If you've been working as a financial advisor for a while, you've likely at least thought about trying a lead generation service. In fact, many financial advisors use services to seek out prospective clients.
Perhaps you have used such services. Perhaps you haven’t, but you’ve heard horror stories from colleagues about them being a waste of time and money.
Just like restaurants, not all lead generation services are created equal, and of course eating at McDonalds is going to be wildly different from dining at a restaurant run by Wolfgang Puck.
Luckily, there are qualities you can look for in a lead generation service to help distinguish the greasy spoons from the Michelin-star establishments. We’ve compiled a list of considerations financial advisors should make when vetting lead generation services. Check it out!
You know those internet videos of people literally trampling each other at Best Buy on Black Friday? That's not really the vibe you want to cultivate when calling prospects.
Unfortunately, lots of lead generation companies pit financial advisors against each other by giving them the same leads. A lead generation strategy like this which fills everyone's sales funnel with the same prospects is going to result in an experience most financial advisors — and the prospects they're calling — would much rather avoid.
Not only do you feel pressure to make a hundred phone calls within seconds of buying leads so you can be the first to call a prospect, but the people you call end up getting dozens of calls all at once, which is stressful and off-putting for everyone involved.
At Planswell, we believe the best way to connect financial professionals with potential clients is to assign them exclusively. That's right — when we send our partners a household, we only send it to that partner. No scrambling, no rushing, no competition with other advisors.
We don't know of any other companies providing exclusive prospects like this, but the financial advisors we partner with agree: it's the way things should be done.
People are busy these days, and attention spans have never been shorter. When generating leads, most companies do not deliver them in real time. That means the leads they send their customers may lose interest in personal finance by the time someone actually gets around to calling them — if they were even interested in the first place.
At Planswell, we do things differently. Our partners don't buy lead lists from us; instead, we connect our partners with potential clients at the exact moment they have curiosity about their finances.
When you call Planswell households, they have taken the time to answer over forty questions about their financial lives, SMS-validated their phone numbers, and just received a comprehensive report from Planswell.
Our partners have the benefit of initiating contact with households when their interest in financial advice is high, rather than cold calling folks out of the blue who may not even know why they're getting a call.
If you’ve ever purchased a list of leads, you’ve probably had the experience of a hefty portion of the numbers being fake. This is because many lead generation strategies involve baiting folks into filling out a form without ensuring the phone number they list is real.
Companies that do this probably don’t have the best interest of the advisors they serve at heart — they want to sell their list to as many people as possible and be done with it.
Our goal at Planswell isn't to sell lists to as many advisors as possible, but to connect real households with financial advisors who can help them. We know working with a financial advisor leads people to be able to retire sooner and with more money, and that's exactly what we want.
That’s what Planswell households want too. They’ve all taken the initiative to create a free financial plan on our site, and SMS-validated their phone numbers in order to be able to access and update their plans. What’s more, we won’t pass a household along to one of our partner advisors until they have completed both of these steps.
This way, when our partners call one of our households, we know they're calling a real phone number with an actual human being on the other end of the line who’s invested in securing their financial future.
Quality of prospects
Everyone deserves access to excellent financial planning advice, however (unfortunately) not all prospects are created equal. The level of investment in one’s financial future is an important determining factor of the likelihood of that person booking a call with or buying a product or service from a financial advisor.
And yet, lots of lead generation strategies focus more on quantity than quality of leads. They want to send the longest list of numbers to as many people as possible. The result of this kind of strategy is, of course, that there is a huge variance in the intent and need of the prospects.
Some might have a genuine interest in planning for their financial future, whereas others may have been mostly interested in, say, a 15% off coupon and didn’t mind trading their phone number for it.
At Planswell, we don’t want to waste anyone’s time. We don’t want our partners calling folks we aren’t certain have a chance of converting, and we don’t want to bother uninterested people with phone calls they don’t care to receive.
Because of this, we have a fairly stringent process our households must go through before we send their information to a partner advisor to call:
First, they fill out a survey with 40+ questions about their financial situation and retirement goals. Taking this first step alone demonstrates a significant interest in financial advice, because they’ve taken the time to fill out such a lengthy questionnaire.
But we still want to be sure they mean business before we give a partner their information, so we also require that they SMS-validate their phone number. Doing so gives them access to the financial plan we built for them, and informs them that we’ll be sharing their contact information with a financial advisor who can help fine tune the plan and make suggestions that could help them retire sooner or with more money.
So, by the time a Planswell household gets assigned to a partner advisor, they’ve already demonstrated significant interest in securing their financial future, so they’re more likely to convert than someone who casually gave out their phone number without thinking too much about it.
You can be the best salesperson in the universe, but if the person you’re speaking with doesn’t actually need what you’re selling, your job is going to be close to impossible. Part of the vetting process Planswell households undergo during their client journey is to ensure they can get actual value out of working with a financial advisor.
