Marketing Corner – 10 Reasons Why Your Prospect Says “No”

Marketing Corner – Thursday, December 7th, 2016

10 Reasons Why Your Prospect Says “No”

Advisors experience many no’s throughout their career. It’s simply a matter of course in business and in sales. A no can happen anytime as you engage with a prospect–from the first minutes of an appointment, to after the meeting, to follow-up work, to recommending another solution. The common way advisors approach no’s is playing the numbers game—i.e. after so many no’s you’re bound to get a yes. (Think of the old sales cliché “99 no’s and a yes is still a yes.) While this method of prospecting can work for some producers, there is value in understanding why a prospect says no—especially when there are simple things that you can do to turn them into a yes.

Here are 10 reasons your prospect says no.

They Don’t Trust You

Trust is crucial in converting a prospect to a client. If a prospect doubts whether you are reliable, truthful, and sincere, they are likely to dismiss any great advice you offer. Clients and prospects may not trust you for a variety of reasons, such as you are too eager to sell, your body language is protective and closed off, or they are naturally suspicious of financial advisors.

Build trust by explaining your credentials and experience. Discuss your approach/mission statement and address any concerns a prospect has about the financial planning process head-on. Exhibit confidence, but use warm body language.
For body language tips, check out our previous posts, 5 Body Language Tips for Keeping a Prospect Interested and 7 Non-Verbal Redflags You’re Losing Your Prospect.

They Don’t Understand

Some prospects you deal with will have a comprehensive knowledge of financial planning and only need you to facilitate solutions. Some may understand the basics of annuities or life insurance. Others may not have any understanding of financial and retirement planning. All types of prospects you encounter may balk if they don’t understand the information you provide.

To ensure that your prospect understands—truly understands—first assess their experience with financial planning. Ask them early in the appointment what types of concepts, products, or solutions they are familiar with. Use this information to determine the level of complexity you bring to your solutions. An individual that has no experience with financial planning may need several levels of breakdown before they understand what you present to them. This is also where concept sheets and yellow-pad concepts can help. Check for knowledge as you move through your presentation.

They’re Not Emotionally Connected With The Solution

A prospect may understand the solution you present with clear logic, but if they aren’t emotionally connected to it, they are less likely to see its value for them.

To ensure that your presentation has the proper “punch,” tie products and solutions to the prospect’s end goal—what they truly hope to achieve. Deferred growth or tax-advantaged wealth transfer is great, but what does that mean at the end of the day? How does that fit with what the client is really trying to achieve?

They’re Overwhelmed

Even simple product solutions can have complex components. Think about how something like a fixed indexed annuity—relatively simple in concept—can be broken down into many different pieces. Even if the consumer understands the individual components, it can be difficult for them to see how the pieces fit together. This is especially true if you are dealing with multiple planning objectives that intertwine.

Avoid overwhelming the consumer using some of the tips discussed in the previous two points. Check for knowledge, use concept sheets, draw illustrative diagrams or maps, and highlight the key benefits. Bring everything back to larger picture.

They’re In The Infancy Of Their Planning Process

Someone who is early in their income-earning phase may not be ready for long-range solutions. Younger consumers may not see the value of retirement planning, when retirement can seem so far off for them. Likewise, older clients may be in the early stages of retirement planning and are not ready to commit to a particular solution.

Highlight the importance of planning early and identify solutions that match with their current lifestyle goals.

They’re Not Confident In Your Solution

There are many different reasons why a consumer may lack confidence in your solution. They may have a key misunderstanding about how it works (if so, see previous points above). They may not trust you as a financial professional. They may have a bias against certain types of solutions based on anecdotal information or news articles.

If the consumer seems to be suspicious of the solution, simply ask them why. Respond using facts and deconstruct the steps to illustrate how this is the best way to accomplish their financial goals. Explore other solutions they feel more confident in.

