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Quick Recap of My Last Post

Building Your Practice Network — Part 1 of 2, was prompted by a question from a young man who was transitioning from a career as a graphic designer to becoming a financial advisor.

While his financial education was being addressed by his company and CFP studies, he didn’t feel he was learning how to build his practice.  Specifically, he was seeking guidance about the best ways to find and grow his clientele.

In the prior post, we set the stage for this post.  My biographic ramblings notwithstanding, several points were made by me to this new planner:

Passion
It’s imperative that, whatever you do, you do something you love.

Leveraging Your Network To Find Clients
There are several options to connect with prospective clients.  I highly recommend finding prospects through introductions from people who know, like and trust you to people they know who look like the people who can best understand, value, desire and afford what you can do for them.

4 Keys of The Preferral Prospecting® System

Actively seeking introductions to prospective clients is far better than waiting passively for referrals to magically ‘show up’.  Asking people who know, like and trust us for help connecting with people who could use our services isn’t easy for most of us.  But, it’s also not impossible.

A system for generating introductions to people is the ‘secret’ to generating opportunities with new clients on a consistent basis.  There are four (4) key elements to such a system:

PROFILE
. . . of someone who looks like the kind of person you know or believe can become a client.  The reason for such a profile is to share with other people when you ask them, “Who do you know who . . .”

SOURCE
. . . this is someone who knows, likes and trusts you so well that, if you ask properly, they’d be willing to introduce you to people in their network of connection who fit your profile

METHOD
. . . this refers to 2 things.  First, what you must say and do to help your Sources identify people they know who fit the profile of your Ideal Client.  Second, what you must say and do to approach those people and decide if they’re viable for you.  Or, not.

PLAN
. . . If your method suggests a number of actions you must take to ‘make things happen’, your plan helps you orchestrate and coordinate them.  Some call this the ‘How Much’ and ‘What Kind’ of activities must you engage in, daily and weekly, to generate the number of prospects that will be come the clients who support your annual revenue goals.

Getting Introduced To Others

There are seven (7) ‘mission critical’ activities that will help you generate introductions to people who look like the kind of people you’d be happy to have as your clients.

I’m assuming you’ve done the work necessary to implement your introduction system.  Namely, you have a clear PROFILE of your ideal client, you know people — SOURCES — you can approach to generate introductions to their contacts who look like your PROFILE.  Your METHOD — the things you’ll say and do — has been developed and readied to use.   So now, the PLAN of what to do when is all that remains to be done.

Six (6) Key Activities

1.  Approach your Source/s for a Meeting 
You want to begin with people you know well and, vice versa.  You can just pick up the phone and ask to meet.  Tell them you’re actively building your clientele and would like their input on how to do this most effectively.  Most people who know, like and trust you will agree to help and meet with you.  You’ll also quickly discover who your real friends are here!

2. Meet with your Source/s 
I highly recommend you have a face-to-face meeting with someone if possible.  But, if you know someone really, really well or they’re not able to meet with you in-person . . . then a phonetical can work just fine, too.

3.  Generate Introductions 
10 Step Preferral Guidethis is where your METHOD comes into play. You want to explain that you have a challenge (to grow your clientele) and you’d like their help –– if they’re able to help you (by introducing you to people they know who fit your Profile).  This is all covered in detail in this Discussion Guide:

4.  Approach Your Introductions
the best way to do this is by snail-mailing a notecard or note on blank paper to each introduction you generate. You simply want to prepare the person for a phone call that you’ll make shortly after they receive your note.  Do NOT assume or suggest the person has any need or desire for your products or services. Leverage the relationship you have in-common with the Source with a simple “P.S” like “Prior to my calling, please contact Bill Doerr concerning who I am and what I do.  Bill’s number is (860) 798-6964”.  Here’s an example of what this might be:

5.  Follow-up with Your Introductions . . . about 3 days after you mail them your note of introduction.  You’ll want to call these people, introduce yourself, reference the person you know in common (your Source) and see what happens.  Generally, there are only three possible outcomes.Vintage Traffic Signal

“It’ Over!” . . . First, they may not only have ‘no need’ to know more about you / your services but they may already have a great relationship with another planner and have no desire to look at you any further.  Congratulate them on their relationship, thank them for their time and hang up.  (In time, you can pursue these kinds of people, but for now, keep it simple.)

