Archive for May, 2010
Thursday, May 27th, 2010
Thursday, May 27th, 2010
This article is by Robert Middleton of Action Plan Marketing. Originally published in Horsesmouth, it is reproduced with his permission.
Intentions are not actions. If you are forever making plans to upgrade your marketing but never doing it, you need to up the stakes. Playing it safe will only get you what you’ve been getting.
If you’ve procrastinating, here’s how to get out of your rut.
When it comes to promoting their business, a large number of advisors are looking for what I call “silver-bullet marketing”.
A silver bullet is that magical, all-in-one solution that will cure all your marketing or business-development ills in one shot. It’s what we all want and hope we’ll find one lucky day.
Well, sorry to disappoint you, but there ain’t no silver bullet.
Stop playing it safe
However, there is a marketing approach that is more powerful, more certain and more reliable than any sliver bullet. It’s something that we all have the power to implement immediately and it almost always produces favourable results.
I call it “bet-your-car marketing.”
Most human activites are based on trying. That is, we try to produce results. We make an effort. We struggle. We give it our best shot. You know the drill:
“I tried to get that article written, but I’m just not a very good writer.” Or “I tried to do speaking engagements but nobody returned my call” or ” I tried to get my newsletter started but the technical part is just too complicated.”
(Note from Dan Richards - To this list could be added ”I meant to get around to calling that difficult client I’m overdue to get in touch with or to follow up with that prospect I met at the lunch I attended, but I got distracted by other things that came up.”)
Trying includes a degree of effort accompanied by an excuse.
Imagine this scenario instead: You are talking to friend or perhaps your business coach. (Feel free to substitute any project you are procrastinating about.)
“I’m going to try to get that article written this week.”
“Will you bet your car?”
“What do you mean?”
“You’ve been futzing over that article article for weeks. Will you bet your car that you’ll complete it?”
“Well, like I said, I’ll try my very best. It isn’t easy, you know, and besides, I have of other priorities I’m juggling.”
“Fine, but either you do it or you don’t do it. If you’re going to commit to writing it, I suggest you make it real and bet your car.”
“What exactly does that mean?!”
“It means that you commit to completing the article and if you don’t complete it, you forfeit your car. You can give it to a local charity.”
“Are you crazy?”
“I’m not crazy. At a certain point it takes putting something at stake to get something done. You could agonize over that article for another several weeks or you could just write it. And if you don’t, you lose your car. Let me tell you, if you put your car at stake, don’t you think the article would get done?”
“I guess it would. I hadn’t thought of it that way.”
“No, because you’re reasonable. And when you’re reasonable, you always have an excuse that undermines your goals. Everyone buys into those excuses. But can you honestly say that the excuses are as fulfilling as actually completing the article?”
“No, I guess not. But what if I make the bet and I don’t succeed? What if I lose the car?”
“Well, that’s the game you’ve been playing for years. You always hedge your bets; you never commit. You play it safe. And look at your results. It’s time to change the game. Will you bet your car or keep making excuses?”
“OK, I’ll do it.”
Making this work for you
I’ve actually had similar conversations with clients. A couple of weeks ago, I put pressure on a group I’m working with. In that case, they didn’t bet their cars, but they agreed to write checks to certain unsavory political organizations if they didn’t complete the projects they were procrastinating about.
Guess what? Everyone got their projects done.
Want to produce breakthrough results in your marketing? Want to accomplish things you thought were impossible? Want to step outside your comfort zone and make something happen?
Don’t wait for a silver bullet. Bet your car instead.
Tags: Action Plan Marketing, Acton, Business Coach, Business Development, Excuse, Favourable Results, Horsesmouth, Human Activites, Ills, Imagine, Lucky Day, Lunch, Marketing Business, Marketing Development, Met, Motivator, Newsletter, Plan Marketing, Robert Middleton, Silver Bullet, Speaking Engagements
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Thursday, May 27th, 2010
Wednesday, May 26th, 2010
This article is a guest contribution by Bill Bachrach, of Bachrach & Associates, author of the Values-Based Selling programs.
Seven tips for conveying your competence.
