Sales Perspectives


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...

Read More

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...

Read More

Running a successful business can offer opportunities of freedom. Not only can effective business management provide an ample income, but can also allow you time to enjoy what you want to be doing, rather than continuously trying to keep your head above water. However, you cannot enjoy the freedoms that accompany a successful operation without a strong sales process in place. In our previous post, we touched on the importance of understanding your business processes and how implementing the nurturing process can help your company increase and develop a strong clientele base. In part two, we will cover the additional steps in the sales process that are necessary to grow your business and strengthen relationships for maximum lead conversion. Step Three: Close Deals with an Effective Sales Process A compelling sales process is made up of multiple key elements that work together to strengthen existing client relationships and increase efficiency in company procedures. In part 1 of our email series on sales processes, we briefly touched base on how incorporating lead nurturing into your process can effectively convert prospective leads to committed clients. Strong client relationships are essentially the foundation of your practice; therefore, your process should be designed to allow a significant amount of time to be spent with each potential client to better understand his or her needs, goals and how your service can be valuable to the client and beneficial to your company. At AUM in a Box, we make seven attempts to connect with each lead, but we don’t end our relations there. In order to understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better, it is essential that we track our progress. We have found Salesforce.com to be a great tool in tracking where our leads are in the prospecting process. By having numbers behind everything we do, we are able to become more efficient and productive, thus making our sales even better. Step Four: Map out Your Client Relations Route Now that you’ve gathered the data necessary to understand your client’s goals and expected outcomes, it’s time to draft your map. To begin, think about what you needed when you were just starting up your business. From there, take some time to think about the kind of experience you want to give to your ideal client. Below is a process map that contains 18 macro steps. Your personal map may have more or less, but these are the ideas I believe you need to have in order to provide holistic planning to your clients: Become a stable advisor – How you plan to run your business Branding, marketing and lead...

Read More

For many advisors and business owners in general, the thought of creating a successful, longstanding business that the owner can grow old with and eventually sell is a dream come true. Unfortunately, most advisors merely create a job and not an actual business. Consequently, the prospect of selling a job to another advisor is difficult and having a business you’re tolling away can be nothing short of frustrating. This is why having a sales process “manual” can not only help you run a better financial planning firm, but turn your job into a thriving business. Step One: Understand Your Processes to Effectively Build Sales The first question you need to answer before proceeding in developing a strategy to increase sales is why you want to build your firm and what the impact of the ‘why’ really is. You cannot effectively navigate a plan if you’re unsure of the course ahead. When it comes to developing a process, there are three elements to consider. The first is making sure you have a definite purpose. Perhaps you want to increase efficiency or you are looking to create a consistent client experience. Whatever your reason, be sure to understand your purpose moving forward. Second, you should carefully envision the potential outcomes. Questions you may ask yourself are: How can we complete this with as little work as possible? How does this plan help us to fulfill our purpose? Is our finished product is usable? Understanding your potential outcomes helps your business steer clear of issues along the way and maximizes efficiency so more of your time is spent with clients. Lastly, take time to review your process for any areas that may need revision.  Helpful ways to organize information may include using templates to create the policy, procedure & checklists. Categorizing each topic into a table of contents may also allow for easy navigation in the future. Step Two: Implement the Nurturing Process to Increase Clientele  In order to earn the sales you want to see, your process should focus on building the number of contacts you have on a list. By following this process, you will see your warm leads move to hot leads. To convert potential clients to loyal followers, you need to incorporate lead nurturing into your sales process. Lead nurturing allows you to create something of value to your prospective clients. By educating clients over time, you are building the value proposition that clients can latch onto. One of the many benefits of having a sound process in place is that you are initially creating a business for yourself. Developing a firm process enables you to create a...

Read More

I am a big advocate of finding a niche. With so much competition from robo-advisors such as Vanguard and Schwab, competing as a financial advisor can be difficult. But it does not have to be! This past week I was working with an advisor in Georgia. “My niche is financial planning,” he said. Despite what I know to be excellent financial planning, the process in and of itself is not a niche. A niche enables you to set yourself apart. Distinguish you from the likes of Betterment and Weatherfront. Perhaps provide extra value. If you are just concentrating on financial planning, you cannot set yourself apart. Understanding Your Clients’ Needs to Specify Your Market A niche focuses on a specific industry, career, age, demographic, hobby, or interest. For example, I work with two advisors who have established their very own unique niches. One advisor outside of Dallas realized there was a plethora of horse owners, but none of them he had as clients. He started interviewing them to understand their needs, wants and desires. Horse owners have a great deal of expenses, but they love their animals. By involving himself in this passion of horse ownership, he is now invited each year to the annual conference for Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and the American Horse Owners Association. He discusses the financial needs and desires of these owners. He is the expert. The second niche market master I work with is an advisor in Oregon. Like many advisors, especially working for LPL, he works out of a credit union. At first he simply conducted business with the public through the credit union, but after getting to know the management, he began converting the company’s employees into clients of his own. In order to successfully earn clients from within the credit union, he had to demonstrate his knowledge and justify what set him apart from other advisors. He has now successfully created his niche in working with credit unions and their clients. He manages their retirement plans, helps them with executive compensation and employs personal financial needs. This advisor knows the specifics of the industry. He remains up to date on current trends and understands what credit union employees are thinking about. When it comes to financial planning, both of these advisors have a significant advantage on Vanguard and Schwab because they understand the issues that investors are dealing with and have used their insights to hone in on specific markets. So if you think your niche is financial planning, think again. photo credit: Vlado via...

Read More

Many of the clients I meet with are not taking full advantage of the Social Security benefits that are offered to them. However, the clients that do understand the rules and the pieces see five and six figure increases in the benefits that are awarded to them. Clients are most profitable when they understand the full rules of Social Security. Unfortunately, most clients do not take the time to know these rules, which is where you as a financial advisor can help them. If you can deconstruct the pieces and put it back together for them, your clients can benefit substantially. One of the biggest benefits of understanding Social Security is that it can provide an individual as well as his or her spouse with longevity insurance. Building Spousal Benefits from Social Security Recently, I had a client who will receive more than a $50,000 increase in the Social Security benefits offered to him throughout the next 10 years. Accounting for inflation, or COLA, as the Social Security Administration calls it, this increase could be even more. The benefit he received was enough for him to pay off his mortgage. How was he able to accomplish this? By deferring benefits. This increase has led to other benefits as well. First, his wife will benefit if something happens to him because he has postponed receiving benefits. The deferral of benefits allows his wife to potentially receive 24% more each month in the event that something happens to him. During the time he is deferring receiving his benefit, he and his wife can still collect. He still files, but immediately suspends his benefits. However, his wife collects spousal benefits, which is half the amount he would receive. By doing this, his benefit entitled to him down the line increases 8% a year, plus inflation. In the meantime, the couple still gets to collect half of the amount through spousal benefits. The 8% increase a year may actually turn out to be greater than the stock market increase over the next few years. Receiving the spousal benefit allows him to receive twice the amount he would normally receive and helps to accelerate his mortgage payoff within the three years leading up to his retirement. As an advisor, I love knowing the rules and being able to use those rules to benefit my clients. In my profession of providing sales training for financial advisors, I encourage learning the rules and knowing how to best apply pieces to improve client...

Read More