The Marketing Edge

New Rules For Approaching Prospects & Clients

Salesy, jargon-laden approaches no longer translate directly into sales

by Tiffany A. Markarian

Ms. Markarian is the founder and managing director of Advantus Marketing, LLC. Since 1995, she has been helping wealth advisors and insurance professionals advance their business and marketing momentum. She is a frequent author for industry journals and a keynote speaker for industry conferences. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @AdvantusMktg

Looking back on this past year, it is clear the pandemic has left people fatigued, stressed, and frustrated. The ongoing disruption and losses have caused people to reflect on so many things. Prospects and clients are asking themselves who is truly bringing value to my life? Who is helping me feel secure amidst all this chaos? Is the money I am spending to work with a financial professional delivering the outcomes and experience I want?

The Opportunity

As people take this time to reflect, it gives financial advisors and professionals a unique opportunity to develop new clients. Simply put, too many advisors have not communicated with their clients in the right way, which creates opportunities to capture new relationships.

But…

To do so, it requires advisors to follow a new set of rules when approaching prospects as well as existing clients. Advisors can no longer lean on salesy product pitches or elevator talks that are focused on themselves. This shift has been coming for a while, but it is far more important in today’s virtual environment. Salesy, jargon-laden approaches no longer translate, whether you are engaging virtually or in-person.

This does not just apply to sales professionals. It applies to anyone who provides a service or advice. It requires advisors to be laser-focused on addressing the larger emotional needs and anxieties clients are feeling. In other words, you need to focus on the client experience. Focus on the client.

The New Rules

We can all agree that prospects and clients are looking for overall performance from a financial advisor. That is the end goal. However, clients equally define value in terms of an advisor’s ability to connect with them, their family, and where they want to go in life.

Clients do not want to feel like an account. They want a personal experience where their advisor serves as a confidant and sounding board for life’s financial decisions. This type of connection does not happen by focusing on industry jargon or your process. If the client cannot envision outcomes or personal value in your early marketing approaches, your branding, or during that first initial meeting, you may lose that prospect or client forever.

Too many advisors focus on the “Ps” during their initial marketing approaches:

  • Products
  • Platforms
  • Processes
  • Pricing (Fees)
  • Planning Systems
  • People on the Team

These “Ps” are all important attributes about you, your firm, and how you do things. And, yes, they will probably come up in conversation at some point. However, your goal when first meeting a prospect or client is to connect with them and uncover the bottom-line outcomes they want in their life.

People are focused on themselves and their personal objectives. They focus on outcomes that are important to them, not on processes that are solely about you. Although the “Ps” will probably come up in conversation, the point is don’t lead with them.

To truly connect with prospects and clients, the new rules require advisors to address the real outcomes they create for clients.

Articulating Outcomes

Clients do not want to feel like an account. They want a personal experience where their advisor serves as a confidant and sounding board for life’s financial decisions...

Prospects and clients define an advisor’s value, not just in economic terms, but emotional terms as well. The outcomes people want when working with an advisor are often described using emotional statements, such as:

  • A greater sense of security and structure with their finances.
  • Staying a step ahead instead of running behind.
  • Less stress and less worry in retirement.
  • Setting a good example for their children.
  • Balancing the competing demands of personal and business finances.
  • Never feeling alone in their financial planning; or
  • Having more control over their finances so they can focus on other things in life.

Many sales training talks teach you to focus on the features, then give the benefits. Let’s flip the switch. How about focusing on the benefits and outcomes you provide clients first? This shows prospects you understand what they value. Once that value is established, you can then describe the features of how you help achieve these benefits. You need to discover the outcomes that are important to prospects, first, before talking about yourself or your offerings.

Asking The Right Questions During An Initial Meeting

If prospects and clients define an advisor’s value in emotional terms, then the main goal during virtual or in-person meetings is to get the person to emote. Don’t just ask your prospect or client, “How have you been?” or “How’s it going?” Those questions are non-starters.

Instead, consider asking your prospect or client:

  • How are you staying sane through this pandemic?
  • What creative things did you do for yourself or your family to pass the time in quarantine?

These ice-breaking questions are important because the person may share how they have been passing their time or what concerns have been lingering. They may share creative hobbies they picked up or what they are doing to keep their business stable. It is a far better opening question than the customary, “How’s it going?” You will learn more about your prospect or client personally and distinguish yourself from other sales pitches or professionals.

Communicating Your Value Proposition

The new rules for communicating your value proposition requires a different marketing and brand strategy. You need to research and discover the relevant outcomes different clients and niche markets want. Your value proposition then needs to communicate how you help achieve these outcomes.

For Existing Clients: Demonstrate What You Are Doing On The Client’s Behalf

During virtual or in-person client reviews, you want to review the performance of their financial plan, accounts, or policies, as well as provide your perspective. While this is helpful, you also need to make sure you are specifically stating what you are doing on the client’s behalf, at all times.

Remember, clients engage with you for a reason. The key is to focus on the client’s original goals and objectives and how you are positioning every financial move to support these outcomes over the long-term. It demonstrates you listen to your clients and remember what is important to them – what they are doing this for. Clients want to know you are always working on their behalf. This gives your clients comfort and assurance they are well taken care of.

These new rules are important because it establishes your distinction. If you open a conversation by describing your processes, the challenge is those processes are all about you. Clients want to hear about the outcomes you create for clients like them. Once you make that connection, prospects and clients will then ask…how do you do that? You can then talk about your processes.

By focusing on outcomes and a personalized client experience, you help clients regain their sense of structure back. It gets them off their current stress and lets them know they are in the right place with you.

 

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