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All selling is 'overselling' in the sense that the average sales takes five contacts -- and advisors are known to stop at one or two
December 2, 2013 — 5:38 PM UTC by Guest Columnist Abby Salameh
Brooke’s Note: Part of this we can blame on Glenn Close. She was way too effective in her terrorizing of Michael Douglas in “Fatal Attraction.” It made every decent person who saw the 1987 film certain that they never wanted to be seen as anything resembling a stalker. It may have particularly touched the sensitive souls of some independent advisors — the analytic types who set up shop as fee-based planners because they despised the sales culture at wirehouses. Fear of channeling 'Alex’ made their sales follow-up soft. Abby Salameh expertly gives us a all a needed pep talk on this score.
A friend of mine, who also happens to be a financial advisor, was recently telling me that he has not heard back from a referral I gave him for life insurance almost two months ago.
The advisor sounded frustrated and asked me how I thought he should proceed. When I asked him what his follow-up had been, he told me he called the referral once to introduce himself, then sent a follow-up e-mail a few days later. My friend has not reached back out to the referral since. Apparently, this is his standard process for follow up with referrals. Fairly meek, in my humble opinion.
Walking the line
On the flip side, a short time ago, a friend of mine referred me to a roofer because he knew I was in need of replacing the roof on my house. The roofer called me immediately sent me an e-mail and a text message. He also dropped a marketing brochure on my front porch which included some testimonials from other clients of his locally. When I was non-responsive due to a heavy travel schedule, he continued to hound me on an every other day basis for weeks until I finally got back to him. I told him kindly that I had found another vendor (more because he annoyed me so much with his persistence).
But I started thinking about the proper amount of follow up. When do you cross the line between necessary follow-up and stalking-like behavior? How do you keep a prospect on the right decision track without him or her taking out a restraining order on you? I understand advisors don’t want to appear pushy or desperate, but nobody wins — client included — if the advisor doesn’t learn to press the line. If the person doing the selling won’t hazard a little humiliation for their product, a message is sent to the prospect that maybe it isn’t worth buying. See: In their own words: Five top advisors’ secrets for creating stronger alliances to gain more referrals.
Too much, too soon
I asked some investor clients (my focus group was composed of friends and family) when they would consider an financial advisor crosses the line between being merely energetic in their pursuit of business and just plain stalkerish. Here is what they collectively shared:
A. If they asked an advisor to follow up in a month and the person followed up sooner, it would be offensive. See: 10 advisors explain how they build sales without getting 'salesy’.
B. If they told the advisor they were not interested and the advisor continued to call and e-mail, it would be a huge turn off.
How to gain a client
I decided to ask some advisors what their process was and here is what I found from advisors who had the most success with following up on a lead:
1. The advisor followed up at least five times through phone calls or e-mails. See: One thought for advisors with stagnant practices: Pick up the telephone!.
2. Marketing collateral — typically in the form of a brochure with a letter about the advisor’s services — was always sent. See: How RIAs can maximize their web marketing with nary a 'friend-ing’ or tweet.
3. The referral was added to a newsletter or marketing distribution list (whether it was the advisor’s own newsletter or quarterly/monthly market commentary that came from the broker-dealer or custodian). See: Advisor newsletters: Compliance-wise, all news may not be fit to print.
4. They did their homework. At the basic level, they knew the prospect’s profession and general circumstances. It helped them articulate a vision about how they could help and the solutions they could provide.
5. They reached out via social media. Successful advisors invited them to connect via LinkedIn. See: RIAs recount how they reap new clients using LinkedIn and Twitter, stealing a march on shackled wirehouse advisors.
6. They walked away. At some point they realized the client was “Just not yhat into you” and gave up.
Interestingly enough, what I also observed was that most advisors rarely check all these boxes.
In short, advisors didn’t “stalk” enough. For advisors that trust the quantitative more than the qualitative, consider this: “Eighty percent of new sales are made after the fifth contact, yet the majority of sales people give up after the second call, “ according to AllBusiness.com. See: How one charmed referral set Michael Chasnoff on the path to $900 million of AUM.
That amount rings true for veteran salespeople I know, though measuring a contact has its own challenges. Advisors, as a whole, need to be a bit more aggressive in their marketing endeavors beginning with a formal process in place for following up.
Abby Salameh is chief marketing officer for Private Advisor Group LLC in Morristown, N.J. See: See: Abby Salameh joins LPL’s largest branch office. She brings 20 years’ experience working directly with independent advisors. Having started her career at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Inc. in 1992, Abby went on to help launch InvestmentNews for Crain Communications Inc. In 2002, she joined TD Ameritrade to head the marketing efforts for its institutional services. More recently, Abby has been providing strategic and tactical marketing consulting for leading industry firms, including large broker-dealers and independent advisors. She joined Fusion Advisor Network in 2011.
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