Marketing Lessons from Poor-Performing Wealth-Investment Firms

If you are suffering from poor growth, join the throng of wealth-investment advisors who have the same dilemma. You can learn lessons from them. They know it’s time to get solutions.

The answers are probably available, if advisors query the attitudes of their clients. Hint: It’s all about branding to build trust as a financial partner.

Registered investment advisor (RIA) firms might want more clients, but 95 percent are lacking in marketing and business development.

Worse, 70 percent don’t even have a strategic plan to grow.

franky242These are some of the salient results of a 2014 study by Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services.

The study is entitled, “Firing on all cylinders: fueling growth with benchmarking insights.”

“Three-fourths of firms see improving their marketing and business development as a top strategic initiative, but they are struggling to make progress,” said David Canter in a press release.

He’s executive vice president and head of practice management and consulting at Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services.

The study’s key findings:

1. High-Performing Firms are focused on telling a consistent firm story, while half of RIA firms are still struggling to establish one.

Only 56 percent of all firms agree that they have a clearly defined and differentiated firm story, and only 43 percent agree their stories are tailored to the specific needs of target clients.

High-performing firms are 1.7 times more likely to tell a consistent firm story, with all client and prospect-facing associates describing their firm and its key differentiators in the same way.

As a result, high-performing firms are also more likely to agree that the majority of their clients know the fundamentals of their firm story, which can help clients become advocates for the firm.

2. While firms are making progress when it comes to targeting the right clients, high-performing firms are almost twice as likely to effectively communicate their target client profiles to help generate the right referrals.

Firms with a target client profile reported that 90 percent of new clients added in 2013 fit this description, compared to only 75 percent of clients on board prior to 2013.

High-performing firms are almost twice as likely to agree that they effectively describe their target client profiles to both clients and centers of influence (COI).

This may help clients and COI identify the most appropriate referrals, which may lead to a higher percentage of clients fitting target client profiles over time.

3. Few firms have an “advanced” referral process; high-performing firms are four times as likely to leverage COI referrals to the fullest.

Referrals from existing clients and centers of influence are important channels of growth for RIAs, accounting for 75 percent of all new clients.

However, less than one-third of firms rate their referral processes as advanced, or even fairly strong.

Only 14 percent agreed that they have analyzed their client base to focus on the clients most likely to make referrals.

High-performing firms are 4 times more likely to say their COI referral processes are advanced.

This includes activities such as always thanking sources for referrals and working to understand their centers of influences’ target client profiles so they can send reciprocal referrals.

In addition, they are more likely to review centers of influence data, such as referral status, at least monthly and keep data up to date.

4. High-performing firms have the talent and resources in place, while one-third of RIA firms are pursuing business development officers.

High-performing firms are approximately twice as likely to be pursuing strategic initiatives to develop talent-management plans or change firm compensation plans – signs that they may be managing talent more proactively.

They are also less likely to see lack of internal sales and marketing capabilities as an issue and, possibly as a result, are less likely to be hiring business development officers (81 percent not pursuing vs. 66 percent of other firms).

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related tips for growing your professional service firm:

Want a Wealthy Clientele? Lessons from Investment Firms – If you want a wealthy clientele, lessons from investment firms show you must focus on your relationship skills. Trust is a vital component to build relationships. For wealthy clients, you need to provide exclusivity, special client experiences with generosity and product quality.

11 Web Site Strategies to Grow Your Professional Service Firm – If you want to grow your professional-service firm, don’t ignore your most-visible marketing vehicle – your Web site. To retain and add clients to grow your practice, compelling thought leadership and other qualities that generate trust are key factors for your Web site. Of course, your treatment of clients should reflect exemplary client-service policies.

Tips for Building Long-Term Client Relationships with Effective Meetings – Signs you have good client relationships: They’ll thank you regularly, pay your invoices promptly, and will respond well to your recommendations. If you don’t have all three of these, here’s what to do.

6 Tips to Increase the Quality, Quantity of Your Client Referrals – As a professional, you can ease the pain and save time in making sales calls, if you’re a good steward of your already-existing circle of associates and clients – potential centers of influence. That’s a term that refers to people who can and will refer business your way.