Being competent is an important factor in building trust. People seldom believe you’re competent based on what you say about your credentials, experience, investment philosophy, or background. They believe you’re competent based on your behavior. As essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “What you do shouts so loudly in my ears I can’t hear a word you’re saying.”
This article addresses how you convey your competence in the first meeting. Assuming you actually are competent, trustworthy, and knowledgeable about financial planning, investments, and insurance.
1. Competent advisors ask good questions.
John Sculley, former CEO of Apple says, “The solutions are often obvious once you get the questions right.” Successful people measure your competence by the quality of your questions.
My favorite questions to ask in the client interview (with prospects and clients) have been published in industry articles over the years and it begins with, “What’s important about money to you?”
Your prospects can tell you are competent because they do all the talking about what’s important to them (their values), goals, and where their money is now.
Any B.S. artist can tell a good story, but only competent people know the right questions.
2. Competent advisors discover all the money in the first interview.
Prescription before diagnosis is malpractice. Incompetent advisors give advice without knowing where all the money is.
Your prospects and clients can tell you are competent because you expect them to tell you where all their money is.
3. Competent financial advisors have a system for helping their clients.
We recommend and teach the Financial Road Map system. This system creates a visually compelling picture to help clients make intelligent financial choices. You don’t have to use my Financial Road Map system, but I encourage you to have a system and use it.
The client interview is a repetitive motion exercise like a golf swing or a tennis stroke. Lee Trevino once remarked, “The best swing is one that repeats. I used to hit a one iron 260 yards through a doorway. Now I can hit it through a keyhole.”
Competent advisors have a system that repeats itself with every prospect and client.
4. Competent advisors make it simple.
The most competent financial advisors simplify their client’s lives. Wealthy, busy people probably do not want to have 7 accounts at different firms. More likely, they simply have yet to find a competent advisor they trust who has simplified their life.
David Bach with Dean Witter is a Trusted Advisor Coach participant who related this story on Harry Pappas’ “Secrets of Success” audio cassette program. It illustrates the points about discovering all the money, having a system, and simplifying lives.
“Bill Bachrach helped me change my perspective on the best thing to do for my clients. I now insist they tell me where all their money is and use the Financial Road Map. I was afraid this might turn some people off. Actually, the opposite is true. A seminar attendee came to my office with $10,000 to invest. When I told him I couldn’t take his $10,000 until I understood him better and knew where all his assets are he was initially reluctant. No other broker had ever refused his money. He must have been impressed with my reasoning because he opened his briefcase and removed statements from a dozen different firms totally almost a million dollars. His investments and his life were complicated. We consolidated his assets into one account and created a strategy for his investments to work in harmony toward his goals and values. Instead of $10,000, I opened almost a million dollar account and helped my client have a simpler life.”
The more wealthy, successful, or “sophisticated” your client, the more they appreciate simplicity.
5. Competent advisors are thorough.
In addition to having a chapter in the Values-Based Selling book, and in the June 1997 Ticker magazine, I wrote about the power of audio taping your interviews. Audio taping conveys competence. An incompetent financial professional would never create a permanent record of their incompetence on audio tape. Conversely, a thorough, competent advisor would naturally record the conversation so they could refer to it to do the best job possible for the client.
Competent advisors are obsessively thorough.
6. Competent advisors are familiar and comfortable with financial documents like tax returns, insurance policies, bank statements, brokerage statements, real estate, wills, trusts, etc.
Your clients will be impressed by how well you handle their documents. In the Trusted Advisor Coach program we practice, on video tape, handling all the documents an ideal client should bring to the first interview.
I discovered that many successful financial advisors would not know what to do with many documents if their prospects brought them in. Rather than look foolish in front of the client, they don’t ask for them. Being able to handle the documents effectively increases your confidence to ask your prospects to bring them in.
Competent advisors know how to handle the documents.
7. Competent advisors are totally present.
One of my coaches, Max Dixon, asks, “Can you show up ready to be no place else?”
This means asking a question during the initial interview and being completely present for the answer, not thinking about the next question or the next comment.
Can you show up ready to be no place else? The competent advisor does.
In summary, you have to be competent. Then your clients must be able to see, hear, and experience your competence from the very first moment they interact with you. Before they discover your true competence by working with you they must believe you are competent in order to give you their money in the first place.
