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Life Health > Running Your Business

100 best sales and marketing ideas for 2010

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Each year, we’re always interested to see if a common theme emerges among the material (provided by you, our readers) in our annual 100 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas feature. If anything, it’s clear that economic hard times have prompted advisors to take a consumer-focused, back-to-basics approach. And as a gesture to those just getting their feet wet in the financial services business, many of you contributed fresh ideas for a special section devoted to industry “newbies.” Read, learn and prosper.

1. Don’t give up.
Eighty percent of all sales are made on the fifth through twelfth contact you have with that prospect. Don’t just give up after calling three times and leaving voicemails; until they tell you “no,” they are still a valuable lead.
- Melissa Johnson

2. Thorough initial client interview.
There is no substitute for having an accurate picture of what your client truly desires and their respective financial and health histories.
- Joshua Clayton

3. Read between the lines.
Even if someone says they want your opinion, they may just be looking for validation. If they insist they want your advice, ask them if they want both the good AND the bad of how you see things.
- Scott Halford

4. Database management.
Establish and maintain a clean database of prospects. Every lead is too valuable to risk losing or let slip through the cracks.
- James Marquet

5. Repeat mailings.
Research shows that the vast majority of your prospective clients need to hear from you at least five or six times before you build the necessary trust and credibility for them to do business with you. Hit your target market with brochures, postcards and newsletters.
- Warren J. Rosaluk

6. Comfort level.
Research shows that over 70 percent of purchase decisions are based primarily on the comfort level the prospective client develops with the person providing or selling the product or service.
- Warren J. Rosaluk

7. The senior seminar.
Delivering a knock-their-socks-off presentation is still the best use of your time in regards to getting a solid appointment on a favorable basis.
- Michael Jangula

8. What’s your number?
Help people of all ages figure out what their number is, their true appetite for income. We make sure our clients or prospects are in the best position possible to pass as much tax-free dollars to their loved ones, and that they pay the lowest rate of tax on the smallest amount of money as possible (using Roth conversions and life/annuity arbitrage).
- Michael Jangula

9. Smile.
No matter what, always have a smile on your face when making a call or receiving a call. The caller on the other end will hear the smile in your voice and will start your call off on a warm, friendly, and positive note.
- Melissa Johnson

10. Build a multi-dimensional practice.
Educational seminar marketing based around a multi-dimensional practice is still the best marketing/sales idea we have. Attendees of these workshops that come in for appointments already know what we are about and because we have the financial, tax and estate professionals all under one roof, cross-selling is easy.
- Christopher Richter

11. The inner circle.
Looking for business? Look to those you already have relationships with. Sometimes, we forget about this circle of contacts and it can be one of the best places to start. Your current networking circle can be a great place to pick up more business whether they are family, friends, fellow parents on your child’s sports team, your hair stylist or even a Sunday School class.
- Jennifer Butts

12. How can I help?
Before you discuss any solutions, share with the client who it is that you are, all the areas you can help them and why you have chosen to be an independent insurance agent, versus another career path.
- Wendy Swanson

13. Expert testimony.
Develop expertise in a related field, such as Social Security or long term care. Become an expert and create market seminars, adult education classes and workshops on that topic. Encourage your clients to attend and to bring their friends, family and co-workers.
- Gregory Merritt

14. The new ROI.
Most advisors and consumers are guilty of chasing the highest return on investment (the old ROI), instead of focusing on the much more important “reliability of income” (the new ROI). If you really want to guarantee a “paycheck for life,” you need to focus on products and strategies that will meet this objective.
- Bobby Whitley

15. The name of the game is …
Referrals … referrals… referrals! I have focused on asking all of my clients for recommendations.
- Roger L. Dearwester

16. Keeping in touch.
I have initiated a daily e-mail newsletter for clients and prospects who have requested to be included in my mailing list. For new people I meet, this is a great introduction to my practice. When followed up with a phone call the system has a very high appointment ratio.
- Alex Barnwell

17. Pitch (im)perfect.
Never ever pitch a product. Always approach a client by identifying a need and providing a sensible solution to that need.
- Wendy Swanson

18. Custom products.
Utilizing specially chosen life products and SPIAs for wealth transfer planning and maximizing the value of existing qualified/IRA assets that are not needed during a prospect’s lifetime.
- Bell & Associates

19. Connect to help others first.
Remember that when we get to know others and share our knowledge, connections and talents with them, they generally want to help us as well. And the degree to which they want to help us will be much greater.
- Dan Norman

