22nd November, 2023 - Webinar replay

How to boost growth, and cut costs, by improving your conversion rates

Phil Bray  00:00

Good morning everybody I hope you’re well. Happy Autumn Statement Day for anybody who’s looking forward to Mr. Hunt, standing up later on and telling us what he’s going to do with our hard-earned. Welcome to today’s webinar: How to boost growth and cut costs by improving your conversion rates. This is the last Yardstick webinar of the year; we’re giving you all a break in December and we’ll be back in January. So, in time-honoured tradition, Dan, do you want to just tell people how we’re going to do things?

Dan Campbell  00:31

Sure thing. The last webinar of the year what am I going to do next month, Phil? It’s not fair is it? I’m Dan, I’m the Head of Branding and Design here at The Yardstick Agency. The webinar regulars among you will know that I was off sick last month, which naturally led to some serious FOMO, but a big thanks to Abi who filled my usual role as Phil’s glamorous assistant last month. If this is the first Yardstick webinar you’ve ever attended, the glamorous assistant role means I may well be sawn in half by Phil at some point, so you have plenty to look forward to. Other than that, I’ll be keeping us on track and on time, and most importantly of all, I’ll be reading out your questions and comments as we go. Now, we’re going to be talking about how to improve conversion rates today, which is a topic that begs much discussion, so, ask away! Ask your questions, share your experiences of what has and what hasn’t worked, tell us if we’re speaking sense, tell us if we’re speaking the opposite, tell us everything. As usual, there are two ways that you can do that, you can use the chat function or the Q&A box; I’ll be monitoring both. Abi tends to answer some of the simpler questions and any spicy ones, I tend to read out for everyone so we can all benefit from the answer. I’ll sweep them up at natural breaks and we’ll have a period at the end where we answer any final ones, time permitting. Here’s a little treat for us all, I’ll answer a question that hasn’t been asked yet. Yes, we are going to be recording the session, a follow-up email with the video and any notes or resources we mention will be sent out later today, courtesy of Abi. So, without further ado, Phil, how can we boost growth, cut costs and improve our conversion rates?