“Finding good partners is the key to success in anything: in business, in marriage and, especially, in investing.”

-Robert Kiyosaki


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy franky242 at

Do Holidays Frustrate You in Looking for Clients or Job? Soften Your Approach

Is the holiday season a misnomer for you? It probably is if you’re overwhelmed looking hard for income — either for clients or in  job hunting. Take heart, there are options for a new approach. 

These days if you have desperation in searching for clients or a job, it doesn’t feel like a holiday season. So turn it into one. 

Yes, this can be an unnerving time. So don’t try so hard. 

ID-100119829 imagerymajestic.Aside from family and close friends, this is a season for reconnecting with longtime business associates and pals.

Use the holidays to your advantage. 

Sure, continue your quest, but spend the majority of your time building your network. Meet for coffee. Take someone to lunch.

Connect with past associates or people with whom you’ve done some profitable business. 

Out of sight, out of mind – too often , that’s true. So rekindle your relationships.

Your acquaintances will remember your commitment to excellence and skills. 

Don’t forget to get your exercise. 

Oh, now’s a good time to brush up on the 22 Do’s and Don’ts for successful negotiations.

Or it might be time to get a head start on New Year’s resolutions. 

And if all else fails, look around for someone less fortunate to help. Believe me, these folks are out there.

Volunteerism will put a smile on your face. You’re more apt to get some deserved attention. 

You don’t have to feel frustrated in looking for clients or job. Soften your approach.

From the Coach’s Corner, whether you’re searching for new clients or job hunting, here are more resource links: 

10 Strategies to Overcome Stress and Energize Your Career — If you feel stressed at work, join the crowd. Job stress is everywhere. It causes absenteeism, lower productivity, weight gains, high legal and insurance costs, accidents and turnover. Stress costs business about $300 billion a year, according to the American Institute of Stress (AIS).

30 Time Management, Stress Reducing Tips — Tips that will enable you to take bold measures to invest in your future and make money by saving time and reducing stress.

Business Got You Down? Tips for a Morale Boost — If sales are discouraging and you feel like you’re on a treadmill going nowhere, it’s probably because you’re worried about the future. Trust me, you’re not alone. The trick is taking baby steps and not worrying about the future results. Instead, focus on the positive. Business success and strong sales stem are made possible by enthusiasm, and an attitude of service and gratitude.

Discouraged in Job Hunting? Powerful Tips for the Best Job — Whether unemployed or under-employed, a person needs two things: A sense of hope and the right tools to negotiate a job. More than 100 years ago, Oscar Wilde wrote: “What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.”

Job Hunting? Tips to Land Your Dream Job with Style, Substance — Yes, the competition for jobs is ferocious. Unless you’re in accounting, healthcare, mechanical-repair or proficient in sales, good jobs are hard to find. Hopefully, you’ve honed your networking skills and are getting interviews. The first key is to check your attitude.

“Celebrate the happiness that friends are always giving, make every day a holiday and celebrate just living!”

-Amanda Bradley


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry. 

Photo courtesy of imagerymajestic at

For Strong Sales, How and Why to Cold Call Prospects

Are you lacking in sales revenue? Do you get enough face time with the right prospects?

If your referral sources — centers of influence — have dried up and your lead pipeline needs to be filled, the fastest way to more revenue is cold-calling.

But cold-calling isn’t in vogue, despite many sales executives and salespersons being perplexed about creating new ways to make sales.

While networking is preferable, most networking events are geared for micro companies — they don’t provide adequate opportunities to meet CEOs.

woman glasses b&w

Start at the top

If you’re a consultant or a big-ticket salesperson, it’s important to start at the top in order to reach the right decision-maker.

It’s easier to work your way down than it is to work your way up.

In B2B cold-calling on senior executives, it rarely works to use the telephone to make appointments.

Therefore, consider in-person cold-calling for two salient reasons:

Firstly, it’s the quickest route for short-term sales results, if you make a favorable first impression.

Secondly, it helps build a foundation leading to long-term relationships.