“Receptive, BUT not now” . . . Second, you may find someone doesn’t have a ‘financial girlfriend’ and also isn’t opposed to knowing you.  But they also have no compelling reason to get to know you any better.  Today.  Again, you weren’t calling to sell them, today.  You wanted to find out if they’re the kind of person who might need to know someone in your field . . . probably in the future, right?  So ask them to invite you to keep-in-touch over time so that when (not if) a need arises that you can help address . . . you’ll come to mind like candy from a PEZ dispenser — i.e. first and favorably.  You’ll need a system to do this — a ‘cultivation’ system.  But it’s not hard to set that up and use it to keep-in-touch and top-of-mind with these people who are likely to become someone’s client . . . and you want them to be yours!

“Come on down” . . . Third, you may find yourself talking with someone who, upon learning that you’re a financial advisor, reveals that they’ve been thinking about their financial affairs and were wondering how to address them.  These people may give you an appointment!  It happens.  But not it’s not common on a first call.

6.  Follow-up with Your Source/s
If there’s one thing you can do that will make it so easy to generate additional introductions in the future from the person who just helped you to meet someone they know fitting your profile it’s this . . . give your Source a simple update on how their introduction turned out for you.

It’s such a simple courtesy!  This one simple action will mark you as someone who has both class and manners.  I suggest using a form to be able to make these ‘reports’ to your Sources — e.g.

Preferral Follow-up Report Form

Using a ‘Follow-Up Report’ form will allow you to do two things:

1.  Record . . . what happened with each introduction your Source made for you, and

2.  Report . . . back to your Source very easily on what happened with their introductions

The Key To Ongoing Success:  Cultivate 240 People!
If you follow this process and grow your contacts being cultivated to about 240 people who agree to be cultivated, you’ll have a steady stream of predictable revenue-generating opportunities . . . each and every month!!

Let’s assume you call each of your well-qualified contacts every 3 months.  If so, you’ll be calling about 1/3 of your total contacts EACH month.

Monthly Calling Chart

If you’re cultivating 240 people, it means you’ll have roughly 80 people you’re to re-call to ’touch base’ with each month.

You won’t connect with 50% of these people (40 people) due to timing issues — yours or theirs.  It’s OK.  They’ll come back again for another call in 90 days.  That leaves you with 40 people who will be reachable.

50% of the remaining people (20 people) will thank you for your thoughtful diligence and follow-up call but have no need, at this time, to talk with you further.  OK, they stay in your system and will also come back again in 90 days or so.

The remaining 20 people will either agree to talk with you about their financial matters and/or agree to introduce you to people in their networks who fit your Ideal Client Profile.  Remember, these are people who ‘qualified’ to be cultivated in the first place and are growing closer and closer to their ‘need’ and purchase.  So stay with them and see what develops!

Assuming you actually end up meeting with 20 people . . . how many will give you introductions . . . possibly half?  How many meetings will generate updated ‘facts’  and turn into ‘open cases’ for you?  How many open cases will result in a ‘decision meeting’ where you can present a recommendation for someone to buy something from you?  What’s your average client transaction worth to you?  How many of these do you require to ‘make your numbers’ . . . for the month . . . for the year?  See where I’m going with this?

My friend, and I say this not knowing you personally but in a collegial way, you are in a wonderful position to do a great deal of good for others and enjoy a great life and lifestyle for yourself as a financial advisor.

If I can be of any further assistance to you, contact me.  I’m delighted to be able to transfer what I’ve learned worked for me on to a new generation of advisors.  To download my report on this topic, just visit: bit.ly/1wOx6j6  Enjoy and prosper!

POINT:
Building a Practice Is Best Done By Design, Not Accident

Like this post?  Get our bi-weekly, one page INSIGHTS Client Letter!  It’s free. 
Learn more by clicking here
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Learn more about our Preferral Prospecting® System ––  Download your free report here.

I was approached by a young man who recently switched to financial planning after a career in graphic design.  He said, “I’m learning the technical side of financial planning through my company and CFP studies. But I’m not finding a lot of detail on how to build a productive professional network.  Do you have any suggestions on how to do that, as well?”

Having been a ‘convert’ to financial planning myself I shared some thoughts on the topic . . .

Quick background.  I was a Psychology major in school and one of my student jobs was taking care of / walking timber wolves (magnificent animals, by the way).  I wasn’t in graphic design, but I can relate to making a fairly radical change and not having a ‘MAP’ to make the journey. ‘-}

I was recruited into the financial services field by a General Agent who’s classic line was, “Well, you’ve been shoveling their (the wolves’) _ _ _ _, why not try shoveling ours and see which one you like better”.  That lead me to be in ‘the biz’ for 17 years in various capacities in the US and around the world.  But I began as an agent / representative who had to find clients or starve. So I can relate to your situation.

Passion . . . You’d Better L-O-V-E What You Do!

Two bound heartsWhy you’ve decided graphic design is not going to float your boat and financial services will, is only relevant to you.  But I do hope your decision fuels your passion.  Why?  Because if you’re not turned on by whatever you do in life, it’s going to be difficult to get up each morning and ‘go to work’.

Find Your Ideal Market

missile on targetLike you, I had to find a way to get clients.  I quickly learned that my ‘natural’ market of college students wasn’t filled with ideal prospects.  Why?  My competition was the myriad alternative ways my peers could spend their time and money.  Good times, high times, etc. were far more compelling to most of my peers than investing or saving those dollars for a delayed gratification in the future.

I decided to seek out people who had some compelling motivations to insure their future and invest their money in other ways than my college chums.  My prospect of choice looked like this: “Under 30 years of age, employed full-time, career-oriented, married, with 1 or more kids (or, planning to have them), owning a home and paying off a mortgage”.  That completely changed my life in the business.  Why?  I had a profile I could use to ask, “Do you know anyone who . . .” with practically everyone I knew or met.

In the beginning I was pretty much of a rank amateur.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  I also didn’t know what wasn’t supposed to work.  So I made things happen that my more senior colleagues would tell me would never work.  Sometime, ignorance is bliss.

Back to your question.  I like that you’re coming into financial planning from a non-financial background.  As a psych major I ended up learning the business by getting my CLU and ChFC within a few years of my decision to go into the financial services field.  You’ve already figured out that the ‘technical’ aspects of the business are not too difficult to learn.  Yes, you must study, but you can learn what you need to not harm your clients’ interests if you’re willing to pay the price.

HOW . . . Do I Build a Productive Network and Profitable Practice?

The ‘real’ question you want answered is “How do I start networking in this (new) field?”.  

Permit me to share some wisdom that, had I learned it earlier, would have created more success more quickly and easily than it did under the ‘trial and error’ approach I labored under.

By ‘networking’ I presume you mean ‘prospecting’.  Specifically, prospecting TO meet people you don’t know (yet) THROUGH people who already know, like and trust . . . Y-O-U.

If you’re reasonably connected with people who want to be financially stable, happy, independent, etc. then you can apply what I’m about to share with you to grow your clientele and, in so doing, enjoy both significant financial success for yourself while you create substantial value, financially and otherwise, for far more people than you’ll ever know directly.

I hope you do just that.  It’s hokey to say it, but when you can see the magnificence of the daily activities of your work, you turn mundane activities into magical ones and your life will be illuminated with a majesty that few people ever know from the work they perform while they’re on the planet.

So, here’s my advice to help you build a highly successful, effective and profitable network and practice for yourself.

Four Keys To Successful Networking

Let me suggest four (4) elements to create a ‘lean, mean, client-development machine’ . . .

PROFILE:

You must define the kind of person you want as your client. This is key — don’t offer, ask, invite or expect anyone to know if someone needs or even wants what you offer.  Why?  Because most of us don’t know people who need a financial planner.untitled

Most of our friends appear to be doing pretty well.  They live in nice homes, drive expensive automobiles, take great vacations, etc.  So stick to what I call ‘CVS’ characteristics to build your Ideal Prospect Profile.

  • C = common to people you want as clients,
  • V = visible to the naked eye and
  • S = suggests a high correlation with the kind of person who can best understand, value, desire and afford the products and services you’ll offer.

My first profile helped me quickly determine if someone I was talking with knew anyone who was “under 30, employed, married, had a home, a mortgage and 1 or more kids”.

