At the start of 2020, companies and financial advisors were scheduling client dinners and booking business trips to conduct face-to-face sales meetings. This way of operating came to an abrupt standstill as COVID-19 forced sales teams to shift their operations into the virtual world.
“Physical sales teams had to learn an entirely new system for maintaining and closing deals,” said Brian Moran, CEO of Small Business Edge.
Consider the history of the handshake in sales culture, symbolically sealing the deal. However, this polite gesture can’t be replicated over video chat, during the current pandemic.
“Things like visual communication or tone of voice carry incredible weight in how we communicate,” says E.J. Kritz, director of training and insights . “While a Zoom meeting can still allow a salesperson to add a sense of human element by being polite and accommodating or dazzling customers with their enthusiasm, much of the deal is now done via email, taking away from the personal element and making the encounter more impersonal.”
Change is the only constant
The world is changing rapidly, and the financial planning industry needs to adapt accordingly, not to be left behind. Admittedly a daunting prospect, but this change is a much-needed shift that comes accompanied by great opportunity.
Transitioning from face-to-face selling to virtual selling requires a new approach better suited to the demands of new-age buyers who prefer to work through digital channels. This virtual realm can offer more visibility, enhanced customer engagement, and greater efficiency from technology use.
Building an entirely virtual team is a far more financially viable way of running your practice. You no longer require overheads, such as office space and equipment and there’s more room for collaboration, as you can work with specialised individuals as you need them. These digital collaborators can be located anywhere in the world, charging per hourly or agreeing to a set budget per project.
Trust the virtual sales process
The same tools, such as Zoom and Skype, once used to discuss personal matters and connect with friends, are now used to give clients personalised financial advice in the comfort of their own homes. Younger generations such as Gen Z and Millennials actually prefer it. In fact this was already mainstream before the pandemic with over 42 million households already prime candidates for virtual advice according to a 2019 Mckinsey report. Not only will it save you time, but it can avert any awkwardness that arises from visiting clients at their place of residence after hours.
Having the correct digital infrastructure in place is essential to communicate with your virtual staff and clients while protecting all parties’ data. The brick and mortar model would require you to visit physical locations for sales meetings or go to a client’s home at night. Now you can conduct virtual ‘house call’ appointments. Using your business website, you could set up a scheduling tool to enable customers to set up virtual meetings online. This scheduling tool could sync with your calendar for convenience.
Communication is key
Strong communication lines between employees and managers can further help workers feel part of a network and keep remote work from becoming isolating.
Working remotely allows for more flexibility within your schedule and gives you the ability to choose your hours. When time zones differ, and work schedules don’t align, it’s essential to be mindful of your co-worker’s time to create a working symbiosis.
Remote working can bring about a sudden change to your daily schedule. For instance, if an employee falls ill, you need to take on the responsibility to compensate for their absence as a team. You delegate the work among your team, to best maintain productivity within your practice.
Prospect through digital marketing
Prospecting transforms into digital marketing with your entire audience existing online. Adopting the virtual financial planning model is where you will need to connect with them.
First impressions are more important than ever, so invest your time and energy in designing and implementing an effective digital marketing strategy that can help increase your SEO ranking and improve your sales conversion rates. This is your digital storefront do it right and clients will be coming to you.
Interacting with potential clients online can give you direct insight into what your audience wants. This valuable information can steer your decision-making processes in the future. It will also help you enhance your customers’ experience, develop loyalty and trust through exemplary service, and increase your ROI.
One of the key strengths of digital marketing for financial advisors lies in creating brand awareness to target new markets and consumers.
Delivering a high-quality service will result in more fulfilled client relationships and see healthy brand awareness transpire through feedback, reviews, and word of mouth publicity. These customer assets help build a brand reputation without costing you time, money, or energy.
Define and publish your virtual sales process
Once you get traffic (potential clients) to come to your digital storefront you must show them what to expect if they work with you. Although each virtual sales process will vary slightly depending on the advisor you should make it clear how many meetings they should expect to have with you, how long each meeting typically takes, and what is to be covered in each meeting.
Whether you realize it or not potential clients want to know what your virtual sales process is since they want to know what to expect in working with you. If you don’t tell them clearly what to expect you are giving them one more reason not to contact you. Check out my virtual sales process for Intrepid Wealth Partners here as an example of what you should consider doing for your digital store front.
Prepare for the future
The sooner you embrace the technological revolution we are currently experiencing, the sooner you will be able to utilise the ability to work with people anywhere on earth and streamline your business collaboration to reach new heights.
The consumer and technology have evolved, we must do the same.