Financial Planning Nasdaq

By John Capuano, Co-Founder, Lone Beacon Media

The first thing I learned in the world of business is that everybody is in sales.  When we started our company, I was surprised to learn that the advisories we were working with didn’t have organized sales strategies. Many have never been exposed to modern sales infrastructures and therefore never had best practices in place. There are two general types of categories that we’ve seen. One is a firm run by the world’s greatest salesperson and another is a firm run by the world’s greatest financial planner. They are both equally important and effective, but the problem is they aren’t integrated with one another.

Since there are no “sales departments” or “VPs of Sales”, the sales responsibilities and strategies usually fall on the shoulders of people at the highest level within the organization. As a result, time management and prioritization become a major factor.  Rather than try to tackle all things at once, below are three things that we’ve identified as  “low hanging fruit” that could easily be picked.

1) Create a “sales department” within your organization.  The reality is that everyone in the organization has to embrace the sales culture.  New sales help sustain and grow your business while allowing you to offer better value to the marketplace.   Even if an independent advisory does not have the capacity to employ a dedicated sales department, they can still implement the infrastructure.

Have separate, mandatory sales strategy meetings.  This allows firms to squarely focus on an agenda that includes actionable items that will support sustainable sales strategies.  Every business is fueled by new revenue and the ones that take better control of their sales organization have an upper hand.  Even small firms can benefit from an hour per week focused on revenue generation.

Know your competition’s playbook.  Since most firms compete with a small group of competitors it’s important to frequently practice communicating the positive attributes that make your firm the better choice.  This doesn’t mean you have to acknowledge a specific competitor within your sales process, but it’s helpful to position your firm with them in mind.  Your brand message should take this into account.

Use a CRM system for more than just eBlast’s.  The list of prospects and current clients is the lifeblood of every firm.  An efficient system to identify, organize, and address opportunities is efficient and smart. Today there are more systems than ever to help organize and rank your prospects and clients.

A moderate investment in a CRM system like Salesforce or Wealthbox will help you know how to best invest your most valuable asset: time.  These systems will take a little time upfront to learn, and a daily discipline to update…but it’s worth it.  The people who are already engaged with your firm as prospects and clients should be the simplest and most efficient to maximize.

2) Maintain contact with ‘older’ leads.  Many of the advisors we talk to stop aggressively pursuing leads after a few calls.  The reality is that consumer’s buying habits take time and multiple, strategic calls.  Just because a prospect from a seminar hasn’t returned a call or email for a few months doesn’t mean that they’re still not in the buying cycle.  It certainly doesn’t stop your competitors from calling them.

Don’t discard them so quickly.  According to a TeleNet survey, it takes eight phone calls to get through to a prospect, and according to a Sirius Decisions survey, the average person stops trying after the second call.  This means that your personal sales metrics may not be in line with reality.

So before you discard the “old leads” and invest more money on the next greatest thing, consider implementing a strategy to pursue the prospects that are already in your funnel. It’s the most efficient use of your time and money.

3) What is your share of your wallet?  There was a Pershing study recently that showed the average Wallet Share per client for RIA’s is about 60%.  After the initial close, it becomes much more difficult to recapture the client’s missed assets.  Not only is the pursuit of additional assets time-consuming for the advisor, it’s also a lower priority for the client and is in danger of being deemed “nonessential”.

Since organic growth can come from either new or existing clients, it seems that investing in a strategy to grow wallet share among existing clients should be a priority. This could be one of the most efficient ways to grow your revenue.

Create a plan that begins with WHY people should move all (or at least more) of their assets under one roof.  Whether it’s to organize and consolidate orphan accounts, save money on fees, tax benefits or just for convenience…the specific benefits need to be clearly articulated.  Only after the benefits are clearly defined can a strategy be put into place.

  • Identify the opportunity–What is the amount of assets that are available?  This will help make the goals more tangible.
  • Name someone to be responsible for administering the plan.
  • Establish a realistic cumulative goal.
  • Break the goal down by month-Set a minimum number of weekly appointments to discuss the advantages of consolidating portfolios
  • Create a simple but specific communication /marketing strategy
  • Track your progress (both meetings and closed business)

Not only will this help increase revenue considerably within the first year, it will also help develop the sales “muscle memory” to initially pursue a larger share of wallet moving forward.

Last but not least, and like anything else it takes discipline to execute a plan.  Even if you take on one new initiative per quarter for one of the items above: set goals, put someone in charge, measure your progress, manage your progress, and celebrate your successes.