It was my job — not my nominator’s — to determine if someone had a ‘need’ or ‘want’ for the beneficial difference my problem-solving expertise, products or services could provide.  Burden someone to know if someone they know has a ‘need’ for what a financial planner can do is likely to produce a ‘deer-in-the-headlights’ look and . . . no names!!  (Arghhh!)

SOURCE:

2 guys talking verticalYou must seek out people who know — and can introduce you — to people who fit your PROFILE.  I quickly learned my college buddies didn’t know too many people who looked like the kind of person I wanted to meet and, I hoped, make my clients.  So I started to ask other people if they knew anyone who fit my profile.  Some did.  Some didn’t.  But here’s what I learned!  Just as I had formed a profile of my ‘ideal prospect’, I was also forming a profile of my ‘ideal SOURCE’.

As soon as I’d find someone who seemed to know people in their network who looked like someone I wanted to meet, I’d note what my source looked like and I built a profile of my ideal source — of people I could approach who’d likely know people who fit my ideal client profile.

Ironically, these two profiles were actually very similar.  DUH!  Water seeks it’s own level.  People of a certain nature do, too.  So if you want to find people who are gainfully employed, own a home, are married, have kids, take exotic vacations, etc. then it helps to ask people who look just like that, too.

METHOD:

Knowing WHO you want as a client and WHERE you want to go to ask for help to meet them is worthless . . . unless you have a way to make your Sources produce the names of people who fit your prospect Profile. This is not easy to reduce to a few pithy lines — but I’ll give you a Special Report I wrote on the topic if you ask.  just visit: bit.ly/1wOx6j6SR YINA 2

That said, the ‘secret’ that caused me to enjoy week after week after week of sales early in my career in the field was to ask my sources — once I verified they knew people who had any of the CVS characteristics in my prospect profile — for an INTRODUCTION — to the people they knew who fit my profile.

I learned that asking for an introduction is far less problematic than asking for a referral to someone.  I explain why in my Special Report.  But trust me.  If you want to meet with qualified individuals who can become your client, seek introductions.  If you want to become extremely frustrated with yourself, your contacts and your results . . . seek referrals.

Once your source is willing to introduce you to someone they know, you need a system to do this.  And a key part of your system must include a commitment to report back to your source on how their introduction/s turned out for you.  Why?

First, it proves to your source that you didn’t destroy their relationship with the person they helped you to meet.  Letting your source know that ‘nothing went badly’ when you followed-up with their introductions is so important to your success.  It’s also good manners and up-bringing.

Second, it makes going back to that Source a whole lot easier in the future.  Trust me, you WILL go back – repeatedly – to any Source who can introduce you to people who can best understand, value, desire and afford to work with you. So why make it more difficult to do that?

PLAN:

iStock_000003581765XSmallThe last element in your lean, mean, client-development machine is your plan of WHAT you’ll do and WHEN . . . to generate new opportunities you can convert into clients.

At a minimum, you’ll want to break your activities down into monthly, weekly and daily behavior goals.

To keep this simple, focus on doing the following kinds of activities:

1) approach sources for a meeting,
2) meet with sources,
3) generate introductions,
4) approach introductions,
5) follow-up with Introductions,
6) report back to your sources

In my next post, I’ll explain what EACH of these six (6) key activities imply and how to make them productive parts of a process that helps you ‘Get New Clients’.

POINT:
Building a Practice Means Building and Leveraging Your Network

Like this post?  Get our bi-weekly, one page INSIGHTS Client Letter!  It’s free. 
Learn more by clicking here
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Learn more about our Preferral Prospecting® System ––  Download your free report here.


I Have $2,500 worth of Value . . . Waiting For You to Download
No.  I’m not kidding.  If you’re seeking a wonderful resource that will truly help you market your business, products and services BETTER in 2012 than you are now . . . I have been authorized to give you a complimentary gift worth $2,500.  Click the link above to get it!

  All you must do is DOWNLOAD IT . . . before November 29, 2011  

The ‘gift’ is a download of some 33 audio MP3’s and a workbook PDF that other business people paid $2,500 to enjoy.  And now, it’s yours.  FREE of charge. No strings attached.

WHY . . . you’re being granted access to this gift
The brilliant brain behind this offer is Sean D’Souza.  Sean lives in New Zealand.  He moved there from Mumbai, India.  He heard doing so would allow him to live closer to Antarctica.  Go figure.  He’s had a stellar career in advertising and is passionate about helping business owners market their products and services more effectively.  I am a client and a ‘Raving Fan’.

