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6 Ways To Expose Your Differences Through A Capabilities Proposal

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Are you using your capabilities presentation to its full capability?

Providing solutions and differentiation to clients and prospects are vital components of your firm’s capabilities presentation and should be a fundamental element in your business development strategy for 2013.

Your capabilities proposal should target your niche markets concentrating on challenges and obstacles they are facing in today’s economy and the solutions you offer. You will also want to include the benefits of working with your firm along with a call to action.

In our blog, A Capabilities Presentation-A Vital Piece In Selling Your Firm, Learn How to Create Your Story & What To Include, we reviewed how to create your story and what to include in your presentation. Now that you have created your story, is it in alignment with your firm goals and strategically placed to educate existing clients and attract new ones? Advisors should focus on the following 6 ways to expose differentiation from competitors and to increase client acquisition.

Implement your capabilities presentation through:

• Print marketing materials
• Networking and one-on-one interaction
• Build a strategic alliance program
• Increase online and social media presence
• Develop connections through media
• Provide education to organizations and businesses

Your goal is to spawn new connections, referrals, introductions and contacts by earning trust and sharing your expertise consistently through all marketing and new business development opportunities.

Print marketing materials
Include your capabilities proposal in your core marketing pieces. This may include a marketing brochure given to prospective clients, a 1st appointment brochure or a single brochure dedicated to your firm’s capabilities proposal. Fact sheets are another resource to include in your marketing strategy. Typically a fact sheet is one piece of paper, highlighting services your firm offers or your investment strategy.

Networking and one-on-one interaction
Get out of the office and play a bit. Become involved in community events to interact with COIs, community officers and key board members. When networking and interacting one-on-one, YOU are your capabilities presentation. Before anyone becomes a client, trust needs to be earned. Make certain you don’t become impatient waiting for relationships to evolve. Trust and the relationship sell, not the service or products.

Build a strategic alliance program
Work closely with a select group of partners such as CPAs, Attorney’s and Estate Planners. Lay the foundation by identifying specific goals. Educate your alliances about your firm and provide them with resources and small displays including firm brochures, white paper studies, articles and links to your online presence making it simple to refer clients to you.

Increase online and social media presence
Most firms fall short in recognizing the potential of expanding their capabilities presentation to an online presence. Be certain to include your story on your website along with PDF files that can be downloaded of your firm brochures including links to blogs, market research or other feature articles important to your target market. Statistics provided by HubSpot, reveal that 78% of Internet users conduct product research online. That means your website stands a good chance of being a prospect’s “first impression”. That also means your new business card isn’t a business card—it’s Google.

Develop connections through media
Build a list of local media connections and identify which reporters and editors specialize in industry news. Establish yourself as a local expert by providing proactive information through articles, reports, press releases and interviews with an emphasis on solutions you provide to the needs of your market.
Provide education to organizations and businesses
Offer workshops, seminars or panel discussions to charitable organizations and businesses within your target. Groups are always looking for industry experts to provide interesting and pertinent information.

Strengthen your presence through these initiatives by providing strategic financial information as a solution to your target market needs. Providing consistency throughout each interface will reinforce your capabilities proposal and put your firm in position for growth.

Read more about Capabilities Presentations:

Mistakes In Your Capabilities Presentation-Avoid These
A Capabilities Presentation-A Vital Piece In Selling Your Firm, Learn How to Create Your Story & What To Include

Ironstone’s Vision is to forge and guide the personal and professional lives of entrepreneurs and business professionals alike to realize their full potential. Coaching and consulting allows us the opportunity to form an environment where success happens and goals are reached.

Read more about our coaching and consulting program here >>

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Contact Ironstone with your questions & let’s get started!

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How do you promote your capabilities presentation? Share your ideas!

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us:


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Ready To Jump On The Social Media Bandwagon?

As social media has taken a front seat for many advisors, there is still a high percentage  not taking advantage of this prospecting tool.  Many advisors simply don’t have the time, knowledge or staffing to implement a social media platform.  The benefits of having a social media presence will out-weigh the efforts you invest  developing your prospecting strategy.

The fundamental element needed to implement a successful prospecting plan at your firm is to systematically position your practice to attract new clients.  Choose activities that will put you at your best in order to invoke natural enthusiasm with the purpose of cultivating trusting relationships.  Within  your marketing plan, you will need to develop a comprehensive prospecting strategy appealing to new clients.  Begin with the 7 strategies  Ironstone recommends as your foundation.  If you missed our blog, “How to Write a Prospecting Plan for Your Firm,” https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/05/learn-how-to-write-a-prospecting-plan-for-your-firm/you can read it here.