20. Look for common ground and points of mutual interest.
Good topics include children’s activities, sporting events, hobbies, vacation plans and the old standby … the weather. Obviously, you want to stay away from any topics that might be polarizing, such as politics or religion.
- John Boe

21. Keep filling and replenishing your pipeline.
You want to make sure that your pipeline is continuously being added to and bumped up with qualified prospects. By always having individuals at different stages of the sales process, you’ll consistently have some that are coming through as new business.
- Adrian Miller

22. CMS is A-OK.
We have revamped our website to support a Content Management System, allowing many members of our team to participate in its content.
- Michael Miller

23. Affinity marketing.
Find out what professional associations and societies your best clients belong to and set a meeting with the executive director about
establishing a discount for LTCI or DI.
- Brian M. Johnson

Seven Tips for Selling to Women

24. Understand her situation.
Ask questions and learn about her.

25. Don’t sell her, let her buy.
Pushy salesmen have no pull with smart buyers.

26. Solve her problems.
Be solution-focused, rather than transaction-focused; telling her about a similar problem you’ve solved for someone else will help her identify with and gain confidence in you.

27. Use testimonials.
Don’t shy away from letting a third party say nice things about you–use testimonials from people she admires.

28. Help her finalize her decision.
Help her decide, but only after you understand what’s driving her hesitation.

29. Give her some breathing space.
She was kind enough to give you time to make your presentation, so give her time to digest it and make a decision.

30. Turn the relationship into a partnership.
Stay in touch with her after the sale; commit to a relationship.
- Cynthia Tidwell

31. Web meeting.
I work with many different associations, many of which have members living all over a state. Web meetings allow me to meet with more people in less time. My clients are busy. A web meeting is very convenient for them.
- Brian M. Johnson

32. Give every call an objective.
Before you dial know what you want the result to be. And don’t make it so broad as “close the deal.” Instead, it should be something like “when does their ARM reset? Do they have a steady, documentable income stream?”
- Bill Rice

33. Remember supply and demand.
Make them think your product is a coveted commodity. An annuity producer has actual worth because he or she can help a consumer find an appropriate annuity for their situation, but how can you be perceived as scarce when you need to be in the customer’s face asking for their business? You do this by getting the consumer to value the one resource you have control over–your time.
- Jack Marrion

34. Be strategic.
You can’t attend every networking event. Instead, determine who you want to meet, and then limit your networking time to attending those key functions.
- Adrian Miller

35. Word of mouth.
Even with all the technology we have at hand, the best exposure your company can have is “word of mouth.” You can tweak your other advertising methods to use customer referrals, but I feel that over time, this is the most important introduction a client can be made to your company.
- Michael Miller

36. Short and sweet.
Persistence and patience.
- Frank K. Albuerto III

37. Get the facts.
All life insurance, annuity, LTC, retirement plans and securities sales begin with accurate client profiling, asking questions, taking notes and providing solutions.
- Thomas Inks

38. Gotta get to know you.
I tell any prospect I have to meet with him at least once to know him. This will give you the chance to create a better relationship with him.
- Amine H. Salim

39. The personal touch.
After I make the sale, I try to deliver the policy myself. That’s where I ask for referrals.
- Amine H. Salim

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40. Master your marketing.
Marketing on a weekly basis. Put your marketing first and foremost above everything else. The key is to do it on a consistent basis.
- Ed Blazo

41. The sound of music.
I’m a trumpet player. I play short concerts with background tracks for senior groups, and then share financial ideas that pique their interests. They fill out a response card, which also asks if they want to meet with me. I’ll usually have 4-8 people that want to. Many times the church or senior center will pay me to play. It works well enough that I don’t do seminars and my production is over $8 million.
- Dr. Bill Clark

42. The golden rule.
If the three rules of real estate are location, location, location, the three rules of insurance/financial services are prospect, prospect, prospect.
- Steven J. Silva

43. Headline news.
Get articles published in your local newspapers. Various articles are available at no cost through your providers. Simply add your contact information and send them to a list of newspapers in your area, and then pass the published results on to your prospects. Instant credibility.
- Randall Russo

44. Whole life value.
I sell a lot of whole life insurance, but I use dividends to reduce the premium. I ask my clients, “Have you ever purchased something that went up in value and down in cost?”
- Bob Belvedere

