More Than Price: How Service Contributes to Experience

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Consumers make purchase decisions based on many factors. Price, convenience, the value provided by purchase and service quality are four criteria that customers consider when making a purchase decision. Traditionally, the price is the differentiating factor that pushes consumers in one way or another. Distinguishing your service based on price is fine if all else is equal, but the other characteristics can be used to differentiate your service from those of your competitors.

  • Value Provided by Purchase

In financial services, it can be difficult to convey the exact value that your services will bring customers. Customers in financial services usually have a good understanding of what they are shopping for and have a basic understanding of what the “value” is. If they are seeking to buy a home, they will find mortgage specialists. If they want a new credit card, they will only be shopping for credit cards. Since the customers already know what they want, it can be difficult to explain why your service is more valuable than the competitors offer.

When attempting to explain why your services can provide more value, the conversation devolves into explaining how you can offer better prices, lower fees or better interest rates.

To demonstrate the fact that you offer better value to the customer, you should try to focus your efforts on explaining why you, as a person, can provide value that a competitor cannot match. Are you more competent than your competition? Give examples of your competence, explaining how you can do a good job for your customer. Do you come across as more trustworthy? Then demonstrate why your trustworthiness is valuable to your client. Whatever you do, try to prove your value in ways that do not revolve around pricing. To learn more about providing value through trustworthiness, check out our article: How Warmth and Competence Affect Customer Perceptions.

If the prospect does not see the difference in value provided by two professionals, their decision will revolve around other characteristics. Often, that characteristic is the price. To avoid a race to the bottom, financial services professionals should avoid positioning their business based solely on price. So, what other ways can financial services professionals demonstrate the differences between themselves and their competition?

  • Convenience

Customers want convenience when dealing with financial services organizations. There was a time when banks held hours that were inconvenient for their clients. People want to manage their financial services at times that work for them. Businesses need to make their services accessible to the average consumer.

How can you make your services more convenient?

Be available wherever and whenever your customers need you. Consider offering to schedule client meetings outside of regular office hours. Offer to meet people in their home after dinner. Maybe they would like to meet at a diner for lunch? Maybe they can only make time in their schedule early Sunday morning.

To thrill your customers, do what it takes to be available to them, when they want and where they want. Convenient service will reduce friction in your relationship, allowing the quality of your service and the value you provide to shine through. What is at risk if financial services do not begin to prioritize convenience? Check out our article: Financial Services: A Case for Industry Disruption.

  • Service Quality

Service quality is the factor that matters most to consumers. Regardless of price, convenience, or other factors, nearly every customer is looking for high-quality service.

How can you improve the quality of your service?

The first thing you can do to improve the quality of your service is by perfecting your service offering. Your offering should meet the needs and desires of your niche. Figure out which characteristics your niche values and ensure that those components are built into the service offering. Design your services with your niche in mind, so every step of the journey is based on their wants and needs.

The second thing you can do to improve your service quality is carefully managing the customer journey. Design the customer journey with the end user in mind. What does that mean? Well, you should provide opportunities for customer education that adds value.

Customers are engaged when they feel as if their voice is heard by their financial services professional. What stages of the buyer journey involve customer input? Provide educational opportunities to help the customer move through the journey with more knowledge and agency. If you can make customers feel involved in your service process, they will be more engaged and less at risk of leaving your practice.

A lot more than just price goes into any purchase decision. It does not have to be a race to the bottom; there are many other criteria that you can compete on.

What criteria do you think are most important to your customers? Is it price? Is it service? Why do you think that is? We would love to hear your thoughts on Twitter @VeridayHQ. If you’re interested, follow us on Linkedin here.

Do Financial Advisors Need LinkedIn Premium?

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This post was authored by Claire Akin and originally appeared here on GuideVine.

We know that LinkedIn is a powerful networking platform for advisors, given that one in three professionals worldwide have profiles. The Pew Research Center surveys show that the average user is 44 years old, the average income is $109,000, and the average investable asset value is over $250,000.

If your new client account minimum is above $250,000, consider that 26% of ultra-high-net-worth investors also use LinkedIn. As the Great Transfer of Wealth begins, LinkedIn is becoming more important for your legacy plan, with the fastest growing segment being Millennials.

