In speaking to managers, the recent problem I’m hearing is that their newest advisors – those hired during the pandemic – are unwilling or unable to prospect effectively.
I’m not surprised. Prospecting has always been a challenge. When asked the question “What is the primary reason your agents fail?” the top manager answer is “Not enough appointments.” As the appointment setting teacher to the industry, I know that the lack of prospects is a more critical issue than phoning.
Our newest advisors are having the most difficulty. They came into the business when face-to-face prospecting was not available. That moved everyone into the habit of cold calling once they exhausted their natural market. Now that things have eased up, and most cities are open for in-person events, this younger group is not taking advantage.
Two primary reasons: One, lack of networking and talking skills. I am acutely aware of the “talking problem” because I teach phone language. But the managers are telling me that this group also needs to learn regular face-to-face conversation skills. The finessing of a networking conversation isn’t even on the radar. Two, millennials are more comfortable with digital communication. Unfortunately for them, texting is restricted in this industry. Three, considering the level of trust required to become someone’s advisor, texting is not the most effective method. Digital interaction should not be the primary communication method when creating a financial practice.
Many younger advisors disagree with me. They report being successful at scheduling appointments with peers who respond positively to texted requests for an appointment. These advisors are crossing a serious compliance line. So what are we to do?
Managers and trainers must teach their advisors how to conduct in-person conversations. Stop composing elevator speeches and instruct them on how to question others. Then role play in the safety of your training room so they can make their mistakes with their peers. Suggest other ways they can prospect in person. Here are ideas that worked prior to COVID and are still effective:
Breakfast meetings, Seminars, Community Service Groups, Business Networking Groups, Trade shows, Local fairs, Planned Events, Natural Market, In-House Events, Visits to Client’s Business neighbors, Social Events
Just saying “go to events” doesn’t work. Managers complain, “Gail, they go to events, collect cards and nothing comes of it.” And that’s because it’s the wrong approach and advisors need to be taught the right approach.
We are all a bit rusty being in groups, asking people questions, and then gracefully easing the conversation to the idea of another conversation. Preferably in a coffee shop or office.
If you’re not sure of how to train your agents around effective conversation skills, call me. I’m here to help.
Remember: Words Matter
In the end, a vision without the ability to execute it, is probably a hallucination.” Steve Case, co-founder of AOL