Why does it help long term? If implemented adroitly, you’ll forever be remembered from the favorable first impression you created.

Unfortunately, many salespeople dislike it or more accurately, they are afraid of in-person cold-calling. They and their sales managers are also worried about time-management and fuel expenses.

Consultants loathe such cold-calling, too. For them, it’s undignified — it feels reminiscent of early in their careers when they cold-called “with their hats in their hands.” They much prefer referrals.

It’s easier to work your way down than it is to work your way up.

Yes, referrals are a great asset. But what if a salesperson can’t get enough referrals? It’s time to rethink the problem and solution.

What you can expect

In-person cold calls do indeed work.  Why? Remember, the goal is getting both feet in the door for face time. That’s why I especially keep in mind the adage, “Do the footwork,” literally.

In-person cold-calling visits work well — if the right strategies are used.  It worked for me years ago as a young salesman. It worked well when I was job-hunting. Today, it works well for me as a confidential business-performance consultant when I want to get outside for fresh air and exercise.  It’s energizing, especially when the cold call leads to an immediate audience.

Not to be gauche, but here just a few memorable examples: In-person cold-calling has worked to immediately get me in the door to see the mayor of a city, the CEO of a global paint company, and a senior executive in broadcasting.

The latter two were visibly impressed and made these respective comments:

  • “Geez, I wish our sales people had the ability and initiative to make cold calls!”
  • “Wow, you’ve got guts.  I’m going into a staff meeting right now and cite you as an example!”

The mayor’s reaction:  “Please come in. I know your name, but how? From where?” (That was the result of pre-selling — more on pre-selling later.)

Other prospects have bought on-the-spot.

So, yes, I’ve heard all the arguments against in-person cold-calling visits, but in my experience it does work — if implemented effectively.

Consider this checklist:

  1. Approach the process with the right attitude – an attitude to provide a valuable service or product, and an attitude of gratitude.
  2. Research your prospects prior to making cold calls, so they’re not really cold calls, at all.
  3. Implement effective sales techniques, including empathy for the gatekeeper.
  4. Be poised with a professional appearance.
  5. Speak with formality until told not to be formal, e.g. Mr. Smith, Ms. Jones.
  6. Cold-call on the right days during day-parts when prospects are more likely to be receptive.
  7. Be strongly branded, and present the right collateral to prospects.
  8. Listen carefully and say the right things — from providing your value propositions and saying thank you to preventing buyer’s remorse.

Have a presence in the room before you walk in the door.

Pre-sell yourself

Have a presence in the room before you walk in the door. Get published, be interviewed in the media, use all social media including LinkedIn, join the Rotary and be an active Chamber of Commerce member, etc. Pre-selling makes the cold-calling process easier.

You’ll receive seven possible benefits:

  1. You get to size up the prospective organization about its structure and culture.
  2. With such face time, you’ll get an opportunity to start building a rapport with the gatekeepers.
  3. The prospects’ gatekeepers and decision-makers are in a position to evaluate your professionalism.
  4. Sometimes, you get really lucky – you’ll be immediately ushered in to see the boss, who sometimes makes a buying decision on the spot.
  5. It yields appointments, even when the gatekeeper objects – “You don’t have an appointment?”
  6. If able to schedule an appointment, when you return you’ll be more familiar with the prospects’ surroundings, which means you’re more comfortable when asking questions and providing value propositions as the prelude to your follow-up sales presentation.
  7. You’ve started laying the foundation for a long-term relationship.

So, in-person cold-calling does work, if you do the right footwork. After it starts working for you, don’t stop. Keep the pipeline filled. Or, you’ll again be stuck and will lose valuable time by having to restart your sales engine.

Oh, and by the way, if you’re kept waiting when you show up for the appointment, take it easy and don’t be insulted. Consider this axiom: “The longer they keep you waiting, the more they want you.”

Some days, sales calls require a backbone and resilience, especially when some people are rude. Try to be understanding. Assess whether it’s an omen about how the company treats people – determine whether it’s a company that has too many problems to become your qualified customer.

And, oh, yes — don’t give up.  Good luck!

From the Coach’s Corner, here are relevant selling tips:

8 Tips for Cold Calling By E-mail and Telephone — Since the advent of the digital age, cold calling went out of vogue. But in the lingering tepid economic recovery – whether you’re in advertising or staffing services – cold calling has become the logical tool to use to generate clients or business customers. For most businesspeople, cold calling isn’t the easiest route but it is a proven way of getting clients and customers.

The 7 Steps to Higher Sales — Secrets for sales success – seven steps to higher sales, five value perceptions that motivate customers to buy, and the three-step process for overcoming sales objections.

11 Sales Strategies to Outsell Your Big Competitors — Big companies have obvious advantages over small businesses. Their brands are well-known. They can afford sales training, sales-support staff and customer-relationship management software. On the other hand, there are good reasons why Cyber Monday has become big. Yes, many online customers do it to save money on sales taxes. There’s a second reason, too.

“Everyone lives by selling something.”

-Robert Louis Stevenson


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Ad Agencies Seeking New Clients — How to Create a Marriage

An article in once caught my eye: “Marketers Exhibit Cad-Like Behavior at the RFP Ball.”

The author, Jennifer Modarelli, opined in February 2010 about the lack of courtesy and respect companies give to advertising agencies.

Years later, it all remains true. I agree with her.

ID-10046954RFPs, or requests for proposals, are time-consuming and costly.

They also lead to a black hole when ad agencies submit ideas when they’re later used by the prospects without compensation to the agencies.

There were also excellent comments by readers.

Such behavior is symptomatic of the times, and sales opportunity costs are too high.

Many ad agency ideas are worth millions.

Therefore, it’s important for ad agencies to step up.

That means doing what’s necessary to earn a place at the senior executive decision-making table in the conference meeting rooms.

Have you encountered such behavior? Yes, you probably have.

What can be done about it?

Here are some options you might wish to consider:

1. Unless, you have the staffing to absorb such high sales opportunity costs, stop reacting to RFPs.

2. In your pitches, stop giving details without an agreement and compensation. Instead, share your approaches to prospects’ marketing dilemmas.  Otherwise, a cost-benefit analysis will show the resulting legal hassles aren’t worth it.

3. Refrain from giving proposals – try letters of agreement after using the appropriate steps to sell your brand to prospects. Even better, here’s a valuable secret, present the prospect a deal memo.

4. Offer benchmarks for your performance and show empathy for marketplace conditions. But monitor the client. Make sure you’ve got a great client who operates the business successfully.

5. Develop ground rules for client service (my firm has 61). Occasionally, I’ve encountered some friction with a client, so I pull out my service policies and I discover I failed to adhere to them.

6. Solicit compliments. When you get them, ask for two referrals to their peers at other companies who might need your great marketing.

7. Pre-sell your shop. Bypass the advertisers’ “screening out consultants” by getting close to the advertiser in advance. Join the largest business organization in your locale and volunteer for appropriate committees.

8. Continue your SSP, shameless self-promotion. Try new approaches.

Good luck in romancing new business!

From the Coach’s Corner, additional reading:

You Can Get Bigger Corporate Accounts in 5 Steps — So your company needs to grow and you’ve decided to go after bigger fish. Getting bigger corporate accounts is easier, if you develop the right system. But not only must you have reason to be confident, you must position yourself and your company to instill confidence in your prospects.

Consultants – 5 Strategies to Build Trust with Clients — When a businessperson hires a consultant it’s usually because of brand trust. That’s an emotional decision no different than when a consumer buys a new refrigerator or car. But there’s one major difference – the consultant is dealing with a wealthy client or someone who wants to be affluent. Wealthy people have a different mindset, which is why they have money in the first place.

The 7 Steps to Higher Sales — Secrets for sales success – seven steps to higher sales, five value perceptions that motivate customers to buy, and the three-step process for overcoming sales objections.

Marketing – How to Profit from Emerging Human Behaviors — Become more profitable: Forecast emerging human behavior and tastes, and leverage trends to be relevant.

“Advertising is totally unnecessary. Unless you hope to make money.”
-Jef I. Richards


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy of Ambro at

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.