LinkedIn offers four main uses for advisors:

  1. It’s your online resume
  2. It’s an online Rolodex of your network
  3. It’s a powerful search tool to find and connect with qualified prospects
  4. It’s a publishing platform that allows you to share your expertise

The Problem that LinkedIn Solves

Remember the old days when you would exchange business cards with a contact at a networking event or on the golf course so that you could refer business to one another in the future? The problem with that practice is that once your contact changed companies, the business card was rendered useless. Because workers change jobs more often today than they did years ago, this problem has been magnified.

LinkedIn offers a solution to this problem, allowing you to virtually exchange business cards and stay in touch no matter the career transitions that you or your connection make. In fact, LinkedIn will let you know each time one of your connections changes companies so you can reach out and congratulate them, keep in touch, and perhaps ask if they have rolled over their old 401(k).

By connecting with your network on LinkedIn, you can stay in touch, grow your influence, share your expertise, and ask for introductions. But if you’ve spent any time on LinkedIn, you’ve probably been solicited with offers to upgrade to LinkedIn Premium.

What is LinkedIn Premium?

LinkedIn Premium is a paid LinkedIn membership that offers benefits above the free version. There are four versions of LinkedIn Premium, depending on if you’re a job seeker, a sales rep, a recruiter, or an advertiser. Fees associated with LinkedIn Premium accounts range from $30 per month for job seekers to $150 per month for recruiters.

LinkedIn Premium is a subscription-based service that “unlocks” special features on LinkedIn including:

  • An enhanced profile with a larger photo and headline
  • The ability to see who has viewed your profile
  • Advanced search criteria
  • Between 3 and 30 InMail Credits
  • Up to 10 saved searches

Should You Upgrade?

The drawback to LinkedIn Premium for financial advisors is that the features focus on connecting with those you don’t already know. For most advisors, cold messaging on LinkedIn is not as effective as relying on referrals from their network or asking for an introduction from someone they know.

Advanced search capabilities are helpful for identifying qualified prospects, but the free version of LinkedIn allows you to search by criteria including current company, industry, and job title. LinkedIn Premium search criteria such as function and seniority level can be accessed for free by using keywords like “executive” or “manager” to target those segments.

InMail Messages are undoubtedly valuable and can be used to contact prospects or centers of influence that you’re not connected with. However, InMail Messages are easily ignored and LinkedIn no longer credits back InMail Messages that are not answered. At a price of $10 per message, advisors may have a higher ROI with other marketing efforts.

Some experts point to the LinkedIn Premium profile badge as a vanity cost and data on the renewal rates for premium subscriptions has not been published. However, because the LinkedIn platform was built primarily for job seekers and recruiters, it makes sense that they would benefit the most from LinkedIn Premium memberships.

For financial advisors looking to expand their network, a better use of time and resources may be to use the generous Basic LinkedIn features and to send thoughtful connection requests to members with a mutual acquaintance, which continues to be free.

 

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Financial Advisors: Making Sense of the SEC’s Third-Party Review Site Rules

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This post was authored by Marie Swift and originally appeared here on GuideVine.

Financial Advisors and the marketing consultants who specialize in working with them know that the SEC no-testimonials rule prohibits Registered Investment Advisers and Investment Adviser Representatives from using client endorsements in their advertising. But in April 2014, the SEC issued new guidelines on the use of social media and online communications, which opened the door to something new: the ability for Advisors share on their own websites and profile pages public comments about their services that are posted on independent websites (such as Yelp, Angie’s List, Wallet Hub, and GuideVine).

There are, of course, rules related to how the content from these third-party sites can be used on sites and profile pages the Advisory firm controls. Here’s how to think things through.

NO CHERRY PICKING

The Advisor must include both positive and negative reviews. This means there can be no cherry picking — the Advisor must publish all comments, unedited. Financial Advisors can’t just copy and paste the good ones and leave the bad ones behind on the third-party site.

The SEC guidance specifically says: “The investment Adviser may publish only the totality of the testimonials from an independent social-media site and may not highlight or give prominence to a subset of the testimonials.”

