Summary: With the coronavirus pandemic spreading through the United States, financial advisors are turning to webinars and other digital marketing strategies in an effort to reach prospects. But how do you build trust with a prospect when neither one of you is willing or able to meet face to face? This article walks through 8 best practices for advisors who want to lean into digital client acquisition systems — and ultimately be of service to more people.
With the coronavirus pandemic shutting down much of the US economy, many traditional financial advisor marketing methods are out of the window. Knocking on doors is not welcome. Networking events have been cancelled, and educational seminars are suspended indefinitely.
At the same time, the need for good financial advice is higher than ever. Those who are close to retirement are wondering if they can still afford to retire. People are anxious — and present to the fact that they haven’t been paying enough attention to financial planning. Prospects are spending more time online searching for answers…
Which explains the renaissance of the webinar.
But how can advisors guide prospects across the trust-building bridge once the webinar is over?
Many advisors have bumped into this puzzle in the last couple of weeks. Others are about to discover that this question is highly relevant for every single advisory practice, even those that are not using webinars to attract prospects. Here’s why.
It’s likely that “stay at home” orders will be relaxed over time, but a large portion of the retiree and pre-retiree population will remain squarely in the high risk group for coronavirus complications. Without a proven treatment (granted, with several promising possibilities being tested), and with a vaccine still months away at best, it may be a long time before your prospects are comfortable meeting with a financial advisor face to face.
This means that every single advisor who wants to serve retirees must learn how to build trust and move prospects to action without the benefit of an in-person conversation.
This goes beyond one-off tactics like buying a webinar or starting a blog on your website. Advisors need to develop new client acquisition systems that are completely digital. To help you in that big task, here are some of the best practices and system components that we are seeing across successful advisory firms that are growing in this difficult time.
It’s important to understand and acknowledge that brand-new prospects don’t know you.
Maybe they have watched a compelling webinar and realized that their financial situation requires advice or clarity. Maybe they have come in through a different channel, perhaps in response to a Facebook live session you hosted, or a blog post you wrote, or an email newsletter you sent out. Either way, remember that their attention is fragmented. They are anxious. Money is a deeply personal subject that amps up the stress level on a typical day, and none of us have the luxury of “typical days” right now.
So, answering your call may not be their top priority right when you call. Validate them where they are at — simply because that’s your only functional choice.
Remember the last time your kitchen sink backed up? If you don’t have a favorite plumber on speed dial, you probably did a quick search on Yelp and made a few calls. Whoever called you back first with a sensible quote got themselves a job! Successful plumbers understand that dynamic and prioritise returning calls quickly.
Advisors must learn to treat their incoming leads the same way.
An incoming lead is a code-red, drop everything situation. Of course, this is subject to reasonable boundaries (you wouldn’t want to call them back at midnight). Still, it’s helpful to decide what your turn-around time will be. Maybe you decide on a same-day callback for every lead that came in before 3PM on that day, and next-day callback for everyone else. As a general rule of thumb, the longer you sit on a lead, the lower is your opportunity to get to them while they are still in the right mindframe for interacting with you.
This is the point where many advisors bump into resistance. What if the prospect answers the call but it’s not a good time to talk? What if you get their voicemail? It helps to have a script — even if you don’t end up following it exactly. Think through the possible what-if scenarios and map out your response strategy. You may discover that the exercise itself eliminates much of your reluctance to call people right back.
Lean on technology! We use Loom, but there are other tools that accomplish the same thing.
Advisors are often reluctant to record personal videos because they never seem quite perfect. My advice is, don’t expect perfection. The purpose of a short personal video is to humanize you. If there are slight imperfections in the recording, that’s OK.
Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Once you have someone’s name, you can look them up on the social media platforms and get connected. Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn are the obvious three to start with. This is a good way to find out more about them. Do they have kids? What are some of their hobbies? Do they have a cat or a dog?
But remember: Cyberstalking is weird. You don’t want to make it obvious that you know things about their personal life. By all means, scan the profile for any points of mutual connection… however, keep in mind that social media platforms aren’t just for research.
They are a vehicle for delivering value to everyone in your network.
With social distancing and isolation, people are spending a lot of time online. We have seen a tremendous willingness to consume content related to the pandemic, the economy, the new tax law, stimulus package, etc. Add prospects to your virtual network and make a commitment to produce valuable content for them. You could do videos, blogs, Q&A sessions, live streams, etc. The goal is to make sure that some of the content your prospects consume online is yours.
Trust is built through multiple tiny promises made and kept. Treat the follow-up process as a series of opportunities for micro-connections. Getting a prospect converted in just one or two conversations might sound great in theory, but that pace can feel forced, especially when you can’t speak to a prospect in person.
So, map out a sequence of short videos, emails, and other valuable touches.
Also, consider text messages. According to Campaign Monitor, text messages have an open rate of 98% (compared to 20% for emails). From that same source: On average, it takes 90 seconds for someone to respond to a text and 90 minutes to respond to an email. We have seen advisors find traction with text messages where emails had failed to produce a response.
Good questions are your secret weapon, especially when you are trying to move a new prospect from being indifferent to being curious. Questions can demonstrate the value of your offering better than answers… but only if you ask the right questions.
On this point, I offer you three things. One, make sure that you are asking open-ended questions that give the other person an opportunity for an expanded answer beyond “yes” or “no”. When in doubt, “Tell me more” is a fantastic prompt.
Two, get comfortable with silence. When someone is faced with a question that they have never considered before, a few seconds of thoughtful reflection is a good sign. You will be tempted to fill the quiet space. Resist that pull and give your prospect the gift of space to think.
Finally, we have a list of 100 thought-provoking, value-add questions inside of our business development and coaching program, the Model FA Accelerator. If you would like a copy, send me an email ([email protected]). Put “100 questions” in the subject line so that I know what to send you.
Post-webinar follow up is your chance to set up a series of micro-commitments and fulfill them. For your prospects, this is a test-drive of what it will be like to work with you once they become a client.
So, bring your patience, punctuality, and project management skills. If you promise to send them a summary of your last conversation by Friday, make sure you get it done (or maybe even exceed their expectations and send it on Thursday morning). If you tell them that you will call next Monday, make the call.
This last point sounds like a no-brainer, but many advisors miss it.
Following up just for the sake of following up can get annoying fast. You must structure your touch points so that each one delivers unquestionable value — and so that prospects don’t experience anxiety, irritation, or bother when they see your name pop up.
That means you have to make every interaction valuable and memorable for the prospect.
Is it harder than sending another “Just checking in” email? Absolutely.
Is it scalable? No. Great client service, of the kind that earns you whole-hearted referrals, is never “scalable” in a traditional sense.
But it doesn’t have to be an impossible drain on your time and resources. All it requires is that you put yourself in your prospect’s shoes and do the next thing that would add real value.
Here are two ideas:
To wrap it all up: