Financial advisors looking to grow their business need solid coaching, staff they can count on and acknowledge the importance of scripting when talking to (potential) clients. The problem is: many Canadian advisors are lacking in these areas, according to a new survey.
The Tools of the Trade Survey, released during the virtual Canada Sales Congress TV Show, indicates many advisors have their work cut out for them.
“I don’t know of anyone who can go through their career without having somebody help them through it [via coaching]…it helps you achieve more, faster and do a better job for your client,” said Terry Zavitz of Zavitz Insurance & Wealth in London, ON.
But the survey indicates that just over a quarter of the 300 advisors questioned said they participate in coaching as a form of professional development. Just over 90 per cent said their main form of professional development was through webinars.
“Getting good coaching is the cornerstone to be successful in this business,” agreed Don Hart, vice president, Training Development at IDC Worldsource Insurance Network Inc. in Stoney Creek, ON.
Hart said the financial services business needs those who can put in their time and knowledge to learn – everything from attending webinars, to continually catching up on new technologies to using social media.
Identifying and solving problems
The process of identifying and solving problems is also key in the industry. “If you don’t know what to do with your process go to a coach or your MGA and make the answer based on your target market and ideal client.”
According to the survey, by far the largest source of new prospects stems from referrals and introductions. Just under eight per cent said they get new prospects from their centres of influence and only 2.55 per cent questioned said they get potential clients from social media.
“How are you going to get a referral from somebody when they don’t know who to refer to you or they don’t know the process you’re going to take somebody through,” said Brent Swatuck, a coach and advanced case consultant with Equitable Life of Canada in Toronto. “The right coach and strategy can help accelerate your business past what you ever thought was possible.”
When asked how many sales advisors close in a week, 39 per cent of respondents said less than one, almost 23 per cent said three to five and under two per cent said six to 10.
That could well be because 44.1 per cent said they have fewer than 10 prospects in their pipeline at any time, just over a quarter said 10-20 people and about four per cent said they had more than 300 people in their prospecting pipeline.
Hart said this speaks to the importance of advisor productivity. If necessary, he said, advisors should hire administrative staff, so the advisor can spend more time talking to potential clients and selling.
“Productivity is the biggest killer in our business right now and we have to get back to work,” he said. “One e-app a week is not going to make you enough money to stay in this business.”
When asked how many services or products clients have, more than 77 per cent of survey respondents said two to three, 5.6 per cent said one product/service and 12.7 per cent said four to five services/products.
Almost 70 per cent said they follow a set process every time they are on a sales call with a new prospect. The percentage of advisors using scripting or talking points to stay on track during a virtual or in-person sales call was almost split 50-50 (56.7 per cent said no; 43.3 said yes).
“This [scripting] has the potential of being a massive catalyst for your business if you take the lessons and come back and set down the foundation of where you want your practice to go,” said Swatuck.
Script meetings – what an advisor should talk about in terms of issues and products – stem from understanding their metrics and what the client is looking for during their economic lifetimes. Swatuck suggested that advisors not be collectors of all information, but rather find the data that impacts them the most and that will help them take their practice to the next level.
Invest in your business
Zavitz also suggested that advisors invest in themselves and the business. In addition to using a coach, she recommended getting a study group together to meet a couple of times a year to discuss issues affecting all members. Go past that, she said, and volunteer for a board or a committee.
Not everybody knows how to do everything – or wants to do everything, so hire people to help in the office to make up a solid team, said Zavitz. Maybe it’s someone who can do financial plans, or work with high net worth individuals – even book a calendar meeting or make beneficiary and address changes, while the advisor concentrates on prospecting and selling.
“Spend time to work on the business, not just in your business,” she said.
The three also outlined what they see are opportunities or challenges during the pandemic:
- Zavitz: Great changes have been made by insurance companies such as doing away with wet signatures, meeting via Zoom or other conference software programs and embracing fintech.
- Swatuk: Advisors should check to make sure everything on their website and social media pages, including LinkedIn, speak to their target market. “The No. 1 currency that’s out there is attention. You want to garner the attention of the right people and have them consuming your material until they click that calendar app and ask for a meeting to actualize into a meeting.”
- Hart: Financial literacy among clients is rising, so advisors need to be aware of the products they sell, and conduct a proper fact-finding interview with clients to determine their needs and wants.