You’ve heard that advisors often have to exert more time and energy to win over women as customers, but you needn’t worry. “Show Her You Care” noted that you can shorten the selling process to women if you recognize a key point: Women often communicate differently than men, so tailor your communication style to suit their sensitivities. The article outlined a seven-step approach that’ll help you do just that. Now you simply need to try the steps out. Which leads to the next issue: How do you attract women prospects in the first place?
The answer: financial planning seminars. That’s one approach that Barbara Pietrangelo, CLU, ChFC, member of Grand Rapids AIFA (Mich.), has taken for the past eight years—and for good reason. While this MDRT member has women millionaire clients, many of her other female customers are middle-income. You may encounter the same situation, and so practically speaking you won’t have the time or resources to spend weeks, or even days, trying to make each of them your client. But imagine the impact of a group of women in one place, at one time, with all eyes on one person—you. If you can convince this group in one fell swoop that your services can benefit them, you’ll get their business … and probably that of their family and friends and anyone else they share your name with. (Remember, women are more likely than men to recommend a good advisor to others—they’re also more likely to be long-term clients.)
Your seminar, step-by-step
“Seminars are a little costly, but we’ve done the math on it and the return is well worth the time it takes,” says Pietrangelo, a certified financial planner with Prudential. Her events, usually held every 18 months, attract 150 to 200 women at a time. At one of her last seminars, 90 percent of the participants requested appointments, Pietrangelo says. “It doesn’t happen all at once,” she cautions. But it does eventually.
To get started on your own event, Pietrangelo recommends these steps:
1. Allow enough lead-time: Plan your seminar at least six months in advance—that’ll give your compliance department time to sign off on promotional materials, such as the invitation. Then draw up a list of current female clients, with the intent that they’ll bring along a guest. To tap into more prospects, check out church groups, book clubs and mothers’ groups—anywhere women get together. For maximum response, the invitation should have a classy touch. For example, the ones Pietrangelo sends out look like wedding invitations—they’re in pink envelopes, with a first-class stamp and an RSVP card.
2. Hold the supper: Rent out a space at a moderately priced place—Pietrangelo goes for a middle-of-the-line country club. After people sit down, take 10 minutes to introduce yourself and to allow for the wait staff to place chicken Caesar salads and rolls in front of everyone. Pietrangelo has found that full-course meals lead to too many wait staff interruptions, and larger meals often hike up women’s guilt when it comes time to sampling desserts at a nearby table. Also, having an informal dessert buffet gives women a convenient time to go to the restroom.
3. Keep it short: The seminar, which may cover topics such as cash management, long-term goal planning and insurance issues, shouldn’t run over 35 minutes, says Pietrangelo. And while a PowerPoint presentation is probably unavoidable, don’t make it the centerpiece of the session. If you go heavy on financial lingo, after all, your audience will zone-out. “We try to do a lot of visuals instead,” says Pietrangelo, who often uses shopping bags to explain dollar cost averaging. Pietrangelo tops off the presentation with a fashion show, put on by a local business.
4. Make it fun: Look within your family and business team for talents to bring to the table. For example, you may have a musician-friend who can play live music at the event. Pietrangelo’s business partner’s wife opens the seminar with Top-40 tunes, while Pietrangelo’s husband stands by the door in a tuxedo, greeting people.
5. Ask for feedback: Toward the end of the seminar, Pietrangelo’s team passes out reply cards that include 10 basic questions about her prospects’ financial state-of-mind. These “temperature-check” questions include:
- Do you feel you have the best strategy to help you secure your retirement?
- Are you confident you’ll have the funds you need to send your kids to college?
- Are you sure that your investments are properly diversified and that they’re the right vehicles to help you achieve your long- and short-term investment goals?
The card should also include a space for prospects to provide contact information. Pietrangelo tells people upfront that she’s busy, so if they’re not interested in providing contact information, she still welcomes their feedback on the seminar.
6. Reach out every eight weeks: Pietrangelo advises sending your prospects and clients an informational postcard every eight weeks, rather than a newsletter—Pietrangelo says her clients often deem the latter too time-consuming to read. The postcards she sends out include her picture, contact information and a simple blurb such as “Did you realize you could check your credit at no charge?”