Whether your brand has been in business for 10 years, 10 months or 10 days, there are key actions that must be taken to meet and exceed business goals—all of which involve sales. In McKinsey & Company’s 2021 Global Report called “The State of New-Business Building,” more than 50% of CEOs responded to a survey saying that they prioritized “setting realistic expectations internally and with shareholders.”
But before you get caught up with your business’s goals and expectations, you should align your sales process with the buying behaviors of your top clients and prospects in your pipeline. This will allow for more transparent goal setting, tracking and management.
As an advisor, you’re an educator first and foremost. You’re in the personal finances business to solve one of the most difficult and personal problems people have in today’s world; how not to run out of money in retirement. As a business owner, you’re a leader. You’re in business to generate revenue and create an environment that empowers everyone around you to grow, thus growing your business. But the fact is you can’t do it alone.
The missing link to a successful financial advisor sales process is the sales manager. This person’s role is defined and dedicated to achieving sales success for your company—it’s not an addendum to anyone else’s job. We see the same results time and again when the “sales manager” is someone you already have on your team, simply wearing the “sales manager” hat. To break it down simply, this person will be responsible for overseeing lead intake, dissemination and follow-up. Each of these three categories will need a goal and written plan and procedure in place as well as the dedicated time and effort needed to achieve sales success.
So, what goes into each of these sales processes? Here’s what you need to know:
How many leads does your firm receive per week, per month? Where are they coming from? Out of the inbound leads, how many turn into an actual conversation or first appointment? How many meetings does it take to close a new client?
These are some of the many questions your sales manager will need to be addressing. Somebody must be the overseer of all leads flowing in through your business. And that same person should be responsible for ensuring there is a stable, growing pipeline of new business opportunities.
Now that you have the lead in your hands, somebody is going to have to make a phone call. But before that happens, who makes the most sense to pass them off to? Are you inputting and tracking within a CRM system? T he answer to this question lies within your company’s organizational structure.Perhaps you have a new business team set up to establish the relationship and set the appointment. Maybe it goes right to an advisor based on location, portfolio, the type of request made by the prospect or simply an even distribution plan. Whatever it may be, I hope what rings true is that you need a written plan for when, how and whom to push the leads to.
After you’ve defined metrics and KPIs—and after the systems and processes are created—now is the time for that dedicated sales manager to operate the sales machine of your business. They should be conducting weekly or monthly recurring sales meetings, consisting of one-on-ones with those who are handling leads such as advisors looking to add new clients. Here is when you focus on weekly/monthly lead flow, the nature of the initial/secondary/tertiary touchpoints being made and overall status as you work toward the close. This will empower them to take ownership of their part in the process. Along the way, you’ll want to be asking the following questions to make sure your sales efforts are making progress:
- Are advisors finding unique ways to get in front of prospects in their pipeline?
- Are they doing their pre-meeting homework prior to the first visit with a lead?
- Out of a certain amount of first appointments, how many have turned into a second meeting?
- Out of those who have not yet scheduled, what is the reason?
This is the sales manager’s time to address the overall pipeline, rank and prioritize leads to follow-up with, and ensure the assigned person is moving the needle toward revenue-generating opportunities.
Now that we’ve identified the missing link to your successful sales process, it’s time for you to execute. A daunting task, but one that will pay tremendous dividends, not just this year, but for every year to come.
Mike Schaffman is Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Lone Beacon, a full-service marketing company dedicated to serving the financial industry.