By BEN YIN
Most of my clients are doctors, and they often don’t have the time or energy to meet me face-to-face. To provide them an efficient solution, I began using an online platform for hosting virtual meetings. Now, eighty percent of my client base is virtual, and they love being able to talk to me about their portfolios while taking a break between patients. It takes some extra effort and intentionality, but if you incorporate virtual meetings into your practice, you’ll save yourself and your clients time, broaden your prospect base and simplify your process.
Set The Tone
Use technology to streamline interactions before your meetings even begin. As soon as I get a referral, I try to respond immediately. It’s time-consuming to consistently write out the same email with the same links so instead I use TextExpander for a quick, easy and consistent experience. TextExpander allows you to pre-construct templates that respond to certain words. For example, as soon as I type “virtual meeting” into my email, it expands into an email template along the lines of, “Hello Dr. Smith, nice to meet you. I’d be happy to jump on a virtual meeting with you and discuss the ins and outs of being an independent contractor. Click here to schedule a time.”
If you use Calendly, your clients will then be able to click the link to your calendar, see what time works best for them and schedule a meeting. They’ll then get an invite to add the meeting to their own calendar. Two days before the appointment, they’ll receive an automated email reminding them and an automated text 24 hours beforehand. I’ve found this really cuts down on missed appointments and helps set the overarching tone of ease and efficiency.
Put In The Extra Effort
Since you’re not able to connect in person, you’ll need to put forth extra effort to build personal rapport with each client. During each virtual meeting, before getting down to business, spend ten minutes catching up and chatting about their family, their recent ski trip or their Christmas holiday. Aside from personal connection on the call, make sure you still keep the human component of your relationship alive by mailing them a handwritten card or sending a special gift on their kid’s birthday.
Meeting virtually also requires extra effort in your preparation. Since you can’t read social cues as well as if you were in person, you don’t know if a client’s actually paying attention to you or if they’re playing Candy Crush. To make sure you’re truly engaging them, it’s vital that you leave no room for awkward pauses or breaks, and the agenda you set forth must flow effortlessly. In a virtual meeting, you can’t ruffle through a folder like you might do if you were meeting in person. If you have a PDF to show them, make sure it’s already downloaded or if you want to log into a program, make sure you’re logged in before the meeting starts. If you promise your clients efficiency, keep that promise throughout the entire process.
Broaden Your Client Base
It’s not for every advisor, but I believe virtual meetings are the way of the future, and our younger prospects are already demanding them. According to a recent MDRT study, 76 percent of millennials find it important their advisor hosts virtual meetings and 87 percent of millennials want to be able to schedule a meeting with you online. If you’re looking to broaden your prospect base, reach a younger crowd and stay relevant and competitive, incorporating virtual meetings into your practice could be the answer. And if you don’t adopt tech into your practice, you could be at risk of losing new clients to advisors who do.
Many advisors may worry that their clients, especially the older ones, will balk at the idea of a virtual meeting. However, I often compare virtual meetings to flip phones. People loved their flip phones and were hesitant to embrace the new smart phone technology at first, but once they realized how convenient smart phones were, they were hooked. Likewise, once my clients realize they don’t have to travel hours in terrible Atlanta traffic to meet with me, they’re sold on the idea.
Remember What Matters
Virtual meetings are an incredible time-saving tool that can help you take your practice to the next level. Some advisors may say you can’t replicate a nice, firm handshake, but I beg to differ. With a little extra effort, you can reproduce the experience, build trusting client relationships and ensure they’re able to spend extra time with the people that truly matter to them.
At the end of the day, we do what we do to help people have more quality time with their loved ones. The last thing my clients want to do after a long shift is come back home and rebalance their portfolio. The faster we can help them, the faster we give them their days and time with family back.
Benjamin Yin, MBA, is co-founder and principal of Generational Financial Partners. Ben is an eight year Qualifying MDRT member with Court of the Table qualifications. Ben lives in Atlanta, Georgia.