You Don’t Have The Decision-Maker In The Room

You’ve undoubtedly experienced this situation before: you present a good solution to a consumer. The appointment goes great; you are charming and the consumer indicates they understand clearly the information you’ve given them. Then they say, I’ll have to check with my wife or husband.

This is why many advisors try to involve key family members in the planning process as much as possible. By doing this, you increase the chances you are able to speak to the decision-maker. The rest of the family gets to know and trust you, reducing the likelihood of issues down the line. A family that knows and trusts you can then become a whole generation of clients, with a variety of planning needs.

They Don’t Feel Like You Care

A knowledgeable financial expert is worthless to a consumer if they feel like the advisor doesn’t care or doesn’t have their best interest in mind. Remember that financial and retirement planning very often involves high personal stakes for consumers. To them it’s how they will survive in retirement or pass on a legacy. Do not take the privilege of handling their money lightly.

As you engage with the consumer, demonstrate empathy and clearly listen.


Client Feels Like They Are Being Sold

“Nobody wants to be sold, but everybody wants to buy,” goes the old sales cliché. There’s some truth to this and if you are too eager to sell without drawing on the other things that aid your presentation—such as ensuring the consumer understands the solution, emotionally connecting the solution to their goals, and demonstrating empathy—you will sour the appointment.

Sales is always a part of any recommendation and most consumers implicitly understand this. Amplify the sales aspect of the appointment only in key moments, using the rest of the time to connect with the consumer and provide good information.

You Fail To Understand What Is Truly Important To the Client

A consumer can give you a no if you overlook or ignore what truly matters to them. If they state they don’t want to deal with life insurance and you present a life insurance solution without addressing their previously stated objections first, they will feel like you are not listening to them. If the solution doesn’t satisfy their key objective, then they are likely to distrust you, even if the solution you present has great benefits.
As you engage with the consumer during the appointment, make sure to take good notes, ask probing questions, and tie everything to the consumer’s stated goals.

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Marketing Corner – 5 Tips For Story Selling

Marketing Corner – 5 Tips For Story Selling

Storyselling is an important and valuable concept for financial advisors—really any profession that uses personal interactions to clear business. Good storyselling turns a pitch into a dynamic process that helps consumers to emotionally connect with a product or strategy. Here are five key tips for good storyselling.

personalDon’t Mix Your Metaphors

Using metaphors and analogies can be an efficient way to package large concepts into digestible nuggets. A metaphor can clarify a complex strategy or solution and keep the consumer interested. There are many kinds of metaphors and analogies we already use; think “home run,” “bogie,” “bulletproof,” etc. However, you should keep metaphors relevant, focused on the consumer or their benefit, and consistent. Mixing metaphors can confuse, rather than illuminate.

Use Personal Details To Sell The Story

The more you can draw personal details into your pitch, the more the consumer will be engaged. Use your profiling and sense of the prospect to craft relevant metaphors. Use names of spouses and family members to highlight who will benefit from the strategy, for example, “With this strategy, you and Bob can retire in Boca, with enough money for little Julie’s college.” Being specific and personal reinforces the benefit of the strategy for their unique situation.

Focus on the Goals/Results

Your story-sell may involve a lot of pieces and detours, but you should always bring it to the end goal. What does this particular strategy or solution solve? Why is this solution more appropriate than others? Follow the classic story arc of beginning-middle-end to keep the pitch on track of focused on the problem it solves.

balanceBalance the Story

With storyselling you do run the risk of eliding or overpowering important details about a strategy. Ensure that your client fully understands the consequences and responsibilities of the strategy you are selling them. A client who feels misled can wreak havoc on your practice with negative reviews, chargebacks, and legal action. So as you sell to your prospect, take moments to check for understanding.

Use Visual Aids/Yellow Pads

A simple yellow-pad concept or illustration can enhance your storyselling. As you pitch, draw out important details or use visual metaphors to convey the crux of your solution. Better yet, have the consumer draw based on your instruction.

