Five Ways to Create Urgency and Win Planning Business
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Most prospective clients are happy on their own and don’t understand the importance of a financial plan.
The 2021 Planning and Progress Harris poll showed that only 27% of Americans believe a financial plan is a key strategy for dealing with volatile markets and financial uncertainty.
Your role as an advisor is to explain the importance of creating that plan and illustrating the hazards of not having one.
Showing prospective clients the dangers of going it alone will persuade them to meet with you to craft a plan. Americans aren’t prepared for retirement and the pandemic has made matters even worse.
One out of every three Americans planning to retire is delaying it because of the pandemic, according to analysis from Age Wave and Edward Jones.
Showing individuals why it’s so important to meet with an advisor to help plan for life’s unexpected events turns prospects into clients.
My experience in marketing for advisors shows that you can increase your flow of new, qualified planning prospects by 30% to 300% with the strategies below.
Here are five ways to win new business and clients for life by creating urgency, so your prospects want to create a financial plan now with you.
- Promote the benefits (not features) of financial planning
Talk to financial planners about their work, and they say everyone should have an up-to-date financial plan because the benefits of planning are apparent.
But the statistics and my experience with hundreds of advisors over the past 15 years show clients don’t understand the benefits of planning.
Advisors will bring many more prospects into the planning process by getting beyond the features of financial planning and articulating the benefits. For example, a feature of your practice might be using the latest financial planning software. But a prospect doesn’t understand or care how it benefits them.
A benefit could be clients will have a secure financial planning portal with key financial information all in one place at your fingertips and up to date.
The benefits of financial planning can be segmented into two types: minor ones and major, life-changing ones. The above example is a minor benefit of planning. Minor benefits are nice, but ultimate benefits are the game changers in people’s lives.
Examples of minor benefits of financial planning include:
- Make sure your insurance meets your needs and are up to date;
- Save money with a tax-minimization strategy; and
- Protect your retirement assets from market volatility by diversifying your investments.
Examples of major, life-changing benefits of a financial plan include:
- Sleep better at night because your spouse will be taken care of if something happens to you;
- Gain peace of mind that you are on track for the retirement you have always desired; and
- Ensure your legacy with an estate plan that is in line with your intentions
(These are illustrative examples. Consult your compliance department for any marketing verbiage.)
Ratchet the plan to action – Attract more prospects into the planning process by promoting the benefits of financial planning and the game-changing nature of having a financial plan.
- Marketing: Tap into prospect pain and buying triggers
Humans are wired to move away from problems three times more than moving towards some compelling future.
Advisors talk about marketing to goals. But a goal is often intangible and distant. A pain point or problem is something prospects want to move away from now.
Here are some examples of common financial planning problems:
- “I am sick. Who will make sure my spouse makes good decisions and does not run out of money?”
- “I’m confused. Should I take this early retirement package? My company is giving me one month to decide.”
- “I feel like I’m behind in retirement savings, and I beat myself up about it. Will I ever be able to afford to retire?”
- “I’m about to retire. How do I manage my money without messing this up?”
- “My child/grandchild always gets in trouble and needs money. Am I right to cut them off and say enough is enough?”
- “We (two spouses) disagree on how to handle our retirement savings. We are looking for an independent expert to ensure we are doing the right thing.”
- “I just got another big, unexpected tax bill. Can I avoid this in the future with better planning?”
Ratchet the plan to action – Helping prospects move away from their problems and showing them a financial plan will both attract more clients to your practice and can help clients sleep better at night.
- Initial meeting: Uncover problems and reflect at initial meetings
Many financial planners have no format or agenda for the first meeting with prospects, and results are unpredictable.
Have a repeatable system and a meeting format that uncovers prospect problems. Reflect those problems back to prospects before introducing your planning process and outlining the next steps.
Better initial meeting model
A common 30-minute initial meeting with a financial planning prospect goes like this:
- Prospect goals
- How we work with clients
- Any questions about our process, fees, services, etc.
- Next steps
This is fine, and it will work absent of any other format.
But here’s the Achilles heel: the advisor is doing too much talking, and there is no guarantee that the advisor has reflected back to the prospects the problems to be solved with the financial plan.
Here’s a winning outline of the meeting for higher conversion rate and loyal clients:
Best meeting model
- Prospect problem(s), dig deep with questions, and engage all stakeholders
- Compelling future (What benefits/better state achieved by solving the problem?)
- Summarize the situation and ask permission to outline how it is solved for others
- Outline briefly the planning process and connect back to the situation
- Introduce next steps
The buy in from the prospects, the ability to demonstrate more value and charge a higher fee, and the client engagement and follow through will be much greater using our best meeting model than using the common approach.
Another essential benefit of my best meeting model is that advisors get the prospect talking through steps one and two to uncover behaviors that may disqualify them from being ideal clients.
It is better to know these things before agreeing to take them on or starting their plan.
Ratchet the plan to action – Develop an initial meeting model which uncovers prospect problems, ties planning to a compelling future, and moves forward with the next steps.
- Master the art of selling to different types of people and servicing multiple decision makers
Have you ever found yourself in front of a prospective couple speaking primarily to one spouse, and halfway through the conversation, you find out the other spouse is the financial decision-maker?
You probably have pivoted in your chair to face the other party.
A Pew research study found almost three-in-ten couples (28%) equally share responsibility for making family financial decisions.
Many advisors are comfortable dealing with a single decision-maker. But those advisors who thrive in multiple decision-making environments will expand their potential market, have a higher prospect-to-planning conversion rate, and ultimately more loyal clients.
Here are three examples of ways planners have adapted to work with multiple decision-makers:
- A male financial planner added a female partner and teams up on new client engagements, especially with couples.
- A lead financial advisor started bringing her junior planner to all client meetings. The two “team sell” the initial engagement to make sure all members of the prospective buying group are addressed in both the initial meetings and planning process.
- An experienced planner who had always engaged new clients informally, with no formal initial meeting process, introduced a pre-meeting questionnaire and formal structure to be sure to incorporate all decision-makers in the process.
Ratchet the plan to action– Don’t just rely on a relationship with one member of the client's family. Account for multiple decision-makers, and research shows this could increase your potential market by 28% or more.
- A comprehensive marketing plan
Many new planers hang out a shingle as a planner, join a few associations, gain a few referrals, and take many years to create the income they desire.
Other advisors add financial planning to their practice and focus on servicing their current clients and a few referrals.
Fewer than a third of advisors and planners I have surveyed have any formal growth or marketing plan.
Just as a financial plan will increase your clients’ odds of achieving their financial goals, a marketing plan will significantly increase your odds of creating the practice and income you have always desired.
Draw on some of the ideas in this article to create more urgency with your prospects.
My book gives an overview of the Client Attraction System for Financial Advisors. Get Marketing Power for Financial Advisors, available from Amazon in all formats here.
Also, answer these basic questions in your marketing:
Who – is your ideal planning client? What is keeping them up at night?
How – will you get in front of your ideal prospects? What marketing channels will you use?
When – will you reach out to them? What is your marketing calendar?
Where – do your prospects look for planners like you when they have a problem you solve?
What – tactics will you use to reach your target market?
Why – should a prospect choose you as a planner, and why should they plan now?
Ratchet the plan to action – Don’t leave the growth and promotion of your planning practice to chance. Advisors have as much as doubled their income with the help of a comprehensive growth plan.
If you adopt just one of these strategies to plan now, you can help take the profession to the next level and help tens of thousands of clients experience the many benefits of financial planning for themselves.
Bob Hanson is author of Marketing Power for Financial Advisors. Get his new free checklist, 21 Ways to Generate Advisory Prospects (Leads), here.