Posts Tagged ‘Lawyers’
Wednesday, March 13th, 2013
More and more investors are conducting google searches as part of their purchase process – and not just for restaurants and car dealers but also for professionals such as lawyers and financial advisors.
And while conducting google searches for advisors has not entered the mainstream among older investors it is becoming increasingly common-place among clients in their 30’s and 40’s.
Today features a 32 page report from Google on how to maximize the chances of showing up first on searches for financial advisors in your communities.
The report provides tips on:
• Accurate page titles
• Improving your site structure
• Optimizing content
• Making better use of images
• Using header tags
• Making your site mobile-phone friendly
• Promoting your site effectively
Click here for the full report.
Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012
It seems to be an affliction many entrepreneursshare — they think that by putting in long work weeks and thinking about nothing but their burgeoning businesses, they will be able to make it grow more quickly and achieve their professional goals. That reasoning is skewed, however.Consider your own work patterns. Even if you put in days that are 10 hours or longer, work on the weekends and spend the rest of your free time thinking about the company, how much of that time are you actually being effective? Do you find yourself in the office, staring at a pile of work, and wasting minutes or hours trying to make sense of what’s in front of you?
Through The Covenant Group, I’ve met a lot of financial advisors who are too busy working in their businesses to work on them. Wrapped up in the minute details, they cannot determine where their companies are going or ever decide where they WANT them to go. Stepping away from the daily grind, giving yourself permission to take a breath and think, is far more important than making sure you respond to five more emails before going home for the day.
I think a recent Harvard Business Review blog post written by Robert C. Pozen casts more light on this perception that work quantity supersedes quality, as well as the workoholic culture that has risen around it. As he points out, we log our productivity in terms of hours, instead of results and the value that professionals such as analysts, consultants and lawyers “create through their knowledge.”
From a resource management perspective, this attitude can cut down on your own and your employees’ productivity, because they are thinking too much about how long they are at the office instead of “answering the most critical question: ‘Am I currently using my time in the best possible way?’” Pozen points out.
Many of the advisors I I’ve coached have said that they are already maxed out on how much time they can put into their business and feel stuck at a certain income level or number of clients. They feel that it would be impossible to grow their businesses any further, since there are only so many hours in the day. The solution is not to dedicate additional time to the company, but to give a greater effort when you are there. Delegate some of the more time-consuming, less-valuable tasks that consume your time to an employee. Think about whether your daily tasks are truly advancing the firm, or whether they just constitute busy work. Being honest about your own productivity is the first step to cutting down hours and improving results.
As founder, president and CEO of The Covenant Group, Norm Trainor is often seen as the face of the company and its’ leading financial advisor training programs. He has penned several best-selling books, articles and other works with entrepreneurs and financial advisors to show them how they can become more valuable to their clients, boost productivity and, ultimately, achieve the success they desire.
Follow The Covenant Group
Tags: Affliction, Attitude, Covenant Group, Critical Question, Emails, Entrepreneurs Share, Financial Advisors, Free Time, Going Home, Harvard Business Review, Lawyers, Management Perspective, Minute Details, Perception, Productivity, Professional Goals, Resource Management, Robert C Pozen, Work Patterns
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Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012
Last week, I conducted the first of six weekly online sessions to help advisors develop and implement a plan to attract new clients in 2011.
In that session, I talked about how one advisor sets aside time each Friday to meet with the accountant or lawyer of one of his key clients … and how he makes these meetings happen.
Afterwards, I got this email from one of the participants on the call:
I’ve gone for lunches with clients CA’s and lawyers in the past. I find getting a meeting is not much of a problem. I find that the difficulty can be in maintaining ongoing contact that is a) meaningful, b) relevant and c) interesting to the COI.
When 2 or 3 months rolls by and it’s time to check-in with the COI, I would like some good ideas about what to call about. Any suggestions?
I responded by sharing a recent conversation with a successful advisor in Dallas after my talk at his firm’s conference.
I’d talked about ways to engage prospects and he told me what he says at the end of meetings with client professionals and high potential prospects, where he feels the conversation has gone well and the people he’s talking to seem relaxed and interested.
