If You Build It, They Will Come
Have you ever had a financial advisor tell you that they will never go to a sales meeting without you? Have you ever had a financial advisor partner who never uses any other TPAs and would never spreadsheet you against five other TPAs? Can you imagine if you had a partner like that—and if that partner told all of their financial advisor friends about you?
“People do business with people they know, like and trust.” All of us have heard this saying in sales and marketing presentations. In fact, Ty Bennett of Relevant Leadership argues that people have to value you as well.
As non-producing, independent TPAs and compliance consultants, most of our new business comes from referrals from financial advisors. Even TPA firms with outside sales staff rely on referrals. So, the question becomes how to make the financial advisors that we rely on for referrals know, like, trust and value us—not just as service providers but as true partners. We want to be an actual extension of their practices. We want to help take some of the load off of them and their staff so that they begin to rely on us and value what we have to offer them.
In a sense, financial advisors are no different than we are—they are business owners managing a practice just like us. If we look at it from our point of view, what causes us to prefer to do business with one recordkeeper over another? We prefer one over the other based on how easy they make administration for us. How do they save us time and make us more efficient? Do they provide us with tools to improve our firms? Do they respond when we reach out to them? Do they process transactions quickly? Do they keep our clients happy so that we don’t have to spend our time addressing frustrations? All those factors that we consider when deciding which recordkeepers we prefer to work with are similar to what financial advisors must consider when deciding which TPAs to partner with.
BE A TRUSTED RESOURCE
If you have built your practice to be an extension of the financial advisor’s practice, how do you market that to them? How do you make them aware that you want to do some of the heaving lifting for them?
Sharing your knowledge openly is one of the first steps in building trust and relationships. Make it clear that you are available to be a resource for advisors, especially new ones. Offer your experience in the industry freely without the expectation that they will do something for you in return. We have spent hours not only educating new advisors on rules and regulations in the industry but also on the best practices we have seen from advisors who have been successful in the retirement plan industry. We let them know that their success in retirement plans is important to us and that we want to help them be successful and reach whatever goal they have set.
“AS YOU BUILD A REPUTATION AS SOMEONE WHO CAN BE TRUSTED AND WHO CARES ABOUT THE MUTUAL SUCCESS OF YOUR PARTNERS, WORD OF MOUTH BECOMES MORE POWERFUL THAN ONLINE MARKETING.”
BE A VALUED TEAMMATE
Once your new advisor partner has established a certain level of trust with you, it’s time to let them know you better. Offer to go to the sales presentations with them. Let them be the quarterback. In fact, coach them to be the quarterback.
Most often, the financial advisor is the person with the relationship with the client. In some way, the client already knows, likes and trusts them enough to let them submit a proposal for their services as they relate to their retirement plan. However, the financial advisor needs to know that they don’t have to be an expert in investments, legislative and regulatory issues and recordkeeping. Their job is to be an expert in bringing a team of experts together to best serve their clients. Your job is to help them close the sale by not only being the compliance expert but also reinforcing the trust that the potential client already has
in the financial advisor as well as building that trust with you as part of the team.
If you do this well, the financial advisor will continue to come to you to assist them in making the sale and will get to a point where they don’t want to attempt to make a sale without you. They will value what you bring to the relationship.
As a good teammate, after the sale we try to do as much of the heavy lifting for the client and the financial advisor as possible. We want to make sure that all of the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed. It’s our job to make sure that everything is set up and running the way it is supposed
to be. We try to head off any errors before they happen. This level of service is continued throughout our engagement with the client.
As an extension of the advisor, it is also our responsibility to let the advisor know when there is an issue or potential issue. Often the advisor can help with the client. And I would hate for them to be blindsided by any problems that may arise.
BUILD YOUR REPUTATION
You may be asking yourself what this has to do with marketing—we have not covered anything to do with social media, videos, email campaigns or maximizing SEO. The answer: Some of the best marketing comes through word of mouth and by building your reputation not only as an expert in your industry but also as an exceptional partner. The retirement plan services industry is a small world. As you build a reputation as someone who can be trusted and who cares about the mutual success of your partners, word of mouth becomes more powerful than online marketing.
And don’t forget about wholesalers. A good way to get introductions to new advisors is to work with your local wholesalers and partner with them. They should know your service model in order to connect you with advisors who may be looking for a new partner.
The final point is important: Often the TPA is a business owner and so is the financial advisor and so is our client. While this is not always the case, the point is that we are all interested in growing our business, and having the right partners is always an important piece of the puzzle.
If you build it, they will come.
As we noted, it’s a small world, so build your reputation as not only an expert but also as a service provider who truly partners with other
service providers and their clients.
Be a partner who genuinely takes an interest in being an extension of their business and helping them grow and improve. Do that and the business will come.
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