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5 Signs It’s Time to Move On from a Prospect

Have you ever had a high net worth prospect who seemed semi-interested in working with you but you just couldn’t quite get them off the fence? You’ve called several times; maybe you’ve even met with them and offered recommendations, but something is holding them back from taking that final step to becoming a client. Then, your prospecting efforts become unreturned voicemails or vague replies to your emails. If this sounds familiar, maybe it’s time to acknowledge the signs and realize it’s time to move on.

Following is a brief overview of what I tell my clients to look for and how to know when to let go.

Sign No. 1: A Family Member in the Business

Most experienced advisers and agents know that when a prospect says, “I have a brother in-law in the business but I’d be interested in hearing what you have to say,” it probably means that they don’t completely trust their relative, however it doesn’t guarantee that they’d change anything. Instead, they most likely will consider your recommendations, talk it over with their relative and still not end up working with you. The reason is because relatives are just too awkward to walk away from when it comes to business dealings.

If you run across this type of prospect, qualify them right away by saying something like this, “If we identify some need for changes in your portfolio, are you in a position to do business with me?” This will help you identify how serious they are about working with you.

Sign No. 2: Wanting to Split their Business

Some prospects may like your recommendations but not want to sever ties with their current adviser or agent. The reason is simple, it’s because they are familiar and have established trust with that person. They don’t know you but they might consider working with you on a trial basis.

Unfortunately, many times they are doing this with the caveat that they can compare results and then let go of the adviser/agent that doesn’t do as well for them. If this scenario is offered—working with you to “see what happens”—it’s important for you to reply like this, “I’m sorry but the clients I work with need to provide reasonable time for my process and recommendations to come to fruition.” When you stand by your value, you may lose a prospect now and again but you maintain your self-respect. As a result, you also build a better client base.

Sign No. 3: They Took Your Recommendations and Bought Online

Years ago, I had a prospect take several of my recommendations and purchase them in an online account. He felt there was nothing wrong with it since it saved him money. I on the other hand believe that if the relationship starts off on the wrong foot, it will end up remaining that way. This type of prospect is merely showing you that they don’t value your services. If this happens, you need to be ready to walk away.

Sign No. 4: You are Chasing a Ghost

At some point, you will have a prospect that needs to “think about it” or “review things.” When you follow-up they may not return your calls. The reason is because they didn’t see the value in your recommendations in the first place.

There may have been a concern or objection that you didn’t address. If this happens, simply leave a message like this, “Hi ______, this is _______ with _______. I have a quick question that only you can answer. Could you please call me when you hear this? My number is _________.” This is what I refer to as the “curiosity message.” If they aren’t curious enough to call you back, they really aren’t interested in doing business with you. If they do call, you need to ask them something directly like, “Are you still interested in (insert three benefits here).” If they are, then set another appointment with them to do the paperwork.

Sign No. 5: You Just Don’t Like the Prospect

If you find yourself dreading any type of communication with a specific prospect (email, phone call or appointments) then you certainly do not want to work with them. No matter how much business you think they can provide, inform them that you might not be an appropriate fit and they could be better served by someone who could provide more of what they are looking for.

Why Watching for Warning Signs is Important

This is not an easy business but when you make a conscious choice to work with people who want to work with you, you can make things much easier on yourself. That’s why it is so important to watch for warning signs that it’s time to move on from a prospect. Life is too short to chase those who don’t see your value.

If you are ready to take your business to the next level, schedule a complimentary 30-minute coaching session with me by emailing Melissa Denham, director of client servicing.

Dan Finley
 Daniel C. Finley is the president and co-founder of Advisor Solutions, a business consulting and coaching service dedicated to helping advisers build a better business.

 

 


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The Reality of Creating a Record-Setting Year

Do you believe that achieving a record production year in your business happens by chance or by design? If you said design, you are right. However, while most advisers start off a new year with big dreams, few finish reaching them. The reality of creating a record-setting year is more than just great intentions and luck, you need thorough and consistently used systems.

As a rookie financial adviser more than 20-plus years ago, I struggled my first year. During my second year things were a bit better because I gathered three times the assets but I was still in no position to stop eating ramen noodles. It wasn’t until my third year that I made a commitment (and a plan) to create my success. As a result, I tripled my income from the previous year. I then repeated the process the following year and was able to double my income following the exact same system. I’m telling you this not to impress you but rather to impress upon you that you cannot leave success up to chance.

The following is a brief outline of how you too can plan for your success with a little upfront work:

Create an Unwavering Commitment

It was a simple statement to myself— “I’m never going below $10,000 gross per month this year,”—that led me down a path to changing my belief system that I could actually do it. I used this same strategy years later but doubled the number and hit a personal record high production in month five out of the first six months of the year. Why? Merely because I choose to believe that it was possible. Remember, the more you believe in your own potential the higher the probability that you will hit your goals.

