I have found the fastest growing advisors in our industry are similar in three ways:
- They believe fundamentally in the value of what they do, so much so, that they believe it’s their responsibility to educate people about the work that they do and the value of financial planning.
- They have embraced a “relentless prospector” mindset. They know that there is never an “off season” for needing financial guidance. Every conversation is an opportunity to talk about what they help clients solve for (their mission) and what they’re building (their vision).
- Despite their ability to weave their value prop into every conversation, they genuinely want to listen, learn, and make connections with people.
If you are finding yourself in a lull—perhaps your pipeline isn’t as robust as you thought it would be—and you’re wondering how other advisors are growing, know first, that there is no secret sauce. Having the right mindset and being cognizant of your own activity every day, will get you more than half of the way there. Below I provide three tried-and-true best practices for drumming up new business (almost) immediately.
Change Your Activity
Imagine for a moment that you spent the next six months relentlessly prospecting: calling top clients, chatting with COIs each week, reaching out and meeting with professionals who also serve your ideal clients, telling everyone you know about your practice and how you’ve helped people these past few years. It’s not an exaggeration to say that your business would start to feel completely different.
Now look at your calendar and reflect on your activity from the past few months. Is it reflective of someone who is actively and proactively trying to grow their business?
Most advisors will say they don’t business develop because they don’t have time. While I 100% agree capacity remains the growing advisor’s No. 1 issue, it is also true that there is always time to be an ambassador to your own brand. To do this, start by weaving “business development conversations” into your calls and meetings throughout the week with your clients, friends and associates. Here are some examples:
- In between phone calls, send two to three random emails to professionals in your (digital) Rolodex. Let them know you’re simply saying hi and checking in to see how business is going. Let them know what’s new in the practice and remind them your team is open to taking on a few select clients who specifically need help with X.
- While on your drive to or from the office, call a top client, COI or “professional friend.” Ask them how they’re doing. When they inevitably ask you in return, discuss something you are proud of or excited about as it relates to the practice this year. Get their feedback on a new marketing initiative or a client niche you want to focus on this year.
- Scan your emails and calendar from the last year; text, email or call every person you’ve either connected with professionally, or who was introduced to you as a prospect but never converted to a client.
- Attend one breakfast, lunch or coffee a week with any person who might also engage with your ideal clients. Think outside the box: insurance agents, realtors, funeral home directors, restauranteurs, local politicians, all have influence within a specific sphere or prospects. Regardless of whether they can refer business to you, practicing your value prop-talk will be a useful exercise.
These types of activities work for a very specific reason. Because you are mostly having these conversations with people who already know and respect you, chances are the conversations will go well and you’ll feel good about it. (Literally, you’ll get a surge of dopamine in your system from having someone listen and provide positive feedback about the work that you do.) The better you feel after the activity, the more excited your brain will be about repeating this activity.
Give People a Specific Reason to Talk to You
There has never been more a critical time than now to talk to people about how you can help them. We just emerged from a global pandemic, markets are turbulent, the Fed is being mentioned in the news every day, there are massive layoffs happening in multiple industries. If now isn’t a financial advisor's time to shine, then when is?
The most obvious channel you have at your disposal, to talk directly to people who might need your counsel, is social media. Even if you’re not a “social media” person, consider which social channel your ideal clients frequent. Chances are it's Facebook, or perhaps LinkedIn. Regardless of whether or not you post often, start with simple, genuine posts like the following:
- “I have spent the last 20 years working with tech professionals. Its no secret that there is a lot of turbulence in the tech industry right now. If you or someone you know is facing a layoff, concerned about a layoff, or simply wondering what your professional options are right now, feel free to reach out and/or pass this message on.”
- “The most important thing you can do right now if you are a professional in the tech space is focus on the things you can control like getting a handle on your finances and having a “what if” plan for the next few months. If you’d like to talk through this, my direct messages are open and I’m happy to schedule something over Zoom or in person.”
You might also consider direct messaging people who are either connected to you or connected to your connections with a direct line like, ”My firm works with tech professionals. Feel free to keep my contact handy; if I can help you in any way as you navigate the next few months, do not hesitate to let me know.”
The absolute worst-case scenario is that you offered to help someone who you are qualified and able to help.
Start Creating a Community Within Your Client Base
Just because you don’t have thousands of followers on social media, doesn’t mean you don’t have a consistent following. In fact, technically you already have the attention of the perfect audience: your current clients. If you’re struggling to gain traction with your posts on social media, focus instead of creating content that is relevant for a target niche within your client base. Start sharing that content—whether it’s a long-form blog, videos with your thoughts and musings or quick, simple facts about a financial planning topic—on a consistent basis, via email. Don’t worry about being overly fancy or formal, or leveraging the “right” tech platform; just start creating and putting out relevant content.
Let’s assume for a second your target market is female entrepreneurs and female decision-makers. Here are some ways in which you can jump start a content series:
- Send a weekly email with one entrepreneur-oriented financial planning tip.
- Record a quick video or audio clip on your phone, breaking down the news of the week and send it every Friday afternoon or Monday morning.
- Conduct one interview a month with a successful entrepreneur client or COI, highlighting their journey to success. Send the recording out to your clients and position it as an “Entrepreneur of the Month” feature.
Remember that your audience of readers or listeners is a community of like-minded people who just don’t know one another yet. Getting these folks to connect with one another, share ideas and challenges, can be super valuable to them, and powerful for you and your brand. Consider reaching out to a few of your best female entrepreneur clients and ask them if they’d be open to a happy hour with other entrepreneurs. If your clients are not close to one another geographically, consider hosting a Zoom where one woman is featured each month and can talk about her professional journey. (Hint: Entrepreneurs like to tell their story and women, in general, like to feel heard.)
As you look to drum up new business this year, don’t overthink it. Be willing to try new things, not be “perfect,” and shift and adjust as you go. The best business developers are only consistent about two things: being authentic and providing value, in any way possible, to their target clients.
Penny Phillips is the co-founder and president of Journey Strategic Wealth.