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Marketing Corner – 6 Key Challenges Advisors Face Today

Marketing Corner – Wednesday June 29th, 2016

6 Key Challenges Advisors Face Today

Advisors and Agents face many challenges throughout their career. From establishing a practice, building a client base, marketing, and dealing with downturns, the zigs and zags of an agent’s career can be erratic. Here are six key challenges advisors face today.

Shifting Demographics and Client Bases

America is on the cusp of the largest transfer of generational wealth, ever. Over the next 30 years, some $30 trillion will be transferred from Boomers to Gen-Xers and Millennials. That’s a pretty good opportunity for advisors, except for two things:

Nearly 66% of children release their parent’s advisor
Most advisors only focus on a particular age segment

Retaining clients across familial generations requires skill. Although there is no such thing as “easy money,” focusing only on Boomers does simplify your practice. You are able to understand the key needs of this population segment and positions to continually enhance your expertise. But doing this cuts you off from the next wave, which is going to arrive sooner than you think. Some demarcations put the outer edge of Gen-Xers around 1960, which means that in five-ten years, these will be the new Boomers. Plus many Gen-Xers and Millennials (yes, Millennials) represent planning opportunities now. Take some time understand the key issues facing each generation and expand your target market.

marketingMarketing and Prospecting

Marketing and prospecting will always be a challenge in any business. Financial advisors are in especially prone position, however, when it comes to generating leads and converting new clients, since the service they provide is not a tangible object and often involves long time-frames. As generations shift, so too does the effective means to reach new clients. This is where having an array of marketing solutions is helpful. While you may have one core marketing activity (seminars, social media, referrals, etc.) having many different marketing tools will help you adapt to changing target markets. It’s not digital versus traditional or push versus pull marketing. It’s digital and traditional, push and pull marketing.

Regulation

One immediate challenge facing the financial service industry at large is the DOL fiduciary rule. While advisors can expound endlessly on the potential impact of this rule, it does raise some concerns about regulation in general and the changing perceptions of what it is financial professionals actually do. We’ll see how this change plays out before full implementation (already there are many lawsuits set to argue against the rule) but it points to the importance of staying abreast of industry-wide changes and being diversified in your offerings.

Balancing Being A Good Advisor and A Good Businessperson

A good advisor provides custom-tailored service and excellent care. A good businessperson understands the true cost of profit and has a vision for the company on several different time scales. The challenge many advisors have is that they have to be both a good advisor and a good businessperson. Independent advisors may pull enough in production to hire a support staff, but the responsibilities of dealing with consumers and protecting the business’s growth fall squarely on their shoulders. Time spent as an advisor can take away time needed to ensure business needs are met. Time focused on the numbers takes away from time that could be spent with consumers, which at the end of the day, helps support the vision of the business.

How do you balance this? It may help to establish a distinct marketing and business plan periodically. You may also wish to align with another producer or agency. Or you might seek out a FMO to handle marketing and back office tasks, as well as help shape the scope of your business. However you do it, never forget that you are a business owner and need time to focus on business needs as much as client needs.

marketvolatileMarket Volatility

The market is unpredictable. While there are best practices, solutions, and strategies that work within and outside the market, the market still casts a large shadow over financial services. Market volatility presents a challenge to advisors in a few interesting ways. Advisors need to have some idea of how products and solutions will perform in the ecosystem of the stock market. Consumers, watching key stock figures and measurements, come armed with their own perceptions, fears, and concerns. This can lead to behavioral finance biases. While you can’t control the market, you can help people address their specific needs. Having a good understanding of consumers’ biases and issues can go a long way to selling your market-tough solutions.

Generalization v. Specialization

The problem many professionals face is to generalize or specialize. This is true of doctors, lawyers, and certainly financial advisors. If you are too generalized, you may miss opportunities to land advance-market, high net-worth clients. If you are too specialized, you may be vulnerable to changes with your specialty and target market. One possible approach for success is similar to the point we made about marketing: have one core offering, with an array of other offerings. This will allow you to go after niche clients, with a sustaining set of services.

