With fewer than ten weeks to go in 2013, I’ve put together a list of the most effective ideas for my financial advisor friends to boost their holiday sales. Even if you’re not a financial or insurance professional, I know you’ll find at least some of these ideas useful.
1. Keep your schedule filled with appointments. If your goal is 8 appointments, don’t “try” to keep 8—keep them. If you need to fill your time slots with existing clients, turn those visits into referral opportunities.
2. Look through the information you’ve taken from existing clients to determine if there’s any way in which you haven’t yet served them. Maybe you need to discuss converting an existing term policy, or increasing their 403(b) contribution. Maybe you haven’t discussed long-term care with them. Is there a client who wouldn’t be helped by increasing his or her monthly contributions into retirement savings? Find out!
3. Use the holidays as an excuse to surprise and delight them. It takes a little extra time and few extra dollars, but the rewards can be incredible: a face painting kit or a barrel of pumpkins for Halloween, a fresh baked pie or a bowl of homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving.
4. “Up” your offers. A client who needs $300,000 in life insurance might agree to $500,000 if given the option. A client who can put aside $300/month for investing might be able to stretch that to $500, if you explain the benefits. Just ask. If 1 in 4 prospects says “yes”, your year-end numbers will increase dramatically, just like that.
5. Ask for referrals as a way of helping someone start next year with a bang.
“Joe and Betty, thanks for letting me know how helpful I’ve been to you in getting your finances in order and in building toward the retirement you want. With the end of the year coming, I’ll bet you have at least a couple of friends who might like to get a new start on their financial situation for the New Year and may want the kind of service you’re getting. Who comes to mind that could use a hand?”
6. Ask for referrals as a way of giving a gift!
“Joe, how about giving your friend you mentioned the gift of a session with me to talk about his finances? It won’t cost him anything and I won’t pressure him to work with me if he doesn’t want to, but you’d be giving him an opportunity to get something life changing that will last…”
7. Focus on reaching out to people with whom you already have a connection. How many people attended a seminar or gave their names to you at a Home Show who you couldn’t reach right afterward, so you then just dropped those leads? Instead of cold calling people you’ve never met, revisit those “failed” contacts, starting with the most recent. If you can’t reach someone by phone, try a quick email, or drop a short message on social media. If you do connect, those people who you have met at least once are far more likely to agree to make an appointment with you than total strangers are.
8. Slow your fact-finding interviews down. It may seem counter-intuitive, but you’ll turn more first appointments into [first and] second appointment sales if you ask more questions, especially about consequences of acting and not acting. It’s not good enough to ask how someone feels about a million dollar insurance need. Dig deeply into the consequences of not having that insurance in place. (If they can’t keep the house, where will they live? Is that okay with them?) Then, make sure your presentation addresses the consequences that they brought up in response to your questions. (This will ensure that they can stay in their house, at least until the kids start college.)
9. Keep your need out of it. You have numbers you want to reach, but the days of the “Contest Close” have long passed. Do they need your help, or not? Is what you’re offering them the best thing for them, or would something that gets you a smaller fee actually be better for them?
10. When it comes to services they need, don’t please your prospects or clients, and don’t sell to them, serve them. If they’re telling you that they’re going to put off applying for the insurance they need, and you believe that the delay does not serve them, tell them passionately that they’re wrong. Be proud of being in sales, but don’t sell, and don’t put having them like you above doing what’s best for them.
*Image courtesy of Mint.com.