How do you convert more prospects into clients, make more money, and increase your impact? You start with a solid lead nurturing strategy. Lead nurturing is the purposeful process of engaging prospective clients—or customers—by providing relevant information at each stage of their journey to becoming an actual client. Lead nurturing has largely moved away from a transactional activity to initiating and maintaining a relationship that leads the prospect to the best choice. Building relationships takes time and work, but it’s a worthwhile effort that pays dividends if done well. Forming genuine connections and consistently conveying your value to prospective clients is a cornerstone of a successful business. That’s why when you nurture prospects, you also nurture your bottom line.
The timeline for converting a prospect to a client varies. A range of factors can play into this, including background, goals, quality of the lead, and timetable. The truth of the matter is, you can’t sit back and wait for a prospect to be ready to move forward and conduct business with you. You need to proactively form a relationship with the individual from day one and custom tailor the relationship. People have different interests and values, and how you interact with them should vary accordingly.
Before you can get started with a lead nurturing system, you first need to fill your pipeline with quality leads, from which you will qualify prospects. Your job is to help people progress toward becoming a client, but you can only do that if you have leads in your pipeline to actually work. You need to find those individuals who are going to be worth your time to pursue; establishing your niche is an effective way to do this.
Get creative as you build out your funnel. Leads can come from people who you already communicate with, referrals from other prospects, inbound marketing… the list goes on. There are plenty of ways to start generating leads, from social media to contacting others in your industry to lead magnets; do what works for you. At the end of the day, you need to start somewhere, so put some thought into expanding and building out your funnel of leads who would receive value from your service.
Once you have your sales pipeline filled with quality leads, what are the next steps to build your relationship and share your value proposition with them? There are many different routes you can take to stay in touch with prospective clients and successfully facilitate their journey toward a decision; it really boils down to your individual business and what you feel comfortable with. Below are a few simple tactics that you can incorporate into your financial planning practice to help you nurture those prospects into clients!
Use a CRM System to Track Everything
Using a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system is one of the most important things you can do for your business, not only from a compliance standpoint of documenting interactions, but also from a client loyalty standpoint. There is a reason it is called Customer Relationship Management software—it quite literally helps you manage your relationships with your customers, current and prospective.
You can use your CRM system to segment your leads and help determine which qualify as prospects. Determine a lead scoring system that fits within your business model and start classifying your leads based on how likely they are to move forward and conduct business with you. This might be based on affordability, need, time frame, or another factor specific to your scoring system. Not all leads will be the same; an email you send to one lead may not be the same email you send to another. By creating a lead scoring system, you can focus on which emails or touchpoints will resonate more strongly with different categories of leads.
Keep track of your interactions as you work to qualify your leads into prospects and further them along on their journey to becoming a client. This includes keeping track of important dates—like birthdays and anniversaries—as well as hobbies, upcoming trips, and favorite items. Documenting this information allows you to personalize your communications with your prospects and provides you a handy set of talking points. Rather than vaguely checking in to “see how things are going,” you can call/email and chat about their most recent trip to Hawaii with the family, how their birthday was, or if they have any upcoming plans for their anniversary. Recalling details from past conversations adds a personal touch, makes the prospect feel valued, and builds your relationship. And here’s a pro-tip for emailing prospects: be sure that your emails never appear as a mass communication. That’s a surefire way to get sent to the spam or trash folder. Plus people won’t engage with you if they feel like just another name on a list. You want your email to resonate with the person, and a personalized email goes a long way toward making someone feel valued. So take the opportunity to customize every interaction you have with your prospect, whether that be via email, phone, or social media outreach.
Utilize a Welcome Email
Within 24 hours of your first correspondence with your prospect, follow up with a welcome email to make a quick introduction. When you send a welcome email to a new prospect, you make a first impression on behalf of your brand, and guess what? That whole “you only get one chance to make a first impression” principle holds true in email interactions too. So take the time to craft a message that counts. Ensure that your welcome email feels personal, not transactional; this is an opportunity to establish trust and highlight your brand’s value. Here’s another pro-tip: make your welcome email feel extra special by including a freemium, like an informative e-book or a useful checklist or template. This is a great way to position your brand as relevant in your prospect’s mind. Plus, who doesn’t love free?
Use Drip Marketing
After you send your welcome email, determine what emails would be best to send to your prospects over time. These can be emails that help educate your prospects, improve their day-to-day lives, or create meaningful conversation. You can cater and personalize an email or touchpoint so it directly correlates to your prospects’ interests. Do you have a freemium directly related to a particular topic relevant to your prospect? Put it in their hands! What looks like a free perk to a prospect is really a strategic way of communicating your value and worth.
As you establish regular communication with your prospects, be cognizant of email frequency. You want to delight, not overwhelm, your prospects so that they say “tell me more,” not “please stop talking.” And don’t get frustrated if some prospects never respond. We all know life gets busy and people may forget to circle back to you. Keep trying. Continuing to stay in touch shows your commitment to developing that relationship and keeps you top-of-mind.
Connect on Social Media
Have a LinkedIn page? Facebook business page or group? Twitter handle? Invite your prospects to connect with you there. In addition to emails, connecting on social media keeps them in the loop with the daily happenings of your business, shows how you interact with your clients, and exposes them to valuable content you share. You can start by including links to your social media pages in the signature of your emails. Remember that welcome email I mentioned earlier? This is a great place to include a quick note inviting prospects to join you on social media. And if there are widgets to your social media pages already linked and easily accessible? Well that makes it 10 times easier to connect on those platforms. And while we’re on the subject of social media, here’s a useful tip: always respond to any inquiries that come through your social media channels. Don’t just let them sit there unanswered—this instantly create a bad impression.
Write a Blog
Have a blog? Use it to nurture your prospects! Include links to your blog in the emails you send to prospects, and mention it if you verbally communicate with them. If you don’t have any freemiums, directing your prospects to your blog is a great way to ensure that they have access to content they may have never stumbled upon themselves. Just like social media (where you should most definitely promote your blog), your blog is a great way to stay in touch with prospects. Some might even reach out via the comment section for further clarification or to ask questions, giving you the perfect opportunity to connect with them.
Ensure You Are Showing Value
At the end of the day, your goal for interacting with your prospects is simple: build trust, educate, and increase awareness of your service so that when the day comes for a prospect to move forward and become a client, they think of you first. It won’t happen overnight, but when your prospect is ready to hire a financial planner, the relationship you have already taken time to nurture will be at the forefront of their mind. And, when an acquaintance or friend of one of your prospects needs a financial planner, there is a strong chance they will be referred to you. Just like that, you’ve set yourself—and your bottom line—up for success by incorporating a lead nurturing strategy into your business model.
Continue to Improve
Once you get rocking and rolling on a lead nurturing system within your practice, take the time to review your process every so often. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments, try new things, and tweak your process. If you created a lead scoring system that’s not working as well as it once did, change it up and try something different. It won’t be an overnight process when it comes to creating your system and there will be a variety of changes you will need to make as your business continues to grows. After a while, you will have enough data to dig deeper into the “how” and “why” some of your prospects end up converting into clients and others don’t. This will really help you determine what is working and what isn’t, and improve where necessary.
About the Author
Lindsey Harrington helps prospective members learn more about membership and what it takes to join our growing community. She is passionate about sharing the tools and resources the community has to offer to help individuals start, run, and grow their own fee-only financial planning practices.
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