Closing the Digital Deal: How to Master Calls With Prospective Clients
Thanks to a rapid rise in technological advances and the fast mass adoption of those improvements over the last several years, the majority of the average American’s time and focus is now spent in the digital world.
In fact, a recent study by the Pew Research Center found that 85% of adults are online every day, and 31% of them say they’re “almost constantly” connected to the internet.
Of course, it’s not hard to see why people stay online for so long. People moved to virtual alternatives that made it possible to safely resume activities like working, shopping, exercising, and socializing in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and those practices have turned into habits.
Now, those digital advances continue to bring ease, connectivity, and convenience to our everyday lives. Take grocery shopping, for example. Online grocery shopping has grown 400% since 2017, with many stores offering free digital shopping experiences.
But what do all these digital advancements in other parts of life mean for financial advisors? It’s likely your practice has adopted its own set of tools and technology, and your clients are benefitting from a more digital relationship. People like having easy access to their documents and quick communications via video calls, text or email.
Even if your current clientele prefers to keep communications more traditional, your firm’s future will rely on its ability to attract the next generation of wealth builders and accumulators. That includes making yourself more visible and accessible on Google, turning your online presence into a lead generating machine, and successfully closing completely digital engagements.
In-Person vs. Online Meetings: How Do They Differ?
When you’re meeting somebody for the first time in a digital space, you need to adapt your processes from conducting in-person meetings.
There are some similarities between in-person and virtual meetings, however. In both cases, you still want to be as prepared as possible before meeting a prospective client. Know their name and their spouse’s name, as well as what specific issue they may be asking you to address. If they sent in the paperwork, filled out a questionnaire, or provided statements ahead of time, you’ll still want to give these a thorough review before meeting for the first time. In both an in-person and virtual meeting, it’s hard to hide when you’re under-prepared.
You still need to look professional (at least from the waist up), so plan on wearing whatever you usually wear in a face-to-face meeting in the office. First impressions matter, and you still represent your firm during prospective calls — even if they’re happening over the internet.
But what about the differences?
For starters, you don’t have your physical office space to help set the tone of the meeting. No cozy couches, inviting lighting, or impressive fish tank. The good news is, a thoughtful website can help serve as the “mood setter.” When well-aligned with your firm’s identity and style, your website should be able to give prospects a good idea of who you are and how you do business.
In addition, it’s much more challenging to read body language cues over a video call, which often are used to guide the conversation. To make up for this, you may want to ask more open-ended questions and allow plenty of time at the end of the meeting for them to ask additional questions or share their thoughts.
Don’t forget that taking meetings remotely means you don’t always have the option to close an office door. You’ll want to make a plan to minimize distractions, such as kids home from school or pets who are looking for attention.
How to Close New Clients When Meeting Digitally
First, Use the Right Tools
Your process has to be supported by a well-planned client experience, even if it’s digital.
It takes less effort for someone to hop on a virtual call than it does to drive to an office and sit down across the table from a professional. This could mean, for some people at least, that they feel less committed or engaged in the conversation. To help combat this and keep your prospective client’s attention, ask lots of questions, make your explanations brief and succinct, and share helpful visuals when possible.
While you may be the best salesman in the industry, you won’t get anywhere with someone new if your meetings aren’t crisp and clear. A good internet connection is absolutely essential in today’s digital-first world. People are less tolerant nowadays of blurry video, lagging sound, or distracting backgrounds. Even if a technical issue isn’t necessarily your fault, it still creates a bad first impression.
In terms of actual hardware, you should invest in a quality microphone and a webcam. Most built-in computer cameras on the market today are high enough quality to work, but you can also purchase a separate webcam that may have a higher resolution or include additional lighting.
Make sure your webcam is at eye level and you’re looking at the camera when speaking — rather than the screen. This gives the prospective client the impression that you are making eye contact and paying close attention to what’s being said.
A common question for advisors is whether or not to turn their camera on during the meeting or keep it off. Even if your clients don’t feel comfortable having their cameras on, remember that you are the professional here and you should always be prepared to show your face on video calls. Why? Because trust is a huge driver in gaining new clients, and it becomes much more challenging to build when the other person can’t see you.
You have many digital tools at your disposal for successfully conducting a virtual meeting: Google Meet, Zoom, Teams, Docusign, Sharefile – even Nitrogen can help.
