The summer months are a tough time to reach existing clients and prospect for new ones. Three industry professionals recently shared tips on what advisors can do during the long days of summer to power up their agencies for future growth.
Brian Haney, founder, CEO of The Haney Company, said that over the years, he has come to relish the “down times” in his practice when volume is reduced, and when there’s a bit more margin on his calendar. He realizes that great practices cannot always go a mile a minute; so, they work to use this time wisely.
Haney and his team have used the following ways to continue to improve and grow:
Step back and reassess yourself. Taking the time in the middle of the year to step back and make sure their company is operating in a manner that is consistent with its brand and values is critical and helps them ensure they do not get lost in the weeds or drift in the winds.
Recalibrate our business development and marketing efforts. While his company strives to execute its growth plans consistently throughout the year, sometimes, business has a mind of its own, Haney said. “So, adjusting to the flow of the year and being clear on where we are ahead, and where we may have fallen behind, helps us finish each year strong,” he added.
Cultivate better relationships. Haney advises financial professionals to use this time to enhance existing relationships and cultivate new ones. They should spend time with strategic partners and get to know them on a deeper level. And they should send clients cupcakes or middle of the year surprises to simply let them know they are thinking about them and wishing them a good summer.
In addition, Haney said, they should take time to target some new potential practice advocates, and spend time better equipping their clients and key relationships with their brand value, and share a story or two of some recent impacts that they might want to hear about and cheer on their success. “Never underestimate the value of great relationships because they are the gold of consistent success and the foundation of all real and lasting growth,” he said.
Finally, he said, financial professionals should always remember there’s no such thing as “time management.” There’s only self-management. “Being intentional and strategic with every moment helps your journey towards success be a lot more memorable and pleasant,” he pointed out.
Summer slump: A time for creative prospecting
While it’s true that the summer slump can present some challenges for traditional networking, savvy salespeople can use this time to build relationships with existing clients and take advantage of creative prospecting opportunities, said John Pojeta, vice president of business development at The PT Services Group.
Here are a few ideas shared by Pojeta:
An hour-long group lesson with a golf pro at a local country club
A wine tasting and tour at a local vineyard
A box at an MLB or minor-league baseball game
A meet-and-greet event with an artist at a local gallery
A special class with a dog trainer or pet nutritionist
“The key to hosting an event like this is encouraging your client to bring along a friend,” Pojeta said. “The advantage here is two-fold. First, you can reward your client, and the second is the opportunity to meet more people like them, not to mention the word-of-mouth benefits if you create an exciting and memorable event.”
There is one big caveat, he said. The success of events like these depends upon knowing clients and what they do with their leisure time. For example, he explained, “If you have a core group of clients who do not enjoy golf, that lesson with a golf pro will likely be a bust,” he said.
In addition, Pojeta said, although we are just heading into summer, viewing this year as an opportunity to learn more about clients might be wise. A great way to do this is to develop a client profile page that you connect with them to complete. However, he said, “you should be upfront about why you are doing this; tell them you are interested in learning more about them and their interests. This will put you in the perfect position to plan successful opportunities in 2024.”
The second approach to the summer slump is more creative and lends itself more toward prospecting. Summer is the time when people come out of the woodwork for events, Pojeta said. There are festivals, parades, concerts, and more. Nearly all of these events have sponsorship opportunities, which come with a tent or table for advisors to interact with participants.
Choosing a suitable event to sponsor is the key here, Pojeta said. Since he is in Pittsburgh, he offered the following example:
• Picklesburgh. This is a three-day food festival featuring all things pickled and attended by nearly 250,000 people. This may not be a great event for a veteran advisor, but could be for a younger person who is interested in quantity, Pojeta explained
Another thing to consider is to partner with colleagues or perhaps team up with a wholesaler to ask for assistance in sponsoring a booth, Pojeta said. This can help spread out staffing and reduce costs.
Embrace the downtime
Susan L Combs
Because Combs & Company is a full-service brokerage firm, the company doesn’t experience a summer slump, said Susan L. Combs, the organization’s president and CEO. Although newer agents tend to “freak out” with the downtime, Combs would encourage them to embrace it, since there are many 60-80 hour weeks that they need to have surplus in their “downtime bank” so that they can power through.
Since they are in New York City, Combs said that they can be stuck in the office all day and never get to enjoy the beautiful weather. So, they check in with their networking partners and encourage them to meet for coffee or smoothie, go and sit in a park that is close by, or walk along the river. “I really think that this is a great time to build more social capital with your networking partners,” she said.
Combs and her team have also found out that some business owners have more “capacity” to focus and talk about their company’s insurance needs during the summer. “So, even though it might be really early for a renewal, it’s great to go in and talk about strategy and get some goals nailed down prior to renewal season,” she said.
Ayo Mseka has more than 30 years of experience reporting on the financial services industry. She formerly served as editor-in-chief of NAIFA’s Advisor Today magazine. Contact her at amseka@INNfeedback.com.
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