Money Week - 3 September

Money Week commences on the 3rd of September and this years theme is 'Weather Life's Storm'. Financial Advice New Zealand have created materials for its members - which include access to a range of banners, blogs, videos and more. You can add your own branding, use the content in client and other communications, post videos and more. If you are a Financial Advice NZ member click here to register for the marketing and content pack.Although weathering life's storms has a distinctly savings-focused theme for most money week participants, it doesn't have to. In fact, before you have capital, the simplest way to weather many of life's storms is to first, take care, and second, have insurance.

Is robo-advice an implementation strategy? I don't think so

Michael Kitces from Nerd's Eye View has written this article discussing some of the real marketplace challenges for Robo-Advisers and the growth of robo-adviser solutions for advisers. Their view is that robo advice is fundamentally an implementation strategy, and not a customer acquisition one.

My view of digital advice is that the place where digital can be most useful is in customer acquisition, extending gradually back towards full advice-giving. That contrast could be something about the relative volume challenges of the different types of adviser we tend to focus on. Investment advisers have relatively fewer client interactions, and much more advice implementation and administrative tasks for each one. Insurance advisers are the reverse - they have many, many, interactions with people, and tend to have fewer administrative tasks for each one. So when each of us looks at digital we see it automating the high-volume interactions that are most troublesome to the process.

Obviously the actual development of digital advice will be far more complex and organic than these models imply, but I'm not going to bet that digital can't help you acquire clients. I guess I'm betting the other way. Look at all the marketing automation tools we employ already.

Real networking means taking risks

The Harvard Business Review has an excellent article on networking. Hat tip to Linda Hendry for posting this on LinkedIn.It  seems that casual interactions don't really do much to build meaningful connection - and besides, we aren't very good at them anyway. Below is the most telling quote, but it is well worth reading the whole lot, and then pondering - how do I get those high stakes activities? I volunteer, and yes, I sell.

“Potent networks are not forged through casual interactions but through relatively high-stakes activities that connect you with diverse others.” In other words, schmoozing at a mixer is far less likely to lead you to a powerful network than jumping into projects, teams, or activities that draw a diverse set of people together.


Stop trying to close the sale...

Hat tip to Tony Vidler. This knowledge seems to have been percolating to the top of sales thinking for about the last five years. Some versions I have seen tackle the question of trust through argument - like this link - while others present data to justify the shift from 'hard closing' techniques towards trust-building approaches that are always sensitive to where the client is in their decision-making process. It's worth thinking about. I met a salesperson just the other day whose whole approach was just to ask. Gloriously simple, and if it works, sure... go ahead. But if you're finding you've reached the limited of 'just asking' and want to learn something more. This might be just the right next step.

Necessities of Modern Marketing for Financial Advisers

Tony Vidler discusses some of the hurdles advisers face with the change in marketing methods over the last decade and outlines the 6 Necessities of Modern Marketing for Financial Advisers in this article.

Yes, social media is important, not impossible to avoid, but if you're reluctant to engage, worth asking yourself: why?

Yes, content creation - meaning, largely writing stuff, or doing some videos (which usually requires some writing first) is likely to be important too. Once again, if you are resistant to writing about your services, doing speeches, or videos, I sympathise. The resistance to this activity is real. But communication with wide audiences is built from these blocks.


Who wants you?

Excellent salespeople can sell anything to anyone -- even if they don't need it - and arguably, most of what consumers buy, they don't need.

On the other hand, starting with the people who are actually looking for help is a good way to cut out the bullshit. You don't need clever tricks if you're focused on the people that really need you, want you, and you can just get on with serving them really well. Dedicate your energy to that, and a smooth path opens up in front of you.

How do you find them? That's where you may require your own dedication to excellence. It is the difference between an opt-in email list and the 'phone book. The mixing of new and old-technology in that statement is deliberate. Getting people to opt-in, join, and sign up. That's where true brilliance is. It takes time, requires commitment, and also means you have to be able to tell a story. That is the true ability of excellent salespeople - telling the story well to those that want to hear it.

Inspired by this.

Sales and diversity

This article by Ed Yong explains how he has been actively trying to redress the gender imbalance in his articles by searching for more women to interview and publishing more quotes from women in that industry, after he realised that, completely without thinking about it, he just tended to include a lot more men in his stories, and his presentations - mainly because they were the people he knew and would hang out with.

What has that got to do with sales? Well, investing a little time in 'not-pissing-people-off' is a great way to expand the market.

It turned out for Ed Yong that there were plenty of other experts in the field, and that talking with and quoting the whole range would make Yong's work more attractive and accessible to a whole lot of extra people.

The same can work with lots of groups of people.

My gay friends don't need to see a specialist gay insurance adviser, they want to see a good insurance adviser, who doesn't annoy them by being obviously uncomfortable with their sexuality, or worse, being rude about it. Pretty much the same as heterosexual people, really.

Barriers of race and culture may be stronger in our minds than they are in practice. Widespread beliefs that 'Chinese' people don't buy life insurance have been completely destroyed by research. The fact is that there in many, many, thousands of policies. If you don't have many Chinese clients, it's more likely to be a marketing issue with you, than a buying issue with them.

With a few small changes to make a service more inclusive we can go from being crossed off the list of people being considered, to being included, and even preferred as a supplier. Think of it as removing barriers to people seeing and appreciating your real expertise, and it becomes a whole lot easier.

Dan Schreiber on Digital Insurance Companies

Daniel Schreiber has a great piece over at LinkedIn on how AI "eats" insurance. You may take only a very little comfort that he's from a general insurer. Life insurance is not immune to the lesson he's preaching. The only comfort New Zealand insurers have is that courtesy of the tiny size of our market, local regulatory variation, and our distance from the centres of innovation (mainly San Fancisco and London) we have more time to react and build proper digital platforms ourselves, before these folks arrive. But maybe you won't, maybe you'll just let them. For digital insurers going direct, like Daniel Schreiber envisages, it is vital that end-to-end you own your platform in order to bring in all the data to the learning environment. As an aside, Schreiber offers the briefest and most cutting take-down of averages: "on average your customers have one testicle". Anyhow, go read the whole article. It isn't all right, it isn't all as simple as that - but there are some strong points, and they should spur action.

Insurance Sales in the News

This article from NZ Herald gives three examples of people who are "selling money at a discount" - two of which are related to insurance. Click here to read them. Although I don't like the explicit focus on just the claim payment, which in the long-run must always be lower than the premium, and ignores the peace of mind enjoyed when you don't claim, it is interesting to see how these approaches are portrayed in the media.