Back in the day, my client acquisition method was the Phone Book and Yellow Pages; I’m sure none of you remember those, and my first day in the insurance business was pure cold calling. Hard knocks and tiring.
Then came family and friends. This was more successful when I was asked to “tap” my network for referrals. But things became far more manageable when I was plopped into an estate agency branch in the High Street so I could feed from the leads provided by the guys at the front office.
Of course, times have changed. No longer can we cold call, nor do we want to. Our industry has accelerated to become one of the professionals, and with this rise in stature comes more advanced methods of gaining new business.
Busy financial advisers tend to work with about four methods nowadays:
Referrals are the most professional technique from clients and contacts in the industry, such as accountants. This method can feed you with non-competitive and long-lasting client relationships. By far my favorite.
Then comes leads either bought from the internet or provided by your office.
Finally comes contact with past clients known as orphan clients. People who haven’t heard from you or your company in some while may have forgotten about you.
Very few other methods work apart, from genuinely, from a strong existing relationship with your client who continues to look to you for professional financial advice.
The Need to Call
All of these methods of attracting new clients require further steps. You need to contact them to fix up an initial meeting. Email is onlyone1 dimensional and often leads to failure with the prevalence of spam traps and easy delete keys, so it leaves us to phone instead.
But picking up the phone with someone you don’t know and haven’t met can create a sense of doom with many financial advisers, so I’m going to give you some ideas on how to do this successfully.
Just like a good decorator. We had a guy recently to decorate, and after two days slaving at work, I couldn’t see a lick of paint. He was preparing.
So what preparation do we need to do?
The first piece of preparation is to clarify the value you provide since you will have to articulate this when and if you get through to your new customer. If it’s a lead, either bought and paid for or collected from a referral source such as an existing client or associate arrangement, they won’t know you and may not be aware of how you work and the value you provide. And the orphan client you’re phoning may well have forgotten who you are and how you now work.
The 7 Questions to Ask Yourself to Know Your Value
Ask yourself the following seven questions:
- Who am I?
- What do I do?
- Why do I do what I do?
- How do I do what I do?
- Who have I performed services for?
- What makes me different from other advisers?
- Why should clients do business with me?
Have a trusted friend ask you the questions in a coaching style, audio record the answers you give, and transcribe these into a value proposition, elevator pitch, or sound bite. It doesn’t matter what you call it; get it clear, concise, and valuable.
Then carry out some belief change work if you still don’t believe in your value. Email me, and I’ll suggest some belief change exercises for you and some assertion work. Whatever we do, you must be your number one fan.
The next piece of preparation is to get you up and motivated to make these calls, especially if you have a few to do. Let me be upfront and personal on this, most financial advisers I know do not look forward to making these calls because they invite a “no.”
As a child, you did everything possible to avoid the dreaded “no.” With your parents, teachers, and family… the last thing you wanted to hear was “no,” so you avoided it at all costs. That same trait continued into your grown-up years and exists today.
So you have to get over it.
There are various things you can do, and there’s a time and a place for them.
The time comprises how many calls you need to make and the right time to call. Depending on how many calls you need to make will determine how long you spend, but it’s known that no more than 45 minutes of calling is desirable. Beyond that, you go flat.
The key is to sit down or stand up in a private place to make the calls. Don’t be interrupted while making the calls; make them one after the other because you get into a routine, and the time flows quickly.
How many calls should you make? Well, that depends on how you work. Those are making these kinds of rings for a living work with activity ratios or funnels, as we used to call them. They’ve figured out that if they need one appointment, they usually have to speak with at least three people, and to get through to 3 people, they need to make ten calls or dials. So they figure 45 minutes is enough time to get 20 calls done, which will let them get through, speak with six people, and make two appointments. Not bad for 45 minutes of work.
That’s the time, next to the place. Here are a couple of golden rules when making these calls:
- Try and arrange calls in batches and make an easy call.
- Don’t stop what you’re doing and prevent interruptions.
- Make notes directly onto the CRM you’re using rather than leaving it for later.
- Remember you’re making appointments, not selling.
- Try and get straight to the next call after each call.
- Have a standard response to voice-mail, no tricks, just state you’ll call back another time.
- Call during standard blocks – 9 to 11 am, 4 to 6 pm, and 7 pm to 8 pm work.
Before we get into your call structure, a final word about voice mail and how to leave one.
I’m swamped, as are you, but my world consists of long meetings that can last all day without much time to eat, let alone return calls. So when I do, I usually take about 4 or 5 calls simultaneously. And that’s the point. Voice mail is linear; you listen to the first, then delete, then the second, and delete. Rarely do we go back and listen again.
