A Simple 4-Step Approach to Sales Success For Financial Advisors

If you are a financial advisor who has ever struggled when dealing with wealthy prospective clients, then what you need is a process or formula to follow that will enhance your success. About the only more frustrating than not having enough appointments, is blowing them when given the opportunity. That’s where a formula comes in.

With formulas, all the typical human-error is removed. It’s replicatable. It’s like 2+2. When I do it I get 4. You do it, you get 4. You see, if you know that a formula works – virtually anyone with a pulse can ‘plug-in’ to the formula and get the same results. If you haven’t reduced everything you do in your business to some type of formula…then you’re working too hard and will never get predictable results.

And with the right “formula” your results can become mucho-predictable. You will know exactly how many new clients and new money under management you’ll have in two months; or 6 months; or 6 years for that matter. It’s easy and I’ll show you how and why it works for anybody, anywhere, all the time.

So let’s get to what I call the Million Dollar Sales Formula…

The Million Dollar Sales Formula Step #1:

We’ve all had prospects that no matter how much we know they should work with us, for some reason or another choose not to. Often times financial advisors will beat themselves up chasing the prospect, trying to figure out what went wrong – and almost always think it’s because either: A) The client’s an idiot (which is sometimes true) or B) We said something wrong in our meetings/sales process

I on the other hand would contend that most our our sales failures in financial services is due to something we did far earlier than when we asked for the business (you are asking for the business, right?). Through extensive trial and error, what I’ve found is that we fail to make the appropriate ‘first impression’ before the meeting process has even begun. And that’s why we lose clients that should never be lost.

How do you fix this?

By making sure you send out a packet to all prospects prior to them meeting with you. When done correctly this ‘packet’ can literally close 32.4% of the prospects before they even meet with you. I know, I’ve measured with and without and can substantiate that exact number. Let me share with you the pre-meeting components that must be executed to significantly increase your closing ratio:

An appointment reminder letter with map to your office along with instructions of what your prospect needs to do to be properly prepared for the meeting. Think of this as a welcome letter and short home-work assignment to ensure both their and your time is well spent. The cover letter should be printed on a professionally designed letterhead with a professionally designed logo, and should have your website address on it. Which, by the way, you should absolutely have a website – and it should look good and serve a purpose. To see what I mean feel welcome to visit my firm’s website – there’s a link with my bio.

A Confidential Personal Profile. This is what they put their name, date of birth, children’s first names, and the like on. It should be no more than one page and should also ask for the names of their current broker, advisor (these are different and will make your client decide exactly what their current “advisors” are in their eyes), attorney, accountant and insurance agent. In the same section you should also give the your prospect a satisfaction scale of 1 – 5 to rate their current financial professionals.

A Confidential Financial Profile. Now this is basically what it says it is – a place for them to answer a few thought provoking financial questions, create an income statement and a balance sheet. You should also always ask what they would change about their financial situation if they could change just one thing, as well as what is truly important about money to them. The responses they give to this questionairre will prove vitally important in your meetings (note that I said ‘meetings’, not your one-shot-wonder single appointment slam-dunk appointment).

Your PROFESSIONAL business card. Don’t try to be cute, please don’t put your picture on it, and don’t print your own. Your card should be on par with the finest law firm in your city, town, village, tribe…whatever. If this all sounds like a lot of work – it is!! But well worth it once you close your first BIG client.

The Million Dollar Sales Formula Step #2:

The Initial Meeting and Most Important 45 Minutes of Your Sales Process!

Why 45 minutes? Well, for those of you who haven’t studied direct response marketing…allow me to enlighten you. There’s an adage in copyrighting that says the purpose of your headline (and everything you ever send out should have a headline) is to get people to read your first sentence. The purpose of the first sentence is to get your prospect to read your second sentence and so on.

The same is true of a well executed sales process.

The only objective of a first appointment should be to have a second appointment. You do this by limiting the first appointment to allowing the prospect to ask you any questions they have about you, then asking them questions for about thirty minutes, then wrapping up. If you’ve sent out a packet like the one described earlier then every initial appointment will have your prospects coming into your office with their completed questionairres and all of their financial statement. When you have about 15 minutes left, you simply say the following:

“Now that I know a little about you, here’s what we need to do next: I’ll take the information that you’ve completed, my notes, and copies of your statements and prepare an analysis I call a Personal MAP for Retirement. This will show you in detail the specific areas in your finances that can be improved and by how much. We’ll schedule a meeting time in the next couple of weeks to go over your report so that whatever you decide to do after that you will be able to make informed decisions that will improve your finances, fair enough?”

