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Most advisors have limited marketing budgets when it comes to finding prospects and turning them into clients. But the best advisor marketers follow some simple, repeatable steps for closing prospects, according to research done by SmartAsset among the advisor users of its SmartAdvisor lead generation service and other advisors over the past year.

The findings are particularly instructive since the leads that SmartAdvisor provides its advisor clients have already expressed interest in speaking to an advisor through links on various websites or financial calculators. They’ve also been vetted by a SmartAdvisor ‘concierge’ to match prospects with an advisor’s preferred client profile, and the leads are even geo-targeted, so a prospect will be directed toward a local advisor.

AJ Smith of SmartAssetAJ Smith, vice president for financial education at SmartAsset, said the research was prompted by the realization that some advisors in its program were performing much better than others in turning prospects into clients, even when both advisors were in the same neighborhood and had similar practice niches.

Looking at its data and talking to “hundreds of advisors,” Smith said, SmartAsset came up with these four deceptively simple steps that are shared by the most successful closers.

1. Take Action Promptly

The best closers respond quickly, meaning within the first week after they receive their leads, said Smith. They also don’t assume that prospects are keeping their interest in hiring an advisor top of mind. That’s why it’s a good idea, she said, to remind the prospect how and why they expressed interest in finding an advisor. Point out to the prospect that they filled out a form online, Smith suggests, and be specific about what prompted them to fill out that form: “You said were interested in retirement planning,” for instance. “Reminding them of why they’re getting in touch and how the connection was made” in the first place “can be a powerful start to the conversation,” Smith said.

2. Five’s the Number

In addition to reaching out promptly, the most successful closers also communicate in multiple ways to prospects, by phone, email or text. And they don’t do so just once. While some consultants might recommend “reach out a few times or don’t give up after one call,” Smith said those who reach out to leads at least five times during the first week after receiving the lead’s contact information have higher close rates. Is that being too pushy? Smith points out there may be some urgency to the prospect’s request to speak to an advisor, so it’s appropriate to communicate multiple times at first.

3. Expand Your Workday

SmartAdvisor’s best closers reach out to prospects not just during the traditional business day but also in the evenings and on the weekends. “The more flexible advisors are in when they contact their leads can make a big difference,” Smith said.

While many advisors would only contact leads from 9 to 5 on weekdays, since their nights and weekends are for themselves and their families, Smith said “we’ve found that if you’re willing to give some time on the evenings or weekends, it gives you a better chance” to contact prospects and close them. “So, you may want to dedicate one evening a week or one weekend a month” when you’ll contact those prospects, she suggests. Isn’t that a bit of a ‘boiler-room’ approach to prospecting? “It’s a logical assumption to make, that you don’t want to bother someone on an evening or a weekend,” Smith concedes. She argues, however, that these prospects already expressed interest in speaking to an advisor by filling out a form online, so finding the right time to respond to that request is, again, appropriate, even if your first outreach is at night or on the weekend. “Once you establish that relationship,” the advisor and prospect can determine when are the best times to communicate, and which communication method is best, Smith points out.

4. Organize Your Outreach

The fourth step “combines all the other tips,” said Smith, and again is deceptively simple: Keep your prospect outreach efforts organized. You can use your CRM or an Excel worksheet or “even a simple pen and paper,” she says, to keep track of the calls or texts or emails you send to prospects, including date and time called, the response, and what and when and how to follow up with your next message to the prospect. “The more organized they are,” Smith said, referring to advisors using their service, “the better they do” at turning prospects into clients. Even if those prospects don’t become clients right away or can’t be reached within that first week, the most successful advisors don’t give up, the SmartAsset data shows. Those advisors collect the leads’ contact information “and continue to market to them through other channels,” Smith says. “They stay in touch.”

Smith says that while advisors use many methods to find new clients — conducting seminars, using a lead generation service or a broader digital marketing campaign — the best advisors are always focusing on that “last step”: turning prospects into clients.

“What we’ve found,” she says of SmartAsset’s research, “is that you can improve your close rate.”

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