Advisors can also publish mathematical averages of the comments from third-party review sites.

The best way to benefit from the third-party review sites, according to many industry consultants, is to post the logo and a link to the page where the third-party reviews live.

In this writer’s opinion, it could be worth linking to the third-party review page and monitoring daily to ensure that one is comfortable with any new comments. If the comments on the third-party review site ever become a concern, Advisors have a couple choices — remove the logo and link to the third-party site or embrace the fact that studies show that companies that have a disproportionate number of marginal or negative reviews are seen as more credible and real.

CONSUMER TRUST BUILDING 

Stats from social commerce company Reevoo show that, while it may seem counterintuitive, the presence of a few bad reviews is actually a good thing.

“Reevoo found that people that seek out and read bad reviews convert better, as the very fact that they are paying such close attention means they are more likely to be in purchase mode,” says writer Vikki Chowney in an article on eConsultancy.com. “68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores, while 30% suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see any negative opinions on the page.”

The Edelman Trust Barometer shows that people now trust one another more than they do established institutions. People have always turned to their peers when making important decisions. Now, with social media’s impact on online search, it is easier than ever for those doing research online to find “a person like me” or “ a regular employee” — both of which are seen as more credible than a company executive or paid spokesperson.

For more insights on building trust online read this Marie Swift piece on Financial-Planning.com: Why Financial Advisors Can’t Ignore Social Media.

NO INFLUENCE ON THIRD-PARTY SITES

The SEC guidelines also state that Financial Advisors must not have the ability to influence comments from the general public on the third-party site. This means the Advisor must not try to influence how they’re portrayed on those third-party sites. The SEC is trying to ensure that potential clients get the full picture of an Advisory firm.

“Advisers would violate the SEC’s testimonial rule if they drafted or submitted comments to a third-party review site, paid others to submit favorable comments to the site or suppressed, edited or manipulated the order in which the commentary was presented,” said tenured industry writer Mark Schoeff, Jr. in this article published by Investment News, SEC Oks Use of Third Party Social Media Endorsements.

CONTENT NEUTRAL LINE-UP

Beyond just the “all or nothing” restriction covered in the “no cherry picking” section of this article, Registered Investment Advisers must keep in mind that they may only publish testimonials from an independent review website in a “content-neutral manner.” According to the SEC guidelines, this means chronological or alphabetical order. It is not okay to put the best rankings at the top and the worst rankings at the bottom.

This is one reason why this writer believes it is best to simply link to the third-party review site and then monitor the discussion threads on a daily basis.

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU POST ON THIRD-PARTY SITES

What would you do if you saw this post on a third-party review site?

“Found Jake Advisor to be out of touch, unresponsive and arrogant.”

How about this one?

“I have known John Planner for many years. One of the nicest guys you will ever meet! He knows his business and will take GREAT care of you and your assets.”

 It is human nature to want to applaud the person posting the positive comment — but Financial Advisors should refrain from doing anything that might be construed as encouraging positive comments. So the best thing to do when a Financial Advisor sees a positive comment is to do nothing — at least not publically. It would be nice however to say, “thanks for your kind comments on xyz review site,” over a cup of coffee, while at the same time explaining why you can’t try to encourage positive endorsements online.

In the case of the negative comment above, it is human nature to want to defend oneself. As a marketing communications and reputation expert, this writer believes that it would be best if the Advisor in question posted something simple such as, “I’m sorry you feel that way. Please call me to discuss.”, if the third-party site allows responses. And leave it at that. Check with compliance first, of course, to make sure their interpretation of the SEC guidelines is in alignment with this reputational recommendation.

BOTTOM LINE

“This rule would appear to put Advisers in the clear regarding third-party review sites, such as Yelp, presuming that the Adviser really does not have any affiliation to the site, and cannot control the comments posted (e.g., by trying to delete negative comments while allowing positive ones to remain),” said Michael Kitces, director of research at Pinnacle Advisory Group, on his blog, Nerd’s Eye View.

Check with your company’s compliance department to learn more about internal policies and procedures and/or outside legal counsel to make sure all regulatory guidelines are being met at your firm. A recent report from McGladrey, LLC, a leading provider of assurance, tax and consulting services in the US, says that financial firms should be prepared for Heightened SEC Regulatory Focus. Smart Financial Advisors will be ready for questions and conducting themselves in close alignment to the SEC rules.

