How do I define a financial advisor value proposition that will get me more clients?
Most advisors think that they know the right answer to that question. Obviously, it’s all about sales and marketing! And yes, sales and marketing are important. You can’t grow a business without them. But before sales and marketing can be done effectively, you must craft the perfect financial advisor value proposition for your audience.
Unfortunately, many financial advisors skip this all-important step. Getting your offer right is critically important. That’s what can turn a reluctant prospect into an enthusiastic new client. But communicating the value (and getting buy-in) for something as intangible as a financial plan is tough. How can you position what you do in a way that’s both accurate and compelling — without overwhelming the prospect?
See also: An Optimal Service Model for Financial Advisors
While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, I have found that there is one approach that can help you test your hypothesis value proposition. I call it “the 4 C’s,” and this method can save you a lot of time, money, and frustration.
Here are the 4 C’s of a financial advisor value proposition that will sell itself!
Before you have any chance of presenting your value proposition to your audience, you must get their attention!
It might sound daunting, but here’s some good news. Most financial advisors have such generic messaging that standing out among them doesn’t have to take a lot of time (or cost a lot of money).
So, start with a personalized greeting. We ask advisors in our program to record short introductory videos for their prospects. Other advisors have had success with customized messaging via LinkedIn or interactions on social media.
One more point: Do not aim for a fast close. Instead, apply the concept of finite vs. infinite games to your entire prospect’s journey.
Think of it this way. The old-school insurance game was a finite game. It was played for a win. The salesperson’s goal was to get the prospect to the “end-point” (i.e. sell the policy) as quickly as possible. Once the policy was sold, that game was over — and the salesperson was on to the next game.
A modern, dynamic, fiduciary financial advice process is an infinite game. As such, there is no rush to get to a “win” — because the point isn’t to win and thus end the game. Instead, your goal is to make the moves that will keep the other side playing the game for as long as possible. Curiosity and value will become your best tools to accomplish that.
To make your value proposition feel compelling, you need to create concern in the prospect’s mind. There is only a handful of times in one’s life when a consultation with a financial planner is “mandatory” and urgent. Outside of those exceptional instances, there’s still tremendous value in working with a financial expert… But prospects don’t naturally feel the urgency around it.
So, it is your job to uncover those hidden concerns. You can do that by sharing stories, asking great questions, and listening to your prospects. When you find an opening, offer them to take a step towards solving a specific problem at no financial cost to them. Perhaps there’s a free white paper or a checklist you can share, or an introduction you can make. This allows you to deliver value to the prospect and give them a low-risk, high-reward experience of working with you. Think of it as a test drive.
After the prospect has received a free service experience and has had the chance to develop some trust towards you, you are ready to ask for an exchange. Suggest a small project with a relatively low buy-in point. Think a wealth vision, a risk assessment, or a simple financial plan.
Be strategic about your pricing here. You want clients to have some skin in the game, because buy-in will separate those who are serious from those who aren’t. On the other hand, you shouldn’t be trying to pay all the bills with these smaller offerings. Look for a perfect amount that’s safe enough for the prospect to “risk” — but enough to make them pay attention.
Commitment is the last component of the value proposition build-out.
There’s one common mistake related to obtaining commitment that’s worth highlighting here. Many advisors drive prospects towards a quick “yes” — when they should be holding the space to air questions, voice objections, and build the final proposal together. Your goal is to define the next steps that will feel like a win-win for you and the prospect.
If you are curious about this idea, check out this book on negotiations written by a former international hostage negotiator for the FBI.
So, there you have the four building blocks of a perfect financial advisor value proposition: curiosity, concern, cash, and commitment. Getting all of them right takes trial and error, and you might be thinking…
How many value propositions do you need to craft?
The answer will depend on your practice. The simplest situation is if you only serve one client niche. In that case, you can develop a single value proposition and truly perfect it.
However, you can also develop multiple offers if you serve several niches. In fact, that’s the only way to handle multiple client niches within an advisory firm!
At SurePath Wealth, we have several value propositions that match different profiles of our clients. Delivering several different services can get complicated, so we have an extensive set of workflows and communication tools to help us.
See also: Financial Advisor Workflows and Technology | Case Studies
If you are curious about how we have set that up, check out this recent article from Jason Mirabella with two case studies that illustrate how we use technology to manage service delivery at SurePath Wealth.
For the scope of this article, though, let’s look at one example of applying the 4 C’s to crafting a value proposition for an entrepreneur and a retiree.
There are several ways to pique an entrepreneur’s curiosity. You might lead in with the idea of saving money on taxes, making the right capital investment decisions, or planning for an eventual exit. Or, you might try an unconventional attention-getter, like a message in a bottle sent in the mail. Entrepreneurs understand the importance of reaching out to get someone’s attention. So, they are likely to appreciate your effort, creativity, and tenacity — because they have done it, too.
To create concern in an entrepreneur’s mind, look at the specifics of his or her situation. Did anything important or impactful happen in their industry recently? Are they in a seasonal business that’s in a lean part of the cycle right now? A white paper, checklist, or a well-timed personal video with a relevant story can work well.
For an initial buy-in project, you might consider doing a cashflow analysis of the business, looking at the pros and cons of a specific business decision (like whether to franchise, or whether to lease or buy a certain piece of equipment). You might offer to trouble-shoot insurance coverage or to do a tax review.
Getting to full commitment will probably require building a vision of working together to maximize the long-term potential of future financial decisions. An entrepreneur might be motivated by the idea of building wealth, leaving a legacy, or making an impact. If you can clearly demonstrate that they are more likely to accomplish their true goals by working with you, your value proposition will sell itself.
Compare that with building a value proposition for a retiree. Most retirees are motivated to seek certainty. Of course, individual situations will vary — but you can usually fall back on their desire to be informed, make smart financial decisions, and be financially self-sufficient in their older age.
What would pique their curiosity? Perhaps it’s understanding how their taxes will be different in retirement. Or how to choose the best time to file for Social Security. Or how to determine whether a long-term care insurance plan is right for them.
Finding concern is relatively easy for the retiree audience, as most of them want to know whether they will be financially OK in retirement. A list of common mistakes to avoid, a checklist with best practices, or a recent study about the rising costs of specialty care might be right for your audience. Many advisors have found that in-person workshops are a good medium for connecting with retirees and speaking to a specific set of their concerns.
A “small buy-in” offering could be a tax review, a review of retirement savings accounts for tax optimization, or an analysis of pros and cons of a 1031 exchange for a property.
Commitment will hinge upon the advisor’s ability to educate, listen, tailor recommendations to true pain points, and deliver clarity and certainty (at least on the things where certainty is possible).
A financial advisor value proposition is not a page on your website or a piece of marketing collateral.
It’s a process.
Remember that you are playing an infinite game, so this is not about winning — it’s about playing for as long as possible. Keep the other party curious. Deliver value. Allow for small steps towards buy-in. Build deep fundamental commitment. Don’t settle for a quick “yes” that will turn into a client evaporating at the last minute. Welcome questions. Thank the prospect for bringing up objections. Work to craft a solution that will feel like a win to both sides.
Which part of crafting a financial advisor value proposition is the biggest challenge for you? Sound off in the comments! I will pick a few of these to address in future posts to help you build a winning offer that will boost the growth of your practice.