Did you see what I just did? Did you notice the last two words? These will become the most important two words of your career, guaranteed.

If executed correctly, nobody will be able to resist that second appointment. Now some people will ask how much it costs and tell them it’s free, but you’ll let them know based on what you find how much they would have to pay you should they make the educated decision to engage in your services.

Seriously, this stuff makes me giddy just writing it. You should be too! In just these first two steps I’ve already shown you how to at least double your closing percentage with wealthy financial planning clients.

The Million Dollar Sales Formula Step #3

The Second Appointment – Separating the Men from the Boys!

As a precursor to this meeting, here’s a little tip: Make sure you send a thank you letter to the prospect for the first appointment and have it dual as a reminder of the second meeting. Follow the same rules as to the quality of the paper and the like and include another business card.

At the actual appointment, make sure you thank your prospect again for coming in, let them know it’s nice to see them again – and always ask if they have any questions before you begin to show them your analysis.

The analysis should include the following (nothing more and nothing less please):

* Morningstar reports on their funds/variable annuities

* An asset allocation analysis

* A bullet-point style analysis of their taxes, long term health care needs, estate planning needs, and a quote of what you’d charge to fix their problems

And lets be honest here – everyone will have problems. Especially Million Dollar clients. If you can’t look at their investments and show them how to save money on taxes, eliminate estate taxes, and improve their investments – then you need far more than an education in sales.

This step is really super-easy. The key is this:

“So as you can see Mr. and Mrs. Prospect, I’ve identified approximately $4,000 of immediate benefit to you from this analysis with another $1,700 each year thereafter. So there should be around a $20,000 benefit over the next ten years and my fee for making this happen is $595.00 for a step-by-step detailed plan of action. Fair enough?”

Some people will agree on the spot, other will not. Remember to never, ever, ever, ever, ever push for a close. This all has to happen very naturally. Understand that the reason people work with you is not for what you can do for them but rather or not they trust you and like you. Not many people like pushy sales people. So try your best to be very non-chalant about all of this.

And about the fee – hey, this can be whatever you want but you have to be charging fees. If your not charging fees then these folks will know instantly that the other shoe has got to drop and it’s usually in the form of you selling them something for a commission. If you are fee-only this is never an issue; but if you are fee-based or commission-based you have to be charging a planning or set-up fee for taking a new client, PERIOD.

If they don’t want to schedule their next appointment at that time, just tell them to think about this for the next few days and that you’ll follow-up to see if they have questions.

The Million Dollar Sales Formula Step #4

The Ultimate New Client Acquisition Process!

I’ve said before that I love systems and processes. They work soo well and are soo easily replicable that you must use them if you ever want to get to the big leagues of financial planning. All the Million Dollar Producers do it – so do what they do and you’ll get there too.

So here’s the process I use to take a new client:

Meeting Three – I have clients sign my Advisory Services Agreement (for the fee) and we create an Investment Policy Statement (for those who don’t know what this is – it’s basically an outline of what the clients goals are and what we will be attempting to accomplish for them as their advisor)

Meeting Four – We fill out transfer paperwork and new account forms. I always use brokerage accounts to gather the assets up and consolidate them first. The recommendations and financial plan come next.

Meeting Five – We go over the clients Written Financial Plan and Investment Recommendations

Meeting Six – A three-month review meeting

Meeting Seven – Another three-month review meeting

Meet with all clients every six months thereafter.

Holy Cow! That’s A Lot of Meetings!

That’s right – and they love it. This, my friends and colleagues, is what the wealthy want. They want a system, some attention, a WOW experience. An experience so different and so superior to that of any other advisor in your area.

And let’s get this straight:

This process is easy. It can be learned by anyone. If you have at least one staff person (and please get one as soon as you can afford one if you don’t) all you will have to do is the meetings.

Lastly, know that this system may not work for everyone. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a system. Always identify what you know works and remember to never stop doing those things. If you can patch together 4 – 6 steps that all work well — then you’ve just created your own “formula”; and that’s exactly what financial advisors need to reach super sales heights.

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