He finishes by saying:
One final thing. My team and I spend a ton of time each week monitoring the best sources we can find on a broad range of issues.
In that process, we often find articles that address key concerns for some of our clients and send those along to them.
Sometimes my client’s big concerns are things like the outlook for interest rates, house prices or the dollar, other times the main issues for clients aren’t related to money at all … for example, I have several clients struggling with lack of motivation among children in their twenties, I have others who are worried about what to do with U.S. vacation properties that have declined in value.
Clients often tell us they find these articles very helpful.
If you’re interested, that’s something I’d be happy to offer you also. So tell me, is there any one issue that if we came across some really interesting information, you’d like to receive it.
Four key questions
I asked this advisor four questions about this approach:
First, what kind of general reaction does he get?
What kind of issues emerge?
What does he say when prospects or accountants shared a concern with him?
And finally, how does he follow through on an ongoing basis?
The general reaction he receives:
The advisor reminded me that he only asks this question to prospect and client professionals at the end of meetings when he’s been getting positive vibes. In light of that, the overall response has been very positive … he gets specific responses over half the time. And even in cases where people tell him there’s nothing offhand they can think of, no one seems offended.
The issues which emerge:
On the types of answers he gets, he finds that more often than not people pick up on the examples he uses. If he tells prospects in retirement that existing clients are concerned about issues like outliving their money, saving taxes and the low interest they’re getting on savings, those are the concerns people play back.
If he tells accountants that other CPAs he’s talked to have expressed concerns about ways to bring in new clients and the economics of running small and mid sized firms, then generally they respond that those are the things that they worry about also.
And if he uses examples of underwater vacation properties or unmotivated children, those concerns tend to come up as priorities as well.
When someone voices a concern on which they’d like to receive information, he thanks them for sharing this, asks for their contact info and tells them that while he can’t make any promises, if he sees something interesting he’ll send it along.
He immediately blackberries his assistant, asking her to go online and look for a recent article on this topic. A favourite source is the Wall Street Journal; while WSJ.com limits access to nonsubscribers to the first paragraph of most stories, it has a service which allows advisors to email people full articles, even if the recipient hasn’t signed up as a WSJ online subscriber. His goal is to send a follow up email to the prospect or accountant in the next day, including an initial article on their issue wherever possible.
Following up afterwards:
On the final issue of how he followed through, this advisor has identified half a dozen hot button issues shared by many existing and prospective clients and professionals; among these are forecasts for the US economy, interest rates, the dollar and house prices.
In the course of his regular reading, he looks for articles on these issues that he can send … and by focusing on areas that are common across clients and prospects, is able to deliver relevant, value added information in a time efficient fashion. Note that he is careful not to overwhelm clients and prospects, his goal is to send something every month or two, always reminding the recipient that they’re getting this information because they’d asked for it.
Let’s be clear, this approach will not be a fit for every advisor. But for advisors looking to build bridges with high potential prospects and client accountants, consider whether you can modify this approach to make it work for you.
A question to engage client accountants
Tags: Accountant, Accountants, Contact, Email, Hap, House Prices, Interest Rates, Lack Of Motivation, Lawyer, Lawyers, Money, Online Help, Participants, Prospects, Sessions, Vacation Properties, Value Clients
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Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011
A sentence that tripled referrals
Every advisor recognizes that the best source of new clients is referrals. Despite this, even many established advisors with big books struggle to get introductions.
Recently, a successful advisor told me how he added just one line of text to his website — and got surprising referral results as a consequence.
New clients accepted by referral only
Positioning yourself as a “referral-only” advisor
Over the ensuing months, this advisor added a “New clients by referral only ” agenda item to client meetings, saying:
“If you’ve been on my website recently, you may have noticed that I have a new policy that I only accept new clients who are referred by my existing clients or by accountants and lawyers I work with.
That’s because I have limited capacity to take on new clients — and in my experience, the new clients who I work with best and am able to help the most are referred by my existing clients, as they’re much more likely to be a good fit. So should you be talking to friends who might be interested in sitting down with me, let my assistant Lori know — I’d be happy to schedule a time to meet.”