Whatever tools you end up using, make sure you have a good understanding of how they work. Be sure to send any pertinent information over to your client ahead of time, so they aren’t struggling to join or participate in the meeting. You may want to give instructions on how to join the video call, what pin or password is required, or how to access documents you’ll be referencing during the meeting.
Before you meet, or when the meeting invitation is sent, give attendees additional contact information they can use to get in touch with you or your team if they have technical difficulties. This is especially important for older adults who may be using this software for the first time.
Virtual meetings make connecting with new clients all over the country easier, so you need to consider time zones when scheduling meetings with new people. An online scheduler, like Calendly, can help. Most online schedulers will automatically adjust to the user’s timezone while still syncing to your calendar. This eliminates the need to email back and forth or attempt to align time zones in your head.
Then, Focus on Mastering Your Meetings
Once you’ve established what software and equipment you’re using, it’s time to focus on mastering the actual meeting.
It’s always a good idea to join the virtual meeting room a little early, just to make sure everything’s running with no hiccups. This also reduces the chance of your prospective client sitting in a waiting room or empty meeting room while waiting for you. Think of how awkward that would be in your office – it’s also awkward in a digital environment.
If you have another person who is physically in the room with you or virtually joining the meeting (like an assistant, partner, or intern), be sure to introduce them at the top of the call. You’d normally do that when meeting in person, but it can be easy to forget when you’re conducting a call online.
Throughout the meeting, make sure you are present and avoid distractions. It sounds obvious, but it can be harder to do than many advisors realize.
Silence notifications from other applications on your computer, and try to put your smartphone out of reach. It can be extremely tempting when you’re in a digital meeting to open other applications on your computer, phone, or tablet, such as your email or messages. But resist the urge to multitask.
Adjust Your Speaking Style
With virtual meetings, it’s inevitable that you’ll speak over each other at some point, especially if there’s a slight delay in the connection. If that happens, always stop, apologize, and allow the other person to continue first.
Awkward moments can also occur because, as we mentioned before, non-verbal cues are harder to read in a digital meeting. Adjust the way you’d normally talk to new clients by communicating more carefully and intentionally than you would in person. Try to skip the small talk and get to the point of the conversation faster.
Establish the Meeting Structure
You may find it helpful to set a definite structure for the meeting, which can set the right expectations for all participants. For example, you’ll likely want to structure the meeting to be about the benefits for the prospective client and, more specifically, how you can help them manage their financial lives.
Digital meetings make it easy to go over time limits without realizing it. If you think the meeting may run longer than you originally anticipated, communicate that clearly with the prospective client and make sure they’re on board.
And Finally, Present Your Client Proposal
Of course, your primary goal is to masterfully present a client proposal during this digital meeting.
While closing a deal in a digital space has its own set of challenges, you’ll follow a very similar process as you would when meeting in person.
For example, you’ll still want to go into the proposal well-prepared with specific information about the client, answers to the questions they’ll likely ask, and your reasonings for working with you (instead of the other guy).
While you don’t want to linger too long on unrelated topics, prospects still need to feel like they can trust you with their money — and that starts with a human connection. Be sure to ask about their personal lives, maybe comment on a family photo in the background and share some details about yourself as well.
As you dive into the proposal, be sure to take notes, just as you would if you were sitting across the table from them. Summarize or reiterate important points often to ensure you and your prospective client remain on the same page.
Provide Specific Next Steps
Don’t end the meeting before outlining specific next steps—including what your digital onboarding process looks like should your prospect decide to take action and work with you.
Share with them how soon they can expect to hear a follow-up from you, either as an email or phone call. Reiterate how they can get back in contact with you should additional questions arise after the meeting has ended.
If you asked them to send over information or documents after the meeting, remind them of this “homework” before ending the call, and reiterate it again in an email.
Your actions and commitment to following up after the meeting are just as critical as the meeting itself. Make sure this prospective client feels like a priority and that they’re in good, capable hands.
Improve Your Digital Sales Process with Nitrogen
Virtual meetings aren’t going away anytime soon, and financial advisors who wish to attract the next generation of wealth builders should prepare to adjust accordingly.
Nitrogen helps firms scale and grow by using the Risk Number® to attract and identify qualified client leads. If you’d like to learn more about our offerings, request a demo today.