The financial industry is very much in-tune with the correlations that exist between the stock market and the world around us. We all know about the major events such as war and civil disorder, terrorism, natural disasters and health crises that impact our economies and investments alike. Sometimes, expert analysts and the financial media will even point fingers at the weather given its interruption of production, supply chains and overall business processes. So, why is it that the industry has such a hard time making a correlation between global events and customer behaviors (i.e., The Customer Journey)? One theory is because advisors are so focused on what they need to do to help protect and grow their client’s hard-earned savings, that they forget (or simply don’t have time) to focus on their sales systems and marketing strategies.
A recent study of over 2.5 million recorded sales conversations, referenced in the Harvard Business Review article “Stop Losing Sales to Customer Indecision” states that 40% to 60% of deals today are lost because customers fail to act even though they’ve expressed high intent to purchase. Often, when consumer spending slows down, so does economic growth. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell nearly 1% in Q2, the second straight quarter decline after Q1’s 1.6% decrease. Many factors are at play here, some of which financial advisors are talking about today, but when it comes to growth goals and strategies, these are the two most important areas for the financial world to understand its impacts on the customer journey and bottom-line revenue.
1. The Available Audience is Shrinking
2021 Census data indicates that the United States is seeing its lowest level of population growth in more than 120 years. When you combine that with advisories focusing their marketing efforts on the high (and ultra) high net worth consumer, the audience becomes even smaller. Luckily, and for many as a result of COVID-19, firms have shifted to a virtual office option allowing them to expand their digital footprint and reach more target consumers. But, will that be enough?
Millions of baby boomers were forced into early retirements due to the coronavirus, and the Great Resignation continues to impact the labor force. The biggest commonality that exists among all reasons is that people are focusing more on their personal lives. Whether that means taking a sabbatical, starting their own business, concentrating on physical and mental wellbeing, or simply focusing on the “life” in their work–life balance, the customer journey is now (more than ever) focused on … the customer. Also, don’t forget, the sales cycle is and will continue to be centered around their personal time and interests. So, here are two quick things you can do about it:
- Re-Define Your Target Market
- Think beyond traditional demographics. Consider a niche topic and/or audience, such as the underserved women and investing community, a specific job/industry, people who have an affinity for wine, or a company you can burrow into.
- Re-Assess Your Unique Selling Proposition and Re-Position Your Messaging
- Why you versus every other option out there? It might be the hardest question to answer as a business (brand) owner. But, if you’re able to focus on the outcome you deliver to customers and not necessarily the process on how to get there, then you’ll have a more concise, easy-to-understand way for your target market to decide whether or not they want to do business with you.
We know that customers are hesitant to make large purchasing decisions, so the more you can relate to them, the more you can talk to them (not at them), the better chance you’ll have at getting your value across and ultimately convert more sales opportunities.
2. Data Has Never Been More Important
Imagine running a retail business like a grocery or sporting goods store and never looking at your data. You, as a customer, might think its madness, but there’s actually a method and a reason behind why the departments/aisles are always changing and why certain items go on sale at seemingly random times.
If you can come to terms with the fact that sales processes and the customer journeys are taking longer, then you’ll be able to start figuring out why, and take action by asking yourself these questions…
- How do I make it easier for them?
- How might it impact me and my staff’s roles and responsibilities?
- How do I create an educational, nurturing marketing environment for my prospective customers that still contains a direct sales focus?
Using our DALA (Data, Analyze, Learn, Action) platform and process, Loan Beacon found that out of all new clients closed so far this year for a firm, nearly two-thirds of them engaged with email content and/or submitted a form prior to their respective first appointment date. And, prior to their first appointment date, 17.5% of prospects were deemed to be highly engaged.
Additionally, in between their first appointment and closing date, nearly 95% of them engaged with emails, and almost 20% of them were deemed to be highly engaged within our system.
After conducting our deep dive, we’re now looking at the average of 103 days in-between closed clients’ first email received and their first appointment date to see how we can condense that time frame down and accelerate the customer journey. This is because we know that during the prospect phase of their customer journey, users are most engaged with the firm/brand approximately 20 days prior to their first appointment, and we want to get them to that point faster. Now, this is just the beginning, but it truly showcases the importance of actually taking action on what you learn from your customers.
What are you doing today to start finding and collecting this type of data on your customer’s journeys?
The major events in our local markets and around the world don’t just impact investments and stock prices, they impact the customer journey and ultimately the consumer buying process.
Mike Schaffman is Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Lone Beacon.