Don’t be a salesperson. Be a Trusted Advisor.
Bill Bachrach is the author of four industry-specific books, including the newest book, It’s All About Them; How Trusted Advisors Listen for Success. His third book, Values-Based Financial Planning: The Art of Creating an Inspiring Financial Strategy, is written for the clients of financial professionals.
Tags: Bill Bachrach, Building Trust, Ceo Of Apple, Client Interview, Competence, Credentials, Diagnosis, Ears, Essayist, Financial Advisors, Financial Choices, Financial Planning, First Meeting, Industry Articles, Investment Philosophy, John Sculley, Malpractice, Prospects, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Road Map
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Wednesday, May 26th, 2010
Earlier in May, I talked about how advisors can be a resource to clients on some of their difficult personal decisions, not just those related to finances.
As a case in point, I received a terrific response to a series of interviews on strategies for wealthy families to raise happy and successful children, featuring a psychologist who worked for many years for the Beverley Hills School District.
Of course, it’s not just kids that cause clients stress - few things are more difficult than tough conversations with parents about moving into a nursing home or having to deal with a disease such as Alzheimer’s.
Today I feature two resources that advisors can share with clients facing those conversations.
The first is an excellent article from the New York Times on things to look for in a nursing home, including a detailed four page checklist.
New York Times — Picking a nursing home http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/20/health/20patient.html?src=me&ref=homepage
Nursing home checklist: http://www.medicare.gov/nursing/checklist.pdf
And here’s a link to a special report on Alzheimer’s that appeared in Wall Street Journal Smart Money : http://www.smartmoney.com/personal-finance/elder-care/
Finally, today’s email features a series of short interviews with an eldercare expert on talking to parents about their housing, financial and health situations.
To view those interviews, go to www.clientinsights.ca.
Tags: Beverley Hills, Case In Point, Cause Clients, Conversations, Elder Care, Health Situations, Home Checklist, Medicare, New York Times, Nursing Home, Page Checklist, Personal Decisions, Personal Finance, Psychologist, Smart Money, Smartmoney, Talking To Parents, Terrific Response, Wall Street Journal, Wealthy Families
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Tuesday, May 25th, 2010
Monday, May 24th, 2010
Wednesday, May 19th, 2010
In January, I had a conversation with a veteran advisor about prospecting.
“A year ago, all kinds of new clients were coming on board — I was firing on all cylinders” he said. “Today, I’m having trouble getting prospecting into first gear. I feel like I’m stuck in a rut and I’m not sure how to get out.”
In response, we spent a few minutes sketching out a plan for two low cost prospecting lunches, with six simple steps taking ten to twelve hours per lunch.
The advisor got a good response to the initial lunches — since then, he’s held six similar sessions.
The core idea is to run informal lunches at your office for clients — to which you invite selected prospects. These lunches achieve the dual purpose of giving clients the chance to have their questions answered and getting in front of prospects. The thinking behind this approach was covered in an article as well as video and audio interviews (http://www.strategicimperatives.ca/blog/?p=150).
If you share this advisor’s struggles in getting prospecting into first gear, here’s an overview of how the lunch program works. At the bottom of this article, you’ll find a link to a step-by-step guide with scripts, templates and more details on making these lunches happen.Step One: Getting started
The first step is to book your boardroom for two lunches — the first in three to four weeks, the other in about six weeks. Note that your boardroom will ideally have ten chairs — one for you, six for clients and three for prospects.
While you’ve got your calendar out, book off the time required to make the lunches happen:
This week: Schedule two ninety minute time slots in the next two or three days — these are to extend invitations.
Next week: Book another two hour slot in the middle of next week to follow up with people who are attending and begin preparing your remarks .
The week before the lunch: Block off two hours to practice your talk and an hour to attend to final details.
The week of the lunch: Book off two hours for the lunch itself and an hour on the day after the lunch to follow up with people who attended.
That’s eleven hours in total — add in one more as a contingency and you can make the first lunch happen with a time commitment of twelve hours. Note that future lunches will take less time.
Step Two: Compiling the guest list
Start by going through your top clients. Think about whether your office is convenient to them and if this is the kind of thing they might be interested in. Be sure to avoid anyone who is particularly anxious or negative whose mood might infect the group.
