Making it as a financial advisor is one of the hardest professional achievements in the world. Out of every 100 who try, only 10 will be successful. And of those 10, only about three will go on to make a very high income.
You may see some advisors who appear to have luck on their side. But the most successful ones create their own luck with hard work and determination. Knowing how to market and grow is an important part of it. Most advisors don't have a high growth rate, because they lack a plan or the willingness to do what is difficult.
Most advisors only have one or two methods they use for growth. When asked, many will say that they grow via referrals. However, most of them rarely get those really big referrals. And a high percentage of them can't tell you what their tangible plan is for growth.
I am told constantly by advisors which methods of marketing work. However, most of them have never really tried the methods that they say don't work. I have been told hundreds of times that cold calling does not work anymore. Not true. In fact, cold calling works better than ever before. Likewise, many will tell you that seminars are a waste of time. When you ask these individuals how many seminars they have tried, the answer is often one, or even zero.
To help, here is the first half of my 12 methods to grow as a financial advisor.
Cold calling can be very time consuming. But it's very inexpensive and effective if done correctly. With the Internet and the ease of finding leads, cold calling is much easier than it was in years past. Some argue it does not work anymore. But I know it works because I've built a book cold calling businesses. And these days, it's better than ever because so few advisors are doing it, which mean you'll have very little competition.
Yes, there is the issue of the "Do not call" list, but this does not apply to businesses. In fact, your local chamber of commerce may even provide you with a free list. Make sure you understand you are not trying to sell anything over the phone other than a face-to-face meeting.
HIRING COLD CALLERS
Hire individuals or interns to make introductory calls for you. Their goal is to just find you a warm lead.
The challenge is high turnover and a lot of training required. But managing cold callers, if done correctly, can be very effective. Start recruiting interns at the local universities. It is best if you pay them minimum wage to give them an incentive. Remember, your payment to them is one time and you get to keep the client forever, so don't be cheap.
Hire two or more at a time for training economies of scale because not all will make it. (This will also foster a little competition among them.) You must micro-manage cold callers for them to be most effective. Look for confident risk takers with a sports background if possible.
Cold walking is nothing more than going to businesses to introduce yourself and your services. Like cold calling, it can be time consuming, but if done correctly, it offers big payoffs.
It is also sometimes hard to get to the decision maker, but you can at least get a business card and contact information while you are there. With this method, be prepared for a lot of in-your-face rejection.
Some advisors worry that this makes them look a little desperate. The way to approach it so you don't seem desperate is to stop by 10 or so businesses each time you go out to meet with a client. Let the business owners know you were in the area meeting with a client and thought you would drop by to introduce yourself. Tell them you specialize in helping business owners maximize their return on liquid capital and you would like to set up an appointment to speak further.
Networking is no more than meeting individuals at social or professional gatherings. This method is similar to cold walking, however you have more instant commonality because you and the prospect are both at the same event. This method can be time consuming and can have a slow payoff. Many individuals in a professional organization will not do business with you until they trust you and know you will stick around for a while. Make sure you pick your networking organization carefully and that the individuals in the group either have money or are well connected. You should also take a leadership role if possible. (You can find a list of networking organizations at our company's website www.therummagegroup.com. Look in the Members section.)
Seminars are simply inviting many prospects to a presentation on a specific topic of financial planning. Seminars are used by very few advisors, however can be very effective if implemented correctly.
The downside is they can be time consuming, costly and sometimes very few prospects show up. However, if you can pack a room with prospects it can be very rewarding. I do not recommend this strategy unless you are a good public speaker and can keep the attention and interest of an audience. When you are in front of an audience giving a presentation, you will come across as the authority figure on the subject matter. We are trained to believe the person in the front of the room is an expert on the subject and this will help you win new clients.
Your goal in a seminar is not to sell but rather teach. Sales will result if you do a great job teaching. To keep costs down, invite a wholesaler to join you and pay for the event. No matter how good you are at public speaking, watching a few videos of great public speakers will help you become even better. My personal favorites are Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy and Tony Robbins.
Public speaking is one of the most underutilized methods of growing a practice. It was just announced (April 2012) that Ric Edelman sold his company for over $200 million.
He became successful partly because of his talent for public speaking. Public speaking works so well because once you come up with a few great presentations you can repeat them many times. Organizations are always looking for good speakers with strong subject matter. Spend 30 minutes each day calling on various organizations to offer them your speaking services. The person at each organization charged with finding a speaker often becomes desperate to find the next speaker. Call associations, groups, clubs and charities and offer to give a presentation. As with seminars, you must be good at public speaking otherwise this method is not recommended.
Aside from doing the right thing for your clients, growing your practice is your most important task. If you are not growing, you should evaluate your practice and figure out why. And tune in next month for more tips.
Rick Rummage is the founder and CEO of The Rummage Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org