While the classic image of the hard-working salesman pounding the pavement and pumping fists to close the deal still holds some truth – one does have to get out and press the flesh to build rapport with prospects and maintain your client base – in the midst of our technology-forward society, there are a few easier ways to do business.
And when even your baby boomer and senior clientele have shown themselves to be masters of the Internet, iPod enthusiasts and first in line for the newest electronic innovation, perhaps it’s time to examine your own practice and see if new technological advances can help you expand your market and broaden your income.
Computers are a wonderful innovation (and the Internet, debatably, either the best development of the last 100 years, or the biggest time-waster ever created), but they won’t sell product or service clients on their own.
Rather, you need to familiarize yourself with a variety of high-tech innovations that can help you more efficiently meet your customers’ desires or, more conveniently, offer them financial services solutions in the comfort of their own homes, rather than taking up their valuable daytime hours.
Here’s a sampling of some of the best and the brightest applications of the brave new world of technologically related sales tools:
Becoming a Web-head
Edmond Walters, founder and CEO of Conshohocken, Pa.-based eMoney Advisor, has advocated that financial professionals become fully immersed in the online realm – as it has become a regular part of many of your clients’ lives.
“Technology can be your not-so-silent partner in the quest to lead a family’s advisory team,” he says. “What you need to look for is Web-based technology with collaboration features, robust account aggregation capabilities, concierge-level service and secure documentation storage capacity.”
Web-based technology, he says, allows you to give access to all of your trusted counterparts so that they can view the overall plan you’ve developed, and collaborate. Others can view bits and pieces, but in the end, it will only be you who has the total picture.
“Account aggregation capabilities allow you to continuously monitor the plan,” Walters explains. “You will be able to advise your client on how current market conditions are affecting his overall plan, and combat the knee-jerk reactions to market fluctuations.”
More importantly, you can become the key player in your clients’ financial decisions by seeking out and providing concierge-style services, such as identity theft monitoring, specialized medical services or access to private banking services.
And by making a connection with the growing number of Internet-based archival services, you can also offer your clients the convenience of secure storage for all of their important documents, such as legal papers, wills, trusts, birth certificates, family photos and medical records.
The resulting integration of information can be crucial when the unthinkable does happen, making you the source clients and their extended families immediately turn to.
Raleigh Lang, an advisor with Twin Financial Inc. in Kansas City, Mo., received an urgent call from her client’s son – her client had been severely injured in an accident. The family needed to know if Lang was aware of any medical instructions or if the son had a Power of Attorney. Thanks to an electronically aggregated account, Lang was able to tell the family how to access all of the pertinent legal documents on a secured Web site, which they were able to do from the hospital.
The secrets of Internet access
While the World Wide Web was still largely the domain of educators, librarians and self-proclaimed computer geeks as recently as a decade ago, the past few years have seen the Internet become as much a part of regular life as television or sports.