In the age of coronavirus, advisory firms have had to adapt to our ever-changing world by finding new and more efficient ways to onboard clients. In-person meetings have now become virtual meetings—and the slow process of trying to schedule in-person meetings has become a thing of the past.
While we may miss lots about the old way of doing things, let’s take advantage of the conveniences social distancing and work-at-home orders have brought us by creating an efficient and speedy discovery process that works elegantly in the digital world. This way, we will be better positioned to quickly move forward in turning leads into prospects and eventually into clients.
Step 1: Initial contact—be prepared!
When you encounter a prospect who is interested in learning more about your firm or would like to initiate a call/virtual meeting, always be prepared to forward an intake form. We call ours the “Good Fit” form, and it is shown below.
Don’t know what questions to ask or how to gather background information from a prospect? This form will help you identify services a client might need, whether they are services you provide or referrals you could make. You have the opportunity to add further value either way.
Figure 1: The Good Fit Form The digital form makes screening prospects easy
Source: Taylor Financial Group
This kind of form will be used for several reasons:
Saves you time and effort. Ideally, the “Good Fit” form helps you quickly size up a prospect and understand what questions to ask in the discovery meeting. You save time and energy by already knowing what you are walking into.
For example, the form asks about investable assets and whether the prospect is interested in planning services. This information helps you to decide if this prospect is a right fit for your niche and if you are able to properly serve them. It gives you the opportunity to prepare for your call/virtual meeting or determine that you should point a prospect in a better direction.
Enables both parties to ask thoughtful questions. By posing questions such as “What are your biggest financial concerns?” and “How long have you been thinking about calling a financial planner?” you are encouraging the prospect to think carefully about their financial needs. This enables a thorough conversation—and hopefully sparks questions that a prospect otherwise would not ask.
Lets you go paperless and provide convenience to the prospect. This form can be filled out digitally, meaning it is emailed, digitally typed, and then emailed back to our team. From there, this can be stored on our server and transferred internally to any team members who may need the information. Handwriting, printing, mailing and in-person meetings are no longer necessary, saving time and money.
Step 2: Decide if the prospect is a good fit
After prospects complete this form and return it to your office, you need to set up the appointment. We have found it most efficient to offer a 20-minute phone consultation, since that allows enough time to evaluate the prospect but it is not a huge time commitment for anyone. In addition, if there is a good rapport, you can always extend the time.
Once the appointment has been confirmed, you are ready to move forward in deciding if this prospect is a good fit for your firm. Host the call or virtual meeting. Be prepared to ask questions that are off the beaten path as well as questions that may trigger an emotional response, like those suggested below. And be prepared to listen.
- Tell me what you enjoy most about your career or profession.
- What did money mean to you and your family growing up?
- Who do you consult with before making important financial decisions?
- Have you had any previous financial advisors? What can you tell me about that experience?
- What are your three most important financial goals?
- How confident are you that you’re in a position to retire the way you want to?
- What’s your vision of a financially worry-free retirement?
- Tell me about a few of the things you value most in life.
- How often do you prefer to hear from your advisor? In how much detail?
- What else would you like me to be aware of?
At the end of the call, you and the prospect will have decided either to move forward or to go your separate ways.
Step 3: Moving forward
If both parties have decided to move forward, this is the best time to show a little bit more information about your firm, introduce them to your services and establish follow-up communications. Please see below for the email we send to prospects who we are moving forward with us:
Figure 2: Our Introduction Email for Potential New Clients
Source: Taylor Financial Group
In our follow-up email, we include the following:
- Client profile. This five-page document is also sent, filled out and received digitally. It allows us to gather more personal information on the prospect in addition to investment information.
- Debra Taylor’s personal video. In this “Thank you for your interest in Taylor Financial Group” video, I speak directly to the potential new client in a way that is meant to evoke an emotional response and add a personal touch to the work we do.
- Additional information on Taylor Financial Group. This is also known as our “Why We Love TFG” message. It includes background on our firm and provides links to special resources on our website, such as “What Makes Us Different” and services we offer.
Step 4: Send the proposal
If we both agree to work together, we send our proposal within 24-48 hours. Once the proposal gets approved, our paperwork goes out within 24 hours of that approval notice. From start to finish, you are looking at a potentially five-day close cycle—a massive difference from the in-person process we all had before.
Times have certainly changed, and our onboarding methods must keep up with the times. At the end of the day, the goal is to provide new methods of contact that will make you stand out, save time for everyone and onboard clients as efficiently as possible. Your arena is constantly changing, as are client wants and needs. Continue to reinvent practice and streamline your processes to meet—and hopefully exceed—their expectations.