Phil Bray  02:16

Thanks Dan. I’ve just launched a poll as well and 58% of people have answered the question the poll, oh no, it’s at 63%, it’s going up. If everyone could just answer the question on the poll, that would be great. We’d really appreciate the insight there and then we’re going to have a look and reveal those results in a bit. We should explain first of all what we’re going to talk about today. So, we’re going to start by talking about the benefits of improving your conversion rate, and why you should bother trying to focus on conversion rate. We’re then going to talk about the raw data that you need to be recording to be able to calculate your conversion rates and the five conversion rates you should be monitoring, it isn’t just total leads to new clients, there are at least five conversion rates you should be monitoring. Some thoughts around benchmarks and what you should be aiming for in the business. A look at the reasons why prospects aren’t converting, and then some ways to improve your conversion rate. So that’s what we’re going to be talking about today. It’s a pretty packed hour, but as Dan said, do ask questions, give us feedback, and share your experiences. We hope these webinars add value, and one of the reasons they add value is because of the input that we get from everybody on these sessions. So, please put your comments in the chat, your questions in the Q&A, and vote in the poll. The first thing we should do is define what I mean by conversion rate. What I mean by conversion rate is pretty straightforward, it’s the proportion of prospects. So for prospects we mean new enquirers who take a desired action, and that action might be becoming a client, agreeing to an initial meeting, or moving that meeting to an accreditation meeting, because there’s more than one conversion rate. But the definition of conversion rate for me is the proportion of prospects who take a desired action. So hopefully we’ve got that out of the way now. So, what are the benefits of improving conversion rates? I’ve thought about this a lot during the year, there was a really good podcast, Stephen Bartlett’s Diary of a CEO podcast that Rory Sutherland appeared on earlier on in the year and he was talking a lot about conversion rates. One of the points he made was essentially, what’s the point of putting new prospects into a funnel, which isn’t going to convert them? He’s got a point, there’s not a lot of reason for doing that. Too many people think marketing is only about creating new leads. It is partly about creating new leads, but it isn’t only about creating new leads. It’s about creating leads that can convert and helping them to convert as well. So lets look at the benefits of improving your conversion rate. Every prospect that comes into your business, every new enquiry, can be given one of three tags. The first tag is that they engage immediately; you’re right for them, they’re right for you, it’s a marriage made in heaven and there’s never any doubt that they are going to become a client. So that’s the first tag. The second tag is the complete opposite of that, you’re not right for them, they’re not right for you, and assuming nothing changes significantly, the meeting of those two minds will never happen and they probably are not going to engage. It’s the middle group that is the most important. The middle group are the group of people who you know, you can help, you know financial planning will benefit them, but for whatever reason, they don’t engage immediately. Every business, even your friendly marketing agency, has prospects like this, there might be one or two of you on this call. But you’ve got two choices with prospects like that. The first choice is you ignore them, you don’t go back to them, you do nothing to nurture them. The second choice is the opposite, you nurture them, you add value to them, and you demonstrate your expertise. By doing those things, you’re positioning yourself as the expert, and you’re positioning yourself as the go-back-to expert so it’s you that they come back to when the time is right for them to engage, not somebody else. It’s pretty obvious, which is the right choice there. The first choice, doing nothing, means you will have wasted the time and money you invested in creating that enquiry, the second choice means you will improve your conversion rate. Maximising your conversion rate or doing everything you can to maximise your conversion rate, nurturing these people means you will do two things. You will spend less money on marketing, it’s not a great business plan for us because you’ll spend less money with The Yardstick Agency and on marketing because you don’t need to create so many enquiries. Firms with high conversion rates need to create fewer enquiries than firms with low conversion rates, and secondly, you will be operationally more efficient. There are huge benefits to being operationally more efficient; it improves profit margins, morale, the service that you give to your clients, etc. And you’ll be operationally more efficient because you need to do fewer fact finds and see fewer prospects to get to the same point and to take on the same number of clients. So for me, the two benefits of focusing on conversion rate at least as much as if not more than the number of new enquiries you’ll be getting, are you’ll spend less money on marketing and you’ll be operationally more efficient, which improves your bottom line and your business, etc. So, there are huge wins for focusing on your conversion rate. The first thing we need to understand is what your conversion rate is. To understand what your conversion rate is, there are certain data points that you need to record. That’s what we’re going to talk about now. We  believe there are 12 data points that you should record for every single new enquiry. I’m just going to pause there. Because often when we talk about recording these data points for every single new enquiry, advisers sometimes overcomplicate it by saying “Do we need to record this, this or this?” The simple answer is yes. Every person that makes an enquiry into your business, no matter whether it’s the perfect enquiry or the worst enquiry in the world, you absolutely need to record it because if you don’t, you’re creating a falsely positive picture about your marketing, because it tends to be the poor enquiries that don’t get recorded and therefore you can’t draw accurate evidence-based conclusions about the quality of your marketing. And the second thing is, if you don’t have people’s names and email addresses, you can’t nurture them. For example, we believe it’s best practice for every new enquiry to immediately be put into your newsletter database, and then for you to send them a newsletter every month. If you don’t record the enquiry and don’t have their name and email address, how can you possibly add them into your newsletter database? And as an adviser you also need to get GDPR, right, but from a basic perspective, if you’re not recording their data, you don’t have their name and email address it makes nurturing impossible. So, back to these 12 data points that we believe you should record for every new enquiry. The first five are pretty straightforward, but what I do want to say about the first one is just remember that someone’s name, and their known-by name might be slightly different. There are three examples on this call, Abi, Dan and Phil, I suspect we were all christened with slightly longer names. So our known-by names are slightly different to our full names. The reason you need their known-by name is simply so that you can personalise emails. So the first five data points are their first name and known-by name, last name, email address, telephone number, the date the enquiry was received. Not particularly controversial. Number six, very few firms when we start working with them record this data but it’s really important, as we’ll see in a bit, when we look at the ratios you should be looking for, it’s recording the simple gut feeling of whether you want to work with the prospect or not. Now, you might know, on that first email to you or that first enquiry whether you want to work with the prospect or not. You might know after the first phone call, you’ll certainly know, after the first meeting. There is a gut feel, whether this person, by whatever metrics, you want to measure, is the right fit for your business. Do you want to be working with that person? And we’ll look at why we need that data point in a minute. The next six. Was the first meeting agreed? Yes, no, to be confirmed. Did the prospect become a client? Yes, no, to be confirmed. The reason the prospect didn’t become a client. This is really important and again, a lot of firms don’t record this information, but we want to know why someone didn’t become a client because if we’ve got that information, we can do something with it. As we’ll see in a bit, most firms don’t convert most prospects, headline conversion rates are generally sub 50%. So, it make sense that we want to know why prospects aren’t converting, because we might, there might be some patterns there and there might be something we can do about it. The source of the enquiry, and it is important that we get this right, the source of the enquiry is not email, telephone, walk-in, or enquiry form, those are methods of communication. The source sometimes takes a little bit of digging with prospects to find out, but it is the first time they became aware of you. So, if somebody is referred to you by John Smith, and sends an email to the office, the source is not email, the source is John Smith. If someone sees a LinkedIn post and then sends you a DM on LinkedIn, the source isn’t LinkedIn DMs, it’s LinkedIn. So the source is the point where they first became aware of you. The last two, if it was a referral of an existing client or professional connection, the name of the existing client or professional connection, so you can say thank you, and show how much you appreciate being passed on. Then lastly, the revenue generated. That might be initial fee, ongoing fee, AUM or some other metric we can use to measure return on investment. So, those are 12 data points that we should be recording. We’ll talk in a minute about where we record it but Dan, there’s a question.

Dan Campbell  14:53

Yeah, there certainly is. So we’ve got two questions actually, the first is from David and it’s just some firming up of the definition of a lead. So David asks, “Would you consider someone as a lead and recording included into your conversion data, if they just download a form from your website, etc, or other digital leads as such?”