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Marketing Corner – 15 Ways To Ruin A First Appointment

An advisor’s first face-to-face meeting with a prospect is, like all first impressions, very important. Your prospect gains a sense of you as a professional and service provider. If they leave the appointment confused or with a bad taste, they probably won’t park their retirement with you, no matter your years of experience or credentials. While some advisors are naturally proficient at nailing initial meetings with prospects, there are many easy ways advisors—even the best—can tank first appointments. Such as:

selYou Are Too Eager To Sell

One of the easiest ways to ruin a first appointment is to sell right away or sell too hard. First appointments are really about getting to know each other and focusing on products will make you more of a salesperson, rather than a financial professional. Instead of focusing on products, focus on solutions and results. Products are just tools that solve problems.

You Talk About Yourself Too Much

It’s good to build rapport and explain your background/qualifications, but going on about yourself will make you seem egotistical, narcissistic, and take away time that your prospect can use to voice their specific concerns.

You Don’t Engage The Consumer

Even with a two-way conversation, it’s possible for you to not engage with your consumer properly. Ask them questions and relate information back to their specific goals or vision for retirement.

clockYou Don’t Give The Consumer Time To Process Information

In the course of the appointment, you may delve into complex financial topics or discuss important options. Give the consumer time to process this information and ask clarifying questions. Guide them through their options and help them piece together for themselves the ideal solution.

You Don’t Ask Probing Questions

There may be other factors outside of a fact-finder sheet that determine if a product or solution is appropriate. Ask probing questions to get a better sense of your prospect and the full picture of their unique situation.

You Ignore Key Details And Goals

The prospect will likely outline their needs and retirement goals. Pay attention to this information. Discussing solutions that ignore these goals will alienate the consumer, leaving them with an impression that you aren’t listening.

You Don’t Take Notes

Taking notes throughout the appointment not only helps you keep track of important details, it also demonstrates your care and professionalism to the consumer.

handshakYou Fail To Demonstrate Empathy

One of that main reasons people seek financial advisors, over say, a robo-advisor, is the sense of care and connection they get working with a real human being. This really comes down to being an empathetic professional, meaning that you demonstrate your awareness of how important the consumer’s goals are. Being able to read and respond to emotions, such as confusion, fear, and frustration, is very helpful as you work through the appointment. Remember that for most consumers money is only as good as the security and protection it provides. You may also deal with consumers who recently lost spouses or parents.

You Over Explain

Key financial concepts and solutions can require detailed explanations. However, using too much technical jargon or bringing in unnecessary information outside the topic at hand can overwhelm the consumer.

You Under Explain

On the other hand, not providing a clear, full explanation of a process or product inhibits the consumer’s ability to see how it might be appropriate for them.

confusedpaperworkYou Are Boring

Financial services involve numbers, processes, and details that may not be the most exciting, even if they serve to illustrate exactly what the consumer needs. Most people don’t care about the internal mechanisms or economic theory behind a solution; they care about a secure retirement. So what is exciting or compelling to you, a person who lives and breathes in the financial world, may not be to the consumer. Always bring solutions to the consumer’s level and make it come to life through relatable metaphors. Break up long instances of speech with questions or checks for knowledge. Use visuals.

You Dominate The Conversation

While you are the expert and will likely have a lot to say regarding a consumer’s situation, dominating the conversation makes the consumer feel invalidated. Allow your consumer time to interject. Make them feel comfortable to ask questions.

Your Lose Control Of The Session

You certainly shouldn’t dominate the conversation, but you should also not lose control of the session by letting a prospect go on and on. Keep the conversation focused on a specific need or goal. This goal, may involve many individual concerns or considerations, but having an ultimate goal that they all move toward can help keep the session focused and help you maintain control over the appointment.

goodadviceYour Explanations And Solutions Are All Over The Place

Your explanations and solutions should move in a structured manner. Approaching solutions from all angles at once causes the consumer to withdraw.