45. Follow through.
Tell your clients to be consistent. Many people start plans with good intentions but fail to follow through.
- Bob Belvedere

46. Rework the old stuff.
I do a lot of service work on old life insurance policies. People like to do business with someone they have done business with in the past.
- Arthur E. Cambridge

47. And nothing but the truth.
Tell the whole truth, and always act with complete honesty and integrity.
- Carole Fiedler

48. A great deal.
I volunteered to speak on LTCI at a local hospital’s First Friday luncheon. I spoke for about 40 minutes to 70 people and had 20 fill out a card, wanting to schedule an appointment to answer further questions. The provider of the lunch spent about $800; I spent $25 on a restaurant card giveaway, and got all the advertising benefits. Who got the best deal?
- Rick Cope

49. Be a social media maven.
Make great use of and become an expert of social media, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and blogs.
- Danielle Driscoll

50. Learn it.
Get fully educated about the product(s) you sell and, if you’re selling something complex like life settlements, concentrate on that alone. Spreading yourself too thin by selling too many complicated products compromises your ability to any one of them to your best ability.
- Carole Fiedler

51. Get to know us.
Hold a “get to know us” wine event. Invite your clients and tell them to bring any friends that they would like to introduce to you, in a nice social setting. We do this every quarter and always get 3-4 referrals that end in sales.
- Mike Strickland

52. On the air.
Invest in radio advertising. It lets people know who you are, what you do and that you are there for them. People will call and they do have interest to see you … the rest is up to you.
- Stefanos Loisou

53. On the air (part 2).
I started a live weekly financial radio program three years ago, and that led to a second program on a much stronger, wider audience radio station. That means more callers per week.
- Stefanos Loisou

54. Relationship building.
My clients aren’t just clients, they’ve nearly all become part of my extended family. And if you’re placing your client in a position of success, why wouldn’t they inform fellow members of their church, bowling league, country club, etc., about the value that they bring to their household.
- Eric Coons

55. Thank you.
No matter if you’re selling a simple Med Supp or a $300K fixed annuity, all clients are deserving of a thank you card. And every prospective client you meet also deserves thanks. Even a “no sale” could possibly lead to a wider referral base.
- Eric Coons

56. Educational cruise.
Organize a client cruise. Over wine and dinner, we put on four informational sessions (no sales pitches) regarding hot topics such as Roth conversions, beneficiary designations, identity theft, etc. Every year our clients come back and buy more, and refer friends.
- Mike Strickland

57. The 2-2-6 program.
When making a sale, follow up in two weeks to ask if the client has any questions. Follow up in two months to ask if the client has any questions concerning their new policy and how it works. Follow up in six months to review coverage, and then ask for referrals.
- Floyd Hutchens

58. Put a memorable reference in every note.
This little trick will turn high volume sales into high volume relationships. Did Susan say she needed to hop off the call because she need to run Bobby to his baseball game? Note it. And on the next call ask Susan how Bobby’s game was. These are the little touches that make customers.
- Bill Rice

59. Don’t draw conclusions.
Received an introduction to someone who you think isn’t relevant to your specific needs? Keep an open mind so you won’t limit your opportunities. There’s a reason why someone made that introduction.
- Adrian Miller

60. Save on gas.
Car/window wraps work. A simple message like, “Tax Free Income For Life” and your phone number can be an amazingly affordable way to get a message out, especially with all the miles a financial services professional drives on a daily basis.
- William E. Spar

61. Talk tax, gain trust.
Without question, implement a tax-based business model, or at least partner with someone who can help fill that void. You’d be amazed at the amount of people who automatically place trust in you.
- William E. Spar

62. A link in the chain.
LinkedIn-connect with people you know, which will then lead to new connections to market yourself along with your business
- Danielle Driscoll

63. “Salesman begone!”
Always employ The Golden Rule and never act like a salesman! Treat people with respect and act like a consultant instead. I also never worry or think about how much I make per transaction. It creates stress and people will pick it up.
- John Gotschall

64. Customize.
We have developed investment portfolios customized for client’s values. They allow our clients to put their money where their beliefs and values lie. We are at the beginning of a whole new market.
- Robert McNichol

65. Make it personal.
Send personalized cards to clients and people you meet. Then follow up with a phone call. I have a system where I create and personalize my own cards for about $1 per card. I send at least one card per day.
- Alex Barnwell

66. The client advisory board.
Creating a client advisory board provides valuable feedback about your practice from clients. It is a great and inexpensive way to learn how to improve customer service, the office experience and more.
- James Marquet

