simply learn what has worked for so many other advisers and agents. Customize the process to make it sound like your own, then practice and role-play with a trusted peer or colleague and ask for feedback so you can make additional tweaks to smooth things out. 

Turning on the Faucet
Most advisers know that “winging it” doesn’t work. That’s why it’s so important to use the preceding steps to unclog your pipeline and build a better connection with prospects and clients. When you take the time to understand what is not working, how you can work smarter and apply what you learn, you not only help yourself but you help the prospects and clients feel more relaxed and confident because you are more relaxed and confident.

If you read this blog and need help mapping out your “9 Step Client Acquisition Process,” email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing at melissa@advisorsolutionsinc.com for our complimentary white paper on this topic.

Dan FinleyDaniel C. Finley
Advisor Solutions
St. Paul, Minn.