Here are just a few of the qualities we filter for before passing households on to a partner advisor:
Planswell households have an average AUM of at least $300,000. Some have quite a lot more, and often they’ve underreported their assets.
The vast majority of Planswell households are under-insured in the areas of life, disability, critical illness, or all three. We work with life-licensed insurance agents to help them get the coverage they need.
Progress towards retirement:
Every Planswell household is still working towards retirement. They are accumulating wealth and would benefit from guidance on how to best plan for their retirement and how to protect their investments in the case of an emergency.
This means there's an incredible amount of opportunity for Planswell partner advisors to create a steady flow of new clients who have just as much to gain from working with you as you do from working with them.
How much do you know about the leads you call before you hop on the phone? Do you know their AUM? The size of the household? Whether they’re appropriately insured? When they want to retire? Calling leads without this type of information is akin to going into battle without a weapon.
How do you expect to build rapport with someone you've never met or spoken to when you have absolutely no information about them?
At Planswell, we believe our partner financial advisors should have all the help they can get when they hop on the phone. To this end, we provide our partners with a veritable torrent of information:
- Personal information (age, sex, retirement age, smoking status)
- Earnings (annual income, monthly savings, pensions, etc.)
- Current assets and investments
- Level of insurance (life, critical illness, disability, etc.)
- Dependents (size of household, age of children)
- Much more—40+ data points
Not only do we hook you up with all of the demographic and financial details you could ever want about your households, we even give you a copy of the free financial plan they made so you can make suggestions for improvements.
Location, Location, Location
The value of lead generation for financial advisors depends on the quality of the leads, which means they not only fall within the advisor's target audience (i.e. they're a valid candidate for financial advice), but within the advisor's target market as well.
While the magic of teleconferencing opens doors for financial advisor firms to work with clients from all over the world, there is inherent trust when speaking with someone from your own neck of the woods.
Beyond that, there are abundant opportunities to build rapport with someone who shares your geographic culture: perhaps you have the same dentist, cheer for the same sports team, or eat at the same restaurants. Even better, you might be able to recommend a restaurant you love they’ve never been to.
To facilitate our partners’ ability to build relationships with the households we send them, Planswell only delivers households within an advisor’s state or province.
Most lead generation strategies for financial advisors involve buying a set of leads from a company and never hearing from them again. There's no support or follow-up from the company to ensure you're getting value from their service, because they've already gotten everything they could possibly want from you.
A much better scenario (we think) is one in which you not only get a steady stream of quality prospects, but also a battery of support and resources you can use to help you close more clients and provide more households with excellent financial advice.
At Planswell, we make that scenario a reality. We’ve created a system financial advisors can use to grow their business that actually works. We know it works because we’ve tested it and revised it and tested it again — in fact, we’re constantly improving the resources our partners have access to to ensure they are able to capitalize on the opportunities our households represent. What does the system entail? Here’s a quick summary:
With the help of expert financial advisors who’ve had incredible success in closing clients over the phone, Planswell has developed a series of phone scripts our partners can use to do just that.
These scripts have been tested and revised hundreds of thousands of times and they actually work. Don’t believe me? Ask George, one of our partner advisors: “Once I started following the script,” he says, “I don’t even get halfway down the first page and I’m getting meetings.”
Planswell households have already used our software to build a free financial plan, which partner advisors have access to whether they choose to use our software or not. Using our software, however, gives you instant access to a household’s plan in the same place as a CRM that allows you to take detailed notes on prospects. The best part? We give this tool away for free — no subscription required!
Daily live training:
Our weekly calendar is chock full of training sessions for partner advisors. Recurring topics include the following:
- Planswell orientation — learn the basics of the Planswell system so you can get going quickly and see an ROI sooner rather than later.
- Software training — learn how to make the most of Planswell’s financial planning software and CRM, and pop back into a weekly live session if questions arise later.
- Ask me anything — resident expert advisor Andy Cosby is available weekly to answer literally any question you might have about Planswell, closing business, building rapport, responding to objections, and more.
- The Phone Lady Webinars — Mary Jane Copps, an expert sales consultant to financial advisors and life-licensed insurance agents, runs monthly webinars on phone sales tactics.
We have expert advisors on our staff who are available for one-on-one coaching sessions with our partners. If you want to run your script by someone or practice responding to objections, we’ve got you covered.
Executive peer groups:
Plancraft meetings are a space for partner advisors to get together, share stories, and encourage each other to make the most of what Planswell has to offer.
Every webinar, along with a whole slew of self-guided articles and resources, is available 24/7 on Advisor HQ. If you have a question about how to make the most of your relationship with Planswell, the answer is here.
If you have any questions not answered in a webinar or a training session or on Advisor HQ, Planswell’s excellent support center is available to get you moving in the right direction.
