How Advisors Can Make the Most of Virtual Meetings
The world has undergone a tremendous amount of digitization over the last decade, with companies revolutionizing the way consumers manage almost every facet of their lives. Financial advisors, on the other hand, have been slower to adapt to the digitized world – especially the Baby Boomer generation of advisors that have made their living by meeting people in person and building strong interpersonal relationships.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the advisory industry overnight, forcing advisors to work remotely and largely eliminating the possibility of in-person meetings with clients. Virtual meetings, which advisors were previously reluctant to adopt, have become standard operating procedure for doing business.
While some firms are going back to the office, some clients may want to continue meeting virtually for the time being or indefinitely. Either way, it is up to advisors to adapt and meet clients where they want to meet. Advisors will need to give their virtual meetings the same kind of attention and preparation to make virtual meetings with clients just as impactful as face-to-face interactions.
1. Make Conversations Relevant
Unlike face-to-face meetings, virtual meetings are not confined to social constructs. Online, clients can come and go as they please, whereas in person, it would be rude to abruptly leave a meeting. Additionally, clients can easily become distracted by things going on around them – kids, e-mails, social media, etc. – causing them to tune you out.
In order to keep clients engaged during virtual meetings, advisors should make conversations relevant and purposeful. Virtual meetings must have a defined goal or purpose, which should be aligned to the client’s needs so that they feel their valuable time is being well-spent. This means shifting away from relationship-based presentations to message-based presentations. Advisors should rely on high-quality information, illustrations and visual aids that will enhance the client’s virtual experience.
In addition to relying on high-quality information and visuals, advisors should share stories, experiences and make analogies throughout presentations to keep clients engaged and to make that personal connection with each of the clients listening. Consider recording the meeting and providing clients with the recording and presentation materials so that they can refer back to the information after the meeting has ended.
2. Preparation is Key
After determining the goal or purpose for virtual meetings, advisors should spend time crafting an agenda to ensure the meeting will be productive and stay on message. They should provide the agenda and any other pertinent materials to clients in advance of the meeting, so clients know what they can expect to be covered.
Advisors should run through presentation slides and materials prior to meetings to ensure they are using clients’ time in the most impactful way possible. Testing audio and video in advance is a great way to avoid any last-minute technical errors that could make the advisor look unprofessional and unprepared.
It is also important to seek client feedback prior to, during, and after virtual meetings. Advisors should consider sending out a short e-mail survey for clients to express their biggest concerns and plan to use this feedback to inform how they structure the virtual meeting. Client concerns should always be of paramount importance in any interaction.
Post-meeting surveys can help advisors understand how valuable clients felt the virtual meeting was and allow clients to provide feedback and suggestions as to how future meetings can be improved to better suit their needs. Finally, online meeting platforms, like Zoom, allow for Q&As to take place during meetings, so advisors have the ability to collect and answer client questions in real time.
3. Focus on Client Convenience
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the world quickly and drastically. Even as a vaccine becomes available, many facets of pandemic life will stay long-term. There will be many clients who will prefer virtual meetings going forward, even when businesses begin to reopen. Although in-person meetings may have been the preferred method of the past, virtual meetings provide busy clients with flexibility to join from anywhere.
Convenience is key to higher client engagement and satisfaction. With this in mind, advisors should consider investing in a virtual meeting software that allows clients to join from mobile or tablets when they are on the go. Additionally, advisors should leverage online client portals, such as Huddle, that allow clients to check in on performance, interactive reports and other important documents that can be easily accessed from anywhere at any time.
Lastly, advisors should make themselves easily accessible to clients. This can be done by utilizing online meeting scheduling tools like Calendly, that allow clients to view advisors’ schedules and make appointments without the hassle of going back-and-forth over e-mail.
Digitally Transforming the Advisor-Client Relationship
The pandemic certainly turned the world upside down in the early spring and many businesses have unfortunately suffered as a result. As the dust hopefully settles in 2021, it will be interesting to see what industries will be forever changed by this unprecedented time.
Advisors should see this new world order as an opportunity to transform the advisor-client relationship into one that is valuable, impactful, and convenient for the client. Now more than ever, clients are looking to their advisor to guide them through this uncertain time. Improving the quality and execution of how they conduct client interactions can make or break an advisor’s business in the months ahead.