A financial advisor got a call one day from an old college friend who said, “We’re ready to set up a retirement plan for our company. We want you to handle it.” The advisor asked why he was chosen to assist with this. The answer: “You stayed in front of me. When it was time to make a decision, you were the first name that came to mind.” The advisor had been politely persistent.
Follow-up is a shortcoming for many people in this profession. We also know calling every two weeks with “Have you made a decision yet?” gets annoying. How do you do it?
- Vacation postcards. One of that advisor’s greatest strategies started with the friendly relationship he had with prospects. When he would travel on vacation, he would bring a list of names and addresses of several prospects. During his trip, he would buy scenic postcards and send one to each person.
Why it works: Pictures get attention. You flip it over to read. It’s handwritten. It’s personal. It communicates “You care about me as a person.”
- Acknowledge the timing isn’t right. They might be waiting for a year-end bonus. Maybe it’s their tax return. They will have money, but not right now. You can still keep in touch if the conversation isn’t strictly about closing a sale.
Why it works: If people are both friends and prospects, you have shared interests. They know what you do. You are staying top of mind.
- Bring new information. When people are putting up money, they want to know more. Eliminate the unknown variables.
Why it works: Now we are talking business, not about social topics. Establish the mental connection when they hear from you that they are learning something new and valuable.
- Invite them to events or webinars. People like free stuff. They also are receptive to subjects they know they need to learn about but would otherwise need to pay to get information on. For example, the tax law changed this year. “Hmm … attend a seminar or make an appointment with my accountant?” Which costs money?
Why it works: It puts you in front of them and positions you as an expert.
- Educational material. Financial planning shouldn’t be like sword fighting. There isn’t a winner and a loser. If that’s how you interact with a prospect, why would they take your calls? Insurance and financial products are complicated. You’re a professional, so share your knowledge in a non-threatening way.
Why it works: Consider a casino analogy. Some people like playing slots because they don’t interact with a dealer. Prospects might enjoy your newsletter because they learn something without feeling pressured to buy immediately.
- Keeping in touch. It’s OK to use multiple channels, providing you don’t go overboard. You post to social media, often using compliance-approved content. You e-mail. Maybe you call occasionally. You run into each other socially. All this contributes to staying on their radar until they are ready to make a decision.
Why it works: It’s the opposite of “Out of sight, out of mind.” They get comfortable with regular contact.
Filling the pipeline has many meanings. Some prospects follow a multi-step path leading to closing. Others are longer-term prospects. You’re steadily marketing to them, or “drip marketing.” The ideal approach is to be politely persistent.
Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. His book, Captivating the Wealthy Investor, can be found on Amazon.
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