In fairness, this didn’t mark a big strategic departure for this advisor — almost all of his new clients were already coming from referrals. But by putting this in writing on his website and using this as a jumping-off point for conversations with clients, the number of referrals to prospective clients has more than tripled. What’s interesting is that these referrals haven’t happened immediately in client meetings. Rather the impact has typically flowed in during the weeks that followed these meetings.
This advisor isn’t alone in making a public written statement that he only accepts new clients by referrals. For example here’s a line from the bio of a chairman’s club producer with Merrill Lynch in Dallas:
She accepts new clients on a referral basis only, from a national network of accountants, attorneys and other professionals as well as her existing clients.
But cases like this are rare — even advisors who get the bulk of new clients from referrals don’t typically put this in writing as their policy.
There are at least two reasons that this approach works.
First, it allows the advisor to have conversations with clients that raises the awareness of referrals and gets them thinking about who might be a fit.
But second — and just as important — the written policy elevates this advisor’s positioning and creates a sense of scarcity. Human nature being what it is, we tend to undervalue things that are readily available and want the things we can’t have. Being overeager can actually work against you — some of us might remember that from our experiences dating in high school. It can also hurt your chances when interviewing for a job.
This also applies to attracting new clients. When sitting down with qualified prospects, your goal is to communicate that you’d like to work with them but that you don’t need to work with them; even a hint of desperation can sabotage your efforts. By posting “new clients accepted by referral only” on his website, this advisor communicates a level of self-assurance, confidence and exclusivity that makes him more attractive to existing and prospective clients alike.
This isn’t the only instance where communicating a sense of exclusivity or scarcity enhances your positioning as a confident, expert advisor and makes you more attractive as a result.
A couple of years ago, I talked to an advisor who had assumed some management responsibilities in his branch and could only devote half his time to clients. He’d written all clients a note about this change and said that as a result he’d only be able to work with clients with assets of at least $750,000.
Two interesting things happened. First of all, some clients with less than $750,000 suddenly came up with additional assets to hit that threshold. And other clients asked whether he might be able to make an exception for friends who only had $600,000.
Along similar lines, I recently talked to an investment counselling firm that raised their minimum to $2 million — and found that the demand for their services actually increased as a result. By saying they weren’t for everyone, they raised their appeal to clients in their target group.
Finally, I talked to an advisor who’d acted on a suggestion in an article I wrote in January about getting prospects off the fence. Again, the strategy is to communicate scarcity and confidence. When someone you meet with expresses strong interest and then doesn’t respond to voice mails and emails, I suggest leaving a message along the lines of:
“Just following up on our last meeting. I have capacity for six new clients in the next 90 days. When we met, I thought we might be a good fit and that I could help you achieve your goals. It sounds like you’re really busy right now, I’ll touch base in April. Let me know if you’d like to talk in the meantime.”
Feeling he had nothing to lose, he left this message for a prospective client who had seemed interested but then hadn’t returned his calls. To his pleasant surprise, the prospect called back the next day.
Less is definitely more
After his success in posting New clients accepted by referral only on his website, this advisor told me that one of his team members had suggested putting this phrase on his business cards and including it in his newsletter — and asked me what I thought.
I advised against this for two reasons.
First, the reason this works is that this is a sincere expression of where this advisor stands, rather than a sales pitch. And my concern was that adding it to business cards or newsletters would cross the line to the point where some clients would see it as a marketing pitch for referrals.
Second, what makes this successful is not the line on the website itself but rather the subsequent opportunity to raise this in conversation with clients. The only reason to add “new clients by referral only” to other elements of his communication would be doing so facilitated more client conversations about this policy. And in my view, adding this to business cards is unlikely to achieve that goal.
Remember the key reasons this works: First it enhances this advisor’s positioning as confident and successful. Having done that, he uses this as a jumping off point to initiate conversations with clients. Communicating the line more broadly risks putting him into the “overeager” category and undermining the sense of exclusivity and scarcity that has made this approach successful.
