The ability to accurately keep track of sales leads is important in any sector, and this is especially true when it comes to the work of financial advisors. Thankfully, the relentless onward march of “Big Data” means that it is easier than ever to maintain an overview of how things are progressing with lead generation.
However, it may surprise many within the financial advice sector to find that their competitors, and even their colleagues, may be failing to use the information that is readily available to their best advantage.
A study by InvestmentNews in 2016 found that only 38 per cent of firms formally tracked leads on a routine basis. IM’s Financial Performance Study, which was conducted in partnership with the Ensemble Practice, benchmarked client conversion rates from various companies and looked at the correlation between their practices and meaningful growth.
The list of financial advisors for the study set up a group of peers that could be weighed against each other, with the findings being declared as a “shock” in the published report.
Although the majority of those firms that took part in the study admitted to not tracking sales leads, every one of them is likely to have the tools to do so.
A customer relationship management (CRM) system is industry standard for financial advisors, though it may come in many forms. Any software that is used to look after the essentials of data collation, such as customer contact details, tracking interactions and managing customer accounts, falls under the umbrella term.
This sometimes means a package made up of a broad set of applications designed to help businesses manage various processes, but the upshot is that the ability to track sales leads should be a relatively easy factor to look after.
Lead Tech Connect
At Lead Tech we understand the importance of tracking sales data. All of our financial advice partners have access to Lead Tech Connect, our state of the art performance and lead management system.
Lead Tech Connect allows partners to update their lead data at every stage of the conversion funnel. This allows us to see exactly how our leads are performing. This data gives us unparallelled insights into where we can improve as a lead provider, and how our partners can improve their conversion rates and increase ROI.
We encourage partners to keep their Lead Tech Connect data up to date so we can constantly improve performance. This data is also used by our in-house digital marketing team. It allows us to generate more of the leads our partners want, and less of the ones they don’t.
Types of leads
Any independent finance firm succeeds or fails by its conversion rate level. This means that knowing how many leads turn into actual customers is a vital part of maximising productivity and effectiveness.
The only way to know if your firm is strong or weak in the sales process is by making a thorough assessment of the way that leads are dealt with and the outcomes that they present.
For the purposes of the study, a “touch” was defined as a lead involving contact with an individual who could become a client through a basic lead generation practice. This could include some form of marketing activity across a wide spectrum or simply the use of the company’s established referral network.
A different type of lead is one that your business has gathered information about, which has then led to a validation of a qualified lead. This refers to a potential customer who is known to be able to afford basic prices or a minimum fee or some other quantifiable measure, such as having a minimum level of assets or meeting your own niche requirements, whatever they might be.
Converting a financial investment advice lead into a sale obviously comes down to more than simply managing data on different types of leads. However, knowing how to use the information that is available to you can make the difference between a good conversion rate and a bad one.
Formally tracking leads, both for touch and prospective clients, might be a lengthy process. Many firms operating in the financial advice sector have to factor in the time involved as it can in some cases take over a year to go through the process successfully.
Acknowledging this delay not only helps in overall operational planning but can also assist in dealing with certain types of client profiles, such as windfall beneficiaries or near-retirees who may themselves be looking ahead to a time when they know that advice will be needed.
Breakdown of tracking
Although the InvestmentNews Financial Performance Study found that the majority of firms were failing in their tracking efforts, it also highlighted the activities of those who did undertake the process.
Among the firms who did track leads:
72 per cent did so at the firm level
28 per cent did so at the individual adviser level
The average conversion rate was 37 per cent of prospects/qualified leads
The conversion rate for other leads who could be a client was 21 per cent
The role of marketing
Many companies across the financial sector think that marketing is all about brand recognition. For any firm operating in specialised areas such as those offering clear financial advice, lead generation must be a priority aim for any campaign.
Often, firms will find successful marketing a serious challenge, especially in the current environment where several areas such as social networks and in-context online advertising are constantly shifting boundaries. Attracting business is the ultimate aim for marketers, and conversion rates ultimately sort out the good from the bad.
Generating leads via various marketing tactics can come down to a numbers game, even for those who are adept at getting their branding and message across on different platforms and in different arenas. This is where effective targeting becomes the key factor and where it ties into tracking sales leads to give an accurate overview.
Only when leads become prospects and are verified meaningful contacts can the sales process take over. This vital conversion stage has to involve showing the value of the offering that the firm can provide in terms of competitive rates, expert niche knowledge or other key USP factors.
Marketing materials can only really show the potential of what you do and what you can offer, and it can be a long path to the final meeting where a deal is done. By ensuring accurate lead checking throughout the process, you can take ownership of the process and maximise your chances of success.