When we started our company, Lone Beacon Media, as a marketing firm serving the independent financial industry, we were surprised to learn that many advisory firms don’t have organized sales strategies, never mind an actual sales departments or vice president of sales.
In these companies, the sales responsibilities and strategies usually fall on the shoulders of people at the highest level of the organization. As a result, time management and prioritization become major factors.
Rather than try to tackle all things at once, firms need to organize their efforts most effectively. Here are three things that we’ve identified as low hanging fruit:
- Create a “sales department” within your organization.
This department is figurative, not literal. The reality is that everyone in the organization has to embrace the sales culture. New sales are essential to sustain and grow your business. Even if an independent advisory firm does not have the capacity to employ a dedicated sales department, it can still implement the infrastructure.
Here are some of the things this department does:
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 other firms, it’s important to communicate frequently 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 that rival in mind. Your brand message should take this into account.
Use a CRM system for more than just email blasts. A firm’s list of prospects and current clients is its lifeblood. An efficient system to identify, organize and address opportunities is essential. 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. People who are already engaged with your firm as prospects and clients should be the simplest and most efficient to maximize.
- Maintain contact with “older” leads.
Many advisors we talk to stop aggressively pursuing leads after a few calls. But the reality is that penetrating a consumer’s buying habits takes time and multiple calls. Just because a prospect from a seminar hasn’t returned a call or email for a few months doesn’t mean that he or she is not still in the buying cycle. It certainly doesn’t stop your competitors from calling them.
Don’t discard prospects quickly. According to a TeleNet survey, it takes eight phone calls to get through to a prospect, and according to a survey by Sirius Decisions 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 old leads and invest money in finding new ones, 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.
- Increase your share of clients’ wallets.
A recent Pershing study showed the average wallet share per client for RIAs was about 60%. After the initial enrollment, it becomes much more difficult to recapture a 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.
Create a plan that begins with why people should move all (or at least more) of their assets under one roof. It might be to organize and consolidate orphan accounts, save money on fees, realize tax benefits or just increase convenience. But the specific benefits need to be clearly articulated. Only after the benefits are clearly defined can a strategy be put into place.
Within the firm, the strategy should include these elements:
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 or marketing plan.
Track your progress (both in terms of meetings and closed business).
This focus on wallet share will not only help to increase revenue considerably within the first year, but it will also help develop the sales “muscle memory” to initially pursue a larger share of wallet when dealing with new prospects.
For firms determined to improve their focus on sales, it is helpful to remember that it takes discipline to execute a plan. Even if you take on one new initiative per quarter from the items above, set goals, put someone in charge, measure your progress, manage your progress and celebrate your successes.
Michael Schaffman is account manager at Lone Beacon Media, a sales and marketing company for financial advisors. John Capuano is Lone Beacon's co-founder.
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