Stop trying to leap from prospect to engagement
There’s a huge trust gap when it comes to all professional services.
All too often, I see Financial Planners and other professional advisers attempting to leap across that trust gap, rather than take the baby steps needed to reassure prospective clients.
After all, picking up the phone or sending an email to book a first meeting with a financial adviser is a scary thing to do. We might not think it’s scary; we know that we’re friendly people. But asking a prospective client to meet with you and disclose a lot of very personal information? That is scary.
In this video, the baby steps you need to take to bridge the trust gap and convert more prospective clients into engaged clients.
I think we often underestimate just how scary it can be to contact a financial planner for the first time. Even if that contact is happening as a result of a referral from a friend or another professional, we’re still placing a great deal of faith in a virtual stranger.
When I look at the engagement funnel most financial planners operate, they tend to leap from enquiry to engagement, with absolutely nothing in-between. What I’m covering in this video is another way, arguably a much better way.
What I believe financial planners should be doing with prospective clients is offering them gradual steps up a value ladder. Rather than trying to drag a new enquiry into a meeting where you offer your full-value, premium service, there’s a strong argument for taking a softly, softly approach instead.
First, though, what’s a value ladder? In its purest form, a value ladder is a way of visually representing value on the vertical axis and price on the horizontal axis. Bottom left of this value ladder is where your low-value, free products or services sit. As you move up the value ladder, the price and value gradually increase until you reach the top of the value ladder, at the top right, which is where your full-price service sits.
Instead of prospective clients landing on your website and being encouraged to book an initial meeting, you give them something of value.
An excellent place to start when building your value ladder is with regularly updated free content – blog posts, videos or podcast episodes. These are items of value which can be accessed entirely free of charge, but help to build rapport and start to bridge some of that trust gap.
Starting point then; your website, regularly published free to access content that offers value. Whether you opt for blog posts, videos or podcasts is a case of personal preference, depending on what suits your personal style the best. The important thing here is to get into the habit of publishing regularly, at least weekly, and making that content easy to discover.
Next step up on your value ladder is slightly higher value content, which you give away in return for permission in the form of an email subscription. This is typically a PDF e-book, perhaps a collection of blog posts linked with a similar theme.
Other ‘freemium’ content on this rung of the value ladder might include a video series, checklists, case studies, or a podcast episode transcript. We often refer to these items as ‘lead magnets’ and, when used well, they can be seriously effective at converting website visitors into members of your email list.
Once a member of your list, it’s your job to nurture these prospective clients. You can offer an automated sequence of emails, in addition to your regularly scheduled email newsletter, so they get to know, like and trust you over time.
Next step up on the value ladder is an opportunity to engage more closely with the prospective client. They are still not ready for that scary face-to-face meeting, but events like webinars and seminars are a good way to demonstrate your expertise, and approachability, at this stage. You might offer these for free, in return for an email address or other registration details, or charge a small fee.
There’s a good argument for charging a small fee at this stage. In his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Dr Robert Cialdini, said: “Another deep and powerful social influence that we exhibit is consistency to a commitment made. We have a desire to be, or appear to be, consistent with what we have already done.”
In other words, when you charge a small fee early in the adviser: client relationship, it becomes easier, from a psychological perspective, for the prospective client to pay your larger fee later.
Continuing our move up the value ladder, my next suggested step is to offer an introductory one-to-one meeting. Do this via a video service like Zoom; remember, your prospective client isn’t quite ready to get face-to-face with you just yet.
We see a lot of success by offering a discounted financial health check meeting at this stage, for a nominal fee of say £50, discounted from £250; your prospective client is making a commitment, relating back to the psychology of persuasion, and you get an opportunity to give them something of greater value, in return for this small fee and their time.
I’ve no doubt this financial health check meeting will serve as a loss-leader. But historically, financial advisers have offered this first meeting for free. So attaching some value to the meeting is far better, for both parties.
At the end of this meeting, you provide a personalised financial health check document, and you offer your full-service. We see conversions of around 60% from a health check meeting, conducted remotely, to face-to-face meetings where clients engage for the full service, where this value ladder approach is used.
So that’s the value ladder, in a nutshell. I want you to stop trying to leap from prospect to engagement. Instead, take it slow, build trust, offer incrementally higher value as you build a relationship with your prospective clients.