by Tony Vidler
There was a time when converting 10% of your prospects was the path to career success as a financial adviser. Hard to believe perhaps, but true. Everyone starting in a sales role was told to just
“see the people, see the people, see the people!”?
The expectation was that our fame and fortune would be assured if we worked the 10-3-1 formula: Call 10 people, and get appointments with 3 of them on average, and 1 would turn into a client?
For a few decades that worked well enough. Consumers had limited information, and even more limited choices, and whether we realised it or not in financial services we were selling off the shelf solutions and making them fit clients needs. Nobody knew any differently then of course – including the agents and advisers themselves.
The world just doesn’t work that way anymore. Apart from the consumers themselves being more alert to the choices available, and also being far more focussed on finding solutions and strategies that are actually fit for purpose AND highly personlised, that philosophy of “eat what you kill” doesn’t meet with the expectations of regulators or today’s professionals. Simply burning through a bunch of people in any given week and putting the hard word on them to buy something is a war of attrition. Casualties are expected. Lots of casualties. 90% in fact according to the old dogma.
It is dumb because the overwhelming majority of interactions you have with the marketplace when you do business this way do not enhance your professional reputation. They damage it.
It is dumb because the haste to make a sale of some sort to a consumer essentially is placing the advisers needs above the consumers. That consumer typically has a genuine need or desire…but it just may not have manifested itself yet. The timing or circumstances are possibly not quite right for them, even though what you do or have is going to be just what they need in time to come.
It is dumb because it is so inefficient. It takes an enormous amount of time, money and effort to create an opportunity with a qualified prospect. Throwing all of those resources away simply because the consumer wasn’t ready to proceed NOW is extremely short-sighted and a poor commercial decision.
Mostly though it is dumb because the concept is fundamentally founded upon the idea of “winning”. Winning a sale. Winning a client. Winning the battle of wits….define it however you like, but the antithesis is that for one to win, the other must lose. There is no future in professional services for those who approach the market, and individual clients, with the mindset of “I win, you lose”.
It is dumb business.
I know there are still plenty of advisers around that think and work this way. Maybe we should thank them; they are making real professionals look fabulous.
Today’s (and tomorrow’s) financial professionals do not think or act like that of course. But here is something that they also do not generally do:
Professional advisers tend to be excellent at remembering people, and informally staying in contact, and being patient. However they are also usually very busy and are trying to keep on top of a lot of details about a heck of a lot of people….and things slip through. Too many months go by between contact with prospects. The potentially ideal future client slips away because of the ad hoc approach to patiently building the relationship and the lack of frequent and relevant contact.
One of the other old catch phrases from way back in the day that IS relevant to this issue though is: “if you have a repeated problem, put a process in place”.
So it is with patiently engaging with prospective future clients: put a process in place so nobody slips through the cracks. Build a system to ensure that a consistent presence is created with the prospects while we wait for their circumstances to be right to proceed as clients.
Of course some will probably never actually progress into becoming clients for one reason or another, and of course some were ready to engage and proceed early on in the process. The majority – perhaps 60% – will be sitting in the middle. Interested….still learning and moving through the decision process…still building trust and confidence…..waiting for their own catalyst event (such as the new home, new job, new family member) that is planned which will trigger the anticipated need for advice. They are good prospects….for the future. Just not “yet”.
Putting in place a system of maintaining contact (without continually trying to sell products and services) that helps the prospect become more informed, build trust and familiarity, and demonstrates unequivocally that you are more interested in helping them than helping yourself leads to far higher conversion rates with prospects.
Instead of burning through 9 prospects to get a client NOW, you are building a process where perhaps 8 out of 10 prospects become clients over time.
You just have to be patient and put a process in place that enables you to maintain a positive presence.
That’s smart business.