How to Make a Great First Impression? Hint: It’s Not All About You.

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This post was authored by Marie Swift and originally appeared here on GuideVine.

If you think about it, every prospective client meeting is a job interview. As with any interview, it is important to do a little online research before the first conversation occurs. Your prospects, even referrals, are certainly doing their research on you, to get a sense of whom you are and if you could be a fit for them.

This doesn’t just apply to prospects. Knowing your existing clients is important too, and not just because financial advisors need to meet suitability and/or fiduciary standards, but also because building deeper relationships is good for client retention.

“You probably have the names of your client’s kids and pets, and some basic information about your prospective clients in your CRM, but today you can go several steps farther,” said Brian Kostick, Vice President of Practice Management atActiFi(tm), a software and solutions company creating scalable business execution programs for the financial services industry. Kostich presented on this topic during a business-development workshop presented in partnership with Scottrade Advisor Services® in early July. “Staying on top of clients’ industries, favorite causes, and concerns will make you stand out as an advisor. Knowing what makes your prospective clients tick can help you during the sales and engagement process.”

Tips from the NYC workshop

During his opening comments, Scottrade® Advisor Services executive Brian Stimpfl said that advisors can deepen relationships with existing clients and cultivate new ones by understanding the process behind growth. Explaining the rationale behind the workshop, Stimpfl said “We want advisors to look at every step in their service model, from developing their pipeline to onboarding new clients.”

“This is a relationship business. Advisors need to cultivate relationships,” said Kostick during the marketing and prospecting portion of the workshop. To that end, he said advisors need to research potential clients, including checking social media. He also cautioned against “winging it” in meetings. “Be prepared and have set an agenda for your meetings.

In conversations, advisors need to ask good questions. The goal is to learn about the potential client rather than to sell their services. Afterward, they need to follow up with a summary letter and a call to action—something they can follow up on a few weeks later.

Reaching out is also simple, especially with all the new digital communication tools available. They enable a variety of interactions that weren’t necessarily available earlier, whether it’s a reach out with a newsletter, invitations to workshops and lunch-and learns, an offer to provide a second opinion, an email with a link to download one of your special reports, a personalized video message, and other similar types of communication. This helps keep you front-and-center as people move from lead to prospect to client. (For additional marketing tips and insights, please read Generating New Business in a Digital World.)

“Prospective client meetings deserve the same level of attention as an interview would. Before meeting with a prospect, it pays to do a quick Google search,” Kostick said. “What might you find? A press release announcing an executive position; a major charitable donation; board memberships; wedding announcements; family obituaries; and more. In less than ten minutes, you’ll have a better idea of who the person is, including the issues and causes he or she cares about most deeply.”

But don’t just stop there, go a step farther, Kostick urged. “If your prospect works at a notable company in town, look up the firm. Is it leading its industry? Is it facing special challenges? Rumored to be in play for a takeover? Now you have insight that could affect the prospect’s financial status, and can bring some real insight to your meeting.”

And use searches to build a profile of a prospect’s industry or company, especially if they are at a smaller company or are a business owner/entrepreneur. This will enable you to show in-depth understanding and knowledge of the prospect’s needs and challenges.

Also consider setting up Google News Alerts for your very best prospects and clients. As you see things about them in the local news or broadly online, simply send them congratulations, a note with a relevant piece of information and/or an invitation to meet again and discuss their situation.

The Digital Footprint, and How to Use it

Today, most Americans use social media, whether it’s LinkedIn for professional networking, Facebook for less-formal socializing, or Twitter for swapping news bites. Each platform builds their digital footprint and can serve a potential purpose for an advisor, if you know what to look for.

On LinkedIn, looking up prospects can give a view of their business life and accomplishments. In addition, you may find that you have connections in common. Just before a meeting or interaction, it also makes sense to take a quick peek at current activity on the profile, perhaps you’ll see something new on their page or notice a string of posts on a particular topic that could be telling.