This is ‘Green’ Marketing . . . Recycling At Its Best
When Sean has a program like The Brain Achemy Masterclass sell sufficient ‘seats’ that he’s recovered his development costs many times over, he will use it to introduce himself and his approach to marketing to new prospects through . . . ta da . . . old clients.  Most of whom are his ‘Raving Fans’.  Like me.

What Sean is Doing Is Brilliant
Sean does not give his Brain Alchemy Masterclass away . . . without charge or strings attached.  Sean’s clients do that.  For Sean.

It’s Not About The Gift . . . It’s About The Gift-er!!
If Sean offered you a ‘Free Copy’ of his program or I offered you a copy, the net effect, financially speaking, is the same.

The difference in having a client like me give you this same ‘gift’ is because I’m adding my tacit endorsement of Sean.  If I have ANY influence, prestige, potency, regard, etc. with you . . . then I am infusing that credibility into the offer I’m making to you  . . . in a way that Sean, by himself, could never do.

Social Networks Offer Marketing Opportunities . . . IF . . . You Use Them Effectively
Each person in your world (or, network) has a network of their own.  Some of their network contacts may be very qualified prospects for the problem-solving expertise and services you offer.  So here’s my question, “Can you benefit from what Sean is doing?”  Specifically, “Can you DO what Sean is doing here?”

Here’s the formula:

Create / Select an ITEM OF VALUE — preferably a high quality MP3 of PDF that reveals your problem-solving expertise

Craft an OFFER — that your ‘fans’ — prospects, clients and COI’s can share with their network contacts

Promote it to your NETWORK OF INFLUENCE — give them the ‘glory’ of gifting it because you’ll get their traffic soon enough

It’s a wonderful way for everyone involved to win . . . you’ll win with new people being favorably introduced to you by people whom they already know, like and trust.  Your ‘fans’ win by demonstrating the value of being part of their network of influence.  Finally, their network contacts win by finding out about a superb resource in your field — you.

KEY POINT:
Your Network is an asset . . . give the people who know, like and trust you a way to introduce you to their contacts . . . and enjoy the ride! 

Marketing is both an art and a science.  Let’s stay with that for moment, OK?

Science is very orderly.  And so, I would hope, is your marketing.

“Live By The Calendar”
That’s what John Jantsch, Duct Tape Marketing’s founder wants you to do. It’s true.  Just as a magazine needs structure in the form of an editorial or publishing calendar to produce content on a regular schedule, your business will benefit from using a calendar, too.

As a committed marketer, you’ll find you can quickly (too quickly and easily?) acquire so many ‘good things’ to get done that you feel overwhelmed.  Once that happens, you can easily decide that all this marketing ‘stuff’ just isn’t worth it and you’ll stop.  DON’T!!!

The Most Important Calendar You Have:  Keeping-In-Touch
As you attract prospective clients, not all (not even most!) will be ready to do business at their first contact with you.  So you’ll want to cultivate a relationship with them.  Or, as some say, ‘nurture a lead’.  Regardless, that takes repeated contacts over a fairly long time.  If you’re not prepared to do that, you probably won’t.  And there goes all the goodwill you wanted to leverage for yourself!   But a good CRM software or service can make sure you do what you plan and reap the benefits when you do.

KEY POINT:
Marketing requires a lot of coordination of many details and actions . . . get a system to put order into your marketing and you’ll see the benefits of that very, very soon!

The easiest way to generate more revenues is to do more work with your existing clients. Think about it.

The fact that someone has done business with you in the past is ‘proof positive’ they know know, like and trust you enough to do business with you.  That’s a ‘proven commodity’.

With the ‘Know, Like, Trust’ factors addressed, you’re ideally positioned to now:

  • re-sell a client on something they’ve needed from you in the past
  • up-sell them on a ‘better way’ to do something they’ve already done with you
  • cross-sell them a service their past services suggest they might benefit from using now

Sure, it’s easy.  It’s ‘low-hanging fruit’.  Yes, it’s a ‘No Brainer’.
So let me ask you a question, “why . . . are you not doing it more often?”

KEY POINT:
Existing clients are an asset. Wise practitioners treat them accordingly.