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5 Sales Tips to ignore in Quarter 4

Quarter 4 is here, the year is coming to a close. You’re running out of time to turn a good year into a great year or a bad year into a good one. You’re probably hearing a barrage of ideas to help you this quarter, so I’m going to swim against the tide a bit. Here are 5 ideas that you might hear that I suggest you ignore in Quarter 4! Hopefully these will help you and your team of advisers achieve the results you’re looking for.

 

“Focus on driving your strugglers up to the benchmark”

It happens every year… A few of your “stars” shoot the lights out yet again, a big group in the middle will be there or there about and a (hopefully) small group of your team are really struggling and quite a bit off the pace. The usual reaction is to spend time focusing on them, analysing why they are struggling and then hopefully helping them to make the changes and turn their year around.

However this is often done at the expense of the rest of the team, who are left to continue under their own steam. Does this make sense? If through your intervention you are going to achieve (say) a 10% uplift in performance, the impact on your overall number will be bigger if this comes from your stars, rather than your strugglers. The time to work with your strugglers is throughout the year before it becomes a problem.

 

“Fill that vacancy immediately at all costs”

You’ve a gap in your sales team, it’s really hurting you in one area of the country and you’re struggling to get the right person – a problem faced by many financial advice firms today. A potential candidate emerges but you know in your heart they are not the right person… but they might just deliver some short-term results. Be very careful. This situation can be very difficult to undo as this person builds up relationships inside your organisation and more importantly with your customers. If they have negative traits, these potentially can rub off on other members of the team and as the saying goes; bad breath is worse than no breath…

 

“It’s all about getting sales in the door”

Well yes it is, but is this not the case throughout the year? Unfortunately what often happens in Quarter 4 is that thinking gets very short-term. Money starts getting diverted from marketing budgets which are building up long-term engagement and brand equity into shorter term and one-off sales enhancements – incentives, pricing campaigns etc. While these undoubtedly have a place in the overall marketing mix, they shouldn’t be introduced out of desperation. They should be part of an overall well-thought out sales strategy.

The downside of these short-term initiatives is that sales seem (naturally) harder to come by when they are removed and also if your longer-term marketing initiatives have been undermined, you might find the start to the following year has been made even more difficult by your short-term thinking in the past.

 

“See more customers, your internal work can wait”

This is one that raises its head quite frequently. The boss wants the sales team out seeing more customers. The sales team complain about the amount of internal work that needs to be done such as keeping the CRM system updated etc. To deal with it, the boss agrees to temporarily turn a blind eye to the system being updated. Now you’re on the slippery slope! Wait until you try and turn this back on again, get ready for a struggle! Sales people want to spend their time out with customers and as a result will begrudge having to carry out this “internal” work. I suggest if you get the team engaged in doing this important work, never let this slip! I’ll be watching my back with all the broker consultants in the country after this point!

 

“Pick up the 1:1 meetings again in the New Year”

In the same vein as the above point, another activity that is often let slide as the pressure mounts is 1:1 meetings as everyone tries to stay busy, out chasing up every tree. However this is a time for clear leadership and direction for your sales team. The experience and capability of a manager to stand back and survey the situation, and then being in a position to influence and tweak the activities of the sale person is invaluable. The 1:1 meeting is the best opportunity to display that cool head and influence your team and it is really important that these happen regularly and consistently throughout the year, in good times and difficult times.

Is there any other advice that you’ve got that you think has been very important to ignore? Please leave your comments below.

 

by Eamonn Twomey

5 Common Marketing Mistakes by Financial Advisers

In this column, I look at 5 of the most common mistakes I see financial advisers making when it comes to Marketing.

 1.   Unclear Objectives

Since the recession really began to bite, many advisers have realised the importance that Marketing plays in attracting and retaining clients. However a lot of money has been  wasted on activities that unfortunately were doomed from the outset. The main reason that I have discovered is that there was no clarity around exactly what was to be  achieved from the marketing activity – was it to increase the brand presence, attract new clients or hold onto existing ones? If you’re not clear about what you’re trying to achieve, unfortunately you’ve little chance of achieving success…

2.   Content – or lack of it

I think we all know this one… “Let’s do a Newsletter” says someone with a burst of enthusiasm! Two torturous months later, Issue 1 is finally sent out. Everyone is relieved but exhausted and yes, Issue 2 never sees the light of day! As a result, it becomes a nagging sore and really, you’d be better off never having started on it at all. For all your marketing activities, you need to think through the future content or indeed find a source to write the content for you. If you’re going to start a regular activity, you’ve got to commit fully to it for it to say positive things about your business and your brand. By the way, the same applies to out of date content…how up to date is your website?

3.   Focusing too early on the Product

As I work with more and more financial advisers, I see another quite common theme. A huge amount of work going into presentations, brochures, websites etc. that set out in great detail the products that we want to sell without ever engaging the audience first by putting yourself in their world. Trust me; we’re all guilty of this one! The problem is that you need to engage the audience first and then slowly reel them in, instead of launching straight in to the solution. Identify their need to stimulate their interest and then engage them in the benefits to them of addressing that need. Now they’re ready and want to hear the solution – your product!

4.   No Measures or Focus on Results

A good number of advisers have expressed strong views to me in relation to previous Marketing activities that they’ve carried out. However when pressed, they’ve had unclear targets set around the activities and little or no analysis of the actual results. I often hear “I think we got 10 leads out of that, but would need to check”. The actual results are often wildly different – sometimes much more positive, sometimes more negative. When I ask what result they had hoped to get, there often was no target.  The problem is that if you don’t set targets and rigorously measure the results of each activity, how are you supposed to know next year which activities to repeat and which ones to ditch?

5.   Poor Production Quality

Finally you get your content together – be it written content or speakers for your seminar etc. But then the newsletter goes out with typos on it or on wafer thin paper that looks and feels terrible, or at your seminar no-one can read the slides because the typeface is too small or the projector is not strong enough…we’ve all been there. Your audience disengage and in a worst case scenario, will place a big black mark against your brand. Make sure you’re really proud of what you produce – or else get an expert to look after it for you! Wow your audience, don’t disappoint them!