Phil Bray  15:16

David, do you mean there’s someone completing a form so that they download a guide or an asset from the website? If they do, then yeah, I would be putting them in there. They are nowhere near as strong a lead as a referral from a client or professional connection, but assuming you’re following that lead up with a trigger campaign, a nurturing campaign, a telephone call, or invites to other events and assets, then yeah, I would be putting that in.

Dan Campbell  15:45

Perfect, thanks. Gordon asks a great question “What about location in terms of raw data that we need to record?”

Phil Bray  15:57

Absolutely, if it’s relevant for your business, then record it. I’m trying to think of the relevancy, but, yes, if you feel it’s relevant and is an important data point, then why not record it. These 12 are the minimum that I would be recording, there may be other specific data points that firms want to record for themselves.

Dan Campbell  16:23

Brilliant, thanks. Let’s carry on. Make that sip of tea a quick one.

Phil Bray  16:30

So those are the 12 data points, the obvious next conversation is where you record this data. For me, you’ve got three options. The first, is a spreadsheet, or a shared Google Sheet or something like that. We’ve prepared an enquiry recording spreadsheet template that we’ve given away dozens of times in the past. And Abi if you can put that in the follow-up that would be good. That spreadsheet works when enquiry levels are relatively low, sophistication levels of the business are relatively low, the other two versions or options don’t work, or where there’s only one or two advisers in the business, spreadsheets are fine for that sort of thing. You could use a traditional back office system, whatever back office system you use, they all have some lead functionality, they generally don’t have nurturing functionality that you might get in a sales-based CRM, and they generally don’t do the conversion rate calculations that we’re going to come on to in a second, the same is true of the spreadsheet. So, you would need to manually calculate those, either on a monthly, quarterly, six-monthly or annual basis but the traditional adviser back office is an option. And then we’ve got some firms, generally, larger firms who are more invested in conversion rates and nurturing of leads, and those with bigger lead numbers, may well use a sales-based CRM. So we’ve got clients using HubSpot, Pipedrive, Salesforce, they’ve all got different price points, different features, and different benefits. Those are essentially the three places where you could record those 12 data points. A key point for them all, you need to keep it up to date, you need to put the data on there in the first place, but then it needs to be kept up to date as the prospect goes through your sales funnel. So, those are the three places that you can record this information. Question Dan?

Dan Campbell  18:50

Yeah, fantastic question in from Quinn, who asks, “How would you typically inform a prospect that you may not be suited to one another without offending them?” It’s very much a it’s not you, it’s me, but in some cases, it is them, isn’t it?

Phil Bray  19:03

That’s a really good question Quinn, and I think for me, I’d say two things. The first is just be honest, and give genuine reasons why. Honesty goes a long way these days and I think you just need to be honest and explain why you don’t think this is a good fit. It might be that you don’t supply the service that they want, they might want equity release, you might not have equity release permissions, really simple. It might be that your minimum fee will mean that actually they don’t get value from working with you. I think those sort of conversations are probably quite easy. I think there’s harder conversations when the personality fit isn’t right, and in those cases you’ve got to find a form of words, which gets that gets that across; which is, I accept, harder. The second thing I would always do Quinn, is signpost people to somewhere else so you have still been of benefit to them, you’ve still been of use to them. Let’s say it was somebody coming in wanting a service that you don’t offer, mortgages, equity release, wills, that sort of stuff, then I would just have a list of people that you refer and you recommend to them, a trusted list of suppliers. If it is someone who needs something you don’t do, you think there’s a better place for them, then refer them to MoneyHelper, and dare I say it, Unbiased and VouchedFor, where they might be able to get the help and support that they need. So just don’t be a dead end Quinn, always try and signpost them somewhere else. I think there’s a follow up question from Quinn as well.

Dan Campbell  20:56

Yeah Phil. So further to that, then, how should you do that? Should it be over the phone? Face to face? Will an email suffice? How do we break up with people?

Phil Bray  21:09

I think when and how you do it is probably dictated by your sales process and that first interaction you have with them. So it might be the case that you booked that first meeting by email, and they turn up to a meeting, in which case it’s face-to-face isn’t. It might be that someone rings into the office, you take that phone call, and therefore, that phone call you’re either booking them in for a meeting or saying this isn’t right, you’re better off going here. So I think it’s dependent on where you have that first interaction with the client, and the most appropriate time to be having that conversation. Difficult conversations aren’t easy, but If you go and Google or YouTube, “Simon Sinek difficult conversations”,there’s some good stuff there about how to have difficult conversations, but I would do it at the earliest opportunity Quinn.

Dan Campbell  22:07

Brilliant. Thanks Phil. We do have another question from Charlie, but I am going to put that towards the end. It’s a fairly open question around nurturing prospects, which I suspect could be another webinar entirely. So we will get to that Charlie, but let’s carry on with recording the data at the moment.