A final concern
Some advisors might be concerned that taking a “by referrals only” stance means you have to turn down prospective clients who would otherwise want to work with you — and you will lose business and limit opportunities as a result.
Just to be clear, posting this on your site is really a statement of philosophy and expression of intent. While you can’t run prospecting workshops or be cold calling if you go this route, there’s nothing to prevent you from making exceptions if you encounter people who’d be a good fit on a charitable board or at a community event you’re involved in. In fact, those people may well value the opportunity to work with you even more because you are making a special exception for them.
Tags: Accountants, Agenda Item, Attorneys, Client Meetings, Consequence, Conversations With Clients, Fairness, Fit, Introductions, Jumping Off Point, Lawyers, Lori, Merrill Lynch, Positioning, Professiona, Prospective Clients, Referral Basis, Referrals
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Wednesday, May 25th, 2011
A million dollar meeting gone wrong
Landing a meeting with a prospective client with a million dollars to invest doesn’t happen every day — especially when it results from a cold call.
But getting a chance to sit down is only the first step. Over lunch last week, a long-time friend who’s a partner with a downtown Toronto law described a recent meeting with a financial advisor seeking his business and how some subtle errors and obvious mistakes cost the advisor the opportunity to do business.
This lawyer has assets of well over $1 million — our conversation offers a number of important lessons for advisors.
The first relates to what it takes to get a meeting when you’re calling cold.
Cold calling to get meetings:
Here’s what the lawyer told me.
“The original contact came a year ago from a guy calling on behalf of a broker with one of the banks. The only reason that he got through originally was that I get in early so when he called the first time at 7:30 I answered my phone. I blew him off, told him I was happy where I was — but he said he’d like to send me a report from his firm on the outlook for markets regardless. He also said he’d like to touch base in six months. I said sure, figured I’ve never hear from him again — was a bit surprised when that report crossed my desk a week later”
“The same guy called me last fall at about the same time in the morning, guess he’d figured out when I get in — and I told him I still wasn’t interested in meeting. And again he said that he understood, but would like to email me an article from Fortune Magazine that the broker he works with has been sending clients on the outlook for the economy and then touch base in about six months.”
“In March, I got another call — this time from the broker himself. I agreed to give him half an hour over a coffee” the lawyer said. “I was impressed by his low key manner on the phone and his persistence. My comfort level went up when he told me that he dealt with a number of lawyers and had been in the investment industry for 20 years. And I actually felt a bit of obligation, given that I’d twice said his assistant could send me stuff and then he’d followed through both times.”
Takeaways on getting initial meetings
The obvious lesson is that when it comes to getting initial meetings persistence pays.
But there are other lessons as well.
First, if you want to get through to busy people you have to find the time that they’re likely to pick up the phone — whether it be early in the day, later on after their assistant has left or on Saturday mornings. The only way to determine this is through trial and error — and once you’ve had success once, you need to record this for the future.
Second, one way to build trust is by making offers that prospects find valuable and then delivering. Sending those reports and articles helped build credibility — if the person calling for this advisor had said “Just checking to see if you’re ready to buy yet”, while it certainly would have shown persistence, it wouldn’t have created the same impetus to meet.
Finally, one of the keys to winning over prospects is demonstrating patience. A critical factor to the success in securing this meeting was how the calls were spaced out. If the person calling had made the same three calls a month apart, chances are he would have been seen as a pest rather than calling on behalf of someone worth meeting.
A meeting that went wrong
The second set of lessons relate to how you manage that initial interaction with a prospect.
The lawyer went on to talk about the meeting
“We met at the Starbucks underneath my building. He already had a coffee and a table when we got there — he recognized me from my photo on our firm’s website. On the phone he’d asked what kind of coffee I liked in case he got there first — and sure enough he had it waiting for me.
“Our conversation began just fine. He thanked me for taking the time to meet — said he’d like to learn a bit about my situation and would be happy to answer any questions I might have about markets.
