Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Credibility - it's not what you think
Remember, we're talking about building credibility in the wealth management sales engagement and doing so is different than building name identification, or showing well-designed brochures, or "model" portfolios. You can't attest to your own credibility, others must attest to your worthiness.
Of course, PR
The publicity function of public relations really does work to build credibility through that third-party endorsement of the publication. It's worth the cost to hire a PR consultant to help you get that positioning. If you can't justify the expense, then don't waste your time reading on in this blog (remember, this is about strategically building sales). If you can't afford the expense, that's another thing. The library has many books on media relations. Read one or two and do it yourself.
Assume you're the PR ace (or you hired one) and you've gotten a great bylined article in your local business journal. During your discussion of your services (in the segment where you are discussing your "features, advantages and benefits"), you need to provide proofs. Your brochure or your model portfolio won't cut it. The prospect knows it's propaganda. Your business journal article is a proof. It's proof that the publication thought so highly of your credentials, that you were so credible, that they would give you space in their publication to enlighten their readers. And, they do do their due diligence and vet potential sources. At least, most of the time.
Other proofs to build credibility...
Client letters are another endorsement. I know, it's hard to ask a client or two for endorsement letters, but that's because you're looking at it all wrong. Think about your really satisfied clients. If you decided to fold your shingle and work for a firm, would you ask those clients for references? Sure you would. Same thing. Your clients know that you must have other clients and grow your business. Asking them to drop you a note expressing their pleasure with your service and your results isn't a big deal. Just do it.
Not as good as letters, but on a similar vein, offering up a few selected clients that a prospect may call works well as a proof, particularly if those clients are well known in your community. Of course, just like the letter, you do need to ask your existing client if that'd be OK, but I'm convinced (and you should be, too), that happy clients are usually pleased to talk about how successful they've been. That's because they are so smart and savvy (in having you manage their portfolio).
Think about the big boys. Even the very large advisor firms are required to site client references in most of their competitive proposals. So, why shouldn't you use that approach?
Case histories and independent research add credibility
What did you do for your clients in the last recession, or on the way out? While earlier I poo-pooed company brochures, real case histories (sans names) of your investment strategies at work are another form of proof. They are particularly good when you can complement them with independent research that mirrors your strategy. Documenting and building the histories, and third finding supportive third-party research takes time, but it's worth it.
Supporting your claims - providing proofs - is instrumental in your sales presentation. The time and effort it takes to create those proofs will pay for themselves over and over as those very valuable new business engagements become more effective.
(Next blog: The application of technical marketing for the investment advisor.)