How to Generate All of the Leads You Need for Your Financial Services Practice
Each day, many independent financial planning practices wake up with the same dilemma – how do I keep my marketing pipeline full of qualified prospects for my practice? Scores of books and articles have been written on the subject and the old adage still applies. Within this article, we are going to explore traditional and non-traditional forms of marketing to determine the best way to grow a financial services practice with the people you enjoy working with the most. Then, we will end by discussing how to implement the greatest lead generation strategy that I have ever come across – bar none.
To this day, it pains me to see well-intentioned sales managers teach their students traditional marketing tactics to grow ones financial services practice. The tactics I am talking about are easily identifiable – telemarketing, direct mail, and door knocking. In order to have an intelligent conversation, we must discuss the pros and cons of each strategy. So, let’s put these marketing strategies to the test to see what type of people they attract and why in today’s environment. The positive aspects of these strategies are that they do create leads in a relatively short time period. One can have a lead within a few hours of implementing these marketing tactics. However, what is the cost? Many professional services firms do not put a price on how much their time is worth. A good way to determine your hourly rate is to take your trailing 12 months of production and divide it by 2,000 hours. For example, if your trailing 12 months of production was $250,000, then your hourly rate is $125 an hour. Now that we have an idea on what your hourly rate is, we now have to count the cost of buying a marketing list. Typically, a good lead list will run around 50 cents a lead. Therefore, if you buy 1,000 leads, the total cost is $500. If you do direct mail, the costs go higher due to postage bring your cost per lead up to $1.00 per lead. So, let’s say that you engage in a traditional marketing approach to this lead list you have purchased. Question – what type of person are you going to attract to your business using these strategies?
During my 16-year career of providing professional services to my clients, I have conducted numerous interviews to find out how my best customers choose their trusted advisors. NONE of them have said that they would respond to a cold call or direct mail, even if they were in the market for that service. Think about it. If you are marketing to successful, quality people who talk to other quality people, don’t you think they may ask each other who they use as a financial planner should they need one? The answer to this question is obvious. At one point in my career, I made a list of the people I enjoyed working with versus the ones that I hid underneath my desk every time they called. The answer was startling and it changed my outlook on marketing. Every single one of the people I enjoyed working with came from a referral or word of mouth. ALL of the ones I could not stand working with came from a traditional, old school marketing tactic known as cold calling, direct mail, and door knocking.
The reason is simple. Quality people refer their trusted advisors to their friends and business partners because they know them and trust them. A majority (not all – there are needles in a haystack) of those who respond to traditional marketing methods are either living under a rock or are so difficult to deal with that no one in their right mind would want them as a client. Most of these people want to stay at the Ritz-Carlton and pay Motel 6 prices. Sooner or later, they will find another service provider who will do it cheaper or make promises that they will never keep. Do not let this be you. Instead, practice the simple art of relationship marketing.
Relationship marketing’s goal is to fill your sales pipeline with people you enjoy working with the most. In other words, the intent is to “clone” the clients you enjoy working with the most. How? You know the popular saying that says “bird of a feather flock together?” Not only is this true for bird migrations, but it is also true in business. Great clients who you love working with hang out with other great people that have a high probability of fitting into your practice. I have seen this time and time again. The wise saying is true that if you show me who your friends are, then I will tell you whom you are. So, how do you develop relationships with the friends of the clients you enjoy working with? Simple. Make a list of your top 20 clients. If you only like working with 15, then stop at 15.
Then, invite your clients out to lunch and ask them for their feedback. Ask them what they like about your service, what can you improve, how you can serve them better. Each time you ask them, write down their answers, listen, and implement them into your practice. Then, ask them what the best way is to reach people just like them. You will be AMAZED at the answers. Again, just listen, take notes, and then get ready to implement their ideas. When I asked my clients this, some would say that they have been meaning to introduce me to their friends but that I never asked. Others suggest joining their trade association. Let this be a normal conversation. Successful people love giving advice. During the whole conversation, make it a practice to listen 80% of the time and talk/ask questions/clarify 20% of the time. You will be amazed at the results. Soon, you will have more quality leads than you can handle.