Phil Bray  22:21

Yeah, we’ve got a slide for that in a bit, Charlie. So we’ve talked about the data that you should be recording, we’ve talked about where to record the data, now whwe need to talk about analysing it and the five conversion rates that we believe all firms should be monitoring. The following slides are all the same format, they have a little explanation about the conversion rate, and then the calculation. So, headline conversion rate. This is probably the conversion rate that people first think of when I talk about conversion rates. It is simply the total number of clients taken on divided by the total number of enquiries over a given period of time. So, if you had 100 enquiries, year to date, in 2023, and you have taken on 20 clients, then your conversion rate is 20%. Maths even I can do. We also have to remember that there’s a lag, so if you’re dividing the total number of enquiries by the total number of clients over that period of time, it may be that some of those clients, the lead actually came in, in the previous year. The headline conversion rate is the total number of clients taken on, divided by the total number of enquiries and that’s often where people stop. If we look at the poll results, what have we got here? 64% of people, so nearly two thirds, monitor the rate they convert enquiries into new clients, 36% don’t, so about a third don’t. And I left it open to interpretation, but I would suspect that the majority of people who answered that question did so believing that I was asking about this conversion rate. It’s the most obvious, it’s incredibly important, but it doesn’t dig down into where your sales funnel is working and where your sales funnel is not working. So, the next conversion rate to monitor is right-fit rate. This is simply the proportion of enquiries from right-fit clients as a proportion of all new enquiries. So back to the example, 100 leads in year to date and 63 were right-fit, and you can start calculating your enquiry to right-fit conversion rate, and we can then as we’ll see in a minute, convert, right fit conversion rate to first meeting, to onboarded, client, etc. This is important because as we’ll see in a bit, one of the reasons leads don’t convert is that they’re not the right fit. For whatever reason, you can’t work with them going back to Quinn’s question earlier. If you’ve got a high percentage of enquiries that are not right-fit, it indicates there is a problem with your marketing, your marketing is generating enquiries from the wrong type of people. So, monitoring your right-fit rate is incredibly important, but you can’t do that unless you are recording data point six, do you want to work with the prospect? Number three, your first meeting conversion rate. There are two ways of doing this, this is the proportion of all enquiries who moved to a first meeting. Or the other way of doing it is, the proportion of right-fit enquiries that agree to a first meeting. This starts to show you how well your processes are working. I can remember one firm that we work with who had decent lead levels 20-25 per month, 80% right-fit, good number, so far, so good; their overall conversion rate though, was down at 3%-4%. It was absolutely tiny and because they were monitoring this information, we could actually see that the largest and most significant drop off was firm enquiry coming in to booking first meeting. We realised the problem was the eight advisers, weren’t ringing leads quickly, they were waiting five, seven, or eight days before ringing a lead. At worst, the prospect had gone cold and maybe was a bit annoyed, but they also might have gone off somewhere else. So your first meeting conversion rate, either as a proportion of all enquiries, or as a proportion of right-fit enquiries helps you to start understanding whether your processes, sales funnel, and your operations are effective or not. Next, first meeting to converting as a client. It’s dead straightforward. It’s the total number of new clients divided by the total number of new meetings over the same period of time. And this starts to help you understand whether you’ve got your proposition right, whether you’ve got your pricing right and whether the people who are presenting to prospects can actually sell your proposition. Everybody is selling something, financial advice, financial planning, mortgage advice, social media, design, branding, whatever it is, everybody is selling something. So the proportion of new clients as a proportion of first meetings helps us understand if your pricing is right, if your proposition is right, whether the people who are presenting can sell and tell the story so that prospects go ahead. Lastly, a bit of a left field one, but lastly, your recommendation rate. If you’ve ever done any of our recommendation workshops, you’ll know we talk about recommendation rate a lot. Your recommendation rate helps us to understand whether you are maximising the potential for recommendations from your existing client bank. As we’ve said many times before, recommendations from existing clients are the best type of new enquiry, they’ve got the highest conversion rate and the lowest cost of acquisition. Therefore, we need to be strategic and intentional about maximising the opportunity from your existing client bank. But it’s not easy to compare firm with firm and other advisers within a firm because they all have different numbers of clients. So your recommendation rate is simply calculated as the number of recommendations you receive in a year from existing clients divided by the total number of clients that you have. And that means you can compare firm A with firm B so you can get a bit of an idea about how well you’re doing and you can compare other advisers in the firm, as well. So five conversion rates there that we should all be monitoring headline conversion rate, right-fit conversion rate, first meeting conversion rate in one of two ways, the sign-up rate from first meeting to sign-up, and the recommendation rate. Five conversion rates that you should know for your business. If you use Pipedrive, Salesforce, HubSpot, it should calculate most of those for you, certainly Pipedrive does. If you use a spreadsheet for monitoring new enquiries, or a back office system, you will need to do it manually at different points in time. So, Dan, before we go on to conversion benchmarks we should be aiming at I can see a couple things in the chat, do we need to do anything with them?

Dan Campbell  30:55

We certainly do. Charlie asks a question around that fifth, conversion rate, the recommendation rate, Charlie asks, “Would a testimonial count? Or is it purely just referrals?”

