Secrets of Successful Advisors

Posted on 04. Jan, 2014 by in Business-building, Marketing, Sales

Over the years, I have had the privilege to work and speak with numerous top financial advisors in search for their secrets to success.  How did they grow their business?  How did they overcome the obstacles of starting a business?  How did they get suspects to become prospects and get prospects to become clients?  And once they became clients, how did they keep them?  Well, the list of questions could go on.

Here’s what some of them have shared with me:

Build Those COIs

At the onset of this advisor’s career, she recognized the need to build long-term relationships with lawyers and accountants. One way to demonstrate her knowledge and expertise was to educate these professionals about life insurance and how to use it in estate planning and business succession. This consisted of primarily conducting ongoing educational seminars at the offices of these professionals.  In addition to seminars, she attended, participated and networked at tax conferences for several years.  As the interest in seminars grew and the relationships became more established, she began receiving referrals from them. Over the course of approximately 3 years, the advisor built up an extensive contact list of approximately 100 (COIs). For many years, over 70% of her referrals were coming from these professionals.

Ask, Ask and Ask

That really is the key. Given that this advisor believes strongly in providing exceptional service to his clients, he finds the most appropriate time to ask for referrals is once a transaction has been completed.

When approaching his clients on the subject of referrals, he leads the conversation to go something like this: “Part of my commitment to clients is ensuring that I’ve met their needs and they are satisfied with the service I provide. If you’re happy with my service and there are any family members or friends whom you care about the most and you think I can help, I would be more than happy to meet with them to discuss their options. I want to help those people who really care about their families and want to ensure that their families are well taken care of.”

Get to Know Them Well

When this advisor receives a client referral, he typically waits 3-5 days and proceeds to follow-up with the prospect.  The advisor tells the prospect that a “mutual friend” suggested that he contact them. He likes to refer to his clients as a “mutual friend” because they really are. This advisor invests time in getting to know his clients and building lasting relationships, ultimately making them good friends.

Another advisor takes a very holistic approach to his business. By acting like a business consultant to his small business clients, he tries to educate them on a series of items such as how to empower their employees and plan for their succession. There are 3 vagaries of life that will impact on everyone’s business and planning whatever they might be: death, disability, and retirement. He utilizes a number of different techniques to quantify the needs in each of these vagaries. Over the years, the relationship becomes so involved that some clients even seek the advisor’s opinion with respect to who they should hire and/or fire.

It’s also important to conduct very effective and in-depth fact-finding sessions. Ask a lot of open-ended questions about the people that are close to them, how they got into business, what their biggest challenges are, etc.  Be a good listener and take notes when clients are talking. This ensures that you’re capturing and understanding what really matters most to the client and then taking the appropriate actions in your recommendations.

It’s also important to meet clients on a regular basis (e.g. coffee, lunch, breakfast, dinner) so that you can stay in the loop with respect to their life and any other significant changes. Your relationship with the client will evolve into one of friendship, as a result of taking the time to learn about them and their respective business.

Have a Process for Exceptional Service

Annual reviews form a very important part of every advisor’s practice.  Having a process that demonstrates your attention to detail for exceptional service should be clearly evident and transparent for the client.  A great way to achieve this is to present the client with a customized binder during the annual review. The binder, which acts as a financial roadmap includes key sections on goals, investments, insurance, tax, wills and estates. As the advisor gets to the end of the review, there is a section in the binder that covers introductions and referrals. The advisor explains that his preferred method of growing his business is through recommendations from existing clients.

 By taking clients through the comprehensive annual review, you are demonstrating your commitment to exceptional service. As they experience your unique service, clients are more motivated to refer you. Having a section in a binder dedicated to referrals and introductions, allows an advisor to formalize the process and encourages clients to think about it.

Act today by choosing just one of the ideas listed above and build it into your practice on a consistent basis.  Remember, without implementation, there can’t be results!

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