Getting people from your seminar into your office, Pt. 2Article added by Katherine Vessenes on February 22, 2013
Katherine Vessenes

Katherine Vessenes

Chanhassen, MN

Joined: August 21, 2010

My Company

Vestment Advisors

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In part one of this installment, I articulated the first four steps for getting more derrières in your chairs. The most crucial step of any sales process is getting seminar attendees to commit to coming to your office. Here are the last four steps for motivating your audience to meet with you.

5. The presentation

All of my presentations are content rich and full of information that can change the lives of the attendees. I don’t bother with fluff or do “teasers.” Personally, I feel that just whetting their appetite for more is disingenuous. I want to make sure we are getting a good reputation from the event, and that the audience perceives us as knowledgeable and trustworthy, even if they decide not to work with us.

Plan your content carefully. I always have an outline of my topics, making sure it covers the audience’s main pain points. (Having done so many of these, I know the pain points in advance.) I will then weave in each of the topics that the attendees want me to cover. Once again, this customizes the presentation and lets each attendee feel like they are getting exactly what they need.

I believe a great presentation also brings up pain points that the audience didn’t even know they had. Every issue is another reason they need you. In short, the presentation needs to be disturbing while offering hope at the same time.

Here are some potential sample titles:
  • 7 problems seniors face with their money and how to avoid them
  • Will Social Security be there when you need it? What you can do now
  • 6 steps you can take to protect yourself from market fluctuations
  • How safe is your pension? Learn how to protect yourself if your pension fails
  • What Taxmaggedon means to your future.
I also discovered that we do better if we don’t give clients handouts or something for taking notes. This was a surprise for me, because for years, I always had an outline for them that had our name and contact information on the bottom. In fact, through trial and error, I found that clients were more likely to meet with us if they didn’t have something for taking notes. In retrospect, I think the notes gave them a false sense of security. Without them, they seem to need the face-to-face meeting to feel more comfortable about their personal situation.

I do bring along laminated business cards, but I don’t hand them out unless someone asks for them.

6. The evaluation form

This is the key part of the entire meeting. In fact, your entire presentation is a lead in to the evaluation form. If you don’t do this part well, you have just wasted a lot of your time and money.

When I started financial planning, I had the opportunity to do the same speech hundreds of times. It was a great marketing exercise because I was able to test, in the most minute detail, what works and what doesn’t. This was especially true of the evaluation form.
Over the years, I've compiled a list of a few key things that should be on your form:
  • Client’s name
  • Mailing address
  • Email address
  • Cell phone
  • Home phone
  • A place to evaluate what they liked about your presentation
  • A place to indicate whether they would like to meet with you
  • Referrals: a place for them to list the name, email addresses and phone numbers of three people you should invite to your next event
The last item on the list, three referrals to the next event, came as a complete surprise to me. By accident, I had two sets of evaluation forms for the same event. One of them had a place for referrals on the bottom, and the other did not. Much to my surprise, about 40 percent of the attendees listed at least one other person we should invite to a future presentation. Nothing could have shocked me more. In fact, about 20 percent gave us three names. We found the likelihood of these referrals attending a future event was especially high, and they are more likely to become clients, even if the person originally referring them didn’t become a client.

Having learned my lesson, I never do an event without asking for referrals on the evaluation form.

7. The debrief

After the last guest leaves, I will sit down with my co-partner and review the evaluation forms and his notes. I will also make other notes on their forms so I can better remember them and their issues. We will also prioritize the responses, so I call them back in order of priority.

We also go through anything that could be improved for next time.

If we are doing a lot of expensive dinners in a fancy restaurant, I will also do a debrief with the staff. The staff can tank a meeting by being intrusive or noisy during your presentation. If I plan on using the restaurant again, I want to make sure they are getting good feedback. (An extra tip doesn’t hurt either.)

8. The follow up

The next crucial part of this process is following up in order to set the initial meeting. Timing is everything. Here are the some things that are working for me:
  • The day after the event, I send a short email to each attendee. I thank them for coming, and mention something personal that we learned from the dinner meeting. I might say, “Sounds like you are especially busy shuffling three kids to music lessons and soccer practice. I know it is hectic, but those days are over all too soon.” The purpose is to let them know that to us, they are a person, not a case, and we really do care about them. The email also lets them know I will be calling to set up a follow-up meeting.

  • Within the next two to three days, I will reach out with a phone call to their cell. Some of the best times to reach prospects is between 7:30 pm and 8:30 pm in the evening and late Saturday mornings.
Here’s the good news about these eight steps: They don’t cost you any additional money. You have already spent a lot just getting your prospects to your dinner party or educational event. These eight steps will increase your closing ratio without putting a strain on your budget.

Do let me know what is working for you.
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