Facebook provides an interesting look at what matters most to prospects, and your clients. This is where you’re most likely to get glimpses of their charitable endeavors, their family projects, their travels and their hobbies. Sometimes there’s a connection to something you might care about—and a source of a bond. Even if you are not be connected to your current / prospective client on Facebook, there is often some information visible to the general public.

You may also find that your prospects or clients use Twitter as well. Skim their Twitter feed and look for clues. What are they tweeting, commenting on and retweeting? Even though these are brief communications, they indicate what captures someone’s attention and actively triggers interaction on their part.

If this all seems daunting, you may want to consider technological help. One of the easiest ways to do this is to begin with your CRM system. Some of the more modern CRMs, such as Wealthbox, actually show information from a client or prospect’s social media feeds. Having that information at your finger-tips, and in the same place as your other information on the person, cuts out an additional step or two in the process suggested above.

In his best-selling book, Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling: Web Search Secrets, Sam Richter, an award-winning author and Chief Marketing Officer for ActiFi, offers additional online search secrets, tips, tricks, and tools to find and use this type of information. The bottom-line is, preparing for meetings like they were a job interview, plus a little effort to better understand your prospects and clients via their digital footprint can make a big-time impression, while also improving your relationships (and margins).

How Advisors Can Market To The Millennial Generation: Part 2

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A Millennial weighing in on how to market to Millennials.

In Part 1 of this series, we became better acquainted with the buying and browsing habits of Millennials. In part 2, we will take a look at one of the ways in which Advisors can reach this tech-savvy generation. As with each generation (and being a Millennial myself) this group comes with their own set of interests, expectations, and abilities.

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Millennials are known to be constantly checking their Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.  Our generation has become so attached to our smartphones that when we have to put our phone away for an hour, we don’t know what to do with ourselves.   The average Millennial checks his or her smartphone 43 times and spends 5.4 hours on social media per day. Some would say we are a Marketer’s dream – always plugged in.

So, what are Advisors to do?

Look beyond the traditional marketing strategies and utilize what the Millennial generation has invented. Millennials are the inventors of Social Media and it has quickly become their link to the outside world, far more then even television. It is not going anywhere; so creating a great online reputation on Social Media will only help to build a future with these Millennial clients.

When it comes to marketing and education, Advisors who want to reach this generation will need to embrace Social Media; but benefiting from this avenue is all about knowing how to use it effectively. A great strategy is all about mastering communicating in the language of the Millennial.  Advisors can do this by creating content that is centered around their values and goals.  Most are getting married and buying houses later in life, and a small percentage have started saving for retirement. As a Financial advisor, your topic is wealth and management.  However, you can place your expertise in the context of what Millennials value.

So, what do Millennials value and where are they dishing out the dollars these days? Jeff Yang (CNN, 2014) suggests that Millennials are much more likely to spend their money on things and experiences that they can share with friends; such as a nice dinner out, a weekend road-trip, or a one-of-a-kind experience. They tend to spend their money on creating memories and experiences, rather than owning big and expensive materials.  In Yang’s article, he discusses the top 3 things that Millennials are spending their money on:

  1. Travel. Millennials travel more then any other group, taking on average 9 leisure trips a year.
  2. Technology. Millennials are redeploying their spending from televisions to mobile devices. 45% of twenty something year olds say it is important to them to have the latest features or styles in smartphones. They don’t see this as just a gadget but as the primary way they connect with friends, family, and the outside world (social media).
  3. Training.  Millennials are one of the most well educated generations and are spending more on education then prior generations. The average millennial graduates with a $30,000 student loan burden.

As an Advisor trying to connect with a Millennial, why not share your expertise through the currency that they value (experiences, travel, concerts, food, digital media, education) and through the medium that they communicate (social media). Although you are an Advisor, and your expertise is in finance, wealth and management, position your Social Media strategy in the context of what this generation values most based on their spending habits.  Create and share content on your Social Media platforms that speak about how to save for a vacation, or school, or point out the experiences that they may miss out on if they don’t manage their money effectively. Below are some examples of some great topics that would tie together both your expertise and Millennials interests:

  • Creative ways to save for a vacation
  • How to save money while travelling
  • Should you invest or pay off student loans?
  • Strategies to dig yourself out of student loan debt
  • 10 tips to save money for leisure activities
  • How saving can fuel your travel bug

Advisors: Establish a presence on the avenues that Millennials are spending the most time on, and tailor your created and curated content to information and insights that are relevant to us, without being overly commercial. First, understand and speak to the values that drive Millennials.  Second, understand their lifestyles and experiences and find ways to amplify their reality.  Millennials can be a difficult yet rewarding demographic for Advisors.