“First he asked about how I was investing currently — I told him that I’d worked with a broker in the past but for the past 10 years had been investing on my own. He then asked about how I was invested currently.”
The lawyer paused and went on.
“At that point something weird happened. I have a habit of playing with my pen, this is something I’ve always done.
As I was talking about what I own right now, this guy picks up his pen and starts playing with it also.
Then when I crossed my legs he crossed his as well — and for the rest of our meeting, every time I did something he did the same thing. Frankly, I didn’t know what exactly to think.
After about 15 minutes, this guy says: ‘I appreciate your taking the time today to talk. Let me tell you a bit about my background and approach.”
The lawyer finished our conversation by repeating this advisor’s concluding comments:
“From what you’ve told me, I do think that I might be able to add value to how you’re managing money. As a next step, I’d like to suggest that we meet one lunch hour over a sandwich at my office to review your current investments in more detail — I’d be happy to give you an alternative point of view on what you’re doing right now. There would be no cost or obligation for this.
My office is just a block away from here. I’m free a week from Friday and on Monday of the following week. Which of these two would work better for you?”
The lawyer wrapped us his summary of the meeting:
Tags: 1 Million, Assets, Banks, Coffee, Cold Call, Cold Cold, Contact, Desk, Economy, Fortune Magazine, Half An Hour, Lawyer, Lawyers, Long Time Friend, Lunch, Million Dollars, Persistence, Prospective Client, Six Months, Subtle Errors
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Wednesday, November 10th, 2010
Whenever you ask a prospective client for a commitment to act — to meet, to share their statement or to transfer their account — they weigh the benefits of this action against the perceived risk.
When a prospective client hesitates, there’s a temptation to keep piling on benefits until they agree. That’s one way to achieve success — by increasing the benefits of the action you’re proposing.
But there’s another approach to getting a prospect to act that fewer advisors consider — and that’s to reduce the risk of that action.
Here are some ways to do that.
Strategy one: How you get in front of prospective clients
The first and easiest way to reduce risk is to get introduced by referrals from clients or accountants and lawyers.
That’s because referrals are a transfer of trust — when clients refer you to friends or colleagues, the trust your clients feels towards you is transferred to their friends.
Another approach that reduces risk is community networking — making a conscious investment of time to engage in activities that let prospective clients get to know you in a way that’s comfortable; this works especially well if you’re in a leadership role.
Strategy two: Client testimonials and client surveys
A recent column talked about a low stress approach to client testimonials.
When meeting with a prospective client, you might say:
“Quite often, people I talk to about the possibility of working together are interested in the experience that existing clients have had.
Here are comments from clients I’ve worked with for some time who are in situations similar to yours.”
And then you offer a piece of paper with short comments from four or five clients — ideally people who are in similar situations to the prospect, retirees or business owners or corporate executives.
Some advisors have commissioned a client satisfaction survey — there are firms like Advisor Impact who are in the business of going out and systematically gathering feedback from clients.
So you could say to a prospective client:
“Happy clients are my number one priority.
Last year, I commissioned an outside firm to survey my clients. And here’s a summary of the findings”.
Tags: Accountants, Business Owners, Client Satisfaction Survey, Client Surveys, Client Testimonials, Colleagues, Community Networking, Corporate Executives, Friends, Lawyers, Leadership Role, People, Piece Of Paper, Prospective Client, Prospective Clients, Prospects, Referrals, Risk, Stress, Temptation
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Thursday, December 31st, 2009
Once you’ve developed a clearly defined and differentiated value proposition, there are many different routes to getting the word out to high end prospects.You can build profile as the “go to” resource within a defined client group, build referral relationships with accountants and lawyers or focus on developing media profile in your community.
And then there’s the role of patience — one of the most important qualities to an effective prospecting campaign.Recently, I talked to an advisor about the fine line between communicating that you’d LIKE to work with prospects on the one hand but that you don’t NEED to work with them on the other. In conversations with prospects, you need to avoid anything that makes them fear that they may be rushed or pressured when meeting with you.
This brought to mind a conversation with a highly successful, Chairman’s Club level financial advisor some years back, who had decided to retire after a long career with one of the bank owned brokers.
