December 21st, 2012
Whether it is sales leads or accounting, nobody really likes it when something goes missing. In lead generation, a few missing details makes everything riskier for sales. In accounting, missing records can arouse suspicion. On that note however, paranoia and obsession are far from the best reactions.
December 19th, 2012
Impressions obviously matter in appointment setting. The image that prospects have of your financial planning services will be the one they will carry all the way to the set appointment. They will carry it even after the appointment setting process was a success and they are now an official client.
September 26th, 2012
Despite what the title says, many people find it almost impossible to separate financial planning from talking politics. Then how can you avoid the subject in b2b appointment setting? How much more when your target market is anticipating an incoming election where ideological tensions run high?
Well first off, some might actually contest the idea of refraining from politics in terms of both marketing, appointment setting, and business in general. The reasons go from sheer personal conviction to the belief that it is their right to express their values.
Well, just because you can do something does not mean you really should. You may not face a penalty as grave as getting arrested but there are other consequences that can bother any business. This article from NPR demonstrates a few examples of how dipping into politics can be a double edged sword. To summarize, the consequences can either be:
- Success – Your views are aligned with your target market and are within your scope.
- Failure – You alienate others purely on the grounds of differences that might have nothing to do with business.
In its conclusion, the article cites Cindy Kam, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University:
“And these days, that question of ‘Should I or shouldn’t I?’ is somewhat easier for businesses to answer — because the electorate has become more polarized, she says.
‘Now you have Democrats who sort into going to particular places, buying particular cars, belonging to particular organizations. The same on the Republican side. There isn’t as much crossover as there used to be,’ Kam says.”
Take a step back and read this again for a moment. Would you want this type of division, this segregation? As a financial planning firm, your job is to segregate and manage money, not people! It seems more logical to stay neutral because then, you’ll have both sides comprise a wider market for financial leads. Why limit yourself purely on the grounds of political ideologies?
And don’t forget, you need to weigh the successes and failures in the long-term, not just the short term:
- Views can change – Your target market won’t always sing the same political tune. Higher management can change, work cultures can change etc.
- Lesser relevance to business core – B2B appointment setting implies a long discussion. Take your pick. Would you rather have your marketers and salespeople talk politics or financial planning?
Isn’t it your goal as a financial planner to help simplify the complexities of managing money? Why do you want to complicate it further with political factors?
And speaking of which, this other article from CNNMoney just goes to show hazy the ties between financial subjects like the stock market and that of presidential terms:
“Tempting as it is to tweak my more conservative friends with this fact, it would be wrong to attribute the Clinton and Obama returns to their policies and presidencies. Clinton inherited a great economy (and no, I don’t attribute it to Reagan’s policies as supply-side types do, and neither should you) and left office after the Internet stock bubble burst, but well before it bottomed. Bush inherited a tanking stock market and left amid a financial panic. Does Clinton deserve full credit for everything good during his tenure? Does Bush deserve full blame for everything bad? Yes, if you’re an ideologue. No, if you’re intellectually honest.”
So again, despite all the support you’ve seen, there’s still no denying that jumping on the bandwagon is a double-edged sword. Be more objective and less political.
September 12th, 2012
Some would say financial appointment setting is a result of successful marketing in itself. When you’ve worked hard in identifying (1) a prospect’s money management problems, (2) gaining their interest, (3) nurturing it, and (4) getting them to take action; setting the appointment is simply the final touch.
On further reflection, however, how often do you review the process through which these results came to be? Aside from appointment setting, what are other signs you can look to that indicate success?
This is actually the problem currently faced by online marketing. Many people make the mistake of completely digitizing their tools and only stick closely to things that are happening in the virtual world. This is comparable to the dangers of people spending so much time playing Internet games and are unaware of its effects on their offline life.
Not every ‘Like’ or page view is going to translate into promising financial leads. This is a fact many businesses must face, even those in Internet marketing. You have to stop bemoaning if your online marketing efforts aren’t connecting you with as many clients as you hoped.