 

How to Drive Sales Using the Customer Buyer Journey

How Advisors Can Market To The Millennial Generation: Part 1

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A Millennial weighing in on how to market to Millennials.

What, exactly, is the Millennial generation?

Millennials (also known as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y) are the demographic cohort of individuals born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s. There are more than 80 million of them in the US alone, making their generation larger than Baby Boomers and 20 percent larger than Generation X. Based on research conducted by Millennial Marketing, we know the following about this generation:

  • Millennials include some of the earliest digital natives.
  • Millennials are interested in participating in your marketing.
  • Millennials are known as content creators and users.
  • Millennials are ‘’hooked’’ on social media.
  • Millennials grew up in a socially networked world.
  • Millennials have an estimated purchasing power of between $125 billion to $890 billion

Millennials As the Young Investor

Young and potentially wealthy millennials can be an extremely profitable segment for Advisors and present an excellent opportunity for Advisors to expand their client base. Ironically, they also seem to be a large segment of the population largely overlooked by financial firms. Many Advisors are business people following the money as they seek higher fees and more commissions. However, any Advisor building a business for the long term should find solid opportunity in the millennial group. Advisors can build a relationship with them as they continue to grow and aspire to be high-net-worth retirees someday.   According to Time, millennials are saving more now than boomers did at their age. They know that they must manage their own financial future and want someone to guide them in a way that makes sense to them.

I am, in fact, a Millennial. I rely on very specific marketing avenues for information in order to make my decisions.  So, how should Advisors market to me? In part 2 of this series, I will look at the most effective ways Advisors can reach millennials in their marketing efforts. Hint: Content is King.

But first, let’s take a look at Millennial’s buying and browsing habits in this Infographic courtesy of AdWeek. One common theme is that Millennial’s expect technology to work and will go elsewhere if it doesn’t (hint: importance of mobile optimized sites, which we will cover in part 2).  So, how can you reach the Millennial generation? In one word……online. 

How to Market to Millennials

 

After perusing this Infographic, was there anything that was surprising to you?

 

How to Drive Sales Using the Customer Buyer Journey

Infographic: 6 Steps to Nurturing the Sales Funnel Using Social Media

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The traditional 20th century sales and marketing funnel has been usurped in the digital age. As we’ve discussed before, there is a new buyer journey where 60% of the sales journey is completed before a buyer makes first contact with a sales person. Customers are lead from awareness to sale often before they even speak to anyone. Social media has played a large part in changing the sales funnel by shortening the gap between people and information, and providing a new way for Advisors to pull in prospects.

The Infographic below, brought to you by TollFreeForwarding, provides social media tactics to move prospects and leads through the sales funnel. This is not to say that we should abandon all other tactics and only use social media to nurture prospects, but rather social media is just one way to to pull prospects through each stage of the sales funnel.

According to the Infographic, 80% of customers expect businesses to be active on social media.  For Advisors active on social media, there are 6 steps to nurturing prospects through the sales funnel:

  1. Awareness
  2. Interest
  3. Conversion
  4. Sales
  5. Loyalty
  6. Advocacy

To learn more about the 6 steps, and some actionable tips for each step, read the full Infographic below:

TFF-M6-SocialSalesFunnel-1

How do you use social media to move your prospects through the sales funnel? We’d love to hear about techniques that have worked for you.  Comment below. 

 

How to Drive Sales Using the Customer Buyer Journey

Financial and Insurance Advisors: How to Build Sales Without Being Too ‘Salesy’ Part 2

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In this series, we are addressing techniques on how to build sales without being too ‘’salesy’’ or pushy. In this article, we will cover techniques 5 through 7. Read the first part of this series here.

