The State of the Art of Virtual Selling and Engagement

The COVID pandemic has been named the “Great Accelerator” for a good reason as it propelled all industries to take a quantum leap into new client engagement technologies. For financial services, it forced a wide-scale change from traditional marketing and sales practices to more virtual client engagement approaches. This wide-scale adjustment to advisor’s business models and ways of doing business will have enduring effects for the future of this industry.

To better understand where we are and where we are going with this industry change, we decided to reach out to Institute member Brad Swineheart, VP of Business Development of White Glove – an award-winning end-to-end premium marketing company that specializes in the logistics of planning, managing and promoting virtual and in-person educational seminars for financial advisors and other industry professionals. As experts on client and community engagement strategies, they themselves in 2020 had to turn on a dime to convert their firm and advisor value proposition from in-person local seminar logistics to virtual seminars and other virtual engagement strategies through their strategic syndicate partners. Their upcoming Virtual Host University 2021 on February 24-25th brings a wealth of practical, hard-earned knowledge for advisors to know how to adapt and thrive to the massive industry changes we are living through today.

Hortz: How will the virtual trends of 2020 be evolving into in 2021? 

Swineheart: I feel that financial professionals are well beyond the idea of adapting for the time being and acting out of immediate necessity. The consumer has also fully realized and experienced that they can receive all the education and information they want while comfortably safe at home. We are now full force into seeing that virtual engagement approaches are not only effective, but here to stay in a major way.  

Now, of course, there are going to be people that want to get back out into the physical world as soon as they can, but the convenience and effectiveness of virtual is not something that will be soon forgotten.  A hybrid approach and a strong virtual/digital presence is what top advisors are using with increasing success.  We work with many advisors that had their best year ever in 2020.  A large part of that was successfully implementing with webinars, social media, and meeting their clients/prospects where they wanted to be met, virtually. This will become a service feature and engagement strategy that will continue to help advisors grow their businesses and extend their regional footprint.

Hortz: How did that realization guide you in choosing the topics and speakers for your 2021 Virtual Host University? 

Swineheart: As we talked to some of the top advisors in the country through this challenging work environment, there were key elements that were easy to identify that led to their success.  We wanted to share with all advisors in the industry what where the important topics, tactics, insights, and strategies that they had learned. 

One thing that has always been a large part of our Host Universities is not just great speakers, but also hearing from those in the trenches that are actively experimenting and learning.  We will showcase an advisor that has now hosted 50+ virtual webinars and he is going to explain his exact process that is leading to his most successful year in the business.  We also have a panel of advisors all from different areas and marketing methods to discuss what they have seen to be most effective.  

There is also a lot of new tech and thinking going on in the marketing world that advisors now have the ability to utilize. Together with top financial literacy experts like Ed Slott and virtual sales mastermind Deirdre Van Ness, it will be a great of event of expert advice, active advisors showcasing real life examples, innovative marketing, and we even have a little magic up our sleeves you will not want to miss.

Hortz: Can you give us a brief preview with a few insider tips & tricks? 

Swineheart: We have seen it all, watching 1500+ webinars with advisors hosting to potential prospects and clients.  There are a lot of key differences we have discovered between in-person public speaking and virtual presentations.  What is surprising, is that virtual allows for amazing engagement opportunities that just are not possible in-person.  Frank Maselli of the Maselli Group, expert seminar coach, will be speaking at the event to these points.  Some of the items that he will reveal is that there are opportunities to connect emotionally to your audience through virtual.  One thing to keep in mind, is that your prospect has never been more comfortable to listen to what you have to say.  While this can seem intimidating, there is a huge upside to having the opportunity to talk to a potential client when they are in that state of mind.  Utilizing engagement tools such as polls, Q & A, and even providing your calendar during the event, all increase your ability to connect in a virtual environment.

Hortz: You have sessions at your Host University about selling through virtual seminars, webinars, 1:1 workshops and podcasts? Will you be covering some of the subtleties in structure and delivery between them? 

Swineheart:  We have found quite literally the best coach for showcasing your human side through virtual processes.  Deirdre Van Ness has long been known in the industry for teaching how to give Crazy Good Talks, but what she has done with transitioning this mentality to virtual is nothing short of brilliant.  We also were able to secure Luke Acree of ReminderMedia, who has the #6 sales and marketing podcast in the US, to teach advisors the power of podcasting. I could not be happier with these two sharing their skills with our advisors and guests on our virtual University!

Hortz: Any other thoughts you can share about what advisors need to adapt and thrive amongst the massive changes in both the financial and marketing landscape? 

Swineheart: There are clear trends that advisors need to embrace if they wish to stay relevant and competitive.  There is a decision point where a prospect decides whether or not to call a professional.  We are nearing the tipping point where if an advisor is not represented in a robust digital fashion that those ideal clients, those coveted prospects, will find someone that is.  

A website, a nice office, professional attire, these are things that have been listed as a necessity for advisors to be in business in the past.  In 2021, you can add robust social media presence, virtual solutions for speaking and meeting with clients and prospects, and an authenticity that can showcase credibility in a virtual environment.  These things can no longer be ignored, and we could not be more excited to help advisors learn what is possible.

You, the reader of this interview, are cordially invited to explore our White Glove resources on our website and you are welcomed on a complimentary basis to our upcoming Virtual Host University 2021 on February 24-25th – details and free registration here.

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The Institute for Innovation Development is an educational and business development catalyst for growth-oriented financial advisors and financial services firms determined to lead their businesses in an operating environment of accelerating business and cultural change. We position our members with the necessary ongoing innovation resources and best practices to drive and facilitate their next-generation growth, differentiation, and unique client/community engagement strategies. The institute was launched with the support and foresight of our founding sponsors - Pershing, NASDAQ, Ultimus Fund Solutions, Fidelity, and Charter Financial Publishing (publisher of Financial Advisor and Private Wealth magazines).