Your go-to guy or gal is in your corner at all times. Think of your AM as a concierge delivering white-glove service whenever you need it.
Does your lead generation service offer this level of support? Probably not. That's why we don’t even consider Planswell a lead generation company.
More signs of excellent service
Outside of the actual quality of services you receive from the companies generating leads for you, there are some tell-tale signs of excellence you might notice before even going into business with a company.
And, if you're vetting a lead gen service that doesn't meet these criteria, you may want to reconsider.
Generally, a business that does right by its customers doesn't need to require a long-term commitment in the form of a contract. They know they'll keep clients' business — and even earn client referrals — due to the quality of the service they offer.
So, if the service you use to generate leads wants you to sign a contract before they'll deliver, your hesitation is warranted.
At Planswell, we never ask our partners to sign contracts. We believe in the service we offer, and our partners are welcome to use our platform for as long — or as little — as makes sense for them.
You’re also welcome to grow or shrink your Planswell subscription as often as you like. If you want to try doubling your subscription for a month, that’s fine. If you need a month off, that’s fine too. If you want to cancel all together and never talk to us again…well, we’ll be sad to see you go, but we won’t get in your way.
Free trial periods
In a similar vein, a business not offering a free trial period for their services probably suspects their clients won't stick around long enough for them to make any money.
On the other hand, offering free trial periods is a sign of confidence in the product or service a business offers, whether in lead generation or some other field.
That's why, at Planswell, we have a tier of services partners can use for free for as long as they want. If you want to partner with Planswell but don’t want to pay, here’s what you get:
- Our proprietary financial planning/CRM software
- A unique referral link so your own clients and prospects can generate their own financial plans
- Unlimited access to AdvisorHQ
- A handful of household assignments to test the experience
- A seat in the audience for all of our live webinars
Do you know how many opportunities you’re going to get from the lead gen company you work with now? Is it possible to successfully grow a business when you don’t know what your client pipeline is going to look like month to month?
Maybe, but we love certainty and our partners do too. That’s why we offer a variety of tiers to our subscription service so our partners can adjust the volume of new prospects they receive.
How many households can you reasonably handle in a month? Whether your answer is 10, 20, 50 or more, at Planswell we promise you’ll get exactly what you pay for. Actually, you might just get more than you pay for — if we have extra households in your area, we’ll send them to you for free!
And, like we mentioned above, you’ll never be locked into a contract with Planswell, so you’re free to grow or shrink your subscription as often as you like.
What makes an excellent lead gen service
At Planswell, we believe the best lead generation strategy is to not focus on lead generation specifically, but to provide advisors with a complete system they can use to grow their business at whatever rate works best for them. Which is, of course, exactly what we do.
And yet, we know not all prospects are created equal. Here’s the TLDR list of qualities you should consider when vetting your lead generation service:
- Exclusivity — are the leads you get being sent to other advisors? Do you need to rush to the phone to be the first person to call a prospect? Is that prospect getting dozens of calls from advisors within 30 seconds? If so, you can do better.
- Timeliness — when do you receive your leads? In a huge batch at the end of the month, or immediately after the prospect expresses interest in their financial future? You want to be able to strike while the iron is hot, so to speak, and if your lead generation company doesn’t facilitate that, you might want to reconsider using them.
- Validation — are the numbers on your lead list real numbers? If your lead gen service doesn’t require the leads they send you to SMS-validate their phone numbers, you’re probably paying for a lot of fake phone numbers.
- Intent — how thoroughly are the leads you receive vetted? Do you know how much interest your leads have in personal finance?
- Data — how much information do you get about the leads you call before you call them? Information is power, and we think you should feel powerful when you call prospects. If your lead gen service is giving you a list of names and numbers with nothing else, there are better options out there.
- Location — where are the leads located? Are they close enough to use local culture to build rapport?
- Need — are you receiving leads who are already retired, or who already have all the insurance and advising they need? The best salespeople in the world have a hard time selling water to the ocean.
- Support — does your lead gen service provide you with support to ensure your success? Do they offer live training and executive peer groups? How about a library of resources and tested call scripts?
- Signs of excellent service
- No contracts — the quality of a service should be what keeps you in business with a company, not a legal document they make you sign.
- Free trial periods — being able to try a service to see if it fits your needs without having to pay for it is a great opportunity. What’s more, companies who offer free trials probably do so because they can afford to be confident that free trials will turn into returning customers.
- Guarantees — do you know exactly how many prospects you’ll have access to each month? Would it make it easier to grow your business if you did? Certainty makes planning easier, and if the lead generation company you use doesn’t offer certainty, we think you can do better.
If the lead generation company you’re using doesn’t meet these criteria, you might want to consider switching. We’re a little biased, but try giving Planswell a shot. We connect more clients with experts than anyone else in the business, and you can test that claim for free!