Given how busy people are, you need to invite at least thirty clients to be confident you’ll fill your two lunches. It’s not uncommon for a client who accepts your invitation to have to cancel — to be reasonably confident of six clients in the room, you need to have seven agree to attend.
Next turn to prospects you might invite to sit in. Reflect on people you know who’ve asked you questions about the market — perhaps from your golf club or a community organization you belong to or maybe someone you talked to in the past who didn’t want to meet at the time. Ideally, you should have fifteen names on the prospect invitee list.
Don’t overthink the invite list — give yourself a maximum of thirty minutes to put the names together.
Step Three: Extending invitations
Start by calling the clients on the list. Note that you don’t have time to invite people sequentially — waiting to hear back from the first seven people before contacting the others. Contact everyone on your list — worst case you’ll fill the two lunches and have to book another one to handle the overflow demand.
The invitation is very straightforward — you’re hosting an informal lunch at your office to talk about the market outlook for the period ahead and thought they might be interested.
Once you’ve worked through your list of clients, it’s time to shift your focus to prospects:
”I’m hosting an informal sandwich lunch at my office for clients interested in hearing about where the market is today and our best thinking for the future. While this lunch is primarily for clients, I do have a spot available and was wondering if you’d like to sit in.”
If a prospect accepts the invitation, ask them about any specific questions they’d like to see covered — and also find out what kind of sandwich they’d like.
See the detailed implementation guide at the bottom of the article for draft scripts for these calls.
Step Four: Recontacting people who are attending
At the end of week one, you should have all seven client slots filled for the first lunch and a commitment from one or two prospects — you should also be well on your way to filling the client spots for the second lunch.
Use the 90 minute time slot you’ve booked in week two to follow up with the clients who committed to attend, with a view to seeing if someone they know might be interested in joining them.
In that follow up call to clients attending the lunch, ask them what specific questions they’d like you to cover and what kind of sandwich they’d like. Then go on to say that while the lunch is designed for clients, you do have one spot available — and wonder if someone they know might be interested in joining them.
This works especially well if you’re able to point to a specific candidate they might invite — their partner, a colleague at work or family member. You could also ask whether it would be okay if you gave their accountant or lawyer a call, saying that this client is attending a lunch at your offices and thought their accountant or lawyer might be interested in coming as well.
Step Five: Making the lunch happen
The week before the lunch, send a final email confirming details, along with an article that might set the stage for your talk.
When people arrive for the lunch, you’re going to have assigned seating with the sandwich and drink they’ve requested. Don’t stint on the cost of the sandwiches — spend an extra $30 to get them from the highest quality deli in your community.
The key to making this lunch work is that the clients and prospects in attendance really get a chance to ask questions and have an exchange of views with you (and in some cases each other.)
Your kickoff sets the stage for this. Your remarks should run no more than twenty minutes; the key is to make them quite informal — it’s fine to have a few powerpoint slides to support your point of view but it should only be a few, this should not be one of those “death by powerpoint” sessions.
One approach is to structure your talk around the questions that people attending told you they’d like addressed.
For example, you could start by saying:
“In advance of today’s lunch, a number of you suggested questions you’d like to see answered. Here are the five questions I’ve going to cover today.”
Then list the questions — and if appropriate refer to the people who raised them.
Be sure to monitor the time — if you promised you’d get people out at 1:30, you need to deliver on that.
When you’re wrapping up, ask people to fill out a short evaluation form asking for their feedback. (A sample evaluation form is included in the detailed implementation guide at the bottom of the article.)
Close by mentioning that you are doing another lunch in two weeks time and that you still have a couple of spots left — should people know someone who might be interested in attending, you’d be pleased to invite their friend along.
Step Six: Following up afterwards
The final step is to call everyone who attended the lunch the very next day — you can do everything else right but without follow up are unlikely to see results.
For prospects, refer to the evaluation form they completed and any suggestions they made. Ask them if they have any questions you weren’t able to get around to — and then ask if they’d be interested in sitting down in the next two or three weeks to talk about their specific situation. Even if they respond not right now, you can offer to put them on the distribution list for information you send to clients and ask for permission to follow up in a few months.