He’d mapped out his retirement plans carefully. Most important, he’d brought his daughter into the business a couple of years before from an analyst’s role with a well known institution; among her other qualities, she held a CFA.
He involved her in all his client meetings and let her increasingly take the lead in managing key relationships. As a result, none of his clients were surprised when he broke the news that he was stepping back to a part time role and all of the conversations about this went well.
All except the talk with one of his very largest clients, a highly successful serial entrepreneur, on whom he paid a personal visit to let him know of his plans.
This client’s response took him aback:
“Joe, I’ve really enjoyed our relationship and you’ve done a great job for me. But I have to tell you that I’m going to be moving my account.”
Caught completely off guard, the broker confessed to being surprised. He asked his client to tell him more.
“This is no reflection on you or your daughter” was the reply. ” Let me tell you what happened.
“For some time, I’ve sat on the board of a local hospital — among the other board members is one of your competitors. Over the course of time, we chatted at meetings and got to know each other a bit.
“About three years ago, this guy called me and said he’d like to buy me breakfast, to talk about some investment strategies he’d put in place for some business owners that he worked with that might be a fit for me.
“I told him that you and I worked together, that I was happy where I was and that this wouldn’t be a good use of his time.”
The client paused and then went on. “Frankly, the other broker’s response surprised me.
“He said — I’m delighted to hear that. First, I’m delighted that you’re being well served. And second, in light of that I’m happy to hear that you aren’t looking at alternatives — because I wouldn’t want my clients who I’m doing a good job for to be talking to competitors either. But why don’t we have breakfast regardless.”
“So we had a very pleasant breakfast, talked about what was happening at the hospital and our families, didn’t really talk much about investments much at all.
“But I started getting his newsletter and invitations to things he was putting on for his clients.
“About six months later, he called and invited me to a luncheon to hear a money manager in town from New York.
“Since then, he’s been in touch two or three times a year. We’ve had lunch a couple of times, we played golf on one occasion.
“About a year ago, we were having lunch and he says to me: ‘I understand that you’re happy in your current relationship and I respect that. But should there ever be a change, I very much hope that I’ll have the opportunity to complete for your business.
“I told him that I thought that was a reasonable request. In light of that conversation, I really feel that I have an obligation to give him a chance to show what he can do.”
So here’s the interesting question: What had the incumbent broker and his daughter done wrong to lose a multi million dollar account?
The answer: They really hadn’t done anything wrong … it’s just that another advisor had done something very right, by positioning himself as the logical fallback should there ever be a change in the status of this client’s relationship.
It takes a couple of things to make this approach work for you — the right prospects and the right approach.
Start by identifying potential candidates against whom you want to position yourself in a similar fashion to the broker described above. They should have three qualities — first, they would be a very substantial addition to your book, second, you have an existing relationship in place and third you like and are comfortable with them. Chances are that if you like them, they like you.
Once you have identified potential candidates, you have to sort out an approach that works for you.
To be effective, this approach has to be both more aggressive and less aggressive than you’d use against a typical prospect.
More aggressive because the frequency of personal contact is much higher than with a normal prospect.
And less aggressive because the contact itself is lower key. In fact, when it comes to using the “fallback advisor” approach, you have no expectation of that individual becoming a client in the near term, there’s not even a trace of “are you ready to buy yet?”
Instead, you are patiently positioning yourself against the eventuality of a change in their situation. Remember, a key reason this works is both the value being provided and the level of patience being demonstrated.
Because of the amount of time and patience required, you likely want to focus on only a few prospects in this fashion. In the long run, however, the time and patience to become “the fallback advisor” against the right individuals can pay very big dividends.
For more information, please visit http://www.getkeepclients.com.
Tags: Accountants, Cfa, Client Group, Client Meetings, Conversations, Fall Back, Job, Lawyers, Part Time, Patience, Personal Visit, Profile, Prospects, Referral, Relationship, Relationships, Retirement, Serial Entrepreneur, Take The Lead, Value Proposition
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