Sales


Golden State has had a great year; winning 73 games, receiving a new record, and now entering the NBA Finals for the second year in a row. They did not achieve this by following the typical style of play. Instead, they moved the boundaries of where to take shots from and created space with great passing. In all, they looked at how the game of basketball was played and changed it. This is what we are going to do with referrals. SHAPING THE STRATEGY ONE ADVISOR AT A TIME Let’s first begin with a typical story on how referrals work and how one financial advisor changed the way he was operating. During one of our recent breakfast meetings, my good friend and fellow financial advisor, Paul asked me for advice on how he could ramp up his company’s number of scheduled prospect meetings. He was reaching out to people, but nothing was happening. Either they did not respond to him, they felt uncomfortable, or they were unsure of whom to refer. Therefore, we had to change the strategy in order for him to compete and retain referrals, just like the Golden State Warriors changed their strategy of play to win more games. I instructed him to follow this process. Over the course of two weeks, he spent a total of four hours sending 11 emails to prospect referral partners. Of the 11 emails sent, nine responded with a yes! He sent four additional emails to set up eight possible meetings, five of which occurred. Paul went from not having any meetings in one week to having five scheduled the next. All of this happened by putting in four extra hours of work. THE TYPICAL REFERRAL PROCESS The typical referral process has four steps. Each step of the process faces the risk of completely and utterly breaking down. Perhaps the exchange does not happen; the referral partner is not suited to make an introduction; the potential partner responds by saying he or she is not looking for a firm, or there is simply no interest. Consequently the typical referral process is outmoded. THE NEED FOR A SIMPLE APPROACH To make an impact, the process needs to be easy. Unfortunately, the typical referral is NOT an easy task. Your first goal should be to make it as effortless as possible for you and the referral partner to succeed. Next, craft and deliver a personal introduction (Note: Your introduction should not be a sales pitch for the product or service your company provides. If you don’t like being sold to, neither will the next person). THE FIVE-STEP PROCESS In the ever-competitive marketplace...

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Selling a business is an emotional decision that takes a great deal of preparation. For Greg Seal of Seal Financial Services, closing the door on being a business owner was only the beginning. Greg recently celebrated his one-year anniversary since selling his firm in February of 2015. In the last 12 months, he has learned a thing or two. His decision to sell the 31-year old firm was an emotional one that involved giving up his authoritative position as president of the company. For Greg, transitioning from owning and operating a successful firm for more than 30 years to becoming an employee required a great deal of time to comprehend. His first reality check came when he was asked to write a personal performance review. “This was the first review I ever had to compose,” stated Greg. “All of a sudden, your employees no longer look at you as the decision maker, which can be challenging when you are used to having the final say.” In addition, Greg realized the importance of smart negotiating during the sales process. Sellers should have an idea of what they expect to achieve and what is most important to them prior to selling their business. Part of the negotiating process involves having flexibility and the ability to collaborate and park your ego at the door. Identifying Your Market After making the decision to sell his firm, Greg was faced with another challenge. He had to determine whether he was going to internally sell the firm or seek a buyer from outside the practice. In order to maximize the value of his company, he had to line up his business for sale, which meant assessing and organizing financials. This included completing a U4 (a government document that informs clients of advisor backgrounds, work history and any legal actions or lawsuit against them (fortunately there were none), ensuring discretion on assets (advisors have sole rights to make changes on their clients’ behalf), and consolidating investments into manageable groups. Greg started out with 400 mutual funds and 50 ETFs, all of which needed to be condensed into models and manageable assets. When Greg decided to put Seal Financial Services up for sale in 2013, revenue for the business was over $1 million. To prepare the company for the purchase, Greg and his business partner, Janet McCoy connected with FP Transitions, a firm that specializes in helping financial advisors sell their business. Although the company was helpful in evaluating the firm over several years, Greg and Janet instead chose David Grow JR at Succession Resource Group (SRG), as the firm had a more concrete understanding of the compensation...

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Picture this: you’ve just met with a powerful potential client—a female business owner with a stellar reputation in the community. You addressed each element in her financial situation and asked all the right questions. You devised a valuable plan, and she appeared to be on board. You provided her with a detailed breakdown of fees, references, and the accounts custodian. Before your conversation ended, the two of you had already scheduled your next meeting, and then… You receive an email saying that she has not yet reviewed the information you provided and is therefore postponing the meeting. Does this situation sound familiar to you? Interactions like this are frustrating and time consuming, and may leave you curious as to how you can prevent clients from dragging their feet in the future. Driving the Sales Process with an Effortless Evaluation Plan In his book, “The New Solution Selling: The Revolutionary Sales Process that is Changing the Way People Sell,” author Keith Eades emphasizes that as a salesperson, it is vital to guide clients along in a way that promotes accountability from both parties involved. One way Eades encourages accountability is to use an evaluation plan as a road map while navigating your business as well as your clients’ needs. An evaluation plan is a step-by-step checklist that outlines each milestone, date and party or individual responsible for taking action. Implementing a plan helps to keep the process on track and helps prospects understand what is expected at every step along the way. Here is a sample evaluation plan: If a prospect has suggestions or makes adjustments to the plan, that’s an even better sign. This means the individual is fully engaged in the process and feels hopeful about the next steps. This organizational tool can encourage prospects to own the plan and take charge of the process. The more involved your clients feel, the greater the likelihood that they will engage with YOU.Utilizing a plan also pushes you to understand where you — as the advisor — stand with prospective clients. If they accept the evaluation plan, you can be confident that the sale is moving in the right direction. If a prospect isn’t ready to move forward in the sales process, it is unlikely that they would agree to set an evaluation plan into...

