Sales in the life and pensions market have fallen off a cliff in the last 5 years. It is estimated at the end of 2012 that the new business market has fallen by up to 70% from the peak. This has been felt by every financial adviser in the country, both in terms of building relationships with new clients, and also in terms of additional product sales from existing clients.
While there are undoubtedly some who haven’t changed their sales development practices to reflect this new world, there are many advisers who have really dug in and changed their approach to maximise their opportunities. So what are these advisers doing differently today than they were doing 5 years ago to maximise their potential sales in this extremely difficult trading environment? Here are a few ideas;
One feature in common of all the brokers I’ve spoken to, who are best dealing with the new sales environment is how pro-active they all are. Each of them have spoken to me about how they’re working harder now than they ever did, trying different activities to drive sales. They are not sitting in the office, sending off the odd email and making a few phone calls! These people are out putting themselves in the way of traffic; meeting people for coffee, networking, attending events, organising events, as well as putting their effort into a whole range of marketing activities.
Plan your activities
Another feature of these successful brokers is they are planning out their sales activities, not just going about them in an ad hoc fashion. Most of them have pretty limited financial resources for their sales activities so they are putting in the time and effort to plan in order to ensure they maximise their bang for buck.
These advisers are getting very clear on the target groups of new customers they believe offer the greatest opportunity for them and in relation to their existing clients, are identifying those individuals that offer the best chance of success. They are then mapping out the optimal set of sales activities for each and then religiously recording and measuring as they progress.
Another characteristic of advisers who succeed in this difficult market is that they’re seeking out every opportunity to add value. Typically this is through investing their time in order to build new relationships or further cement existing ones. These people are putting their hands up to speak at conferences, to give presentations to Chambers of Commerce, even in situations where there is no obvious benefit for them. They are also seeking out all opportunities to refer their clients to other clients. They are working on the premise that “what goes around, comes around”.
One adviser that I’ve been working with used to host a golf day for clients each summer. He has now replaced this with more informal games of golf, spread throughout the year. He fills the fourball with 3 people who potentially will transact business with each other. This has been really appreciated by clients, who recognise him as working in their interests and not his own. This approach costs less money, but does take up more time. However the goodwill to be gained makes it very worthwhile.
These people look to add and show value at every opportunity. When meeting with clients, communicating with them and when trying to build new relationships. They don’t focus on products or their own services; instead they are working out the issues their clients are grappling with and helping them address these. Their own sales opportunities inevitably follow.
It doesn’t have to cost a fortune!
These successful advisers are also putting their time into low cost but effective marketing channels. There are now loads of examples of brokers who are using email marketing and social media really effectively to get their sales messages out there. There are now thousands of financial advisers in Ireland with a presence on LinkedIn. However only a very small number are actually using it and getting value from it. There are also a growing number of examples of brokers who are using Twitter effectively, connecting well with hundreds (& sometimes thousands) of people who are following their insights. If these large groups of people find your musings valuable, there is a better than even chance that they might consider actually doing business with you in the future.
At the end of the day, it comes back to your deep desire to actually make it happen. Are you one of those whose energy is dropping in line with the economic environment or are you out changing your world yourself? Thankfully most of the advisers I meet are in the second camp!
If you’ve any thoughts or comments, I’d welcome them below.