Every year is a new year when it comes to what retirement advisors can expect from their clients, potential sales and the market. This year is no exception, and many variables such as technology and life expectancy are already shaping 2015.
While some trends come and go, staying on top of these changes is the only way to improve your sales process year after year and grow your business.
Here are four actions that will keep you ahead of the game during 2015:
Use social media to increase lead generation
While many independent retirement advisors use their homes or brick-and-mortar offices for business, the way to finding new clients is moving away from the physical and into the digital. The new way to meet potential clients and sell your services is through the ever-growing social aspects of the Internet, according to Koka Sexton, a social selling thought leader.
Sexton focuses on changes in buyers’ behavior before addressing how you, as an advisor, should adjust your lead generation and sales methods. The main change is that potential clients find the information they need about financial and retirement products online before they ever connect with an advisor.
As consumers seek out the information they need instead of initially finding an advisor, cold calls are becoming increasingly ineffective, according to Sexton. Instead, its up to you to ensure that both the information your future clients need and you are available to them when they are ready to purchase a product.
A great way to do this is to leverage your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn has more than 200 million members, and you can search within your first- and second-degree connections to find prospective buyers.
“Social selling on LinkedIn changes the game from a cold numbers approach to a high-quality, low-volume, trust approach,” said Ralf VonSosen of LinkedIn Sales Solutions in Sexton’s report. “Leverage personal relationships within your professional network to drive sales results.”
Provide custom retirement plans and advice
What retirement means now is vastly different than what the term meant to Americans a decade ago or two ago and varies greatly depending on each person’s goals and desires, according to Financial Advisor Pat Vitucci.
Vitucci believes what retirement means will depend on your individual clients – what each of them sees himself or herself doing on a daily or yearly basis can be drastically different. One client may wish to travel significantly during his or her retirement years, while another wishes to move as close to the golf course as possible and get in 18 holes every morning.
If you don’t already, talk with your clients about what retirement specifically means to them. Ask questions regarding whether they want to keep working, travel, make any large purchases such as a new home, car or boat or if they expect this time to be quiet and relaxing.
Only by knowing what each person expects from this time in his or her life can you accurately guide your clients toward the products that are best for them.
Allay clients’ fears about future health care costs
Retirement Advisor’s annual advisor survey found 55 percent of independent advisors’ clients consider health care to be one of their biggest fears in 2015. Concerns regarding the cost of future health care have been growing for the past couple of years as more Americans realize they are living longer and will likely have more medical expenses in their 70s, 80s and even 90s. People who retire at 65 in perfect health understand the situation may be different a decade or two later.
This year, it’s incredibly important to help your clients understand they are likely to face unexpected health care costs in the future but can mitigate the risks of these future costs with specific investment and insurance products. For instance, long-term care products and disability insurance can ensure the funds are available if your clients become disabled or need care.
Prepare for growth
Not only is the retirement landscape changing on both your clients’ and your end, but it’s also expanding. Most independent advisors surveyed by Retirement Advisor expected their businesses to grow this year. Sixty-six percent anticipate growth in life insurance sales, 45 percent expect a rise in index annuity sales and 38 percent believe long-term care product sales will increase as well.
While each year is different, 2015 will be remembered as the year financial and insurance advisors migrated their sales process to social media and expanded their focus on future health care costs for clients.