Phil Bray  31:08

No. That could be a sixth or seventh one Charlie, the proportion of your clients who have left a Google or VouchedFor review. So thanks for the inspiration there, we could make this presentation a bit longer. But no, let’s be clear, a recommendation or referral is when somebody has passed your name on to somebody else and that person has then got in touch with your business. The fifth conversion rate has nothing to do with testimonials, or client reviews.

Dan Campbell  31:40

Brilliant. The second question is from David, around those referrals. David asks, “Would you potentially have a different marketing strategy for prospects coming from existing client referrals?”

Phil Bray  31:52

Yes. If you imagine a holistic all encompassing marketing strategy for your business, then yes, there is a sub strategy there based on educating, appreciating, and nurturing clients to increase the number of referrals and recommendations that you receive. But yes, absolutely. There’s research from VouchedFor, that shows that 85% of clients have never been asked for a referral, which shows to me that advisers and planners are generally very passive when it comes to referrals and recommendations. What they actually need to do is be more intentional and strategic. That doesn’t mean we need to go back 30 years and start using some of the techniques that was taught in direct sales decades ago. But it does mean need to be we need to be more intentional and more strategic about it.

Dan Campbell  32:53

Brilliant. The final question at the moment is from Matt, who asks, “Is the best practice to take this and do it per lead source?”

Phil Bray  33:04

That would be the next level down. It’s a good point. What we’ve talked about so far is these conversion rates, it’s probably for the first four to be fair, not this one, not number five. But a good practice would be to take these first four conversion rates, calculate them for a business, the business’ conversion rates for those four things. And then you could subdivide it in probably two ways. The first is by source. So you would expect to see the conversion rates on referrals being better than other sources of leads, that’s a good point, you do it by source. The other thing you could do it by in multi-adviser businesses is compare it by adviser. That would help you understand maybe where some advisers need a bit of help or extra training. But it’s a good point, if you’re going to drill down past firm level for the first four, drill down based on source and advisers.

Dan Campbell  34:03

Brilliant. Then David’s question around different marketing strategies for prospects coming from existing client referrals. He caveats that with, he’s also talking about whether to have a different funnel for those that come from referrals.

Phil Bray  34:23

I’d be interested to know the logic behind having a different funnel and what you would change about it. I’ll have to give that a bit of thought, but I’d be interested to know the logic. I’m thinking on the hoof here, but you certainly would have a different funnel for someone who downloaded a guide from your website that would have a very different funnel than somebody who was referred to you by an existing client or professional connection. There’s a bunch of people in the middle like a lead from VouchedFor, Unbiased, or from your website. A sale from one of those is probably going to look fairly similar to each other but different than a referral from a client or professional connection. Good to carry on?

Dan Campbell  35:07

Yes, absolutely.

