August 18, 2017

How to distribute 60% of your time in prospecting for clients?

Bhuvanaa Shreeram
Certified Financial Planner, Plan2Prosper

How to distribute 60% of your time in prospecting for clients?

Padmashri Dr. Devi Shetty is the Founder and Chairman of Narayana Hrudyalaya. Narayana Hrudayala in Bangalore performs heart surgeries at 1/3rd the cost of the same surgery anywhere else and almost 60% of the patients are treaed free. Over 10000 surgeries are done here in a year. His innovative health care solutions which even has the Karnataka Government actively participating into is a Harvard case study.

Once when asked about innovation in his business he said, “See, innovation doesn’t mean you have to be in R&D. I could have chosen to sit in the lab and innovate a new drug or tool for treating heart ailments. But there are over 1000 drugs that work effectively and all I would have done is added to the crowd there. If you carefully look, the problem in our country is that less than 5% of the population has access to quality medical care. I choose to use my innovation capabilities in the front end and come up with different ways and means to take good quality medical care to a larger spectrum of people. That I think creates a far better impact”

For financial advisers, there is a brilliant perspective here. Instead of trying to become fund managers – most of whom are doing excellent work themselves, it is primarily our job to find innovative ways to reach out the right financial products to the underserved Indian households. In my practice, I took this to heart in the very literal sense.

My experiences

I started my career in sales. Although I did the rounds of client servicing, research, and advisory, financial plan preparations, team management and training I realised my heart lies with sales. When I started my practice with a handful of good contacts about 1 year back, I did not imagine I would end the year with 50 clients and an income that almost compensated the salary I was the last drawing after 14 years of work experience. I guess I might have a thing or two to share about prospecting.

Spend 60% of your time in prospecting

If you have made the choice to be a financial adviser you should commit enough time to meeting more people, sharing knowledge, dispelling fears and encouraging action.

I am not for a moment saying the other work involved in running a practice is not important. Yes – research, plan preparation, execution, reporting, accounts, compliance etc. are all important. But they are outsourceable and should necessarily be outsourced and/or simplified.

Success in this business comes from spending atleast 60% of your time prospecting.

Distribute this 60% of the time between 3 activities –

1) Marketing

Let the world know you are in business. In your neighborhood, amongst your family, your social network, social media contacts, your friends from school and college everyone should know you are in the business of financial advisory/wealth management.

And they should know you are an expert in the subject. They would know you are an expert if you speak up about topics of interest – write blogs, have an opinion on issues discussed in Quora, publish articles on Linkedin, post videos on Facebook, tweet your opinions, collect a group of people and conduct a seminar or workshop, get on local newspapers and TV channels, write a book. Please share opinions and not facts. Opinions make you an expert, facts make you a news channel.

While having small conversations with people in the lift, in the gym, other parents at your child’s PTM etc introduce yourself as an expert briefly outlining the transformation you bring in your clients’ lives. A sample introduction could be “I help people get rich. I am a wealth manager. What about you?”

This is the mouth of your funnel. Keep it broad and let them all flow in…

2) Sales

When people connect their need to your expertise and seek out to you, you get a chance to sell. Many a sales meeting ends up being a damp squid because financial advisers in their eagerness to appear as experts overload their pitch with technical jargons. This is a big put off to most prospective clients.

It is important to have a strong value proposition. You should be able to draw a picture in the mind of your prospect about the significant transformation you can bring about in their life. You should be able to explain this in both simple English as well as in mathematics. Prepare a good sales pitching script.

A good sales pitch has the following:

  • A set of insightful questions to ask
  • A careful ear that listens to every spoken word
  • A good recap of what was heard, a reconfirmation of the need
  • 80% of the pitch focussing on the transformation the client will enjoy if he/she worked with you
  • Permission to explain your product or service
  • 20% of the pitch explaining in non-technical terms the process you would follow to deliver the transformation promised
  • The Offer
  • The Close

While we are at it, I would like to share a few things about closing a sale.

Many advisers donning the consultant hat do this – give long lectures on the need for financial planning and explain in painful detail how they would go about it and then…. let the client take a time to make a decision. They would say something like “Sure… take your time. Think about it and let me know”. I mean, really? What a waste!

Closure needs a mindset, a keenness to get the client on board. Remember the confirmation bias? If the prospect signs on to become a client, he would justify his decision to others. If he does not sign on to become a client, he would still justify the decision to others. What would you prefer he does?

Most people need to be pushed. They like to be gently pushed. They need to be told, “You should take action right now. If you don’t, you would lose out on something really awesome”.

If you don’t do this, you are doing a disservice to the client. Not making an offer is akin to not proposing after considerable flirting and sensing interest. It is not just not fair, it is rude.

Hence while you make the offer, include a sweetener – a value added service or a reduced price or anything else that makes your offer attractive. And design it in such a way that the sweetener comes with a time restriction. Something such as, “If you sign on today, I am willing to include a free consultation with a lawyer for your estate planning needs. Lawyers usually charge about Rs.10,000/- for such a consultation. But I could get that done for you for free if you to sign these papers right away / make an advance payment today”.

3) Client Engagement

This is, in my opinion, the most potent activity in business. Nothing works better than meeting your existing clients often.

It is from here that you would get referrals that can get you another chance for sales, a larger share of the client’s assets, positive word of mouth improving your image and credibility, seminars which are more marketing opportunities, testimonials and success stories that you can use to brag in your website and social media handles. The opportunities are immense.

Create opportunities to engage with your clients. Every quarter I think up a good excuse to meet clients. Especially in the first year of the relationship – sometimes it is for doing a risk audit, sometimes it is to understand client’s childhood experiences with money, sometimes it is to do a life planning exercise, sometimes it is to do estate planning etc. You could use all of your creativity here and make these meetings useful for your clients. Of course, do the basic portfolio review and goal achievement assessments too.

Take good quality advisory services to the maximum number of people and your business can grow exponentially. But it all starts with wanting to make a difference, wanting to reach out and help people take action. Basically, WANTING TO SELL.

More power to you in achieving your higher calling of helping more and more people build wealth and live a life they desire and deserve.

Good luck!

Note:  This article was earlier published in Financial Planning Journal. The article has been published on NFP Thinktank with due permission from the author.

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