From the September 2013 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

How Advisors Can Write More, Better and Faster

Use technology to supercharge your written communications

Today, a good part of sales is writing.

Sure, you talk. You meet. You conduct seminars. And you write, write, write. Or should. Emails. Occasional letters. Proposals. Perhaps articles for publication or to post on your website.

But mostly emails and notes on client meetings.

Mostly, you can do this the old-fashioned way, one email at a time.

I want to help you speed it up. After all, you are worth $1,000 an hour meeting with and talking to clients and prospects. You are worth a lot less typing meeting notes and emails. So let’s speed that up.

These are the tools that I use. I have posted some short videos and links at my site. All free, of course.

Old Favorites

Two of my favorites, which I use daily, are Dragon NaturallySpeaking, and Copytalk. Dragon is a voice recognition program. It gets installed on your PC or Mac. Copytalk is a mobile dictation service. You call them on your phone or use their app. Your dictation is transcribed by real people as opposed to a program like Dragon. (Don’t even think about using a feature like Siri. Guaranteed compliance heartburn.)

I use Copytalk primarily for documenting phone calls and meetings. During a call or meeting, I am taking notes. They are often cryptic and therefore mean little 24 hours later. As soon as possible, I call Copytalk and dictate what happened on a call. A single dictation might include notes, an email to a client or prospect and/or instructions to team members. My assistant, Lisa, proofs each email and then sends it on its way.

I am a 60 word per minute typist. I can dictate at 120–160 words per minute. So why on earth would I type notes into a CRM? Normally, I am done with my documentation in 2–3 minutes. That’s a single-spaced page, a lot of info about what happened in that call or meeting. Whatever my deficiencies, inadequate documentation of my calls and meetings is not among them.

Why not use Dragon for meeting notes? Once you buy the program, it’s free.

The reason is probably just personal. When I dictate and see an error, I have to correct it. I cannot see my errors in Copytalk dictation, so I don’t stop. For actions such as documenting meetings, Copytalk is much faster than Dragon. At least for me.

When you buy Dragon, I strongly recommend the Premium Edition. It has one feature not available on the Home Edition. With Premium you can have the program read back what you dictated. Follow along in the written text as it reads to you. Even if I have typed a document, I often run it through Dragon when I proof it. That’s how I catch all (O.K., most) of the mistakes the spellchecker in Word misses.

With Dragon, I can crack through a stuffed inbox two or three times faster than typing.

If you decide to use Dragon, I have two suggestions for you: First, make certain you go through enough of the tutorials so you know how to correct voice recognition errors. Dragon learns as you correct mistakes. Over time, accuracy will improve.

Second, buy a microphone other than the one that ships with the program. That might push your voice recognition accuracy from 96% to 99%. Think about this for a moment. If you are dictating at 160 wpm, a 4% error rate means six or seven errors to correct. For each, you have to stop dictating and fix the problem. Your typing speed is way down, maybe 40 wpm.

I have put a link to the microphone I use on my advisor productivity page.

 

Text Lightning

Let’s really speed up those emails. Dragon is great. Text Lightning is blazing because it is the best program to store and send those annoying emails you have to send over and over.

Text Lightning is an Outlook add-in that enables you to quickly add stored text to an email AND attach one or more documents. This is the part I really love. No more poking around to find that attachment. It’s already attached!

Clients request info on 529 plans, RMDs, copies of this and that, product info. You send appointment confirmation reminders, thank you notes and countless other emails that are nearly the same. It’s called reinventing the wheel, same thing, over and over.

I have built my own Text Lightning library to 79 stored emails.

The good news: Text Lightning is free. It stores the text of an email and very importantly, will attach a document. Example: I frequently send clients an email explaining a particular campaign. That email is 568 words. It has two attachments.

In about five seconds, I click a button in Text Lightning and it copies my stored text into a new email and attaches the documents. I normally spend maybe a minute to look it over and see if it needs any minor personalization. If not, it’s on its way.

To type and proof that email from scratch: 20 minutes. To dictate and proof it: 10 minutes. To send it with Text Lightning: one minute. It’s already proofed. Effective typing speed: 600 wpm.

The bad news: Text Lightning is a quirky program. It has some flaws such as its inability to deal with an apostrophe. You write, “I’m sending you ...” and it will delete the apostrophe, giving you “Im sending you ...” The rule is: no apostrophes. There are a few other gotchas.

Despite its imperfections, it is the best tool I have found for managing stored text with attachments. I have posted the download link and some instructions at my FA Productivity Tools page. It took me a while to figure out how to deal with some of the quirks. The instructions will save you that time.

AutoText

With AutoText, you can store and quickly recall recurring text, pictures, tables, and graphics. It cannot deal with attachments. It is a built-in feature of Microsoft Office. Whatever version of Office you have, you have AutoText.

I use AutoText to reuse recurring paragraphs of text. Simple example: After every appointment, you write a personal email. You always end it with:

Thank you so much for your time today.
Sincerely,
Robert Loblaw

To show you the power of AutoText, I have a screen movie posted for you. In it, I have combined AutoText and Dragon.

Use technology to communicate more, better, faster.

As usual, I have run out of space. I have three other important tools for you. They will have to wait until next time. Meantime, subscribe to Copytalk. Download Dragon. Download Text Lightning and learn AutoText. You will communicate better, faster, with more people, and have more time to meet with clients and prospects, or more family time.

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