Top financial advisors have one common denominator:

  • A marketing plan and a follow-up strategy

 The biggest difference in this  common denominator is what is within the marketing plan and how committed each firm is to their follow-up strategy.

Adding Social Media to Your Prospecting Platform

Ironstone suggests starting small and simple.  Establish  your social media goal.  Don’t feel you need to take on the world.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Blogging are all easily managed social media channels  you should be using; START TODAY!   By using social media, you will gain:

  • Name recognition
  • Establish credibility
  • Client acquisition and retention
  • Deepen existing relationships

 Follow Ironstone’s simple guidelines to get started with your social media presence.  By following these basic steps, your social media goals will be easier to reach and more rewarding.

Create Basic Profiles on the Social Media Channels You Wish to EngageYou must realize  social media is an active exchange of information.  In order to establish relationships, you must engage in and actively participate in discussions.

Add Your PhotoUse a professional photo.  If you don’t have a professional photo, make the investment to have one taken.

Be YourselfEngage in social interaction.  Relationships are developed when you allow others to get to know you.  Talk about your family, your interests and things that will interest them. Consider scheduling random posts or blogs about health and wellness or other generalized topics that pique interest levels.

Target MarketPick a small niche.  Remember, you don’t need to take on the world.  Find out where your target/niche market hangs out online.  You might find your COI’s on Linked In while retirees are making posts on Face Book.  Connect with your clients in these various social media channels.

Provide ValueBeing the solution to a prospect is the key to landing new business.  Provide information that will genuinely help others.  Review profiles;  find out the interests of your clients and prospects.  Gather relevant content  you can post and distribute on your social media channels that are devoted to your target market.

Provide A Capture FunnelAdd a form that is short and simple to capture information from readers and those who are downloading your content.  Do not simply ask readers to call you;  they are online and that is where they want to stay for now.  An Ironstone best practice tip is to provide a capture form that leads readers to valuable and relevant information; example:  “The Top 5 Ways To …………..”

Manage TimeDefine your own unique publishing schedule and pick a specific time to post and read updates from those in your network.  Make adjustments as needed,  test different times and days.    If you find  you get more interaction on certain days and times, stick with it.  Maintain a continued presence online, but be cautious of overdoing it!

Follow-Up – It is imperative and courteous that you follow up with those who have accessed your information.  Be ready to provide them with additional information that will be useful to them and offer a solution to their needs.

Ironstone can assist you in developing a social media plan for your firm.  Let us know how you are using social media in your firm!

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us:


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Mistakes In Your Capabilities Presentation? Avoid These!

As we continue our series in Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™, we explore the common mistakes made in capabilities presentations whereas our last blog showed you how to build one –  https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/a-capabilities-presentation-a-vital-piece-in-selling-your-firm-learn-how-to-create-your-story-and-what-to-include/

The most vital component of your capabilities presentation is knowing when to share it.  Before prospective clients hire you, they want to know:

  • What you can do for them
  • How qualified you are to do it
  • How you will solve their concerns

 

Amongst many mistakes, the most common is taking the lead and jumping in front of prospects only to give them a detailed list of services offered by your firm.

Establish a process that will build a solid foundation with prospective clients.  List the steps that you currently take when holding a first time meeting, review them, and update them to avoid the mistakes and include the components described in this blog.

The Four Components That Must Happen Before You Present Your Capabilities Presentation

 

  • Ask Questions – Your first step is to understand what your clients and prospects need. A capabilities presentation without understanding needs is like a fish out of water.   You will find yourself flopping around, looking and begging for water.
  • ListenYou can only truly understand their needs if you have given them the floor to speak – free of sales pitches and interruptions.  In addition to giving them the chance to explain their wants and needs you must pay attention.
  • Build trustShow that you care for the interests of others before your own gain.  Conduct all dealings with clients and prospects with honesty, strength, and your highest ability.  Trust cultivates an environment for people to entrust you with their vulnerabilities and allows them to reach out and accept your help.  References and client testimonials are two tangible and quick ways to start building trust.
  • Show Understanding – Incorporate their concerns in all your communication back to them.  This includes your face-to-face feedback, your follow-ups, and ultimately your capabilities presentation.

 

Once you have established a solid foundation to build on, you are ready to incorporate your Capabilities Presentation.  Focus on providing highly effective communication and tailoring a wealth management approach that will fulfill needs and become a solution for your clients and prospects.  By redirecting your efforts to where they should be (towards the client and prospect) you will be creating opportunities rather than waiting idly for decisions.

