By Vince Valenti
You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a Good First Impression
You’ve just booked an appointment with a prospect that was referred to you from one of your clients. The prospect has told you that he/she is shopping for a new financial advisor and that you’re one of three financial advisors that will be interviewed. What impression will you make to set you apart, and land the client?
For some financial planners, their next step is to do nothing but wait for the appointment. Others may ask some basic questions on the phone, explain their qualifications and then mail out a brochure, a business card and then hope for the best, once they meet in person.
What the Best Planners Would Do?
A great financial planner will ensure that several of his/her proven processes are put into place with every prospect. The prospect will be asked if they prefer regular mail or email to receive an Introduction Package from the advisor’s office.
Their immediate goal is to create a positive and professional image in the prospect’s mind, even before the first meeting happens!
1. Introduction Package
Regardless of whether the meeting is in three days or three weeks, a great financial planner would quickly send each new prospect an Introduction Package that would include the following, at minimum:
Documents For The First Meeting
The package should include a list of important information for the prospect to bring to the meeting. This information will allow the planner to have a clear overview of their present financial situation. These items would include, but are not limited to:
- Family Income Information
- Income Tax Assessments
- Investment Portfolio Summaries
- Insurance Policies
- A list of assets and liabilities
Directions To Your Office
As a courtesy, the planner would be wise to provide customized directions to their office using Google Maps or a similar GPS system. It should include the company name and telephone number on these directions.
A Team Overview
The planner should include a short overview document with their own bio, along with a list and explanation of all accreditations and accomplishments. In addition, they should do the same for members of their office team/staff. They should include two or three client testimonials.
This way, the prospect will feel like they know the planner and his/her team before they meet in person. Providing this information may make the prospect feel more comfortable, as they will not have to ask any awkward questions during the meeting. They’ve already been answered!
2. Follow-up Meeting Reminder
The day before the scheduled appointment, the planner would ensure that either he/she or their support staff follows up with a meeting reminder. At this time, they would also confirm that the prospect will be bringing along the information requested, and that they are familiar with the directions to the office location.
3. Receptionist Responsibilities
A great financial planner will speak to everyone in his or her office who will be coming into contact with the prospect. They want to be sure that the prospect’s first impression is a positive one. Preparation and professionalism is key!
The very first person that every prospect and client will see, is often the receptionist. He/she must be the most professional and friendly individual that will greet the prospect by name and pronounce it properly. It is also very important that the receptionist dresses professionally, and relatively conservatively.
The receptionist should ask if they would like a coffee, tea or water and direct them to comfortable seat. They should be made to feel as comfortable as possible.
The receptionist will ensure that the reception and meeting areas are clean and prepared. If the financial planner is using a laptop or Smart board for their presentation, the receptionist will assist the planner in setting-up and testing all equipment prior to the prospect’s arrival, rather than risk fumbling around with technical problems during the first meeting.
4. Customized Client Presentation and Financial Plan Template
A great financial planner will use a fact finder questionnaire during the first meeting to ensure that all pertinent information is collected. The combination of asking questions and using the information that the prospect has provided, will allow them to determine whether they can help the prospect, and they may even be able to offer some preliminary suggestions at this point.
In their preparations for their meetings, they will have created a Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple Keynote presentation that includes additional information for the prospect, such as; fees, engagement obligations, and possible timelines for providing a comprehensive financial plan, for example.
One of the best sales tools that a financial planner can have on hand is a full color example of a Comprehensive Financial Plan that they insist on creating for each new client. Typically, the comprehensive financial plan template would be kept in an attractive leather binder and the financial planner would go through each section to illustrate the high level of financial planning work and research that the prospect can expect to receive.
5. Take Away Materials
The planner will likely provide each prospect with additional information, materials or tasks to take home and review.
This may include additional information about their services or processes, such as a copy of their Engagement Agreement, Consent &/or Privacy Agreements and they may be required to provide additional detailed information for the benefit of the prospect’s accountant or lawyer. In addition to the above, there may be other materials or articles that the planner believes may be of particular interest to the prospect.
6. Thank you Letter
After the initial meeting, a great financial planner will quickly send out a thank you letter to their prospects. The letter will include an overview of what was discussed &/or recommended. Regardless of whether it’s sent via email or regular post mail, the letter would be sent within one day of the meeting.
7. Follow Up
The planner will understand and appreciate that the prospect may be obtaining advice and interviewing several prospective financial planners. Therefore, it is vital that during the introductory meeting, the planner should ask about the prospects timelines regarding their financial planner search, and should ask them when they plan on making a final decision.
The planner would then update their client management system and follow-up with a telephone call at the appropriate time.
In closing, great financial planners are successfully able to turn more prospects into clients by using a proven process, such as noted above.