In today’s COVID world it should come as no surprise that elite advisors are bringing in more affluent clients at an accelerated pace. Many have expressed to me, “the stars are aligned for prospecting.” They view it much like the Great Recession in that conversations are happening now that wouldn’t happen in a long term bull market.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at what prospecting looks like today and how elite advisors are capitalizing on opportunities. When the affluent are unsettled with the markets, anxious about politics, and confused about the general state of affairs in their world, it spells opportunities for financial advisors.
So let’s look at four fundamental aspects of the sales process and how elite advisors have adjusted them for today’s COVID world.
It’s important to understand affluent word-of-mouth in this COVID world; who your clients and referral alliance partners are talking to, what they are talking about, and getting a sense of the mood is where you start. During these conversations, your objective is to “source names,” uncovering the names of their friends, family members, and colleagues.
Elite advisors have a process for prospecting. In this case, it may be talking to 5 clients and 1 referral alliance a day with the objective of sourcing 1 – 2 prospect names. Mind you, this is not about asking for referrals, which the affluent detest.
There’s a dual benefit to this approach. Sincere conversations about family, lifestyle changes, and working at home, build an emotional connection which is critical to stimulating word-of-mouth-influence and progressing to the next step – connecting.
Pre-COVID, the face-to-face personal introduction was an ideal way to get in front of an affluent prospect. For instance, if you uncovered a name in conversation with a client, and later asked to be introduced to that person in a social manner, it worked more often than not. Rarely is this a viable option today.
COVID has provided a silver lining, and connecting with a prospect has never been easier, but it has to be done virtually. Because everybody’s been locked in some way or another for months, they’re stir crazy, and willing to meet with someone on a Zoom or WebEx call. This can be arranged by either your client calling the person you want to meet or sending a properly worded email (you craft the email). Either way, you’re suggesting a Zoom or WebEx introduction.
The dynamics have changed; this means that you, like our elite advisors, need to master the technology and, if necessary, help your potential prospect get comfortable with the technology on their end.
Now the trick is being able to make a good first impression digitally. You must be able to develop a rapport with someone you’ve never met before but through video conference. It sounds easy, but to be able to really connect with a stranger virtually requires practice, attention to detail, and more practice. You want to come across as natural, confident, and knowledgeable. When done properly, it can actually accelerate the sales process.
For your second meeting, it’s time to provide a powerful presentation you’ve created for the virtual business meeting you’re about to conduct. You’ve carefully woven your key differentiators into your presentation, highlighting your strengths while accentuating the weaknesses of what you’ve reviewed. You should begin by strengthening the rapport developed during your initial meeting, and then in a natural conversational manner – present. Virtual presentations with a captive audience that allow for a two-way discussion tend to be followed very closely. At this stage, you’re reading body language, heading off possible objections, and allowing your presentation to work its magic.
Transitioning your prospect into a client is the ultimate goal of every sales presentation. Thanks to people being so unsettled about the economy and the impact on their portfolios, elite advisors frequently conclude their presentations by onboarding a new client. The timeline between a sourced prospect and a new client has shortened, and in many cases, shortened significantly.
Although the landscape of prospecting has changed in the COVID world, it’s still a numbers game. But your activities must be adjusted.