Some Common Mistakes to Avoid During Your Capabilities Presentation:

 

  • Not doing your homework on room set-up, attendees, timing, expectations, agenda
  • Not understanding the client’s challenge or criteria for selecting a wealth manager
  • Lack of synergy in presentation – too many authors
  • Not rehearsing
  • Arriving late
  • Reading your presentation
  • Connecting with the wrong client
  • Spending too much time on staging the room and not enough on the presentation
  • Pointing fingers at the “Big Guys”
  • Disengaged team during the presentation – checking email, yawning, writing notes to each other
  • Interrupting
  • Multiple answers to prospect questions
  • Not finishing on time

 

In new business, you only get one chance to make a GREAT impression.

Your capabilities presentation will ensure that you, your team, and prospective clients know exactly what you do and how you can become a solution to their needs.  New business will come your way, by following the guidelines that Ironstone has established.   Knowing when to present your capabilities presentation will give you a leading edge over your competitors.

Ironstone can assist you in developing the strategies and tactical questions you need when meeting with a new prospect for the first time and provide agendas and follow-up checklists to ensure vital pieces aren’t falling through the cracks.

Contact us for assistance in starting and improving your Capabilities Presentation.  We want to hear from you!   Share your best ideas here!

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series:  Operational Effectiveness-Time Management


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Reducing Operational Costs Without Sacrificing Client Service

Living in today’s unpredictable business environment, one of the most frequently asked questions we receive is, “How can we cut our operating costs?” 

Streamlining business operations, while containing overhead costs, is the real secret to profitable growth.  Without coming to grips with reality, your firm will face the risk of severe loss.

Steps that you can take, starting today, to ameliorate issues and make your office more effective and efficient:

  • Establish a Budget –  Before you decide where you can afford to cut costs you must have control over your costs. A budget helps you both analyze expenses and income, as well as allows you to forecast financial variances.
  • Develop and implement systems for everything you do in your firm Implementing workflow processes increase efficiency which will in turn have a positive impact on your bottom line. Many firms tend to overlook their operational systems and workflows especially during a good economy.  Review your firm’s operational systems regularly recognize the static processes because “that is the way it’s always been done”, and be flexible to change.  This is imperative to reducing your operational costs and remaining viable amid the rising costs of operation.
  • Align the responsibilities of your staff members to their specific needs Review workflow for areas that need improvement or display a lack of clarity.  Making revisions in a workflow and ensuring that there are no duplicate efforts or wasted energy will prevent you from superfluous costs.  Besides cost savings, you benefit from significant increases in productivity.
  • Invest in more training –  It may sound ironic to invest more money while trying to reduce costs,  however, investing more in your employees shows them that they are valued.  There is an endless source of training models available online, which in-turn will also reduce your travel expenses.   Employees who feel valued, are more engaged and more productive at work.
  •  Build Strategic Alliances – In our blog “Strategic Alliances Build A Strong Foundation For Long Term Success”     https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/strategic-alliances-build-a-foundation-for-long-term-success/   we talked about how building strategic alliances positions your firm to stand apart from the competition.  Share expenses with your alliances by implementing joint advertising/media promotions, shared mailing lists and shared educational workshop expenses.  You will reduce your costs and improve your bottom line by meeting client needs.
  • Outsource  Review the organizational structure of your firm.   Pinpoint which roles could be outsourced, such as payroll or mailings.  Also consider contract employees.  Hire contract employees for special projects or ongoing tasks.  Outsourcing and utilizing contract employees will give you more time to focus on building your business.
  •  Reduce office expenses –  Consider converting to an electronic paperless system when possible and order supplies in bulk.  Shop around for lower prices and negotiate a better price if you agree to purchase all of your supplies from one vendor.  Reduce utility bills as much as possible, but not at the detriment of team effectiveness.

Reducing your operating costs without sacrificing the team’s operational effectiveness, the quality of service, and the value that you provide to your clients, will go a long way towards improving your bottom line.

Keep these principles in mind and implement them.  You’ll find that your reduced operating costs will lead you down the path to substantial growth before you realize it.

Ironstone can assist you in developing the strategies needed to reduce your operating costs while strengthening your relationships with existing and potential clients.  By being held accountable and responsible for the cost cutting steps above, you will gain control of your expenses and move towards a better bottom line.

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series:  The Human Element-The Performance Evaluation


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Strategic Alliances Build A Foundation For Long-Term Success

During difficult market times, building strategic alliances is one of the best investments you can make for your firm. Taking your firm to the next level will require that you incorporate key tactics in your marketing plan to gain market share and improve your client acquisition strategy. To be more competitive and differentiate your firm, having strategic alliances will extend your team and present your firm a way to offer clients a full spectrum of services.

Strategic Alliances Should Be About Your Client, Not Your Firm
One of the biggest mistakes advisors are making today is attempting to build strategic alliances for the benefit of the firm. These types of alliances will fall short of your desired result, providing you with nothing more than a network rather than a true solid alliance producing results.