You Don’t Relate Information Back To The Needs or Goals

What does your prospect ultimately need or want? A secure retirement? Upside potential? College funding? All three? Every solution is going to involve detailed processes and specific considerations. Bring your prospect in closer by relating the solution back to their goal. For example, after explaining an overfunding IUL strategy, say, “This allows you to retire safely and send little Jenna to college.”

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Marketing Corner – The New Marketing Funnel

Marketing Corner – Wednesday May 18th, 2016

The New Marketing Funnel

A common way of thinking about your prospect flow is a funnel. This is a tried-and-true way of organizing lead flow as prospects move through your marketing channels. It helps you understand where leads are in your marketing process, allowing you to match marketing efforts appropriately to prospect interest and growing familiarity with your services.

At the top of the funnel, you have a pool of clients, with sections of the funnel corresponding to levels of touch, interest, or activity, until they drip out of the funnel and become a client.

This visual metaphor may work to explain the overall direction a lead travels before converting into a client. However, because of how digitally-driven marketing is now—even for financial advisors—the funnel is no longer an appropriate way to describe lead flow. Lead flow is less a downward path and more a non-linear process.

A prospect may find you because of a SEM campaign or they may recognize your real-world ads like fliers and posters. The prospect may become aware of you because of direct mail and visit your base website. They may respond to a digital ad and recognize you as the company that sponsored a community summer concert series. They may respond to your social media activity and sign-up for your newsletter. All of your marketing components may be involved before they give you call or respond to your offer. The point is there is not always a direct line from the first engagement to conversion and this path can involve many different portals of engagement.

Why is this important? Prospects expect to find you in multiple places and will seek you out in various marketing verticals. While it can be difficult to track the true path a prospect follows, you do have opportunities to enhance this new marketing flow. For instance:

Remarketing

Remarketing as concept essentially means marketing again to someone who showed interest or engaged with you. In this sense, it is very similar to drip marketing. But in digital advertising, remarketing refers to showing ads to respondents or visitors to your website. A little piece of code (known as a pixel) signals back to the base campaign and issues further advertising or offers. This can be implemented on your base website as leads travel through various pages. It can also be implemented through AdWords or Facebook campaigns, greatly enhancing brand awareness and increasingly the possibility of prospect action.

Drip Campaigns

There are many ways to develop a drip campaign. Drip campaigns can be easily automated through email. The act of you regularly following-up with a lead (like say through phone and email) is a form of a drip campaign. While your marketing overall may be non-linear, drip campaigns do provide a little bit of a linear lead flow. With the help of a good CRM you can schedule and track the drips in your campaign. However, your other verticals may complicate this direct positioning.

Regular Social Media Engagement

The key to maximizing your social media profiles is to provide regular and consistent content. Posts should demonstrate your expertise and value, while discussing topics relevant to your target market.

Being successful with the new non-linear marketing model means providing reasons for prospects to keep engaging with you. If it seems overwhelming, confusing, or too diffuse, use metrics to measure responsiveness of each portal of engagement and create circuits that connect the individual marketing portals.

A marketing circuit charts the path(s) a prospect can take toward conversion. You’ll notice that while there is a linear pull from first engagement to conversion, a lead may take a roundabout way of getting there. The purpose of a diagram like this is to understand how your marketing channels can work with each other and feed back toward the ultimate goal of conversion.

In this example, the first portal of engagement is a digital ad, but the pieces (or portals) can be structured in any number of ways. A well-designed marketing circuit helps you to retain and enhance your leads, maximizing your marketing activity.

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Marketing Corner – April 14th, 2016

Five Low-Cost, Simple, and Obvious Marketing Solutions

There’s a wide world of marketing out there for advisors and agents. Some solutions can be pretty sophisticated, using technology for advanced targeting and prospect tracking. We’ve certainly advocated for (and currently provide) many progressive digital marketing solutions. These solutions—like email segmentation, advanced display network advertising, website optimization, and so forth, help you stay in front of your consumers and ahead of your competition.