Phil Bray  35:09

Right. We’ve talked about the data you need to record, the five conversion rates, and Matt’s good point about running those conversion rates through different sources and different advisers. Now let’s look at where I’d pitch some benchmarks. This next slide is broadly subjective. Some people will agree, and some people disagree, I’m really happy to have the debate, but this is my opinion. For me, the headline conversion rate, and what I would call the blended headline conversion rate, where you’re putting all leads from all sources into the box and understanding how many have been converted, I would say the minimum benchmark you should be aiming at is 25%, one in four. At that blended level, the highest conversion I’ve seen where I actually believed the data was about 48%, 49%, or something like that, and I’ve seen it way down to 3%. Really low. For that blended, where everything is going in the same box, it’s probably about 25%. I would expect the minimum rate you convert referrals and recommendations at from existing clients and professional connections to be 40%, so four out of ten. I’ve seen a lot of firms do higher than that. The rate at which you convert those is based on, in large part, clients recommending you to and professional connections recommending you to the right type of people. All other lead sources tends to be around 20%, maybe a bit lower and depending on the mix that you get, the proportion of your leads that come from referrals and the proportion that come from other sources will dictate the blend, but again, I’d say the blend is about 25%. I’d be looking for marketing to be generating right-fit prospects at a rate of about 75%. You do need to record everything, but I would be looking for marketing to be generating prospects at a rate of about 75%. Finally, in terms of recommendation rate, I’d expect a minimum of 25%. Crudely, that means that one in four of your clients are recommending you on to other people who then get in touch. I have seen that significantly higher north of 50%, and again, those firms who have a higher recommendation rate will have a higher conversion rate, will spend less money on marketing and will be operationally more efficient. So those are my gut feel, entirely subjective, but based on quite a bit of data that I’ve seen, minimum benchmarks that I believe advice firms should be aiming at. So if anybody’s got any comments on those, please put them in the chat. Dan, did I see something else come in the chat a minute ago?  No worries at least I got a sip of tea. So those are the benchmarks I think you should be aiming for. So, let’s have a think about why prospects might not be converting. People on the call might have other ideas, but I think there are broadly five reasons. The first is enquiries aren’t from right-fit prospects, if people are coming to you for a service that you don’t offer, or they’re coming to you and the fit isn’t right because you don’t work with that type of person, and you can’t add value to somebody because of the asset levels, etc. then there’s a problem with the marketing. So that’s a key reason why conversion rates might be relatively low, if enquiries aren’t from right-fit prospects. There could be a problem with pricing or proposition. It is becoming easier for consumers to compare financial advisers. Look at some of the tools on VouchedFor, for example. As more firms decide to disclose their fees, there’s been some robust debate on LinkedIn over the past couple of weeks about fee disclosure online, but more firms are doing it and we’ve done some research over the last three years, the number of firms disclosing fees online has aproximately doubled, so, it has become easier to compare. That means there might be a an issue with pricing or proposition, that means clients or prospects don’t convert. We also have the adviser or planner’s ability to sell. There are terms like hunter, gatherer, farmer, that sort of stuff, we’ve all got different skill sets and I know some advisers and planners have struggled in the past to convert enquirers. I also know that as some planners move towards a fixed fee proposition rather than charges based on percentages have struggled as well. It’s common knowledge that people understand pounds, shillings and pence better than they understand percentages and I speak to a lot of advisers who are transitioning their business from percentage-based charging to fixed fees, and it is harder for them to communicate value, so that might be an issue as well. The onboarding process might be ineffective, if you are not communicating with clients during the onboarding process and updating them with what is happening, they will potentially fall off and ultimately decide not to proceed or to go somewhere else. There’s some really good stuff in Stephen Bartlett’s 33 Rules Diary of a CEO book that was out a few months ago. He talks about how Uber help customers know where their cab is, where their taxi is, Domino’s Pizza, if you order a pizza from Domino’s, you get that little wheel telling you where your pizza is. All those sorts of things can help improve the onboarding process and help prospects understand where they are in that. So if your onboarding is ineffective, or not as effective as it could be, that might hinder your conversion rate. Operational issues, are you getting back to the prospect quickly enough? Ideally the same day, if not, the next day. I gave that example earlier, where a large proportion of enquires were right-fit, but the firm weren’t getting back quickly enough, and that impacted their conversion rates. So there are five reasons why prospects are not converting. It’s really important that we record the lost reason for prospects because that’s going to help us understand why prospects aren’t converting. I’ve even seen some firms do surveys of prospects every year or every two years to try and understand why they might not become a client. If the conversion rate is really low, we’ve seen some firms do really short surveys with two or three questions to prospects who didn’t convert to ask them why, what did we do wrong? What could we have done better? That’s really useful information as well. Dan, before I go and talk about ways to improve conversion rates, do we have any questions?

Dan Campbell  38:25

No. Yeah, so we’ve got a great question from Andrew, who asks, “Would you bother recording a phone call via a Google search? If somebody Googled advice centre, Sheffield, for example, but you’re in Blackpool, and let’s say in this instance, you never get their name. And the call is under one minute.”

Phil Bray  43:38

Absolutely, 100% record it. You might have to record it as John Doe or Jane Doe, or something like that. But 100%. That’s really useful information because if you were to get a series of those calls, in a really short space, or over a period of time, that’s an indication that your marketing isn’t working. It’s an indication that your marketing is creating leads in Blackpool when you’re in Sheffield. I know it might feel a pain in the neck, but if you don’t record that information, you don’t know when you come to analyse your data that there is a problem with your marketing. It’s a little bit like if you’re getting enquiries for defined benefit transfers, and it’s not something you do, but you kept getting those enquiries, it’s a signal that there is something out there that is pushing people to you and you need to try and find it. That was a long-winded answer to a short question, the short answer, Andrew is Yes.

Dan Campbell  44:43

Thanks, the second question we’ll go for is a question from Daniel, which I promise isn’t me asking a question in third person. This is another Daniel on the call. Daniel asks, “How do you factor in enquiries where the firm is one of three perhaps being considered?”

Phil Bray  44:58

The first thing is, back to what I said before, it absolutely gets recorded in the same way as every other lead back to the Blackpool Sheffield thing a second ago, 100% record it. The second thing I would do is I’d probably get a bit more intentional about finding out why I lost it if the client didn’t convert. I would maybe ask the prospect, assuming you won it, that’s brilliant, and if you won it, I would talk to the client and say “what was it about us that made you choose us rather than the other firms, I won’t break any confidences, but I’m really interested to know because this is going to help me build a better business. What was it about us and our proposition that made you feel more comfortable coming to us rather than somebody else?” So I’d ask the client that. If the prospect doesn’t convert and goes somewhere else, I would still say to them, “Do you mind if we have 10 minutes on the phone, I’m passionate about building a great business and I really want to understand what it was about our proposition that wasn’t right for you, or what it was about the person that you went to that you felt was a better fit.” So, I would be having conversations either way, whether you win it or whether you lose it, about why they chose you or why they didn’t; a bit of a debrief. Hopefully that answers the question.

