CHIGAGO – Female advisors have advantages when it comes to business development, but do they know it?
Jen Dawson an advisor at Balasa Dinverno Foltz, an RIA in Greater Chicago, told the audience at the Women Advisors Forum that women can benefit from their emotional intelligence that often is lacking in their male counterparts.
Being in tune emotionally with clients allows female advisors to create a practice that is more inviting, said Deborah Knupp, managing director at Akina, a consulting firm.
“The emotionally intelligent business developer says, ‘It’s not just [about] having you like being around me, but creating conditions that you like when you’re around me,’” Knupp said.
Dawson and Knupp identified 10 best practices for female advisors regarding business development.
1) Be clear about who your clients and contacts are.
“Typically high performing business developers are focused on key types of target markets,” Knupp said, adding that advisors should prioritize up to 40 relationships that they determine to be their niche base. “You need about 20 to 40 high propriety relationships to really develop your business development pipeline,” she said.
2) Always have an authentic reason to contact someone.
“When you focus on authentic reasons [to contact someone] from the other person’s point of view, it has a way of creating a pleasant experience every time you call, email or connect,” Knupp said.
“I do feel like women have a particular advantage,” Dawson added. She explained and said, “It’s about thoughtfulness combined with persistence.”
3) Have your message ready.
Knupp said female planners should always be ready to answer, “What’s new?” It's an opportunity for advisors to promote a positive “headline” when asked questions about personal and work life, she explained. “Having a positive headline allows them to know what you do but also promote your business."
4) Master the Golden Rule.
“Do onto others as they would be done onto you,” Knupp said. “Discovery and conditioning questions are the ways to get people talking about what they know best and signals that you care about them.” She explained that by asking discovery questions, it shows the person you’re talking to that you care about what they have to say.
5) Make a definitive next step.
“Don’t underestimate doing what you do when you say you’re going to do it,” Dawson advised. “It will set you apart.” Stacking business cards but never actually connecting with those people won’t further your business, she said, relating how one of her first clients would later tell her how important it was for her to follow-up with an email about getting coffee together. “I thought, ‘Well I just did what I said I was going to do,’” Dawson said. “But it really does create trust and anchor the relationship.”
6) Be prepared before every meeting.
Advisors should be clear on their objective before every meeting, remain on message, have discovery questions ready to get people talking and anticipate what follow-up questions will be asked, Knupp said. “There are only four things you truly need to prepare for every developing or marketing action,” she said. “Bad news is, you can’t skip a step.”
7) Work a room without looking like you’re working a room.
Knupp explains that at networking events advisors should only approach people in groups of one and three. “Anytime two people are talking and you try to step in you’re probably interrupting, even if you know both parties,” she said.
In addition, she advises the crowd to stand in long lines. Most people wouldn’t intentionally want to stand in a long line; however, she said that in a long line, the person behind and in front of you will likely start a conversation with you.
8) Never do a single act of marketing.
“Always try to get three benefits for a single act,” Knupp said, explaining that after writing a blog post an advisor can then turn it into a video, a whiteboard or a slideshow. “Find new ways to engage and stretch your efforts,” she said.
Dawson explained that she took her knowledge of social security tips for female clients and turned it into a webinar and then later into a presentation at conferences.
9) Utilize the six “silver bullets.”
Knupp said that there are six qualifiers to help close a deal:
A) Clients will buy when they have a legitimate want or need.
B) Have a good fit solution that works with the client’s personality.
C) Make the sale urgent, but make sure they believe it’s their urgency not the advisor’s.
D) You must have access to why and how they make decisions.
E) Give clients accurate expectations during the sales process.
F) Make sure that the work is worth the reward.
10) Create superfans.
“Ladies you want clients and centers of influence to be your superfans,” said Knupp. “Loyalty is what sells, satisfactory is temporary.”
From the advisor perspective, Dawson said that these superfans can help you more than just with their own loyalty. “Superfans are like having an army of people that you helped who want you to help other people,” she said. “And I think that women have an advantage because I believe that women are the best superfans.”
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