Prospecting for new clients is key to the growth of every advisory practice — but ironically, it is one of the areas where advisors devote the least amount of time.
Independent and branch network advisors spend, on average, less than 10% of their time on attracting and converting prospects, according to the “U.S. Advisor Metrics 2018” industry survey, conducted by Cerulli Associates in partnership with the Investments & Wealth Institute and the Financial Planning Association.
Fortunately, advisors have a variety of options for increasing prospect conversion rates without overtaxing their already limited time and resources. Three of them are outlined below.
- Maintain an engaging, mobile-friendly website where prospects can make contact, and schedule introductory meetings: If you might think this is too obvious, you’d be surprised at how many advisor websites either don’t provide enough information about their business, or are obviously out-of-date.
If a website looks as though it was created in the late 1990s or early 2000s, prospects won’t be impressed. To forge connections in the digital marketplace, an advisor’s website needs to have a modern look and feel, as well as provide a brief but compelling explanation of who the advisor is and how they can help clients achieve their financial goals.
In addition, today’s advisors need to ensure their websites can be easily accessed and explored on mobile devices. That means the sites must be formatted to fit on smaller screens, and load fast. If they’re not, the consequences can be serious, as Google’s algorithms reduce search engine rankings of sites that aren’t mobile-friendly.
Mobile online traffic first surpassed desktop traffic several years ago, and the amount of traffic from mobile devices continues to increase — for example, according to Google, more than 51% of smartphone users have discovered a new company or product through an online search on their smartphone.
For advisors, though, drawing in more prospects doesn’t only involve maintaining a website that can be accessed and navigated on mobile devices — visitors also need to be able to send messages and schedule meetings on an advisor’s website from mobile devices.
Integrating an advisory practice’s meeting-scheduling tool and/or client relationship management software with the practice’s website can potentially streamline the process of scheduling meetings with prospects online.
- Elevate thought leadership — and drive more prospects to your website — with online content: Regularly producing original, timely online commentary is a thoughtful way for advisors to demonstrate their expertise and value propositions — but from a marketing perspective, it is essential for bringing more prospects to an advisor’s website.
According to Demand Gen Report, 47% of purchasers don’t engage with a sales representative until they have viewed three to five pieces of online content. If advisors publish original wealth management-related content tied to newsworthy events or developments on blogs hosted by their websites, they can build credibility and trust with a global audience who could stumble upon blog posts through online searches. Leveraging social media to distribute blog-based content can increase the potential audience even more.
HubSpot has reported that companies publishing 16 or more blog posts per month receive about 4.5 times more leads than counterparts that published zero to four monthly posts — and some studies indicate small businesses with blogs generate 126% higher lead generation than those that don’t maintain blogs. In addition, blog content never dies — according to HubSpot, 10% of blog posts continue to drive traffic over time via organic searches.
- Devote meetings to answering prospects’ questions: If a mass-affluent or high-net-worth individual or couple have arranged an introductory meeting with an advisor, it means they have already been impressed by the advisor’s financial knowledge and thought leadership. Advisors don’t need to waste precious time by discussing their areas of specialty or past performance during face-to-face meetings with prospects.
Instead of taking a “salesy” approach in these meetings, advisors can accomplish far more by asking questions that help them understand a prospect’s basic financial situation, and making the prospect feel comfortable asking for guidance on issues that are most important to them.
For example, if an advisor is sitting in front of a business owner who is nearing retirement, they can ask whether the prospect has a succession plan in place, or if the prospect is concerned about selling the business. Then, the advisor can explain what a sale process would entail, or what an effective succession plan would look like. The advisor also can ask how the business owner wants to spend their retirement, and then outline how much income would be necessary to make their dream a reality.
The only “salesy” talk during introductory meetings should involve how advisors have successfully helped clients in similar situations.
If advisors make introductory meetings about prospects, and not about themselves, they have a much better chance of helping prospects understand the value they can provide — and convincing them to become clients.
Independent advisors are understandably spread thin, but the survival of their businesses depends on prospecting for new clients. By adopting one or more of the above strategies and techniques to engage more effectively with prospects, advisors can potentially expand their client bases without significantly disrupting their other practice management and administrative responsibilities.
Angela Pecoraro is CEO of Advicent, the financial planning technology provider for more than 140,000 financial professionals across more than 3,000 firms worldwide.