For clients, thank them for attending, ask about any questions you didn’t cover and discuss any suggestions they made in the evaluation form for future lunches. Reiterate the point that should they run into anyone who might find a lunch such as the one they attended valuable, to let you know and you’d be happy to invite them along. If you have identified someone they’re connected to as a potential candidate, you could ask the question specifically: “What about your brother John, do you think he might be interested?”
The good news is that each lunch you do becomes easier and takes less time — your ultimate goal is to build these lunches into a routine that get automatically repeated.
For advisors interested in more details on pulling these lunches off, here’s a detailed implementation guide with scripts and templates you can modify for your purposes. (Should you be unable to open this guide, email email@example.com to have it emailed to you.)
In prospecting as in so much in life, it’s all about building momentum. There is no magic to attracting new clients — it comes down to picking the prospecting approach right for you and putting consistent effort against it.
Whether it be this strategy or another one, commit to getting your prospecting into first gear in the next thirty days; it could be a crucial step in assuring the long term health of your business.
For more information, please visit http://www.getkeepclients.com.
Tags: Advertisement, Audio Interviews, Blog, Boardroom, Chairs, Core Idea, Dual Purpose, Few Minutes, Firing On All Cylinders, Informal Lunches, Invitations, Lunch Program, Minute Time Slots, Prospects, Scripts, Sessions, Simple Steps, Six Weeks, Templates, Twelve Hours, Www Ca
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Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
It’s often the little things that build deep bonds with clients.
For most students entering college and university, this fall is at the same time an exciting and scary time … and that’s equally true for their parents.
This past Sunday, the New York Times published a series of nine short articles titled: “College advice from people who’ve been there awhile”, featuring advice from some of America’s best known and most respected educators. You’ll find links to those articles below.
If you have clients with children heading off to college or university this fall, consider emailing these tips, both for them to read and perhaps to pass on to their children
Of course, it’s not just clients with kids entering university who might appreciate advice. Here’s an article from yesterday’s Globe and Mail about a conversation with teens going back to high school; this might be especially appropriate for parents of 13 to 15 year olds.
If you want, you can take this one step further. Recently, I talked to an advisor who makes note of cases where her clients have children going off to university. For particularly important clients, she has her assistant go online to that university’s bookstore and order sweatshirts for her clients with that university’s crest on them – when they arrive, she attaches a note of congratulations and sends them off.
This advisor has hosted top clients to dinners, theatre evenings and golf games, in some cases costing hundreds of dollars. In her experience, nothing she’s done has given her the same return on the dollars invested as these sweatshirts – she’s gotten delighted phone calls, notes of thanks, luncheon invitations and in one case an offer to introduce her to her client’s extended family and work colleagues.
Smart advisors look for every opportunity to let clients know they’re thinking of them and to tap into important moments in clients’ lives. Consider whether there are some cases where the start of university this fall provides that opportunity.
New York Times
Sunday, September 5, 2009
Educators give some helpful advice to young adults entering school this fall.
The Hunt for a Good Teacher By STANLEY FISH
Find the best teachers and take a writing class.
An Argument Worth Having By GERALD GRAFF
Cut through the jargon, analyze and debate.
Get Lost. In Books. By HAROLD BLOOM
Read the authors that are difficult and demand rereading.
Don’t Alienate Your Professor By CAROL BERKIN
Once in class, participate.
Play Politics By GARRY WILLS
Have passion for learning and for your beliefs.
Go the Wrong Way By MARTHA NUSSBAUM
Think about life, not just a job.
Off-Campus Life By JAMES MacGREGOR BURNS
Read a good newspaper; it will be your path to the world at large.
My Crush on DNA By NANCY HOPKINS
Fall in love with your vision of the future.
Change Course By STEVEN WEINBERG
College is never what one expects.
Tags: 15 Year Olds, 99s, Bonds, College Advice, Crest, Evenings, Globe And Mail, Golf Games, Luncheon Invitations, New York Times, Notes Of Thanks, Online Bookstore, Oppo, Parents, Relationships, Scary Time, Series Of Nine, Sweatshirts, University Bookstore, Work Colleagues
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