If you?re not acquiring as many advice clients as you?d like to be there is a fair chance this is the reason. You?re not ?closing the gap? effectively enough. But once you learn how to do so you?ll quickly see an increase in your client acquisition rate. That means more clients for less time and money resources, and that?s great for your firm.
Give that Some Context
Just so you?re clear on what I?m talking about, your client acquisition rate is the percentage of leads (prospective leads) you are able to convert into a paying client. The higher the rate the better. It?s a powerful metric to help you determine whether your sales & marketing activity is doing its job.
If your client acquisition rate is low you need more leads to acquire a client. More leads increase your cost of acquisition. Not only that, because your client attraction approach is probably consistent with your client acquisition approach, the cost of each lead is also likely higher than it needs to be. That?s a double whammy. The result is more time and money to acquire clients and that?s a hit to your bottom line.
Shift the Focus
As advisers the success of your business will only ever be as good as your ability to acquire clients. And when it comes to client acquisition some advisers are better than others. But by refocusing your approach to acquiring clients most advisers could be significantly more successful than they are right now.
To achieve that though it?s important to realise where most firms, legal and accounting in particular, are right now. If you were to undertake a quick scan of websites, articles and promotional material in your sector you would conclude that many firms, the majority in fact, are intently focused on themselves and not their clients.
The truth, however, is clients are pretty self-centred. They don?t really care about you, your firm, how you compare to your competitors or even how great your website looks. What they care deeply about is themselves and their problem. Let that sink in. What they care deeply about is themselves and their problem. So the only way they?ll let you into their world is if they get the sense you might be able to provide a solution to their problem.
Closing the Gap
I first came across this approach 7 or 8 years ago listening to a guy from the United States called Bill Baren. I found the principles he laid down, when coupled with a structured conversion process, extremely effective in increasing the client acquisition rate of both my services and that of my clients.
Below I?ll provider an overview of the approach.
The scenario you need to consider is your sales conversation (whatever you call that in your firm). The prospect has come through your lead generation sequence, they?ve been qualified in some way and this is the last step in your client acquisition process.
The approach comprises 4 steps, each designed to trigger an emotional response, change state, and move the prospect closer to a purchase decision. That?s important because more than 80% of buying decisions are made based on emotion.
1. Start With Their Problem
The first step is to get clear on the problem your prospect has. Remember, your prospect has a problem and they?re searching for a solution.
So your first job is to connect with their problem. Your objective is to be able to articulate their problem better than they can themselves. In doing this you need to be prepared to probe and go deep. It is important you understand the way they initially communicate their problem to you is not the thing which is ?keeping them awake at night?. All of us experience problems at one of three levels: known spoken, known unspoken, and unknown unspoken. Your job in going deep is to draw out the unknown unspoken problem.
Make sure you engage your active listening skills and repeat the problem back to them.
We?ve taken them low.
2. Visualise the Promise
When your prospects come to you with a problem they are spending most of their time focusing on the problem, not the solution or the outcome. It?s for that reason we need to capture what their desired outcome looks like.
Your objective here is to facilitate a process where they actively consider what a good outcome would look like for them.It is irrelevant at this stage what you might consider a good, or even likely outcome. Your principal focus at this point is not expectation management (though you may need to go there if they?re way out of the ballpark), it is to identify what they want.
Connect them not just with the logistics of the outcome, but why that outcome is important for them, what it does for them and how their life will be different after they achieve the outcome.
We?ve taken them high.
3. Stretch the Gap
So, you started out by taking them low. You let them feel and experience the negative things their problem brings to their life. Next you?ve taken them high, allowing them to aspire to an outcome when they are free of all of the negative consequences of the problem.
Now you need to focus on the vast gulf which exists between where they are (the problem) and where they want to be (the promise). You need to stretch the gap.
It is likely the prospect has never considered the problem, the promise and gap in one single snapshot. This may be confronting for them, even overwhelming depending on the circumstance.
The point is they need to appreciate how big the gap is between their problem and desired outcome and come to the realisation they don?t know how to bridge the gap. This is critical. If they believe they can bridge the gap they don?t need you. Ask them what they?ve tried so far to solve their problem and the result of that action.
4. Position Yourself as the Closer
Having articulated the problem, the promise and the extent of the gap, it?s time for you to position yourself as the closer of the gap. It?s at this point you can start talking about the solution. Start laying out the roadmap from the problem to the promise.
In doing this, identify at least three concrete steps you would take immediately to move them closer to the promise. You don?t need to go into the detail of how you would implement/deploy each step. Simply identify a step exists, that it involves a few key elements (described at a macro level) and that you?ve deployed this solution previously.
By prescribing a solution you?ll position yourself as an authority, win their trust, and very likely their business as well.
At the top of this article I made the observation many advice firms appear to focused on themselves. Looking at the approach outlined above did you notice there was almost no focus on you as the adviser until at least the last step? Why? Because they don?t care about you. They care about themselves and their problem.
You must meet clients where they?re at and engage them there.
If that’s been helpful and you’d like to know more about the client acquisition process and growing your firm let’s tee up a 15 minute chat and see what’s possible.