Daily Discipline of Prospecting

Part of that unwavering commitment was to start every day prospecting. This may seem like a no-brainer but it’s not easy unless you do one important thing, learn to enjoy doing it. It might sound crazy but if you make a game out of how many dials, contacts and appointments you do while prospecting, it can actually become a lot of fun.

A Systematic Way of Selling

Although hope is a good thing, it’s not the best strategy for sales success. Instead, you need a systematic way of selling so that you can duplicate every step of the way, from the initial contact to closing the sale. In my third year, I also learned from a top producer how to cross-sell to my client base. This opened my eyes to how to gather additional assets and commissions but more importantly to increasing my value to my client base.

A Detailed Tracking System

In order to keep the momentum of activity and results going it was important for me to create a great tracking system that was simple enough to fill out during the day but effective enough to keep a tally and tell me if I was going to achieve my monthly goals. I created a daily score card that tracked my contacts, presentations, orders asked for and gross commissions. Next, I created a sales pipeline of prospects and clients so I knew how many people and how much potential business was possible. Finally, I tracked daily gross production and knew exactly if I was above or below my goals at any given time. When you make tracking a priority you get excited to achieve more.

A Strong Reward

At the end of my third year I was shocked at the amount of success I had achieved by greatly surpassing my goals. Looking back at it now, it’s not about the numbers it’s about all of the other things that are obtained when you surpass what you believe you are capable of, confidence, pride and increased self-esteem to name a few. However, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t have a strong reward system. In fact, I went from eating ramen noodles the previous year to buying my first house! When you have a strong reward system you have an extra added incentive to achieve your goals.

Old Dogs CAN Learn New Tricks

2016-02-28_finleyBy now you might be saying to yourself, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” If so, just know that isn’t reality. In fact, in my book 101 Advisor Solutions: A Financial Advisor’s Guide to Strategies that Educate, Motivate and Inspire, I tell a true story about my client Gale Z., who after 25 years was forced to realize that she was barely hitting the corporate minimum production standards at the end of a year. We applied the aforementioned strategies and by the end of the first quarter she was the top producer in her region. She exceeded her numbers by reaching 66 percent of the previous year’s production goals.

If you read this article and need help creating a record-setting year, email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing, to schedule a free complimentary consultation.

Dan Finley

 

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

 


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Where are You on the Adviser’s Rejection Spectrum?

During one of my laser coaching sessions titled, “The 25 Most Effective Ways to Conquer Rejection,” I came to an amazing realization. Although we had marketed this two-part series to thousands of advisers and agents, only two actually registered.

Was it because today’s advisers and agents don’t have a fear of rejection? No, I don’t believe so. In fact, the fear of rejection is just as much a challenge today as it was over 20 years ago when I started in the financial services industry as an adviser. Perhaps I may never know why we had such a low turnout, but what is more important is the “a-ha” moment I had during the first session.

The two advisers who signed up could not have had more polar opposite experiences in their careers: one was a veteran adviser in his 60s with 33 years of experience; while the other was a woman with less than four years in the industry. What I came to understand was that although they had vastly different ages, product knowledge, communication skill sets and years in the business, they had one very important thing in common: a fear of rejection.

Following my initial session with them, I coined what I now call “The Adviser’s Rejection Spectrum” which says, “No matter where you are in your career path you may be subject to a fear of rejection, however you may have it for very different reasons and consequently you may need very different solutions to overcome it.” The following illustrates what I mean by that statement.

Spectrum No. 1: The Rookie Adviser
I wasn’t surprised when my rookie adviser explained that she was taking rejection personally. She had spent many hours cold calling and had come up against rejection numerous times. That is what her perception was until I explained what she had really experienced.

The solution was for her to realize that rejection is not the same as handling objections which are a natural part of the sales process. Since prospects didn’t know her personally they weren’t personally rejecting her. Instead, they were rejecting the value that they thought she could bring them and they did this by using excuses in the form of objections such as, “I am all set, I’m busy and let me think about it.”

Once she understood this difference, I shared with her three strategies to better manage objections and that’s when she had a paradigm shift, “I can’t wait to try these strategies out,” she said.

In other words, she now had far less fear of rejection.

She now understands the difference between working harder by doing more of what she was doing and working smarter by having a system for when objections arise.

Strategy No. 2: The Veteran Adviser
I was surprised to hear my veteran adviser tell me that although he had spent 33 years working in financial services he had not prospected in the last five years. I was not surprised by the reason why, he liked talking to clients rather than speaking with prospects. He went on to explain that when he would prospect his natural market they rarely wanted to do business with him. He said he found it discouraging to have longtime friends and acquaintances reject him.

The solution was for him to also understand that these people were not rejecting him personally but instead rejecting the value they perceived taking his advice would bring them. He was too busy telling them what they should do instead of asking the right questions to help them come to the conclusion on why they should do it.

In other words, he was trying to sell them his recommendations instead of helping them understand why they should accept his recommendations.

“Wow,” he said. “All I have to do is to learn how to ask better questions so they understand how I can help. Why didn’t I think of that?”
Where are You on the Rejection Spectrum?
As you can see, both advisers were taking rejection personally but each had a different solution for overcoming their fear of it. Can you relate?

