Seminars can be one of the most effective strategies for gathering assets. Sadly, many financial advisors abandon their seminar marketing efforts when results fail to live up to expectations.
When seminars disappoint, financial advisors are quick to blame anyone but themselves. The most common excuse: “My local area is seminared out.” This excuse, like countless others, is rarely the cause of the problem. Whenever one points a finger, there are three pointing back — to you, the broker. There are four reasons reps don't succeed with seminars and four ways they can improve their results.
Reason One: Failure to understand simple marketing techniques. The critical success factor for financial advisors is neither brains nor good looks; it's marketing. It might be cold calling, direct mail, networking, referrals or whatever. Whichever strategy is chosen, it must be learned, refined and mastered. Yet, it never ceases to amaze me that financial advisors expect results in seminar selling without devoting a modest effort studying the seminar-selling process.
The point of a seminar is — duh — to initiate and establish multiple, mutually profitable long-term relationships. But don't just invite guests, get to know them. There is a variety of ideal opportunities to establish and build relationships. Call prospects during registration. Confirm the appointment, too. During the half-hour before and after the seminar, make contact with your guests in an informal, personal way. Do not squander the time by talking to an assistant or guest speaker. It's easier to convert a lead by this kind of contact than letting potential clients slip in and slip out of the seminar.
Reason Two: Failure to implement effective closing techniques. And, no, praying to the elusive “God of Seminars” to bring you luck won't do the trick. You actually have to close the leads yourself. Although it helps, excellent public speaking skills and quality information are not enough to get seminar guests to call for appointments. Closing strategies for seminars are abundant. Feedback forms asking for an appointment can be filled out before the seminar begins. Appointments can be solicited in an appropriately worded opening presentation. Your assistant can work the audience too, politely soliciting complimentary appointments.
Whatever the particular method, it must be a focused effort on one goal: to set appointments. If you are timid about asking for an appointment, you may want to reconsider holding a seminar (you may want to think about a new career, too). Pick one solicitation technique you feel comfortable with and use it.
Reason Three: Failure to put qualified prospects in the chairs. Sales is a numbers game. Most financial advisors have heard this sales axiom from the day that they were licensed. And it's true, to an extent. The success of your seminar partly depends on the number of bodies in the room, but you need real, qualified prospects.
Reason Four: Failure to follow up correctly. This is critical. Correct follow-up is not about making one call to participants who attended the seminar. Persistence is, of course, required. Closing ratios can be increased 20 percent to 40 percent if you do it right. For example, no-shows should be called and asked to come in for an individual appointment and invited to future events. Management software can be used to make sure you don't forget.
Many participants will become “seminar angels” and invite friends and associates to future events. Implementing follow-up strategies such as these will result in lots of new business opportunities.
is author of ”Seminar Selling: The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Financial Services.”