67. Ask and ye shall receive.
Ask your prospects questions when making your sales presentation or saving an appointment. Ask them what had motivated them to contact you originally, or what had prompted them to join your workshop. Ask them what their concerns are, and then use that as a way to re-enforce why it is that they need to come in and meet with you. Ask questions, and provide them with solutions. If their concern is running out of money, let them know “That’s one of the things I specialize in…” They came to an appointment with you, or to your workshop because they have a need or concern, let them know that you hear their concern, and that you can address/fix their concerns.
- Melissa Johnson

68. Goal setting.
Remember to set specific goals that are tied to constant feedback in your quest to eat the elephant.
- Lee Eizenberg

69. Be “SMART.”
Set “SMART” goals. S=Specific, M=Measurable, A=Attainable, R=Realistic, T=Timely. Set up a tracking program that incorporate these types of metrics and follow the road map you created.
- Lee Eizenberg

70. Webinars.
I have found success with personalized, one-on-one Webinars.
- Lee Eizenberg

71. Don’t abuse or under-use technology.
Many salespeople hurt themselves by being on either end of a delicate spectrum. They’re either the people attached to their inbox or terrified of it. Technology is a tool to be used alongside human interaction–never in place of it. To the apprehensive salespeople who have yet to set up a Twitter page, consider taking a night class at your local community center to catch up or talking with your technologically savvy peers.
- Kerry Johnson

Four Tips to Help You Thrive in Tough Times

72. Look for opportunity.
Use the negative mainstream media and market as an opportunity to talk to people. A chance to talk to someone about their finances like this doesn’t come around that often. Take advantage of it.

73. Think preventatively.
Develop safe money strategies for your clients. Knowing that you’re in the market for their best interests will help your clients realize that you’re really in it, for them, for the long haul.

74. Gather your resources.
Get referrals from existing clients. Boost your prospecting ability, and your ego, by collecting good words and great advocates.

75. Reassure with competence.
Meet with existing clients and go over their statements. Stay with your client in their time of need. Keep appointments diligently and refresh your connection often. A personal touch with dash of competence goes a long way in tough times.
- Jay Grubb

76. Referral by association.
This is when one of your best clients invites you to a function and introduces you to their best associates and friends. Don’t whip out your business card and start pitching for an appointment right on the spot; instead, get the friends’ contact information and drop a card in the mail thanking them for the opportunity to meet them. One day, give them a call or e-mail, asking them for the opportunity to have a conversation.
- Simon Reilly

77. Life-long learning.
Learn estate and retirement planning as these are the most important issues facing people. Find a good accountant and estate planning attorney who you can work with.
- Edward Ramias

78. The elevator speech.
Develop an elevator speech that drives your “unique selling proposition.” Everyone who you meet every day of the year represents an opportunity to develop a relationship that can drive sales and networking opportunities.
- Louise Kinard Erdman

79. Build your brand!
You must realize that you are the most important commodity. People will eventually do business with you … because of you!
- Roger L. Dearwester

80. Sell yourself first.
Always be on time and maintain a courteous, businesslike manner. Exhibit confidence and always use a positive tone of voice. Most importantly, stay neat and keep yourself organized, in both your appearance and your sales materials
- Eric Coons

81. Centers of influence.
Establish a centers-of-influence triangle and focus your energy in those areas. Perhaps it’s professional advisors, associations and small businesses. By focusing your time in specific areas, you won’t spread yourself too thin. If one center of influence isn’t panning out, swap it with a new one.
- Brian M. Johnson

82. Make hot calls.
You need hot calls. To get them, make a list of everyone you know–prime sources for referrals. Prioritize the list with the names of people you know best at the top. Then, set a goal to contact at least three people each week to arrange in-person meetings if at all possible.
- Joanne Black

83. Learn from the best.
Then internalize and make it your own. Vow to never use “trial and error, might work, might not, I hope this can be what I want” marketing methods. Wherever you envision your practice being three years from now, someone is there today. Seek them out, study with them and rapidly accelerate your success cycle.
- Matthew J. Neuman

84. Navigate the networking waters.
If you’ve received an introduction, don’t wait to make contact. Be proactive and reach out right away. It shows that you’re motivated, interested and organized. Also, reciprocity is essential. If you’ve received an introduction, think of ways that you can return the favor or offer some other favor that delivers value.
- Adrian Miller