Rather, perhaps the reason is that your eyes are only focused on your webpage performance and not the performance of your entire marketing. Ask yourself, what time would you expect a prospect to read your emails or your content? Don’t you think it’s too restrictive to rely solely on the responses and contact forms they send to your company inbox? Why not expand or at least outsource additional channels like telemarketing to help improve your measures?
- You get an additional channel – It allows both you and your market to communicate more. On your end, you can run surveys and similar approaches to see if they’ve really read the material you put on your website. On the market’s end, they have something else they can use to ask questions that they feel aren’t touched upon by your content. Who knows, you may even have prospects that consider it easier talking over the phone rather than going through the trouble of waiting for a text response.
- You verify the value of online results – The value of a view has been greatly diminished even when combined with other actions that could indicate online activity from a prospect. Why not add more to that process by telemarketing a prospect just to be sure? Just as appointment setting services finalize a prospect’s interest, so can a phone call finalize a prospect’s actual identity. At the very least, it can save you the trouble of meeting prospects that end up having multiple online identities.
- You can go beyond the qualified lead – In financial services, you never stop after the sale is made. In fact, the sale is only the start of another business relationship that you need to keep strong. Part of that task requires you to receive feedback outside of what you get in your social media page or email complaints. Electronic surveys via websites can also be too anonymous to completely trust.
Remember, just because some online marketers say they’re the cheaper option, doesn’t mean you’ll get more than what you pay for. The least reputable ones might even give you results that look good at first but are in fact generated with less than ethical methods. Make no mistake, it’s good to lower the costs but just make sure you don’t lower quality along with it. Make sure to consider all your results so that you know you’re successful.
August 15th, 2012
Big Data. You might have heard or read it somewhere (and most likely, the source was business IT-related). It’s a term that is seeing increased use in all areas of business management from marketing and sales to accounting and manufacturing. However, what does this have to do with financial services and more importantly, what’s the connection to making sales leads?
Well a few months back, Networkworld published a slideshow that might be of some interest to those in the financial services industry:
“When it comes to Big Data, the financial services sector has been somewhat slow on the uptake. Neil Palmer, partner of SunGard Consulting Services’ Advanced Technology Business, explains it as a cautious approach to innovation driven by the heavily regulated nature of the industry. But with data growth becoming a challenge and increasing pressure to bring down operational costs, Big Data is beginning to shape financial services too.”
Notice how the slideshow goes on to describe the rising demands and how it says that Big Data is supposed to meet these demands. If your financial service firm has already understood, then it’s likely you already have (or at least just begun) to incorporate Big Data for your functions.
The question is: Does your client know?
Not just your current clients either, but also the potential ones you’re qualifying and pursuing as financial leads. Going back to the slideshow, there’s a chance that they might understand one or two slides. However, what about the rest?
What you’ll see is the risk posed by Big Data and one of the things it’s supposed to manage: large, and large amounts of information. The problem is that same volume could overload the minds of your prospects and give them an unnecessary headache.
Prior to qualifying your sale leads, your marketing agents should go to the prospects first and ask just what is it that they want to know. Financial services cover a wide array of business functions but the top-most concern for an individual prospect might be a selected few. If not a selected few, they could still rank them all in terms of priority. If you’re going to involve Big Data, you need to prepare for the following questions:
- How does this help? – This is one of the most popular questions posed for Big Data gurus. You don’t have to be at that level but it helps to at least have marketing inform sales that the relevance of Big Data is an issue for the prospect.
- What helps where? – The slide show demonstrates how Big Data assists in the processes of several functions. But as stated before, these functions can have varying priorities for each, individual prospect. Demonstrate how Big Data aligns to these priorities.
Whether the qualification was done via social media engagement or B2B telemarketing, qualified sales leads should be for the purpose of helping sales teams prepare. Your use of Big Data in your own services may not always ring well with your prospect. That doesn’t mean you should reconsider it but it should mean that you must avoid the dangers of data overload.