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Seminar Selling: Behind the Scenes

You need to pay close attention to these key issues if you want to host a successful seminar.

By Ayo Mseka

A growing number of financial advisors are using seminars to market and sell their products?and for good reason. When done properly, seminar selling is an effective and cost-efficient way to reach large groups of prospects. At the Securities America conference held this summer in Salt Lake City, Greg Woodbury, business development director with Emerald Publications, highlighted several ?behind-the scenes? issues you should pay close attention to if you want to get the most bang for your buck.

Your potential attendees must receive the invitation to your seminar at least 14 calendar days before the event.

You should use a targeted list and ask the list vendor the following questions before buying it:

  • When was the last time you updated the list, and how often do you update it?
  • What types of list sorts are available?
  • Does the list include phone numbers of the people listed?
  • How are ?undeliverables? handled?

Times and dates.
The best days to host seminars are Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the best time is around 6 p.m. Before scheduling any event, watch out for conflicting events such as World Series games and holidays. Also, comb through your community papers to find out events and activities that may conflict with your event.

You must remember that most people will not drive more than 25 minutes to attend any event; so your seminar must be centrally located and be somewhere your prospects will feel comfortable. A restaurant is a good location. When seating your guests, make sure that no one has his back to you.

You must realize that some guests will eat your food and not buy from you?it is the cost of doing business. You should serve meals before the presentation; just be sure to have a schedule and stick to it. The average cost of a meal per attendee is about $15 to $20.

Choose a topic that is appropriate for your audience, and always try to use high-quality materials and make the presentation as memorable for your guests as possible.

Direct mail.
Use scripted fonts on your invitations, personalize them, include a return address, and if possible, print the logo of the restaurant in which your seminar will be held on the invitations. Give your guests a choice of three dates they can attend the seminar and include their admission tickets with the invitation cards. Typically, if you mail about 5,000 pieces, you should expect a 1.5 percent response rate. A direct-mail campaign typically costs about $4,000, plus the cost of the list, the meal and the seminar itself, which is usually a one-time expense.

Number of attendees.
Twenty to 25 people is the optimal number to shoot for so you can mingle with your guests and get to know them well.

Start preparing for your seminar as early as possible. Get to the location early?at least two hours ahead of the scheduled time?and check the equipment, the seating arrangements, the lighting and the temperature of the room. Also, make sure there is an area in the building where you can welcome your guests.

Remember that closing starts from the first point of contact with your guests. Welcome them, explain your expectations, intentions and processes, tell them what you will do for them?and then do it.

Delivery skills.
Make sure you have the proper attire as you make your presentation, watch your body movement, monitor the tone of your voice and always make eye contact with your guests.



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