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Blogs - Practice Perfect
Fix Your Prospect Seminars
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
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Over the years, I've personally conducted more than 300 client-facing presentations, touting the services offered by financial advisors. As director of the Seminar Systems Unit for Jackson National Life Distributors, Iíve also trained hundreds of advisors to implement seminar marketing campaigns -- and I sometimes hear these advisors complain that seminars don't work.

Seminar success depends on many different factors, some of which will inevitably be outside an advisor's control. But while there's no one "right" way to run a seminar for prospective clients, there are a few simple strategies that can allow advisors to differentiate themselves from the competition and position their events for success.

If your seminars aren't giving you the results you want, you might want to see if you're running into any of the following problems.

1. YOU AREN'T BEING YOURSELF

One of the questions I receive from almost every advisor I work with is: "What are other advisors doing to generate seminar success?" I am always happy to share scripting ideas, "best practices" and the like with advisors, but I cannot stress enough the importance of embracing your own unique personality in the way you both promote and conduct your seminars.

Before addressing any other question related to seminars -- "Should I tell a funny story? Should I ask about investable assets?" -- advisors should first ask: Does this tactic fit my unique personality?

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Your audience will know whether or not you are being authentic, so just copying someone else may not be the best course of action. If a tactic makes business sense, advances the ball and feels comfortable and familiar, it may offer you a better chance of success.

2. YOU ARE MISSING THE END GOAL

When creating and conducting seminars, it's very easy to become obsessed with the content of the presentation. Trust me, I've been there myself -- you can get into the habit of scrutinizing every detail, worrying about statistics that may be a little dated or desperately searching for that perfect joke. This laser focus on the presentation itself can actually be detrimental to your seminar.

One way to avoid this pitfall is to take a step back, and remember your end goal for the seminar. Why are you doing it? Is it to give the best presentation that anyone has ever seen? Your end goal is likely something more concrete and tangible: to set certain number of appointments or to gain a certain amount of warm prospect leads.

Now, don't get me wrong: The presentation is very important. You want to appear knowledgeable, likeable, and sincere in front of the group. But at the end of the day, appointments are set almost exclusively as a result of the one-on-one, face-to-face, individual rapport you build with each attendee before or after the presentation.

Because you will get the most out of your event by spending as much time as possible speaking with attendees one-on-one, you need to switch your focus to before and after the presentation. Schedule and execute confirmation or introductory phone calls prior to the event; make the most of the time leading up to the presentation, as people settle into their chairs.

One specific tip: Consider serving dinner after your presentation, as opposed to before or during. People will be more likely to pay attention to the presentation without the distraction of free pasta, and they will be forced to stick around after the presentation to receive their free food -- providing a captive audience for one-on-one discussions. Remember, time spent with attendees at your seminar is finite; the most successful advisors find ways to maximize individual time with attendees.

3. YOU'RE FORGETTING TO CLOSE

I know what you're thinking: Reminding an advisor to ask for an appointment is like reminding a fisherman to bait his hook. Yet I have had 30-year industry veteran advisors tell me excitedly that a prospect has agreed to call or email them in the next couple of weeks.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of advisors who run seminars do not ask for the appointment while they are speaking with the prospect face-to-face. Instead, they rely on follow-up phone calls and drip marketing campaigns to drum up business from a seminar.

I certainly don't discourage these practices, as different tactics work for different advisors -- but you should have a higher success rate if you ask for an appointment while looking someone in the eye directly after your seminar. What is the worst that can happen? If the prospects say no, you don't have to spend the next several months chasing them.

Spend time after your seminar answering questions one-on-one, building rapport where you can and developing relationships with the attendees. And make sure you never let a prospect walk out the door without first asking for an appointment.

Not every tactic will work for every advisor, but I firmly believe that you can help your cause by being yourself, reminding yourself to focus on the end goal at all times, and by making sure you take full advantage of the one-on-one opportunities. These are some of the ingredients that make for successful seminar marketing.

John Stadtmueller is director of the Seminar Systems Unit at Jackson National Life Distributors.

(3) Comments
John, everything you say rings true. I built my practice by hosting two events every month and in my book Seminars for the Financial Advisor I talk about how to: Engage, Educate and Elevate the Commitment of the audience, three of the most important components to a successful event.
Posted by Adri M | Wednesday, February 12 2014 at 12:56PM ET
A plan for maximizing a seminar experience can help you multiply the value of your seminar. Setting up a network of people who work in your field can provide invaluable help and insights into your own job. This is an excellent opportunity to showcase what's new in your field-new equipment, new marketing tools, even new office enhancements.
Posted by KIMMY B | Wednesday, February 26 2014 at 1:17AM ET
We are seeing declining participation in physcial seminars and events, with a trend toward webinars and other virtual means of communicating. It lessens the opportunity to schedule a follow-up face to face. However, you can offer an incentive to the first few who do schedule something.
Posted by Patrice H | Monday, March 17 2014 at 1:07PM ET
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