At some point in every adviser’s career they develop some degree of a fear of rejection. Don’t wait until it paralyzes you to do something about it, accept that you are on the rejection spectrum and do what it takes to find the solutions to get yourself off of it.

If you read this blog and need help getting past your fear of rejection, email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing at melissa@advisorsolutionsinc.com to schedule a free complimentary 30-minute coaching session with Dan Finley.

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


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Getting Results from Each Sales Funnel Stage

The Schwab 2015 RIA Benchmarking Study identified client acquisition as one of three top priorities; this is consistent with other adviser studies over the past few years. There’s nothing surprising about this emphasis since advisory firms are not only specialty practitioners, but small businesses, too. What business can grow without increasing its client base?

Client acquisition is the end result of a much more involved process broadly called “prospecting.” Prospecting integrates the entirety of a firm’s marketing efforts from a website to seminars to email campaigns to referrals.

Loury_Pic 1

The Adviser Sales Funnel

The Sales Funnel
A “pipeline” or “funnel” (photo, right) are the common terms used to describe prospecting. I prefer a sales funnel because it identifies the client acquisition stages and the flow from one stage to the next.

Labor Increases with Each Stage
A lead enters the funnel through a website inquiry, referral, seminar, email reply and other direct-response methods. These incoming leads contain relatively little of an adviser’s most precious commodity—time.

Once a lead enters the funnel and proceeds through each stage, the labor content increases dramatically. Therefore, each funnel stage is a component of the advisory firm’s marketing ROI.

Matters of Salesmanship and Insight
Each prospect is looking for an ROI in the relationship, too. When a prospect sees the expected benefits received greater than the cost, he or she is willing to move to the next stage. This is an especially important concept to appreciate in determining the marketing system’s value: the prospect controls the movement from one stage to the next.

Such control places the responsibility of demonstrating the benefits and their monetary and emotional value on the adviser. Proving this value is one measure of analysis and another measure of salesmanship. (For a detailed discussion, see “Clients Buy Benefits, Not Features.”)

Making Each Sales Funnel Stage Productive
The stages of sales are lead generation, interest qualified, business qualified, solution verified and ‘Yes.’ Below are tips to make each stage productive.

1.) Lead Generation. An effective marketing program uses positioning content that helps the recipient of a lead-generating message qualify its validity to him or her by concluding, “That would be useful for me.” or “I don’t need that.” Within this, focus on:

  • Efficiency Issue: Each message must drive home the key positioning elements that fit with the firm’s benefit package and its value.
  • Key Tactical Step: Provide clear call-to-action content and buttons that allow a choice of “Yes” or “No.” While a “Yes” allows the recipient to become a lead and enter the funnel, a “No” minimizes opportunity costs. (Note: my next blog will address improving “Yes”/“No” yields stage to stage.)

2.) Interest Qualified. If the marketing program achieves clear positioning, the emphasis is identifying the prospect’s decision time frame. A “Not Ready Yet” answer is a first cousin of a deep-in-the-funnel “No”; they both severely damage marketing ROI. Within this, focus on:

  • Efficiency Issue: Determine if the expressed needs are urgent enough to move to action versus a “just looking” approach that can sap resources.
  • Key Tactical Step: Develop a qualifier for the person handling lead responses and enter the results into the CRM for ongoing tracking.

3.) Business Qualified. The assigned relationship manager evaluates the prospect’s needs, their fit to the benefits the firm produces, and the prospect’s projected value. Within this, focus on:

  • Efficiency Issue: The prospect’s needs may be urgent but not be of sufficient business value given the firm’s service delivery costs.
  • Key Tactical Step: Strategically, develop a separate package for low-asset prospects knowing that such relationships will be valuable in the future through wealth accumulation and transfers.

4.) Solution Verified. Meetings have occurred and the final evaluation is at hand. Within this, focus on:

  • Efficiency Issue: Confirmations are made of needs and benefits in order to minimize (if not eliminate) delays.
  • Key Tactical Step: Provide emotional affirmation and talking points that assist the soon-to-be-client in confidently severing past advisory relationships and informing other decision influencers such as children, accountants, and attorneys.

5.) “Yes.” The relationship moves to a fiduciary overseer of the client’s future well-being. Within this step, focus on:

  • Efficiency Issue: The closing package (e.g. investment policy statement; account-opening documents; authorizations, etc.) must exist in a workflow to ensure 100 percent accuracy and a top-end presentation.
  • Key Tactical Step: Restate how the benefit package addresses needs, anxieties, and aspirations; doing so minimizes any buyer’s remorse.

ROI is the Result
The flow through the funnel actually involves substantial thought and activity to ensure that a prospect has the best chance to produce value, to become a client. Too often, there’s a sense of “let things take care of themselves” instead of establishing directed efforts designed to make each stage productive to the firm’s marketing ROI.

Kirk LouryKirk Loury
President
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
President
Advisor Solutions
St. Paul, Minn.