During a luncheon at the annual meeting of the Million Dollar Round Table, being held at the Anaheim Convention Center through Wednesday, five of the association’s Top of the Table members offered attendees tips for achieving greater success in their practices. The event employed an innovative, fast-paced format: Each of the presenters was limited to six minutes at the speaker’s podium.
The presenters included; Ian Green of Green Financial, London, U.K.; Steve Plewes of Advisors Financial Group, Gaithersburg, Md.; Bev Carlyon of Integrated Professional Services, Castle Hill, Australia; Dennis Zahrbock of Business & Estate Advisors, Rice Lake, Wis.; and Jim Rogers an MDRT past president and principal of Rogers Group Financial Ltd., Vancouver, Canada. The following are excerpts.
Green: Here’s how I use social media. First, I have a business page on Facebook with all client-facing material available for download. The page is more interactive and easily updatable than my web site. Facebook is great for posting photo albums, client materials and client conversations.
Thanks to LinkedIn, my database is never old. I never have an old e-mail address or telephone number for anyone. Because on LinkedIn, the other person updates their details. Once on LinkedIn, I found a lapsed client. We re-established a relationship. And this individual is now a client again.
Twitter is a great professional resource. We discover new content through our links. I tweet about things of personal interest to me, such as the Space Shuttle. A new client Googled me when searching for a financial planner, then decided to follow me on Twitter because of our shared interest in the Shuttle. Now he’s as client.
Our online presence should educate people about us, not only about our products or company. Blogging takes time to do–and do well. If you can’t write good copy, get help. I blog about subjects of interest, as well as subjects that might require multiple client phone conversations.
One example: If I read something in the news that clients are likely to call me about, I’ll write a blog about the news items. When clients call, I’ll ask him to read the blog. If he still has questions, he can call me back. Participation in social networks is as much about giving as about taking. I also recently started posting videos on YouTube and have my own TV channel. and all of my social media ties into my web site. The social media complements–but does not replace–the web site.
Plewes:What I find is that the more high-tech we become, the more valuable high-touch becomes. Many advisors tell me about all the cool marketing they do through e-mail blasts, video messages and direct mail.
But it seems that they’re trying to avoid all forms of human contact. Technology is no substitute for human contact, which is the key to great long-term relationships.
The definition of marketing, I believe, is to help clients recognize that they need what you have–not you trying to persuade them that you have what they need. To use an analogy, they’re the bee; you’re the flower. We create a unique office environment: We have in our reception area ‘thank you’ notes from people to whom we’ve sent flowers and other gifts at Christmas time. We keep these cards in the office where visitors can read–in the clients’ own words–about how nice we are.
We also have little motivational books to give prospects positive messages while they’re waiting for us. We also display a notebook with pictures of us doing community service activities and articles in which we’ve been quoted.
We also have a digital picture frame that includes pictures of my clients enjoying activities–wind-surfing, on a safari in Africa or enjoyed quality time with their grandchildren. When visitors ask who the people pictured are, I tell them, These are clients whom we’ve helped to retire successfully.”
The not so subtle message is: Wow! I can do all this, too. The photos are especially powerful if the visitor came to our office as a result of a referral someone pictured in them.
Don’t be afraid to mix business with pleasure. By taking people to concerts or dinners or a golf outing, you bond at a much deeper level with clients. Now, you’re spending real quality time with them.
When I go to visit my clients at their seasonal homes or the places they retire to, they often ask me to stay overnight with them. This was uncomfortable at first. But after you do this a few times, you find that you have a more lasting and rewarding relationships.
The [traditional] model for Success is 10-3-1: Make ten phone calls, get three appointments and close one sale. I’ve turned this into a 1-3-10 model: Develop one great relationships that will give you three strong referrals, that will spin off 10 other great relationships over time. Why call 30 people and hope only to get three sales.
Carlyon: The best chance we all have of making a prospect become a client is to make every communication touch point a winner. I believe that success is not a formula; it’s a recipe. And our clients are only interested in the menu.
Our industry is driven by compliance, but a successful practice is built on relationships and communications skills.
The secret to making more profit is not charging more, but avoiding the pressure to charge less. Your clients, associates and staff should be able to articulate what you do.
In a nutshell, we provide DCC: Direction, Choice and Control. But we sell Promised Tomorrows.
We need a robust system and process to manage and monitor our work. In my practice, we send the data collection form to the prospect to complete and return before the meeting. At this initial meeting, we say that our business covers the cost of the first meeting.
Make sure your brochure tells the client about you. Provide a diagram that indicates what you do and what a client who meets with you can expect. When we receive the prospect’s completed data collection form, we call the prospect to make sure we understand all of their data. We ask, “What would you like to achieve in in our first meeting. We tell them, “we sell progress, not change for the sake of it.”
Research tells us that we need to have at least three communication touch points to build trust. We use an on-hold message [in our business phone system] with recorded client stories. Imagine your client coming on the phone and saying, “I want what they have!”
We’ve replaced the policy of client retention with the more dynamic concept of client development. Imagine prospects watching a DVD that shows your clients reliving their moments of dignity or retirement strategies that you helped to put in place. Videos like these are incredibly powerful.
I use pictures, not policies, to explain potential outcomes for prospects because the strongest memories are all wrapped up in emotion. Ask your prospects if they feel positive or negative emotions when you use words like “dignity.”
In my office, I have a whiteboard, positioned to face the client, that reads: ”What needs to happen today for you to be happy that we met?” The prospect will often start to answer the question before I ask it.
I also ask, “If we had met three years ago, what would your life have looked like then? When we sit together again in three years time, what needs to happen for you to be happy that we met?” Notice that we use the “when-we” combination. This is incredibly powerful: You’ve taken them into the future with you.