How Client Communication Converts Prospects
March 1, 2016
by Dan Richards
My previous article, The New Rules for Client Communication, described how one large team ramped up its contact level with clients and saw a big payoff in satisfaction, retention and growth in client assets as a result. While the increase in contact was aimed at deepening client relationships, it also led to a jump in prospects. The team has begun talking to these prospects and bringing them on board.
Chances are that you won’t be able to replicate everything that this team did, but their experience provides some important lessons for every advisor on what it takes to convert clients today.
Prospect funnel versus prospect pipeline
How to win multi-million dollar clients
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Historically, firms focused new recruits on building a prospect funnel and driving awareness among as many prospects as possible. Those prospects were then winnowed down through three stages. This four-step process was summarized using the acronym AIDA:
A – Awareness: Get the attention of potential customers
I – Interest: Engage customers and capture their interest
D –Desire: Convince customers that they need the solutions that the advisor is selling
A – Action: Lead customers towards taking action and making purchases
Numbers drove this prospect funnel; if enough prospects entered the funnel, gravity would take hold and some would inevitably reach the bottom as clients.
While these four steps still apply, what it takes to create desire and lead to action has changed. Today’s advisors need to think about creating a pipeline of prospects. With a funnel, gravity works for you, but with a pipeline prospects only move towards taking action if advisors do things to cultivate and nurture them, building their confidence in the advisors in the process.
Recently, I spoke with a 40-year veteran advisor. He told me that when he started, he would go to community events with the goal of engaging people in a conversation about the markets. If the person he talked to seemed receptive, he’d suggest meeting so that he could provide a second opinion on their portfolio. Should the response be that the prospect was happy with his advisor or too busy to meet, he’d answer: “I absolutely understand, but if it’s okay with you I’d like to check in from time to time to see how things are going.”
Few advisors would use that approach today. Instead, most advisors would offer something of value, so prospects would agree to the advisors’ staying in touch. They would recognize this as the first step in building a prospect pipeline. The most common method to get that agreement is for advisors to offer to add prospects to an email list for newsletters. Once someone says yes to that, the advisors are in front of the prospects on a regular basis. The advisors can call periodically to see if the prospects have any questions or would like to meet to talk about the ideas in the most recent newsletter. That call won’t come across as “Just checking in to see if you’re ready to buy yet.”