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By David Goldman

Using virtual meetings to build your business now and in the future

07/28/2020
By David Goldman | 07/28/2020

 

If you don't like something, change it.  If you can't change it, change your attitude.

Maya Angelou

 

 

During the era of social distancing, financial professionals have had to find innovative new ways to stay in touch with clients and connect with new prospects. But long after the pandemic fades away, the recent pivot to virtual get-togethers may still be valued as a timesaving, cost-effective strategy for interacting with clients and prospects.

My friend Paul considers himself a "high touch" financial professional who has spent the last eight years marketing his services through live seminars, workshops and client events. But that all changed this year for Paul and thousands of other financial professionals who’ve suddenly been forced to change the way they do business.

After the pandemic hit, Paul said that the thing he missed the most was visiting clients and prospects in their homes. "I learn a lot about a family when we're drinking coffee across their kitchen table.  You don't get that experience when they visit you in the office."

But what Paul soon learned is that you can still have coffee with clients over the kitchen table – or even catered dinners – through virtual meeting apps like Zoom.

"Recently," Paul chuckled, "I was Zooming with a couple while they sat at their kitchen table."  His laughter increased even though he hadn't gotten to the funny part yet.

Paul gathered himself.  "’Next time,’ I told them, ‘I'd like a tour of your home.’ You know what they did?”

"Moved?" I replied, still waiting for the punchline.

"No," he continued, "they picked up their iPad and gave me a tour of their home!”

Paul paid attention. Their home, furnishings and automobiles were modest in relation to the $2.7 million they had accumulated. Where they could afford to place fine art on the walls, they had chosen photos of family and pets and of vacations they had taken to national parks. They appeared to be the perfect poster children for The Millionaire Next Door.

So even without the time and trouble of driving across town, Paul was able to connect with his clients and gain some very intimate insights into their financial outlook.

Going the extra mile

In an age of information overload and cutthroat competition, the truly successful businesspeople are the ones who can connect on a personal level.

Recently, as Paul’s attitude toward webinars changed, he worked with his son and future business partner Gavin to develop a new virtual prospecting model that would work effectively during the pandemic.

As Paul demonstrated, even a virtual seminar can be fun and memorable. After inviting four of his top couples to his virtual event, he ordered food from a local restaurant and had the seminar materials and some miscellaneous trinkets delivered with the meal.

Gavin suggested that his dad change the virtual background of his Zoom session to match the topic he was discussing. When he spoke about having enough income during retirement, he used a background video of a tropical beach. His wife Amy suggested he wear the Hawaiian shirt, sunglasses, and straw hat she purchased for their vacation to Cabo.

When Paul warned about not planning for retirement, he changed the virtual background to a picture of Paul, Amy, Gavin, and their daughter Emma standing in front of a broken-down Winnebago on the side of the highway next to a sign, "Welcome to Hoboken."

(If you need help with graphics or copywriting to make your seminars pop, you can hire artists at online services who will create projects for you, starting at very reasonable rates.) If you’re hesitant to use Zoom, get over it.

"I was uncomfortable using Zoom until Gavin told me, ‘Go Zoom yourself,’” Paul said. “He suggested that I set up my laptop next to his and Zoom myself back and forth until I figured out how it worked.”

 

In an age of information overload and cutthroat competition, the truly successful businesspeople are the ones who can connect on a personal level.

Making the experience memorable

Stacia Vawter, Nebraska Thrivent Member Network Engagement Specialist, Midwest Heartland Region, said that Thrivent financial professionals have traditionally done presentations in locations convenient for their members, such as restaurants, schools, meeting rooms, and coffee shops.

In the virtual world, that strategy has had to change. “Recently”, Stacia said, “financial professionals have sent in ice cream trucks, hot dog stands, and barbeque food trucks to attract people.”

Thrivent financial professionals Melanie Knoepfle and Theresa Wenske planned a live member event in April and invited me to do a presentation on investing, but we were forced to reschedule with a Zoominar in June instead. While the crowd was a bit sparse, we recorded the event, and it can be re-purposed and sent out to folks who couldn't attend.  Check with compliance first!

Melanie leveraged the event as exposure for their practice, but also to promote the local United Way Covid-19 fund. She set up interviews for us on a local radio show, and the local newspaper did a story on how Thrivent was helping raise funds for the United Way.

Even after social distancing eases, Theresa plans to use Zoom on occasions where it fits. "I will use Zoom if we have families who would like to meet with us, but who live in distant towns, states, or even countries."

She also plans to use webinars for people who would otherwise have to cancel an appointment because of a sick child, or inconveniences like having to wait at home for the cable company to arrive to install new batteries for the remote.

Prospecting during the pandemic

Prospecting for new clients during the pandemic certainly has its challenges, but here are some ideas that may make it easier:

Phone calls still work. Whether you're doing live events or virtual, the most critical piece of technology is your telephone. A live conversation is still the best way to qualify attendees before an event, ask for referrals, or close for an appointment.

Keep buying dinners. Some financial professionals offer to purchase dinner from a local restaurant for delivery to the prospect and another couple who might benefit from the content of the seminar. The process is no different than before – your prospect simply needs to make the introduction, then you connect and qualify.

It’s all about them. During the session, engage prospects by asking leading questions and encourage appointment setting. Respond privately to those who have specific questions or concerns.

Don’t give up on the no-shows. It's not uncommon for financial professionals to book appointments with people who are unable to attend. Simply call them and offer a fifteen-minute virtual appointment to address specific questions and concerns they may have. If an attendee goes AWOL, the financial professional sends a link to the webinar and is notified when it's viewed.

Make it repeatable. Another technique is to pre-record a webinar. You'll save time on prepping and delivery, and you can use the recording as many times as you wish. You can use creative backgrounds, props, and other techniques to make your points as you demonstrate your expertise and your ideas for helping them invest their money.

Meeting virtually during the pandemic not only saves time and money, but it can have some amusing moments. For instance, there’s a common notion for speakers that picturing your audience in their underwear will make them seem less intimidating. That idea can actually come to life when you’re Zooming with clients in their homes. During more than one Zoom call, I spoke with people who actually were wearing only their underwear. I don't think that's included in the Know Your Customer rule.

All in all, client and prospect communications is still alive and well – it’s just taken a different form. Right now, somewhere in this world, maybe even in a broken-down Winnebago on the side of a highway, a couple sits with a fully charged iPad waiting for you to show them how to make their financial dreams achievable.

 

David Goldman works with financial professions on sales and presentation strategies through his firm, The Laughing Stockbroker®.


The concepts presented are intended for educational purposes only. Check with your organization for any specific requirements or restrictions they have related to client related activities.



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