Improve Seminar Results

Money BulbNot every elite financial advisor conducts public seminars/workshops within their practice. But my educated guess (looking at advisors with our firm that write $10 million or more annually in FIAs) is that 70% do. The majority of producers use direct mail-driven, dinner-provided public workshops and work hard to differentiate themselves from competitors.

Today I’d like to highlight the success of one of the best financial advisors in the country and his seminar results! I had an opportunity to visit with Matt from Kentucky over the phone today and below are a few mind-blowing stats he shared.
Bottom line as you read this is – if you think public workshops don’t work, think again! In 2009 Matt was at a crossroads in his marketing. He either needed to abandon seminars completely, because the model he was using produced steadily declining results, to the point of being not profitable. Or he needed to tear apart every piece of the process and design it again from the ground up. He chose the second option and his results are astounding…

  • In the past 5 years Matt has seen over 12,000 seminar attendees.
  • In 2011 he spoke at 89 events and averaged a 1.89% mail response for the year! The end result was $14 million of new premium attributed to seminars.
  • In 2012 he spoke at 39 events (less than half), cancelled three scheduled mailers due to overflow and averaged a 1.79% mail response for the year.  That end result was $15 million of new premium attributed to seminars.
  • 2118 qualified leads were produced from his 2012 seminars.
  • Over 50% of Matt’s business comes from baby boomers. That allowed Matt to gather over $29 million in premium last year, due in part to additional business boomer clients bring him throughout their relationship together (opposed to senior clients that typically don’t come into additional funds).
  • He previously did workshops rotated at 13 different restaurants. Now he only uses two premier steakhouses. This caused his cost per meal to go up, but cost per lead to dramatically reduce and average “client value” to increase.
  • His high appointment ratio from seminars provides Matt a minimum of 60 future appointments at all times on his calendar. (He told me he gets “nervous” if it falls below that). Due to appointment volume, he needs to be very efficient in meetings and last year closed 75% of clients at the first appointment, 15% at second appointment and 10% appointments three or more.
  • Nearly $130 million came through his doors for an appointment in 2012!
  • Of that, Matt gathered $29 million in assets, disqualified $20 million for various reasons and the remaining $80 million is now on his “pendling tickler” drip file. Think that’ll produce future results?

Three’s a lot more to Matt’s seminars and the rest of his business. His TV commercials and 30 minute weekly television show on ABC are watched by over 10,000 people. He has the art and science of producing of direct response leads from television exacted. His appointment process and deliverables are incredible. Matt gets prospects to a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ very quickly and with respect. I could go on and on…

I hope these results, if nothing else, give you hope that seminar results can improve! If it works for Matt, it can work for you. Let’s visit soon if you want to dig deeper on anything above.
Advise with Passion,
MJN

1 Seminar Handout — 3 Options

One Seminar Handout + One Small Change (3 Options) = HUGE Results!

How much impact can one small change really make? This week I’ll challenge your thinking and ask you to integrate the basic behavioral economic “dominated option” into your seminar appointment process.

A very successful advisor we consult in Louisville recently did exactly that and has experienced powerful results. Three months ago his seminar appointment ratio was declining. Where it used to be 45-50% at each event, things had started to slip closer to 40% and even more recently they were averaging closer to 35%. So only 1 in every 3 households at the seminar were setting appointments; and he knew something had to change! Matt looked to tweak the appointment process at the seminar, the message given during the event and even how the initial invitation read to prime the prospects beforehand. All of that was great education, but in the end, just one material change was made – integrating a “dominated option” to his evaluation form filled out by prospects. And success followed…

The “dominated option” of behavioral economics states if you’re persuading people to make a decision, giving them only two options isn’t optimal. Do you want a glass of water (Yes or No)? Do you like my shoes (Yes or No)? Do you want to meet with me in my office (Yes or No)?

With every choice in life, nothing is good or bad except by comparison. Every choice needs to have context. So instead of asking “Do you want a glass of water” (where most of the time you’d say ‘no’); what if I said “Do you want a glass of water? And do you like it better in a chilled glass or bottle?” What if instead of saying “Do you like my shoes” (where all of you would say ‘yes’…but that’s beside the point) I said “Do you like my shoes? And if so, would you like them better in brown or black?”

Those two small examples now give me a two in three chance of hearing a yes versus a no. So my odds are greatly improved. But let’s take it a step farther and look at the biggest advantage, the “dominated option”. What if I threw the question “Do you want to meet with me in my office” out entirely, and replaced it with “Do you want to meet with me in my office? And if so, would you like a free tax return this year/copy of my book/will established for free/(fill in your blank that’s better than just an appointment)?

Right now, I’m guessing your seminar evaluation sheet has two options. Option one is requesting a no-obligation meeting at your office and option two says no thanks. That’s polite, non-threatening and the easiest way to do it; but not the most effective. To improve, spend time crafting a third option. That third option should have someone requesting a no-obligation meeting with you AND something else in addition. Even though clients are still making the choice to “Yes or No” meet with you, adding the “dominated option” will noticeably improve the ratio of yes’s. Is it rational? Nope. Does it work? Absolutely.

Going back to Matt in Kentucky, he previously had two standard options for seminar prospects and it wasn’t working. Matt’s made the change and now has three options on his response form:  (1) No, I don’t want to meet (2) Yes, I want to meet and (3) Yes, I want to meet and a free complimentary copy of Matt’s book. Since making the change, Matt had a 70% response at their next couple events, and is consistently above 50% at each subsequent event since. Nothing else about his workshops has changed! So this is the only (and obviously powerful) variable in play.

Don’t delay in making this tweak!

And if you’d benefit from seeing Matt’s actual evaluation form – CONTACT ME – I’m happy to share it.

Advise with Passion,
MJN