So start your voice mail with your name and number, leave your reason for them to call back, and leave your name and number at the end because few people note it down at the beginning and aren’t likely to rewind the voice mail. Tape-based voice mail machines went out in the 1990s.
The final piece of preparation is your call structure or call process. Yes, it would be best if you had this; you can’t wing it. We’ll look at the bullets of a system that works and still allows you to free-wheel a little and sound human, unlike some cold-calling canvasser.
Here are the steps, and I’ll talk about each in turn:
- Sound bite
- Ask for an appointment
The intro allows you to check the person speaking and use their name several times.
The sound bite is your opportunity to give your reason for calling and the value you can potentially provide the customer. It would help if you got them interested straight away.
If it’s a referral, say something like: “Has Bob Monkhouse mentioned my name to you recently and that I’d be calling?” or “Your accountant, Bob Monkhouse, has asked me to give you a call.”
If it’s an orphan client, say something like: “GBD Consultancy in the High Street has asked me to call you about the business you’ve done with them recently.”
If it’s following a letter, say something like: “I’m calling regarding the letter we sent you this week. Did you receive it?”
If it’s a bought lead, say, “You’ve just been online and wanted a financial specialist to call.”
You want to hear their reaction and now give your value or sound bite. Which, of course, is what you honed earlier, didn’t you?
Say something like: “GBD has recently developed a new service to help clients understand the new pensions rules, and we’d like the opportunity to speak with you about them to see if we can help you retire more comfortably.” or
“GBD has designed a new service to help your mortgage or remortgage your home at vastly lower interest rates.” or
“GBD has been working with clients recently, helping them to grow their investments in the current low-interest environment.”
Or whatever the soundbite is that you’ve created for the call.
Again, get their reaction.
Now take control and ask for a meeting to discuss.
“I’m setting up new client meetings here in the office next week, and I have Monday evening or Saturday morning available. Which would suit?”
It’s inertia that you’re looking for to agree on a meeting time. Try not to get involved in a long conversation about your service. Keep coming back to the point that it’s best if we meet face to face; it’s a complimentary initial explore meeting to see if we can be a fit. I’ve opened my client bank up to accept some new clients, which is why we thought to phone you… or whatever works to secure the meeting.
Agree on the time, thank them for their time and then follow up with a letter or email, whichever you use. And do remember to call them just before the allotted time to share with them how the meeting will work, to remind them to bring in various times, and confirm where to park the car. I used to take their tea order during this pre-call too.
Back in the day, we would encourage learning how to overcome every objection known and had severe techniques for swinging the customer around to your way of thinking; how times have changed, thankfully.
Try and put yourself in the customer’s shoes. They vaguely recall your company or you, and they’re genuinely busy. How would you like it if some pushy financial adviser tried to get an appointment from you?
No, instead, accept graciously their initial “no”; this is often a knee-jerk reaction. Show empathy for their position, but if you genuinely believe in the service and value you give your clients, repeat this value and ask for another convenient time to talk. You’ll be surprised by accepting their initial “no,” but merely repeating your weight with a voice of surprise will often win them over.
Now, most people you deal with are consumers, rich or poor. But some of you may be calling on small business owners or orphan clients at work, so you may have to work doubly hard to get through to them, especially if they have good voice mail and a loyal personal assistant who has the motto “no one gets through.”
Here are some ideas that might work in these situations.
- Call out of hours; say before 9 am and during lunchtime. Her PA is often not at her desk, so you’ll get the person you want to answer the phone.
- Use the phrase: “My company has asked me to call Mike.” For example: “GDA Consulting has asked me to contact Mike Brown. Is he there, please?”
- Make it very casual, for example: “Hiya, Mike, please, it’s Brian for him.”
- Make the PA your ally. Explain that you need their help to speak with Mike and be polite.
- Or phone them at home or on their mobile.
Let’s wrap up this article, shall we? I firmly believe that all businesses need an element of new business and new clients since there’ll always be a need. My wife keeps chickens and ducks. At last count, we had over 15 of them pecking away in the field next to our house, yet each year my wife brings in some new chicks or fertilized eggs to add to her flock. I was bemused, so I asked her why. She responded that each year she’d lose some hens. Some to illness, some to old age, and some to the wily old fox. So adding new ones each spring means she keeps the same number.
Clever is why you must keep adding new customers to your client bank. You’ll lose some through natural causes, defections, and competition, so always add to your flock.
by Paul Archer