Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email ushere.
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Based on your experience, what are the best practices for following up with prospects after an event that my firm sponsors?
Derek P., Detroit
Not knowing what you are doing now, I will provide a few best-practice ideas that could work for any event if you are hoping to turn new prospects into clients:
Target any events you are having to the market you are serving. Make sure, for example, if the event is applicable to business owners that you have content related to their needs, and promote your event in places where business owners are. General broad-based events are more difficult. So, the more detailed and specific you can be to your audience, the better.
Take the time to make invite calls in advance. Target your best clients, or the clients who should bring a friend. Don’t just rely on the formal invite; call them up and tell them how much you want them to attend. Do the work on the front end to ensure you have a good turnout – with the types of people you want to attract.
Solicit information from attendees either beforehand or at the actual event. Do this before you or others make presentations. Ask people who they are, why they are there and what they hope to learn. When you can get people to talk early on, it establishes a connection with them.
Gather details about attendees – know how to get in touch with them after the event, what information to follow up with, etc. Know who was there, understand their reasons for attending and obtain the information about how to get in touch with them in the future.
Use a survey at the end of the event. What did attendees like? What would they have liked to learn? What else do they need to know? Gather this data so you have a reason to connect in with attendees.
Take the time to follow-up. Too many advisors expect the attendees to reach out to them. Inertia is the biggest enemy in marketing, so don’t wait for someone to call you. Call them instead.
Most of the time advisors don’t get a good response or obtain referrals from an event, is because they haven’t approached it as a sales opportunity. Do more than just inform or entertain.
I have a financial advisor working for me who is difficult all of the time. He doesn’t prepare reports when they are due. He doesn’t include others in our team-based selling approach. He doesn’t follow up with me when I request information. The worst part is that the owner of our firm wants him “left alone.” The owner worries that if we upset him by holding him responsible, he will take his clients with him. I’m at my wits end. I find his behavior insulting and disrespectful and yet I don’t think I am empowered to do anything about it. Is there a way to manage someone like this?
Dave B., San Francisco
It sounds like you are being put squarely in the middle – keeping this FA and the owner of the firm happy, but you don’t sound happy with where you are sitting! I assume from what you’ve written that you are charged with managing this investment professional but then you are told what you can and can’t do to hold him accountable. It’s the worst position, but one I find managers in quite a bit.
You can do a few things and you’ll have to choose which ones fit your culture. First, you could have a heart-to-heart with the owner of the firm. Explain to him or her that allowing this person to continue flaunting rules and doing their own thing is putting the firm at risk. Help the owner to see that allowing this person to get away with doing whatever he wants is ceding far too much control to him and is placing the firm at risk.
You could also manage the FA more aggressively. Set deadlines, follow up when things are due, and generally spend more time managing behavior. If people tip-toe around him and don’t push for results, he won’t bother responding. Be more specific about what is required and when and then keep following through to get the information.
But, you are in a tough spot without the support of the leader of the firm. This FA could always go and complain that you are being too hard on him. The owner of the firm is the one who has to understand the consequences of allowing this behavior to continue unchecked.
ft times leaving someone alone who is exhibiting “bully” like behaviors is the worst thing you can do. You don’t know what this FA is doing that you should know about. It is time for you to do some investigating and try to help the owner of the firm see his or her risk in leaving this situation unaddressed.
Beverly Flaxington co-foundedThe Collaborative, a consulting firm devoted to business building for the financial services industry in 1995; in 2008 she co-founded Advisors Trusted Advisor to offer dedicated practice management resources to advisors, planners and wealth managers. She is currently an adjunct professor at Suffolk University teaching undergraduate students Leadership & Social Responsibility. Beverly is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst (CPBA) and Certified Professional Values Analyst (CPVA).
She has spent over 25 years in the investment industry and has been featured in Selling Power Magazine and quoted in hundreds of media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, MSNBC.com, Investment News and Solutions Magazine for the FPA. She speaks frequently at investment industry conferences and is a speaker for the CFA Institute.