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For many advisors and business owners in general, the thought of creating and eventually selling a successful, longstanding business is a dream come true. Unfortunately, when it comes to financial planning, most advisors merely create a job and not an actual business. Consequently, the anticipation of selling a job to another advisor is difficult and maintaining a successful business on a daily basis can be nothing short of grueling. This is why having a sales process “manual” in place not only helps you run a better financial planning firm, but can transition your job into a thriving business. Step One: Putting Your Processes into Place for Greater Sales Opportunities The first question you must answer before you begin developing a strategy to increase sales is why you want to build your firm and what you anticipate the impact to be. You cannot effectively navigate a plan if you’re unsure of what lies ahead. When it comes to establishing a process, there are three elements to consider. The first is making sure you have a definite purpose. Perhaps you are looking to increase efficiency or you want to create a consistent client experience. Whatever your reason, be sure to understand your purpose moving forward. Second, you should carefully envision all potential outcomes. Questions you may want ask yourself before proceeding are: How can we complete this in as little of time as possible? How does this plan help us to fulfill our purpose? How usable is our finished product? Understanding potential outcomes can help your business steer clear of issues along the way, and maximizes efficiency so you can dedicate more of your time to clients. Lastly, it is important to take time to review your process for any areas in need of revision. Helpful ways to organize information may include using templates to create policies, procedures & checklists. Categorizing each topic into a table of contents may also allow for easier navigation in the future. Step Two: Increasing Your Clientele through Lead Nurturing In order to generate the anticipated amount of sales for your business, your process should focus on broadening the number of contacts you have on a list. By following this process, you will see your warm leads grow progressively hotter. To convert potential clients to loyal followers, lead nurturing must be incorporated into your sales process. This concept allows you to create something of value for your prospective clients. By educating your prospects over a period of time, you are building the value proposition that clients will easily be able to latch onto. One of the many benefits of establishing a solid sales process is that...

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Last Monday, I introduced you to the concept of ballerinas playing for the Dallas Cowboys and how even though they are good at what they do, they probably aren’t the best linemen, just like financial advisors are not the best marketers. There is great difficulty in successfully marketing via the Internet for companies with hordes of cash and experienced employees, let alone a financial advisor who has no experience or interest in learning, developing or knowing about Internet marketing. There are two hurdles with Internet marketing. First is that it is quickly changing all the time. Second is that Google has a strong hold on how and what to do. For example, Jack Waymire, founder of Paladin Registry, told me a story of friends who had a fantastic specialty pet products business that they ran over the Internet. In February of 2011, Google came out with a major change in its algorithm, called Panda. This devastated many Internet businesses, including this particular online specialty pet food retailer, taking sales from $70,000 a month to $0. Overnight, the business was shut down and had to come up with a different marketing plan. Consequently, Jack believes that financial advisors need to spend a great deal of time learning and focusing on what to do with marketing or seek out a person or organization for help. And low and behold, Paladin Registry has done just that! Here’s what I learned from my conversation with Jack; I hope it can help you market your business. Breaking Through Google Google has recently completed another update called Hummingbird.  This update will benefit content providers, which are the people or organizations that provide authoritative information and advice on the Internet. This means that financial advisors need to be authoritative or become “influencers,” providing information that prospective clients can find on the Internet. This is what will enable financial planners to get on to the first page of a Google search. Jack believes few financial advisors are equipped to do this. Second, financial advisors need to be proficient at publishing content all over the Internet. This means understanding search engine marketing and search engine optimization as well as utilizing social media and joint ventures (i.e. partners who help promote your content and services). Paladin Registry — One Stop Marketing Solution For Financials Advisors The Paladin Registry offers more than you might imagine. What you get is the professional Internet marketing and established site to create your own profile. It is similar to a pre-formatted personal website that fits within the criteria that investors should look for in financial professionals. Paladin Registry boasts of having 50,000 users with...

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Outrageous! I know, how could a ballerina weighing less than 100 pounds even line up? The truth is that she would be crushed, so it is not a real headline. However, this is what is happening when financial advisors tackle creating a business. Financial planners are good at what they do, but they are not marketing experts. Similarly, ballerinas are good at what they do, but they are not football players. Get it? What I would like to accomplish in today’s post is to highlight that financial advisors are quite often many things, but marketing experts is not one of them. Second, advisors who show an interest in marketing and specifically Internet marketing should seek help. Why? Well, if for no other reason, to make you more money. To this point, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the median pay for financial advisors in 2010 was $64,750 per year, or $31.13 per hour. This is significantly lower than the desired salaries of the 719 advisors I spoke with in the last 12 months. That’s where sales and marketing come in. If financial advisors are intentional about growing their business, they need to have a sales and marketing plan. As I have shared in this blog before, Townsend Wardlaw turned me into a sales machine. When I started my business, I was an investment manager. I knew I needed help so I sought out the best sales person I knew. I wanted Townsend to whip me into shape, hold me accountable and not let go. Becoming a sales trainer for financial advisors was easier than I thought because it was a process. I learned that sales was more about being a consultant and discovering what difficulties others are dealing with, enabling them to find and create solutions and influencing them to do something that they may or may not want to do. Sales and Marketing for Financials Advisors Always wanting to learn more about sales and marketing, I recently contacted Jack Waymire, founder of Paladin Registry, for an interview after several financial advisors nationwide indicated how pleased they were with using Paladin Registry. Jack conceived Paladin after he ended his career as an institutional financial consultant and founder of Lexington Capital Management, a broker dealer and RIA. Through his experience, he realized that individual investors needed a way to evaluate financial planners. As a result, he wrote Who’s Watching Your Money: The 17 Paladin Principles for Selecting a Financial Advisor in 2004. This subsequently evolved into Paladin Registry, a website devoted to helping individuals seek out advisors with the right attributes. The Three Categories of Financial Advisors Before we...

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