How To Fix Free Financial Consultations

Why are free face-to-face consultations the standard opening gambit for so many financial advisors? I guess they seem like a great idea – the chance to interact and engage with potential customers on a personal level, the ability to demonstrate your expertise and, plus, it’s just good marketing. Right?

Ehhh.

The Truth about Free Consultations

As a client of an advisor and knowing loads of good people in the business I’ve got to come clean …

I DON’T WANT TO MEET WITH ANY OF YOU.

You’re all nice enough but the idea of meeting with a new person I don’t know very well to talk about my money, and all my mistakes, is right up there on my bucket list with a double root canal and my next IRS audit. Shivers.

It’s not that the consultation concept isn’t salvageable, but I want to ask you to look at it from my perspective and re-evaluate your own business reasons for doing free consultations. I think you’ll come out the other end of this with a different point of view.

Repositioning In Your Funnel

While they’re not wrong, traditional free consultations often aren’t good business. There is a simple reason: Most advisors mistakenly think of consultations as a prospecting tool that helps fill the very top of their funnel. WRONG.

Unless you’re famous and meeting you fulfills one of my lifelong ambitions, a consultation meeting with you IS NOT ENTICING. Filling the TOp of the FUnnel (TOFU) requires other methods, like blogging, networking (social and otherwise) and client referrals. These activities are meant to attract people who already need what you have to begin a relationship so you can be there when they’re ready.

If Free Consultations aren’t good for TOFU, then what are they for? Meet MOFU, Middle Of the FUnnel. MOFU, is about developing relationships by moving people through a process to get to know you well enough to make a commitment. In other words, MOFU helps people move down the funnel. This is the point at which a traditional free consultation can work.

With that in mind, the role of a free consultation is to reduce conversion friction at the stage in the funnel where qualified opportunities become new clients. At this point in the marketing process, a free consultation simplifies the decision to work with you by removing the cost and commitment of a becoming a client.

Free consultations can still be used to great effect done traditionally, given you’ve got your expectations set correctly. What’s really exciting are all the ways advisors are now combining new technology and new thinking with the idea of a free consultation and seminar marketing to completely redefine what is possible in Financial Advisor marketing. More on that in a future article. Subscribe now so you don’t miss it.

John Prendergast John Prendergast is the co-founder and CEO of Blueleaf. He serves on the board of WiredTiger, a developer cloud optimized databases. He is also the founder and organizer of the Lean Startup Circle Boston. In addition to his decade and a half as an entrepreneur, John spent nearly a decade as an investment banker and financial advisor.

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