Most financial advisors are involved in some sort of networking and/or social prospecting endeavor as a component of their overall marketing strategy. The million dollar question then becomes how to make the transition from social contact to viable business prospect. My clients have found the following process extremely helpful in making that often difficult and somewhat tricky transition.
The process begins at the initial contact. Use the steps below as your framework for a systematic approach to transitioning every viable prospect you meet whether at a networking event or in a social context.
- Your primary objective for the initial contact is to build rapport, discover as much as you can about your SC on a personal level and leave with their contact information. The personal information you are able to obtain in the introductory meeting will be critical in helping you to build your “prospect experience” now and your “client experience” later.
- When asked what you do, stay clear of the superficial, canned elevator speech that every investor has heard from every financial advisor on the planet, ”I’m a financial advisor with…” or even worse the five-minute dissertation that begins with, “I am an financial advisor for high net worth individuals and I preserve wealth while…” The best elevator speeches should accomplish three very specific objectives. They should be casual and feel natural so you’ll actually use them and not revert back to your old ways when you’re nervous. They should always leave them wanting more and most importantly, they should plant a seed in the prospect’s mind that they may need your help. I would suggest that you don’t even mention that you’re a financial advisor. Something like, “I’m with (firm) and I deal with people who are sick and tired of a piecemeal approach to their retirement planning” is far more effective. This absolutely sets you apart from the crowd. If they ask you if you’re a financial advisor, of course say yes, but have 3 bullet points ready that further reiterate and explain “how most people do have a piecemeal or somewhat random approach to retirement.” When you take this approach it is human nature that the first thought that passes through their mind is, “I wonder if I have a piecemeal approach to retirement.” Make your comments as brief as possible and leave them wanting more.
- Send personal handwritten note with a “cool stamp.” Never run personal notes through the postage meter. Cool stamps add to the “prospect experience” you’re creating and virtually guarantee your note is opened. Cool stamps are non-negotiable. Visit the post office to see what’s available. This is something you don’t think people notice, but they do. I remember one year using superhero stamps and got many interesting comments from prospects. It’s easy way to warm up that prospect just a little more.
- Option 1: If you are hosting monthly events, invite your SC to this month’s event if it’s at least 2 weeks out. If it isn’t, include your SC on the following month’s invitation list.
- Option 2: If you don’t host monthly events, send the SC a small non-business-related gift. The Ultimate Gift book is an excellent choice. (It costs no more than an additional person at a monthly event.) Be sure to write something in the front flap of the book. If you’re more on a budget, another possibility is a magazine article or something else related to whatever they expressed an interest in during your initial contact. Anything the SC is passionate about has good potential. Include a personal note. For example, if they’re into golden retrievers. Find an article about a golden retriever pulling a kid from a lake and saving his life. Include a brief note, “I saw this article and thought of you. Talk to you soon.”
- Day 10 can be modified according to your style. However, this is a critical juncture in which you must set yourself apart from the crowd, so be as creative as possible here.
Day after event or 7 days after non-business related gift sent:
- Send your personalized branding piece. It should include 3 bullet points on what you do for people. Also included should be a bullet point bio with sections on: Education & Licensing, Your Process (Make It Brief), Community Associations & Personal. The Personal section is the most important section. It is always read first. DO NOT leave it out. It often serves as common ground between you and the prospect.
- This should be a one-pager. If you have a firm-sponsored brochure, it should be included in your introductory packet which they’ll get when they become a client. Remember, you want to set yourself apart from the crowd and most advisors send the slick firm brochure at this juncture. Most importantly, you want them to read it. A one-pager with bullet points and a good personal section has a much greater probability of being read than a glossy firm brochure.
- Invest $50 in a laminating machine and laminate your one-page branding piece. Studies have shown that when something is laminated, people rarely throw it away.
7 Days after Personalized branding piece:
- Follow up with a phone call for a one-on-one lunch
- Your primary objectives for lunch are: continue to build rapport, begin to gather information about their financial situation, set an appointment in your office to “discuss where their portfolio may be vulnerable.”
Day after lunch:
- Send a personal handwritten note with, you guessed it, a “cool stamp.” Handwritten personal notes are a lost art. People notice and appreciate these. Look for additional reasons to write them.
Long Term Drip:
- Automated monthly newsletter
- Monthly phone call
- Quarterly lunch
A key to success lies in building clearly defined, repeatable processes for every aspect of your business. Working through this process or your personalized version of it the same way every time gives you a structure for making that transition from just another social contact to a viable business prospect. Processes built into your business always save time, add professionalism and build confidence.