by Tony Vidler
If you polled 100 advisers with this simple question I would wager that more than half would answer:
“getting enough new business prospects to meet my business objectives”.
Prospecting has always been one of the toughest challenges, and remains so today. But it doesn’t need to be in the social networking era….in fact, prospecting has never been easier than it is today for the switched on adviser.
In times past an adviser would spend a couple of days a week ringing random strangers to peddle a product. Or perhaps spend even more time wandering the streets interrupting business owners and their staff….it was hard graft right? In a good week we’d talk to 50 or more people and secure the opportunity to sit down and talk meaningfully with half a dozen perhaps.
Today you can easily talk to literally thousands per week, who engage with you because THEY want to. You can do so in a way that doesn’t pressure people…you can add value to their lives while doing so, and build credibility and trust.
Social networking has changed the dynamics of the the professional services business. Marketing skills are now far more important than personal sales skills.
Don’t get me wrong on this; personal sales skills are still incredibly important as the most important thing an adviser can do for a client is to persuade them to take the right course of action, and that requires some sales skills.
Having the ability to market yourself and your business is far more important than personal sales skills however. The key drivers for this change are:
1. Consumers can access technical, or product, information in abundance from their phones while having lunch.
2. Consumers are empowered by this information that is freely available to them, and also by the levels of privacy and disclosure requirements placed upon professionals (which are generally reasonable I would stress).
3. Consumers now expect technical competency, convenience, and reputational integrity to be evidenced and established before considering engaging an adviser.
Yet, despite the new market dynamics, human beings are essentially the same. A fundamental truth that sits at the heart of why consumers choose a particular adviser is that they tend to take advice from people they feel they know and trust.
Never before has it been as easy for a professional services firm or individual adviser to engage masses of potential prospects simultaneously but in a highly personal manner. Personal sales strategies of the past involved a guy with a megaphone walking the streets….now you have your own radio or TV station broadcasting internationally if you wish, to whatever market segment you want to work with.
Social media is a platform for engaging thousands of prospects with useful information that establishes credibility and technical competency. It is a method of demonstrating your reputational integrity at the same time…what you say; the style and manner in which you say it; your levels of discretion and sound judgment; how you are perceived or listened to by others in the same target market….these are all things that can be positively and firmly established in the minds of thousands of prospects for your business – without you having to make a call.
To use mass networking techniques well though requires a marketers mindset which is substantially different to a salespersons mindset. The difference in “market approach” is as stark as comparing a crop farmer with a big game hunter; the two look at the environment very differently and have very different perceptions of patience and reward. One seeks to expand yield from the use of the land while the other hunts and extracts resources from the environment to the point of scarcity.
Social networking with a strong marketing focus and flair is the path to solving prospecting problems for the long term for any professional services business – unless your only interest in business is the pursuit of the next trophy catch.
© 2013 Tony Vidler. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this web site not otherwise subject to copyright of other parties are subject to the ownership rights of Tony Vidler. Tony Vidler authorises you to make a single copy of the content herein for your own personal, non-commercial, use while visiting the site. You agree that any copy made must include the Tony Vidler copyright notice in full. No other permission is granted to you to print, copy, reproduce, distribute, transmit, upload, download, store, display in public, alter, or modify the content contained on this web site.0