The Elements Ironstone Blog

Current news and trending topics for sales and financial industry professionals

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Position Your Firm For Referrals

So while I do believe that “Cold Calling Builds Character”,   only a fool ignores an easy sell.   ~Geoffrey James~

The opportunity for firms to grow business is reaching record highs.   Clients and prospective clients are confused with the many financial advisor options at their disposal. With market volatility and media hype prospective clients don’t know who to trust. Positioning your firm by showing how you are different  from your competition will give you a leading edge!                                                                                             

Referrals are one of the best ways to grow your business. Knowing how to obtain a good referral is the trick. Clients will provide referrals to you when:
They have placed trust in you
• They are satisfied
• They have become loyal to you

Contrary to popular belief, your clients actually like giving referrals. Identify your best referral targets whether by survey or gut instinct. It gives them an opportunity to network with their friends and become a solution to a need. Avoid asking clients for referrals merely to grow your business.

A client referral should be all about the client, not you and your firm. Be prepared to explain how your client will benefit and that you are interested in taking care of the needs of their friends and family the way you do for them. Tell them how you will monitor their accounts and what type of communication they can expect from your firm. When a new client signs the dotted line, you still have to prove to the client that you can deliver what you have promised and earn their trust.

Craft your strategy and approach to position your firm for referrals.
Client referrals start with the quality and depth of your client relationships. As a financial advisor you have helped many people. Create your unique story and include your process. Think of examples that you can share about how you helped a certain client achieve a goal or overcome a problem.   Specific examples will give your clients something to connect to and aide them in sharing your story with others.

Also include why you became a financial advisor and what you like most about your profession.   Embed the type of client you’re looking for in your process.   If not, you will end up with names and phone numbers, not quality referrals.

Areas to consider in your referral process:
1.  Your process should precisely identify your investment approach so that existing and potential clients can resonate with the story. For example, you might highlight the research that your firm has done during the difficult investment climate
2.  Center’s Of Influence: keep in mind that relationships take time to build, let them develop over time otherwise you come off as “needy.”
3.  Keep your Center Of Influence List available, but make your universe small. When working with someone, let them know that they are “1 in 3.” (that is a compliment to them)
4.  Don’t forget the power of social media and networking.   LinkedIn is a powerful business building tool.
5.  Use client meetings as an opportunity to update them on the services that you offer. A client can only provide you with referrals if they have a clear understanding of the services that you provide.
6. Become friends with your clients by meeting them socially at business networking events and other non-sales related events.
7.  Provide incredible service so that your client feels that there is little risk in recommending your firm to a peer.
8.  Be proactive about your clients needs by anticipating what they are likely to want.

Ironstone can assist you in developing a Referral Process and Program. We specialize in identifying gaps in your existing plan and will collaborate with you to develop solutions that are parallel to achieving the results you desire. We will help you create a strategy and tactical approach.

Contact us for assistance, sharing your best ideas and your unique services. 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-New Client Workflow

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• Call our office at 800-917-8020
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Social Networking Sites To do or Not to do?

While the investment industry virtually invented the online networking world, security and compliance issues have made it slower to adapt to the alternative social media.  In no other industry do individuals work harder at following the crowd, or top traders.  The meteoric rise of Yahoo stock during the Internet boom showed us the power of online aggregation.

Today, social media such as Twitter and Facebook is quickly eclipsing Yahoo’s online boards, which once reigned as the place where online gossip could make or break a company in a click of a mouse.  Companies quickly learned how to play the online messaging board game with damage control and management of reputations.

Given the high risks, the question is, do you want to play the online social networking game?  Social networks that allow contacts to mirror your trades are among the higher risk services being offered.  An unhappy investor can infect many people in a short amount of time with very little effort.  At the same time, wrong investment advice is more quickly disseminated and it can be a full time job screening who is contributing to your site.  You must choose your social networking vehicles carefully.

Undoubtedly, there are risks and a significant investment of time.  This investment is not without its returns however, and one might ask instead, can you afford not to play?  Leading investment advisors report that they are driving more sales and traffic through social networking than traditional online sites.  Investment services and social networking sites are adding a plethora of new social media tools to enhance the investment experience.  A big plus of setting up your own network is that you have more control over the user experience and what type of people you network with online.

Clearly, you need to have a social media presence.  You just need to focus on how to protect your online reputation and ensure compliance.  The best advice the experts have to offer is to add contacts and accept recommendations only from those you know and trust.  Ensure the forums on your social networking site are well monitored and maintained at a professional level.  Leading networking sites, for example, have recently been maligned for allowing the quality of discussions to deteriorate and for allowing too much infighting.

The competition to be the next Facebook of mutual funds is intense and a lot of new players are emerging.  A number of leading sites have faced their own reputation issues as they have struggled to maintain the quality of information on their sites.

Following the crowd does not always work in the social media world.  These fallen social media darlings are a reminder of how important it is to invest BIG in managing your online reputation.