Dan Campbell  46:44

Right, let’s go for a question from Andrew next, who asks, “How soon do you recommend responding to an enquiry such as VouchedFor, or contact via the website? Does too fast, say within an hour look like we’re not busy?”

Phil Bray  47:02

So the short answer is I’m not sure, it is so subjective. When I was at a firm in a previous life, we created lots of annuity enquiries and you had to respond to those really quickly, because if someone put an enquiry on our website you knew they were putting that enquiry into other websites as well. So if the adviser waited 20 minutes to ring, they generally got the engaged tone because somebody else had got in there first. So for me, you can overthink this, but I would be responding reasonably quickly, try and do it in that same half day. If it comes in the morning, try and do it in the morning, if it comes in the afternoon, try and do it in the afternoon, and if for some reason, Andrew, you’re out the office and can’t, then maybe get somebody else to put in a holding call. So get somebody to pick up the phone of the prospect. Andrew isn’t here, he’s out with clients but he’ll be in touch tomorrow. Or send an email, a holding email. I think that really helps to show people that you care. So I would probably do it the same morning or same afternoon, if you can’t get somebody to put that holding call holding email and let you follow up. But I think it is subjective.

Dan Campbell  48:30

Right. So on that, we’ve got a good comment from Jen Paulo, who says about the speed of a reply to an initial email “I always respond within an hour saying, got your email, thanks for engaging, I’m really busy at the moment but would like to schedule a Zoom call for next Wednesday, for example.” So it gives them a little bit of space between now and then and at least it’s an instant response. We will have one more question before we move on, this one is from Quinn. Great question. Quinn asks, “If you’ve had an enquiry, but were unable to reach them, how many times should you attempt to contact them? And over what period of time?”

Phil Bray  49:07

Good question. So again, I don’t know if there is a finite number. I would try different ways, try via phone call, email, and WhatsApp, and try something we’re going to talk about on the next slide. Again, I don’t think there’s a finite number, I do think there’s a finite end to it though, which we’ll come on to in the next slide.

Dan Campbell  49:41

Right, well, let’s crack on to that next slide then.

Phil Bray  49:43

Let’s do that, shall we? Okay, this isn’t a definitive list, but six things that will improve your conversion rate. The first is to make sure that your marketing is as good as it possibly can be at creating right-fit enquiries. Measure the proportion that are right-fit, measure the proportion therefore the aren’t right-fit, find out the reasons they’re not right-fit, and then work back through your marketing to fix it. A lot of that, especially when it comes to referrals and recommendations from existing clients and professional connections, is training and educating them on who is the right person to recommend you to. It’s really important that your clients and your professional connections, know who you work with, and know who you don’t work with. I’ve even seen some websites, a minority, but I’ve seen them where you might get a list on the website showing the type of people they work with, and the type of people they’re not right for and maybe even some signposting out. The first thing to do is understand what proportions are right-fit and aren’t right-fit, and work back and tweak your marketing based on that data. The second thing, walk in your prospect’s shoes. Review, refine and improve every stage of your onboarding process. Little things like I’ve just said to Andrew, put in that holding call, someone will be back in touch tomorrow, Andrew is in a meeting. Walk in your prospect’s shoes and understand the onboarding process, and then where possible, refine it and improve it. Because the onboarding process is so important, it’s absolutely crucial you get it right. Monthly newsletters, this is a hill I will die on, and I probably will end up dying on, that newsletters should be sent at least monthly to prospects. Your newsletter should be sent to clients, prospects and professional connections. From a prospect perspective, and this goes back to somebody’s question earlier, they underpin effective nurturing, because it means if you get your newsletter right, you are adding value., you are touching that prospect with your brand every month, you’re demonstrating your knowledg, and those three things combined position you as the go-back-to person. So when they’re ready to engage, it’s you that they come back to because you’ve been in touch with them every month, you’ve added value and demonstrated knowledge, rather than them looking elsewhere. There are a bunch of other reasons to send monthly newsletters, but in terms of nurturing prospects, that’s massively important. Engage with them on social media, as well. Go and find your clients on social media, look them up,  on LinkedIn for example and connect with them. That means if they spend time on LinkedIn they’ll see your posts, but engage with their posts as well, whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, X, Instagram, Tik Tok, who knows? Engaging with them is a really soft way of reminding them you are there and reminding them that you are ready, willing and able. Facebook pixel advertising works nicely for that as well. If someone visits your website, they then see adverts, that are reminders of your brand on Facebook. It reminds them that they visited and redirects them back to your website. Find other ways to add value as well, scorecard marketing is really popular this year, webinars, we’re doing more webinars and helping more advisers and planners run webinars than ever before. They’re a really valuable way of adding value to prospects and a low-cost, efficient way of speaking to a relatively large group of people at the same time. You can use existing content, existing blogs or guides that you’ve got to write the webinar, so you’re repurposing existing content that makes it efficient. Then, when you run your webinar, chop it down to use on social media, put it on your website as a library with a transcript on there to help your SEO, there are all sorts of ways of repurposing that content. So, find other ways to add value. Lastly, and this goes back to what somebody else said earlier about how many times you should be trying to engage, I don’t know what the exact answer is, I don’t think there is an exact answer of how many times, but I do think there’s an endpoint. That endpoint is to use Chris Voss’ magic email, on page 92 of Never Split The Difference. I’m sure a bunch of you have read the book and will know what I mean by the magic email. The magic email is very straightforward. It’s your last interaction, the last attempt that you have to engage them, maybe they’ll end up on your newsletter list, but it’s the last attempt, you have to engage them, and it’s very simple. Dear Dan, have you given up on seeking financial advice? Regards, Phil. No fluff, no ‘Hi, hows the dog, hope you’re okay.’ None of that ‘hope this finds you well’, I’m really guilty of that, It’s simply “Dear Dan, have you given up on seeking financial advice? Regards, Phil.” It’s a no-orientated question. People find no-orientated questions, safe to answer, and that gets a response about 80% of the time and that response is almost always, “No, I’ve not given up on it, I’m really sorry, I’ve just been busy. Let’s reengage.” It is short, direct and to the point, but it works and it never ever gets any negativity. If you’re in doubt, there’s a LinkedIn thread I put the picture of this yesterday and there are a few people there saying they’ve used it and used it well. So go and have a look at that thread. The Chris Voss magic email is a fantastic way of waking up prospects. I know one financial planner really well who over Christmas last year, was doing some admin, they found they had three prospects who hadn’t been back in touch, they sent the Chris Voss magic email to all three prospects, and all those three prospects became clients in January. Now, I’m not saying you’re going to have a 100% hit rate like that, but it is tremendously beneficial. If anybody’s used the Chris Voss magic email, put something in the chat. So, in terms of conversion rates, we have spoken about today, the importance of them, the data points you need to monitor, where you record that data, the five conversion rates you should be monitoring, some of the reasons why people don’t convert, and some ways to improve them. I really hope you have some practical stuff you can take away. Before we finish, we have a favour to ask. Abi, Dan and myself have a favour to ask. This is our 10th webinar this year, we’re not doing one in December, we’ll be back in January. We have created a very short webinar survey with four questions. It’ll take you two minutes to complete it, and it’s your way of saying thank you to us, and helping these webinars get better next year. So, Dan’s going to put the link in the chat, before you go make a cup of tea, before you check your emails, before you do anything else, if you could just click that link and go and answer the four questions, I would really appreciate it, and it will mean that we can tailor the content for these webinars to what you want to hear about from us next year. If anybody doesn’t know how to contact us, there are our contact details, the website address, LinkedIn, Twitter, I should change that to X or whatever it’s called now, email address. The bells are saying it’s 11 o’clock, I’m really happy to stick around and answer questions and before everyone goes, I just want to say thank you for your great questions and interactions today and on all the other webinars we’ve done this year. I really enjoy delivering them, I hope you enjoy them, and you get value from them, as well. Dan, what questions have we got?