5. Content Marketing

Never has it been so easy or affordable for Advisors to connect directly with their target markets. Social media offers so many options for you to connect with your target market by blogging, tweeting, and linking to articles, e-books, newsletters, PDFs, ect.

Content Marketing puts the hard-sell advertising message on the back burner and provides your target audience with valuable information. By providing valuable content that helps prospects, you are starting to build trusted relationships with your potential clients. Great content can be one of the best sales tools because it is still working even when you aren’t around, by teaching and moving prospects in the right direction, and positioning yourself as a thought leader. While at some point you will need to try to sell, your primary goal in the beginning is to develop relationships and build trust.

6. Storytelling

When presenting a service or solution, tell stories that the prospect can relate to that draw similarities to their situation (protecting the identify of your client, of course).   Humanize your service by telling prospects stories behind them. Do you have a client that has a great story about building a business? When prospects learn stories and experiences, from you, of people who are just like them, they may be more likely to want to work with you. Storytelling can also help to educate your clients and prospects on complex financial and investment concepts. Create a picture for clients and prospects to help them understand what you have to offer is compelling, and meets their needs.

7. Pick your Niche

Don’t be all things to all prospects and clients. As more and more people become Financial Advisors, it is becoming increasingly important for Advisors to focus into a niche where it’s easier to stand out and win clients. Getting a more focused niche gives you the opportunity to truly differentiate yourself. Advisors need to be willing to walk away when opportunities come up that are not a good fit for them or the prospect. Prospects will be able to catch on if you are trying to sell them something, that you don’t feel comfortable with, just to give them what they want to hear.

For more tips on selling techniques and how to develop an effective value proposition, click here.

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What techniques have you found successful in building relationships with prospects? Share your comments below.

 

How to Drive Sales Using the Customer Buyer Journey

Financial and Insurance Advisors: How to Build Sales Without Being Too ‘Salesy’ Part 1

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Often people think of salespeople as being pushy or aggressive. We have all experienced the pushy salesman that hasn’t stopped talking to listen and leaves you feeling as though you were forced to say ‘’yes’’. Many salespeople don’t think about whether they are being perceived as pushy and don’t realize that their style may be actually losing the prospect.

There are certainly opportunities to be successful as a Financial and Insurance Advisor without the use of overbearing or pushy methods. The key is building trust and listening. Professional selling today is about presenting your services in an organized matter –  without being pushy, tricky or manipulating. It’s all about having a good conversation coupled with asking the right questions about what’s important to your prospects.

So, how can you develop your financial services practice without coming across like a pushy salesperson? Below, is a list of tips that Advisors can consider when trying to engage prospects.

1. Build rapport and trust first.

There is a lot more then building rapport and trust in selling but making a good connection with someone and making them feel comfortable is a really good start. If you build rapport, they will start to feel comfortable sharing with you their goals, objectives and afflictions, all things you need to know to be successful as an Advisor.

2. Ask the right questions.

The best method for uncovering your prospects needs and wants is to ask the right questions. We need to learn about our prospects before we can provide the best solutions and services to them. Ask your prospect what they are looking for and probe for more detail, if necessary. Understand what really matters to your prospects. It is important to discover their goals and challenges and what they are hoping the outcome to be.

3. Be a Problem Solver.

If you are going to deliver value to your prospects, then you need to solve their problems.   If you can’t put your finger on what their problem or challenge is, then you won’t be successful in solving their problem. This is why asking the right questions is so important.   Help the prospect to visualize a more desirable situation and devise a way for them to move from the way things are to the way they would like them to be. Asking the right questions can also lead to Advisors solving other problems that the client did not even know they had.

4. Educate, instead of pitch. 

To win prospects over you need to educate them, instead of pitch to them.  The key is giving them information and options. The aim is to build understanding and identify whether there is a potential useful fit between what you can offer and what the prospect might need. Help your prospect understand their problem through education and solve their problem through your services.

Some of these might seem obvious to the seasoned sales professional but can often be overlooked and under utilized. Check out part 2 of this series, where we continue to look at some tips for building sales without being too ‘’salesy’’.

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What are the biggest challenges you face regularly in the sales cycle? What tips and tricks have worked for your practise? Share your comments below.