The world is rapidly changing, and unsurprisingly, technology is the driving force. Where industry gatekeepers used to have a firm hold on the information individuals could access, the Internet has put the world’s facts and figures at the fingertips of consumers.
Together with growth in social media and other information technologies, the days of clients depending on financial professionals for these vital details are waning. The question for professionals is: What value propositions can you invest in to remain relevant and effective for clients?
According to Matt Dixon, co-author of “The Challenger Sale,” focusing on providing information to clients is no longer enough. When you look at the fact that financial services customers can easily research different products, solutions, benefits and prices online, it’s easy to see his point.
Dixon maintains that successful financial professionals outsell their peers by teaching clients something new, tailoring their message to the buyer and taking control of the conversation. Fortunately, professionals are in an ideal position to provide expert insight into financial services beyond the black and white numbers consumers find online.
The financial product services industry is undergoing swift transformation. For instance, according to the 2014 Insurance Industry Outlook Survey from KPMG, 52 percent of senior insurance executives are pointing to changes in customer focus, buying patterns and preferences as the No. 1 driver of change to their business. Meanwhile, 45 percent said technology is forcing them to change.
It only makes sense for insurance producers and other financial professionals to double down on strategies for consumer engagement, putting product understanding and service customization at the forefront of their efforts.
Another factor to consider is how personal relationships can impact sales success. In a world where many consumers are simply clicking away online to find which professionals offer the best price, forming trust with a client is essential.
The 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer found that financial services is the least trusted industry around the world.
“As the financial services industry continues its path to recovery, the importance of trust – or lack thereof – remains front and center within one of the world’s most vital sectors,” the public relations firm stated. “Despite slight improvements in trust levels compared to five years ago, the demand for structural and regulatory reform in the industry remains high across the globe, and the need to rebuild trust through performance is increasingly apparent.”
However, just as Dixon championed tailoring a message as a means to sales growth, Edelman also highlighted the need for greater customer focus.
“Today’s consumer wants to be sincerely engaged in a way that conveys a deeper understanding of their personal goals and values, and what is important to them about their financial services institutions,” the firm continued.
There’s no doubt that insurance producers and other financial professionals offer consumers a vital service, from estate planning to private financing. However, high-quality products and services are no longer enough. Consumers want to work with a professional who listens to their needs and feedback.
Professionals looking to take that first step should consider how they can better tailor their services to specific clients. Financial products are not a one-size-fits-all affair, and it’s becoming increasingly important to make sure consumers feel like the services you provide them are customized on their behalf. While this can certainly be a more time-consuming and research-heavy way of conducting business, it’s a win-win for both parties. Financial professionals can depend on better customer relationships and the chance for more sales while clients can receive valuable help that is geared toward their specific wants and needs.