As we said last month, the most successful businesses understand the benefits of improving conversion rates.

    That means thinking carefully about how you convert suspects into prospects, prospects into clients and clients into advocates.

    In the first of this series, we considered how to convert suspects into prospects. You can still read that by clicking here.

    Now, we turn to maximising the number of prospects who become clients.

    Getting your marketing right

    The first thing to consider is whether your marketing is generating enquiries from the right type of people.

    That means building detailed client personas, developing a marketing strategy to target these people and finally, reviewing the results.

    Developing client personas isn’t easy, but as we explain here, it’s vitally important.

    After all, if you don’t know who you want to work with, how can you market to them?

    Indeed, one of the reasons many firms have a low prospect to client conversion rate is they skip this step and consequently receive enquiries from the wrong type of people.

    Once you’re confident your marketing is on track, you can then consider ways of maximising your prospect to client conversion rate.

    Basic skills

    Of course, there are skills every financial planner needs. I’ve assumed for the purposes of this blog that you have these.

    It’s the small things which I want to look at, those which make the experience of working with you a memorable one.

    Remember, long after the meeting has finished and your words have faded, the prospect will remember how you made them feel.

    So, based on great practice and some of our own thoughts, here are the first six tips which you can implement into your business immediately.

    1) Use every interaction as an opportunity to enhance the relationship

    If you and your team remember that every interaction, no matter how seemingly inconsequential, will enhance the relationship or detract from it, you won’t go far wrong.

    If you think about it, there are so many small opportunities to impress a client.

    Take something simple like answering the phone. How special will it make a client feel if whoever answers the phone recognises their voice and uses their name, or remembers a small detail from a previous conversation?

    Alternatively, if whoever answers the phone doesn’t recognise the caller or worse forgets their name after being told, that will detract from the relationship.

    2) Do what you say you will do when you say you will do it

    Simply keeping your promises shouldn’t set you apart, but it does.

    That’s why you and your team must deliver on time, every time.

    A recent example springs to mind.

    I received a customer care call from one of our service providers (I won’t reveal their name to spare their blushes).

    I explained a specific issue we were having, and the assistant promised to investigate and call me back that afternoon.

    Seven days later, I’m still waiting.

    It would have been better if they’d not made the promise or the call. Previously, I was annoyed at the problem, now that’s been doubled by the fact they didn’t call me back when they promised to.  

    Simply doing what you said you would when you said you would, sets you apart.

    3) Deal with the initial enquiry promptly

    No one likes to be kept waiting, least of all prospects who are considering working with you.

    Financial planners are busy people and I completely accept that it isn’t always possible to respond to every enquiry quickly.

    So, put in place a simple process which means you don’t have to. This means directing all enquiries, whether it be a call, email or enquiry form to someone who can deal with it for you.

    Ideally that person will be trusted to speak to the prospect, take some simple background details (as well as those important ‘ read between the lines’ titbits) and then set up a meeting or call with a planner as your process dictates.

    Alternatively, they should be trained and empowered to signpost the prospect elsewhere if they aren’t the right fit for your firm.

    4) Confirm meetings efficiently and promptly

    You could confirm a meeting simply by sending a calendar invite. Alternatively, you could remember the first of these tips and take the opportunity to impress.

    We recommend:

    • Confirming the meeting by email
    • Doing more than simply confirming the place and time. Take the opportunity to explain more about your business and the benefits of working with you. You know financial planning changes lives so prove it - include client case studies or videos to demonstrate your value. This will reaffirm the prospect’s decision to work with you
    • Make their life easy by including clear directions to the office based on the mode of transport they will use. If appropriate details of where to park are helpful too
    • Explain in detail anything they need to bring with them, and why
    • You might even ask about their refreshment preferences (see tip six)

    Again, it’s the small things which make a difference.

    I remember being forced to pull on double yellow lines outside a planner’s office to find out where to park. On another occasion, after parking where instructed, I arrived back at my car after the meeting to be greeted by a parking ticket.

    Imagine how a client would feel if either of those were to happen to them?

    5) Your offices

    If you meet clients in your office, think about the physical journey your prospect will take:

    • Is your office easy to find?
    • Is there anything specific they need to know?
    • Does the prospect walk into an open-plan office or a dedicated reception area? The former can be intimidating. I recall walking into one planner’s office to be greeted by a dozen people staring at me. I’m big enough and ugly enough to look after myself, but some of your clients might feel intimidated if that happened to them
    • What’s available for the prospect to read in your reception? Ideally, there will be details about the benefits of working with you, testimonials and case studies. All too often it’s that day’s newspapers or, even worse, copies of our trade press. Why would you offer your prospects the opportunity to hear good things about other firms or negative stories about the profession? You shouldn’t!
    6) Refreshments

    This is a tricky subject and I’m not sure there’s any right or wrong answer.

    However, it’s important to make the right impression with your refreshments. That probably means making sure you have:

    • Different flavours of teas
    • Good coffee (there’s a growing number of coffee snobs out there!)
    • Different types of milk to cope with both preferences and intolerances

    Traditionally, biscuits would be served. However, we love it when planners offer us fruit instead.

    Whatever you choose, make sure you have vegan and vegetarian options available. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to fruit, but anyone with an intolerance will welcome the option of a gluten-free biscuit.

    As I say, this is probably down to personal taste and what you feel comfortable with. I’d simply urge you to think hard about what you serve and what you serve it in. Mugs, cups, only you will know what’s right for your firm and your clients.

    Time to take action

    Hopefully, these six tips will have given you some things to think about.

    Next time, we’ll consider the meeting room itself, which is so important for creating the right atmosphere. We'll also look at how to follow up the meeting to maintain the great impression you’ve built so far.

    In the meantime, take a walk in the shoes of your prospects. You might even consider mystery shopping your own firm.

    Understand how a prospect will view your firm and whether the experience can be improved.

    And remember, it’s all about those small touches.

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