85. Guerilla market!
New advisors generally don’t have the capital to sustain a seminar marketing campaign, so the alternatives are to get in front of people however they can. Get out into the trenches and meet with leaders of senior organizations or communities and set up free educational workshops. It’s much cheaper than any direct mail campaign and is a quick and easy way to get on your feet and hit the ground running.
- Christopher Richter

86. Drip marketing.
Drip marketing is effective because it helps you stay in touch with the people who attended your seminar and were not immediately ready to set an appointment. It keeps your name in the top of their minds. Drip marketing also ensures that you have a consistent follow-up plan for all attendees.
- Brian Clark

87. Stay connected.
Carry lots of business cards, give them out and ask for one from everyone you meet. Follow up with an e-mail and stay in touch. Send e-cards, greeting cards or create a newsletter. If you see an article that might interest your connections, e-mail it to them.
- Dan Norman

88. The apprentice.
Work as an apprentice to a successful age 60-plus advisor who has a large client book and no exit strategy for his business and arrange to buy him out over five years.
- Thomas Inks

89. Sell to a prospect’s needs, rather than selling them a product.
I’ve found that the advisors I work with that close the biggest sales are the best at asking the right questions and finding their prospect’s true motivation for what they want their money to do for them. They are then able to leverage the fact that they are an independent advisor that has access to every product in the market place.
- Brad Johnson

90. Realize that it might not be the economy.
The recession has become a great excuse for prospects who just don’t want to tell you that they didn’t see value in what you were offering. Find out if this is what’s causing the stall. If it is a cash flow issue, you might need to hang on a little longer. If it’s really a problem with how you presented your product or service, you might need to refine your own strategies and techniques. Don’t fall into the trap of blaming everything on the economy.
- Adrian Miller

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Do the Right Thing
7 ways community service pays you back

91. It builds up your resume.
Volunteering within the market that you serve is an excellent way to add reputable and recognizable experience to your career. When talking to a potential client later, you may be surprised to find common ground in a previous volunteer activity and thus, an immediate personal connection.

92. It builds professional
contacts. Reaching out can also mean gaining more back than you expected. Working with and around potential clients can undoubtedly open up new business opportunities and expand your next seminar contact list.

93. It develops your communication skills.
Interacting face-to-face, or phone-to-phone, is an important part of the advisor-client relationship. Sharpen your people skills by spending time with them and learning to talk about things other than business. In many cases, appearing multi-dimensional is as important as appearing professional.

94. It advertises you.
The people, and potential clients, who see you working as hard as they, will have a good sense what type of person you are. That free advertisement can pay off: turn what they liked about you as a volunteer into what they’ll love about you as an advisor.

95. It encourages recommendations.
Remember the advice peddled to those on their first job? Arrive early and be the last to leave. Dedication sticks out to people, and when they encounter someone extraordinary, that person generally gets a lot of good press to anyone who’ll listen.

96. It provides good tips.
Volunteering is an excellent way to listen to your target audience and gain a deeper understanding of their wants and needs, without the stuffy pretense of an office. Ask them: What do they look for in an advisor? What are they currently not getting? Spending time with the people you’d like to represent can only result in a better understanding of how to get there.

97. It keeps you ahead of the game.
One of the biggest challenges advisors face is integrating innovative techniques with trusted strategies to entice a traditional market. Volunteering is one more way you can approach the idea from a new angle with the anticipation of getting an unprecedented result. Why volunteer? Why follow the leader when you could set the trend?
- Steven McCarty, National Ethics Bureau

98. Cracking open the nest egg.
We’ve been having great success talking to 55- to 60-year-old, high-net-worth individuals about how to structure and implement a guaranteed retirement income strategy. It requires a high level of trust as an advisor, not a salesman. We’re calling it, “Cracking Open the Nest Egg.”
- Jonathan Leibensperger

99. The holiday meeting.
One of the best ideas I saw an advisor utilize was a family meeting around the holidays. He sent an invitation to his clients offering to setup a meeting with the clients, kids, grandkids and whoever else was in town and would like to attend. It was to get to know the family and allow them to ask any questions they might have. It turned out to be a great referral source, report builder, and asset gatherer. This also increases the chances of the assets staying with the advisor upon the death of a client.
- Brian Lucius

100. On the web.
I use a website that has videos and newsletters and talks about market conditions and how clients can safeguard their retirement savings.
- Edward Ramias


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