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5 Strategies to Connect During the First Appointment

Have you ever gone into an initial first appointment with high hopes of connecting with the prospect only to later realize that you did not make a connection at all? Maybe you have had several appointments like this over the course of your career. If so, you may have been missing one, a few or all of the five strategies for the first appointment process.

Let’s take a look at what those are:

  1. Get the prospect’s story: One of the most important things you can do to establish a connection is to genuinely be interested in learning about the prospect. People love to talk about themselves and the best way to encourage this is to strategically map out questions that will help them tell you their life story. If you can do this, they will end up explaining the reason for why they are looking for a new financial adviser and what is important to them about finding just the right one.
  1. Show them how much you care: It’s been said that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. I believe that is true. Oftentimes, advisers try to win over a prospect by dazzling them with their stock market and/or product knowledge. Unfortunately, this tends to create more of a disconnect with a potential client. Don’t start the relationship off by telling them what you know but instead tell them how much you care about their situation. Chances are you have had other prospects and clients experience similar things. If so, then you should share their story with them. Do this and you will set a prospect at ease. They will feel comfortable that you are familiar with their situation.
  1. Understand the prospect’s pain points: As you listen to the prospect’s story and let them how much you care, you will probably realize that they have real concerns about their finances–these are what I call the prospect’s pain points. Typically, these are the reasons why they came to see you in the first place. If you truly understand their concerns as well and what is most important to them, and they know you understand both, it is much easier to build a connection with them.
  1. (Strategically) sum up the appointment: At some point, you need to strategically shift the conversation into summarizing what you have learned about them from your conversation. Try a phrase such as, “We’ve talked about a lot of things today and what I’d like to do is summarize what I have heard.” Then, proceed to state their situation, issues/problems and the long-term implications of not fixing those issues/problems. If you do this well, they will be much more inclined to hear what else you have to say because they know you have listened, and more importantly, have heard them.
  1. Sell your solutions to set a second appointment: Once a prospect gives you the signs or tells you they are ready, it’s time to sell your solutions to set a second appointment. Ironically, the strategy that I am about to explain isn’t so much about selling as it is about helping them want to buy. Simply, use questions such as, “How would it help you most if I put together a full financial plan so that you can understand how much money you will need when you retire, how much income you may have to live off of once you are retired and whether or not you are currently on course to accomplish those goals?” Nine times out of ten they will instantly start telling you they would value that by saying, “That sounds like something I have needed for a long time!” All you need to do is agree with them and then simply ask for the second appointment. “Exactly, then that is what we will do! Are you available this time next week to review the plan?”

Take a moment to think about what you have just learned. Are you using these strategies in your first appointment process? If not, you now know how.

If you are ready to strategically run your prospecting process, schedule a complimentary 30-minute coaching session with Dan Finley at Advisor Solutions by emailing Melissa Denham, director of client servicing at Melissa@advisorsolutionsinc.com.

Dan Finley

Daniel C. Finley
President
Advisor Solutions
St. Paul, Minn.

 

Daniel Finley presents an FPA webinar titled “Beyond the Production Plateau: The Solution to Your Business Evolution” from 2 to 3 p.m., EDT, June 8. Register for the webinar here


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The Power of the In-Home Meeting

In my blog, and its companion Journal of Financial Planning article titled, “How to Deliver Empathetic Service and Gain Client Loyalty,” it’s emphasized that a client transforms from a revenue stream to an asset in the presence of loyalty. Each loyal client that tells others of his or her experience with an adviser’s service package represents a vine of fruitful relationships.

The common thought is loyalty begins after the planning and investment solution is executed, service experiences occur, and benefits result. In fact, client loyalty can begin during the sales process.

Bringing Balance to a Fledging Relationship
A relationship has a greater chance of success when there is balance between the two parties. Unfortunately, a wealth management relationship is inherently imbalanced because the prospect is asked to divulge private financial, family and personal details while the adviser is not expected to reciprocate.

The typical meeting in which the prospect sits across a table from the adviser (or worse on the other side of a desk) introduces unnecessary barriers to making the fact-finding process more free flowing. An in-home meeting strips these barriers away.

A Powerful Tandem
An advisory firm’s marketing program reaches a higher ROI by increasing the sales yield from one funnel stage to another. My last blog suggests that during the interest-qualifying stage, the adviser prepares a tailored education presentation (free of charge) for the client’s number one identified need, anxiety, or aspiration. (Note: the recently released FPA/LinkedIn study “Financial Professionals and the Future of Thought Leadership and Social Media” confirms how important education is to clients: 76 percent of respondents rate it “Somewhat Important” to “Critical”.) This allows the prospect to “test drive” the adviser’s services and measurably de-risk the impending relationship decision.