Center your strategic alliance plan around solutions to meet client needs.

The value of your firm is measured by your client problems, needs, and wants, as well as the quality of solutions you can provide to them. While cost & skill sharing are some reasons why companies form alliances, creating the ability to offer clients more services is the most desirable shared benefit for each partner, including your client.

Begin to structure your extended team with other professionals whose efforts are symmetrical with the needs of your clients. Identify professionals that share your niche and are able to provide solutions for your clients beyond your existing realm of services.

Choose counterparts that you can easily collaborate with, develop good connections, and those that will actively introduce you to new clients rather than waiting for an opportunity to present itself. Perform searches of noncompeting professionals in your community, (such as attorney’s and CPA firms) and then find a mutual connection to help initiate contact. Explore the common motives and objectives between your firm and those of your alliances.

Steps To Creating Successful Alliances:
1. Approach local CPA & Attorney Firms
2. Interview key people to determine their suitability for an alliance with you
3. Implement a systematic process to create strong relationships

  • Create The Vision-describe what your firm and alliances can achieve together
  • • Document and Collaborate-review how each alliance will benefit your firm• Lay the Foundation-mutually commit to specific actions
  • • Staging-include a clear description of opportunities, obstacles, & challenges that each alliance may encounter
  • • Progress-review specific tactics and their results, building on any early successes

An important factor to any successful long-term alliance includes a plan and documentation of future success for each firm. Ironstone can help you structure your alliances by picking the right people to partner with and develop a comprehensive strategic alliance plan.

Contact us for assistance in cultivating a web of alliances with your peers to identify and implement best practices to build a world-class business and achieve bottom line results.

We want to hear from you! Share your best ideas here! We always love hearing from you!

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!
• Strategic Planning
• Business Development
• Operational Effectiveness
• The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series: Business Development-Advisory Boards
• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Follow us on twitter @ https://twitter.com/#!/AndreaSchlapia
• Join us on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IronstoneCommunications
• Connect with us on LinkedIn @ http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=29647364&trk=tab_pro


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Learn How To Write A Prospecting Plan For Your Firm

To accomplish overall marketing goals, many advisor firms need to include a plan for prospecting that includes the strategies and tactics to reach their desired results.  In our blog, “Learn The Fundamentals Needed For Your Marketing Plan”   https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/learn-the-fundamentals-needed-for-your-marketing-plan/    we reviewed critical steps to include in your plan, which are the same for your prospecting plan.

How do successful firms prospect?  Top financial advisors have one common denominator– a financial advisor marketing and follow-up strategy.   A rule of thumb to remember when prospecting is:

40% is preparation, 20% is presentation, and 40% is follow-up

Ironstone suggests implementing the following seven strategies in your Prospecting Plan

1. Provide a Personal Touch – Focus on the value and benefits to your prospects and clients.  Clients want attention and care.  Make use of public seminars to deliver solutions to clients through the benefits you can offer them.  Include hand written notes on mailings to add a personal touch that prospects will notice and appreciate.

2. Communicate Your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) – Differentiate yourself from the competition.  Keep your name in front of prospects to retain and acquire new business.  Your newsletters are an easy way to provide information about your firm or explore the potential of getting published.

3. Choose a Niche Market – Identify the clients you want to serve, you can then find out everything you need to know to dominate that market.

4. Share Your Referrals with Reciprocal Referral Partners – One of the easiest methods for receiving highly qualified referrals is from reciprocal referral partners who serve the same niche market.

5. Maintain Consistent Frequency of Follow Up – It takes about 6 – 15 “touches” for someone to start working with you. Plan a strategy that will allow you this opportunity.   You might include phone calls, mailings, emails, and events as a part of your “touches” strategy and tactics plan.

6. Leverage Your Time – The most successful advisors automate and systematize as much of their financial advisor marketing strategy as possible. Social media and e-prospecting are useful tools to employ.

7. Increase your Retention & Relationship – It is critical that you include relationship building in your plan.  Networking is the best place to start.

Remember:

  • People buy from those they know and trust
  • Prospecting is not easy unless you focus on helping, not selling
  • People who trust you give referrals
  • Referrals take the burden of prospecting off the salesperson

Ironstone will help you implement a successful prospecting plan, identify gaps in your existing plan and collaborate with you developing a solution to achieve the results you are looking for.  We will work with you on creating detailed goals that go deeper than the surface and assist you in planning the strategies and tactics needed to reach your goals.

Contact us for assistance in starting and improving your prospecting plan.

We want to hear from you!    What strategies does your firm use for prospecting?  Share your best ideas here!  We always love hearing from you!

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series:  Operational Effectiveness-Service Matrix