* 18 YEARS *
When you’ve spent just under a decade and hundreds upon hundreds of hours generating more leads on behalf of financial advisors everywhere as I have, you find yourself in a better position to see individual techniques through the lens of the “bigger picture.” None of your efforts exist in a vacuum – everything you’re doing, regardless of how small it may initially seem, all needs to come together to help you better focus on that ultimate goal.

It’s a lesson I was reminded of not too long ago, when I was talking on the phone with a current client about the results of some improvements that he had recently made to his business’ sales call process. This particular client told me something that many have brought up before – he said that, when he gets on sales calls, he loves the fact that his prospects already feel like they know the firm because they’ve read every word of his website.

The copy on that website, for the record, was written by the firm directly. Most of the text is shorter in nature, with a lot of supplementary visual materials. All told, that copy is designed to answer a lot of questions that are likely going to be asked during the sales process – thus allowing him to hop on a call with a level of familiarity already in place that not everyone has the luxury of enjoying.

The fact is, we all want this for our sales calls process – to already have at least some degree of buy-in BEFORE we talk to our prospects.

The problem, of course, is that sometimes this is a lot easier said than done.

Generating qualified leads is one thing. Generating qualified leads where the prospect has already started the process of building trust is another matter altogether. To be the most successful financial advisor you can and to convince someone as quickly as possible that you alone can help them accomplish their financial goals, you need more than just a website. You need thoughtfully written collateral, social media channels like a personal Facebook page and other materials that prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that you know what you’re talking about.

You also need a deeper understanding of who your prospects are, what they want, what they’re worried about and what you can do to help.

If all of this sounds a bit overwhelming, don’t worry – it’s actually a lot more straightforward than you might think. You just need to keep a few key things in mind as you turn your own digital platform into the trust generator it was meant to be.

The Four Stages of Customer Relationship Management: Breaking Things Down

All told, building trust between your financial advisor firm and the modern prospect requires you to deeply understand the four levels of customer engagement that exist in the world today.

Along the same lines, it’s also important to be periodically reminded of what prospects are actually looking for when they decide to trust a financial advisor in the first place.

When executed properly, these two processes are one and the same – and this is absolutely one of those situations where “getting it right” can pay huge dividends down the road.

Regardless of the type of collateral you’re writing or the digital channel you’re taking advantage of today, everything you do needs to quickly and succinctly accomplish a few key goals:

  • You need to articulate your core values as fast as you can. What do you believe in? Why did you become a financial advisor in the first place? What principles are your unique approach to investment management founded on? This can often instantly separate you from other financial professionals in the minds of your prospects, thus starting you on the road of building trust almost immediately.
  • You should also be very clear about your compensation, as this is another factor that prospects are paying attention to. How much money will you make out of this relationship? When do you take your cut? How does your payment structure work? People want to know the answer to these questions and it’s up to you to provide them.
  • You should provide a clear overview of your level of expertise, proving that you can do exactly what you say you can. Do you offer personalized financial advice? Are you and your team members certified financial planners? Do you work with retirement plans or other long term goals? Make all of this clear so that people can be confident right away that they’ve found someone who can help them with their own specific goals.
  • Finally, you should provide an overview of your level of service. What, exactly, does it look like when someone works with your firm? How frequently do you communicate? What is your process about keeping people in the loop during major market events? People care about all of these things which means that you need to care about them, too.

All of these factors should be featured on your website, your Facebook page and on other digital channels. All of them need to be stated explicitly, though some can be outlined implicitly as well. But above all else, you need to show patience in explaining all of these important topics. Don’t forget that not everyone has the same level of expertise in regard to their financial situation that you do. It may take more effort than you’d like to establish this critical level of trust between you and your prospects, but at the same time that effort will more than pay off in the long term.

Meet, Know, Trust, Agree

Another crucial thing to understand is that there isn’t a single “magic” moment when it comes to building trust online with your prospects.

Instead, there are four. They’re all equally important in their own specific ways, and they’re all more than worthy of your attention.

These four levels include ones like:

  • Meet. This is also commonly referred to as the moment of initiation, as that is exactly what is happening. There’s an old saying that tells us “you can only make one first impression, so you’d better make it a good one.” This “meet” stage often represents someone’s first encounter with your brand, which means you need to pull out all the stops to accomplish exactly that.
  • Know. You’ve captured someone’s attention – now, it’s time to start converting that attention to interest. In this second stage, you work on developing trust with your customer and many of the techniques outlined in the section above are exactly how you do it.
  • Trust. In an effort to continue to build trust with your prospects, they’ll often go through something called a “trust trial.” This is when observations made during the course of this blossoming relationship not only help the customer draw a conclusion about what you’re capable of, but that also propel that decision to buy as well. They’ll have an expectation about what it means to work with you as a financial advisor and it’s up to you to create a supplementary experience to match.
  • Agree. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. A prospect not only recognizes the need for a financial advisor, but they now know that you and you alone can get the job done. Trust has been built and the foundation of a relationship has been formed.

Mastering this process does more than just gently guide a prospect from one end of the buyer’s journey to the other. Ultimately, it means that someone both trusts your financial advisor firm and sees the raw value you bring as early on in your experience together as possible. At that point, you can focus all of your efforts on building a genuine relationship with these people in every sense of the term.

Prosperous Relationships are Founded on Trust

Yes, it’s true from a certain perspective that trust is really built in meetings with prospects, which give yourself the opportunity to show that you’re the true listener they need when talking about something as important as their financial situation.

But don’t forget that your digital presence can be a critical precursor to that eventual face-to-face encounter, whether it takes place in your office or via a web conferencing service like Zoom. All of the techniques outlined above help your content walk those prospects through the levels of engagement like meet, know, trust and agree – which puts you farther down along the line towards your goal of onboarding a new client before you’ve ever even had a chance to meet that person in real-life.

If you’re having a hard time getting to this point on your own, don’t worry – we can help. At Midstream Marketing, we can evaluate your website to confirm that it does in fact built trust. More importantly, we can also help see where it might be improved – thus capitalizing on those opportunities across the board.

It’s also important to note that we regularly do customer development interviews where we take a deep dive into your relationship management practices, probing some of your best clients (the kinds that refer you to others) to see what they currently think of your digital practice. This is often invaluable in terms of making those distinctive chances that really make a noticeable difference in building trust digitally.

So if you’d like to find out more information about the four levels of customer engagement and how your website and digital platform can build trust, or if you have any additional questions that you’d like to discuss with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact Midstream Marketing today.

Christopher P Wendt Administrator
Christopher P. Wendt is president of Midstream Marketing, a digital agency that generates predictable leads for independent financial advisory firms. Over the last 10 years, he’s spent hundreds of hours applying the LeadGen Formula™, a proven method helping financial advisors generate more leads. You can reach him at cwendt@wendt.enterprises.
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