Many of our financial advisor clients are shifting their marketing strategies from a Bull Market Strategy and face-to-face contact to a Bear Market Strategy and virtual contact.
No one has a crystal ball that can accurately predict how long this most pandemic will disrupt the U.S. economy, but it could be the rest of 2020 or until there is a widely distributed vaccine. For example, in a recent survey, 72% of respondents said they would not attend professional sporting events until there was a vaccine.
This is just one indicator that the impact of the virus may last longer than originally thought.
The purpose of the article is to provide tips to advisors who plan to use virtual marketing when they interact with prospects.
Until recently, it might have been fair to say advisors who meet with prospects face-to-face had a significant competitive advantage. This form of contact maximized the impact of their personalities, relationship skills, and sales ability.
We assume this form of interaction will be greatly diminished until there is a vaccine that may not be available until the Summer of 2021. Even then, enough time may have elapsed, that investors don’t feel a need to revert back to old ways of doing business. They may get comfortable with safe virtual interactions.
A keyword to be aware of in the future is interaction versus communication. How will investors interact with advisors they are interviewing? How will investors interact with advisors after they hire them? Interactions go beyond the simple task of communicating.
We believe telephone and computer will be the preferred method of interaction for the foreseeable future. At least until it is proven safe to interact with advisors face-to-face.
Lead Generation – A Case Study
One of an advisor’s challenges is interacting with leads that are produced by third parties (lead generation companies).
The source of the lead may be different, but the process is similar.
Since the beginning, when third parties started producing leads for financial advisors 20 years ago, there has always been an issue with leads who were not responsive to advisors. No one has ever explained why an investor would submit their contact information and then not respond when they are contacted by advisors. Was it misrepresentation by advisors during the follow-up process or could it be something else?
Most investors protect their contact information because they are concerned about frequent telemarketing calls and spam. But, in this case, they give up their contact information.
A typical numbers game scenario for leads would be to pay for ten leads, interact with five leads, and win one or maybe two – 20% or 40% close ratios. If you paid $100 per lead, then the cost for one new client is $1000 plus the value of your time. You can cut that cost in half if you win two. Your revenue may be several times the cost of the leads.
If you fail to convert any of the leads you talk to into clients, then that failure may be caused by the process you use to follow-up with investors.
What about the five leads you did not talk to? Or, the four leads you did not win?
Types of Leads
One answer that may explain why some investors are not responsive is why they submitted their contact information to the lead generation company in the first place. Or, why they submitted their contact on a financial advisor website. The process is relatively the same.
Advisors who buy leads assume investors submitted their contact information because they are actively seeking financial advisors. However, that is contradicted by the investors’ lack of response when advisors contact them. That could be wrong at least for some investors.
At this stage (initial contact) they may be seeking information and not advisors. This may be a partial explanation for why they are not responsive. They are not ready to buy a financial service.
Our surveys show they may be seeking three types of information.
Ideally, they are seeking information about firms. They can obtain this information by visiting financial advisor websites and Google searching names (firms, professionals). They have access to URLs and names when they are introduced to firms or professionals by lead generation companies, directories, or their online searches.
What if they don’t like what they see on the website or they can’t find references to the advisors or firms on the Internet. This could explain their lack of response.
A second form of the first type of information (about firms) is they are seeking general information about financial advisors. This also makes sense if they are replacing an advisor or selecting an advisor for the first time. They are going to be cautious because they do not want to make a serious mistake.
It pays to have an eBook on advisor websites that helps investors select higher quality advisors.
A third type of information is financial and not related to financial advisors. This is where advisor blog sites can be a factor or an online eBook. They are a constant source of new information that is added to the blog each month.
Whereas websites contain static information about the firm and professionals, new information is added to the blog each month.
Timing can also impact the responsiveness of investors. For example, investors want to see who is available in their areas, but they are not ready to talk to advisors until they are closer to some future date – for example, they are going to retire in six months and want to talk to advisors in four months.
These investors should be added to advisor CRM systems. They are sent a bi-weekly or monthly communication that keeps the advisor’s name in front of them until they are ready to talk.
Wall Street has a powerful sales culture that is based on aggressive outbound sales tactics. Outbound means advisors initiate contact with investors even when they do not want to be contacted. These tactics are still used today, but their effectiveness has been negatively impacted by Caller ID and spam filters.
Most of the leads, that are generated by third parties, were produced using inbound marketing tactics. That is, investors initiate contact with financial advisors. Very few lead generation companies use outbound tactics. Most of the leads are investors who are responding to advertisements.
We are back to why would investors initiate contact and not be responsive.
One partial answer is their concern about hard-sell sales tactics. But, why would they provide contact information if this was a major concern?
New Sales Tactics
These tactics assume you are in telephone contact with the leads. If you are not in telephone contact, then you would use these tactics in your drip emails.
These steps are based on your use of virtual marketing.
The first step is to determine what they are seeking – an advisor or information?
If the answer is information, then the next step is what type of information? About the firm, about advisors, or about a financial topic. You should be prepared to address all three types of needs.
The second step addresses the timing issue. When will they need the services that are provided by financial advisors? It could be a week, a month, or a year. You won’t know until you ask the question.
The more you can be a valuable resource when investors are seeking information the higher the probability, they will contact you when they are ready to interview financial advisors. You may even find you have a competitive advantage based on a past relationship with this particular type of prospect.
We would like to re-emphasize how important what they see on the Internet can be. There is a definite trust factor. You control the information in a sales brochure. You may not control all of the information that they find on the Internet. Therefore, investors tend to have more trust in the information they find on the Internet.