Dan Campbell  59:16

Right. So we’ve talked about good ways to nurture clients in general, but Charlie asks, “What are some good ways to nurture professional connections?”

Phil Bray  59:27

Wow. There is just a huge amount that you could do there and we’ve had some demand to do webinars about that next year. I think there’s some really good quality guests, we could get on there. So I think I’ll defer that to next year as we’re running some webinars on it, but for now, a couple of things I’ll say to take away. I would think about who you want to be working with to start with, what’s the ideal type of client you want to be working with? That leads to a simple question, can professional connections help and introduce me to that type of client? Yes or No.  If the answer is yes, what type of professional connection can introduce me to that client? So is it an accountant? And if so what type of accountant? Is it a solicitor? If so what type of solicitor, litigation, commercial, family, divorce, etc. So I’d work back like that, and think about who you want to be working with to start with.

Dan Campbell  1:00:32

Brilliant. So as an aside, Charlie, click the survey monkey link and make your vote count. Because as Phil says, we may very well cover that topic next year. A question in from Gavin, which I can only admire the determination of this question. Gavin asks, “If you use the Chris Voss email and get a yes, would you then remove them from the mailing list?”

Phil Bray  1:00:57

When you say mailing list, do you mean the newsletter mailing list? Because the short answer is no. All clients, prospects and professional connections should be on your newsletter mailing list until they unsubscribe. So if I’ve understood the question correctly, the answer would be no.

Dan Campbell  1:01:12

Assuming that Gavin meant the follow-up process, then yes, except a no in that instance. Let’s see some other questions. Steven, absolutely, yes, this will be available for replay. You’ll get a follow-up email with a link to this recording, so don’t worry that you arrived late, you’ll be able to see the whole thing in full HD later on. I believe that’s the end of our questions. Anymore for anymore? But this is very much me ringing the bell for the year.

Phil Bray  1:01:51

Thank you, Dan, and thank you to Abi for your support this year. It’s really appreciated. See everybody in 2024 How did that happen? So you soon, bye-bye.

Dan Campbell  1:02:00

Take care guys, bye.

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