Taking this one step further, conducting this “test drive” in the prospect’s home significantly increases the yield in turning a prospect into a client. This combination sparks client loyalty.

The Real Productivity Measure
An adviser may view an in-home meeting as an inefficient marketing step given the overhead of driving to and from the prospect’s residence. While this meeting takes, say, three times as long to conduct from beginning to end compared to one where the prospect comes to the adviser’s office, this is a misplaced analysis.

The marketing plan’s ROI should be measured on the time it takes a lead entering the funnel to becoming a client. Using this more realistic business measure, an in-home meeting often dramatically decreases the time to a successful close.

Prospects appreciate the increased effort to come to their home and it conveys important messages such as: “I’m valued as a person not just as a business transaction,” and “My needs and anxieties merit this attention.”

Visiting a home is also a treasure trove of information for an adviser:

  • Neighborhood demographics
  • Family lifestyle
  • Family structure
  • Family interactions
  • Hobbies and collections

Keys for Successful In-Home Meetings

  1. Standardize the structure. Formulate a workflow process for conducting the meeting such as a pre-meeting mailing, an agenda, a presentation leave-behind and a checklist of next steps.
  1. Make the offer. For some people, an in-home visit pushes privacy concerns. If there’s reluctance, explain the meeting’s purpose, particularly the decision at hand (for example, “You’re entrusting your wealth and peace of mind to me, and I want you to be as comfortable as possible”). Highlight that it is a standing offer for any future meeting.
  1. Remove the hosting stress. The meeting’s purpose is to provide education on the prospect’s top need or concern and not about creating stress for the meeting itself. Offer to bring refreshments such as coffee plus baked goods if your meeting is in the morning, a light snack if your meeting is in the afternoon, or dessert if your meeting is in the evening.
  1. Meeting precision. Conducting the meeting with precision conveys the value of your prospect’s time. This means being on time, managing to the agenda and having organized materials.

It’s a Relationship!
While financial services is the content, what’s actually being bought and sold is a relationship (see my blog post titled “Your Product is You”). Face-to-face meetings are critical components of due diligence. For the prospect, this involves the adviser’s personal presentation, relatability, trust, care and concern. These core decision criteria come alive when an adviser invests his or her time in a meeting at the prospect’s home.

A prospect contemplates a substantial financial commitment when seeking an investment relationship—for a high-net worth family, this will be thousands of dollars per year. Taking the time to meet in a prospect’s home expresses appreciation for this opportunity and shines light on the adviser’s service role.

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


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3 Ways to Find the Flip Side of Failure

Have you ever wondered if anything positive could come out of getting a negative result? Let’s use the example of the last time you did not close a sale—your hopes were probably deflated as the prospect walked out the door to go home and “think about it.”  Did you take time to reflect back on your conversation with the prospect and think about what you learned from the situation? Successful advisers know that the flip side of failure is being able to learn from their mistakes.

The following are just of few examples of what you might do to get better results next time.

  1. Prepare for the Presentation: Many advisers spend the majority of their appointment preparation time working on a financial plan to determine their recommendations. However, what they don’t take time to work on is preparing and practicing the actual presentation or dialogue. As a result, they rush into recommendations which oftentimes leaves the prospect feeling confused or overwhelmed.
  2. Make a Personal Connection: People tend to work with people they like. Personality-based selling is the art of understanding personality types to make and build better connections. If you don’t know much about it, you should do some homework. Remember, you must make the connection before you can make the sale!
  3. Help them Understand Why They Should Buy: People hate to be sold to but they love to buy. When you map out a series of questions to take them down a “questions path” to understand why they should buy, you are helping them come to their own conclusions before you’ve even explained your recommendations. This is one of the single most important things you can do to help close a sale.
  4. Prepare for Objections: You should ALWAYS expect objections. If you don’t, you most certainly will get them and won’t know what to do with them. Take time to write out rebuttals to at least five common objections and practice them well before your appointments.
  5. Ask for the Order: A little known secret to sales is that an interested prospect will give you buying signals by asking you questions as if to imply that they are considering owning your recommendations, such as, “How long will it take to move the money over?” When this happens, you must answer and ask for the order. One of the easiest closes is to simply say, “Are you comfortable moving ahead?” Ask this and you might get another objection—for which you have prepared a rebuttal—or you get the sale!

Turning Your Failures into Success

Obviously, there is much more to each of the aforementioned five points to ensure you find success. It is a proven fact, though, that you can turn any failure into a success if you take the time to learn from your past errors and find solutions (or best practices) to keep you from repeating them which will allow you to take your failures and find their flip side.

If you read this article and would like help techniques about how to best learn from your mistakes, email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing at melissa@advisorsolutionsinc.com to schedule a free complimentary consultation with Dan Finley.

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