However, there are many low-cost, simple, and obvious marketing solutions that advisors often overlook when chasing new marketing platforms. It is definitely important to have one foot in the future, but that does not mean you should forget about these simple marketing methods.

Fliers

Whether you have an upcoming event or are just looking to keep your name alive in your business community, fliers are still a worthy means of branding yourself. Maybe putting up fliers will give you flashbacks of promoting DIY shows back when you were a punk rocker, but for promoting your business you really have nothing to lose.

Many might object to this method because it has an air of cheapness and grunginess about it. This is why you target community boards in high-traffic areas—your coffeeshops, breakfast bistros, library events boards–places where your ideal prospects visit routinely. Make sure your fliers have a clear message, are well-designed, and feature prominently your business branding.

How cheap is this option? To give you perspective, B+W 8X11 sheets from FedEx Kinko’s run about 12 cents a page, 59 cents for color, maybe a little more for glossier paper options.

Libraries and Hospitals

hospitalLast week we discussed best practices for running a workshop, mentioning libraries and community centers as good potential venues for holding your seminars. An expensive dinner at a restaurant or country club can certainly appeal to higher-end prospects, but at a high budget to you. Libraries and hospitals often have meeting rooms available for use—especially if your workshop is more educational than sales pitch.

We’ve found that in many cases staff members at a library or hospital will be very supportive of your event, since it is providing a service to their base community. This means that you can organize a workshop for the cost of base marketing, supporting documents, coffee and doughnuts, and a box of fresh pens.

Social Media

This entry is not so much about how you should be using social media to engage consumers (although you absolutely should), but more about how you should at least claim your business profile across social platforms. Again, we absolutely advocate the use of LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to publish content and build a consumer following, but some advisors lack even a static corporate profile page.

We get it—for some advisors it might not make sense to be enmeshed in the sometimes twisted world of social media. But generally, having a corporate Facebook page or company page on LinkedIn is not going to cost you anything. It will make your business more visible to consumers and provide a base to begin content marketing from.

It’s cheap (or free), takes little time, and sets you on a path toward digital content marketing.

Ambient Marketing

Financial advisors often build marketing campaigns around time-sensitive events like a seminar. This is because seminars, for all the work that goes into them, can pay off huge with new clients. So an advisor may use a direct mail vendor, involve an RSVP service, and put some adspend in digital campaigns to promote his or her event. While these strategies work (and in the long-run are cost-effective), they have a very specific focus and goal—meat in the seats.

However, what kind of marketing do you do when you don’t have an upcoming event? Some advisors, looking to keep marketing costs as trim as possible, don’t do any kind of marketing—instead relying on word-of-mouth and referrals.

emailIn between events and promotions, drop some digital adspend in a display network campaign. Keep the budget where you want. It could be a huge marketing budget, or it could be a small daily amount. The point is, you have an opportunity to keep your name and branding cycling online in your community for a very low cost. There’s no specific goal, other than to build brand awareness and maybe draw people to your website, but this ambient marketing gives you a constant presence that might pay off hugely.

Cost? You could appropriate $100-$200 a month for this type of marketing. More if you’ve got the budget. Plus, with AdWords and Facebook you can specifically target your ideal clients. $1200-$2400 is not a bad price for a year’s baseline marketing, especially if it gets you clients. With this budget you should not anticipate direct leads (though it can happen) but rather a constant brand awareness that enhances other marketing activities.

Email Pipeline Marketing

Over periods of prospecting, you’ve likely gathered a list of emails. Many advisors, because they focus on new clients and new marketing activities, ignore the value of their email lists. With most email platforms, you are charged by subscribers rather than the individual number of emails you send. This allows you to build pipelines, often with no more expense than your current cost of the service. So take some time, comb through your current lists and build drip campaigns.

Cost? Maybe nothing more than your time. Maybe a little more to upgrade to a higher subscriber level with your email service provider.

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