Running 200+ campaigns/month we hear a lot of feedback about what’s working and what isn’t. We’re no strangers to the fact that hosting a seminar is only a piece of the puzzle and making appointments can make or break a campaign.

Steep is based in Denver, Colorado, which is one of the more difficult seminar markets nationally. Advisors who have a lot of success here have seminar methods that will work for other advisors nationwide. We sat down with one of our local Colorado advisors who has personally given over 200 seminars and chatted about his appointment setting process during the seminar in which he shared three main takeaways:

  1. Stories are critical
  2. Set financial expectations while you’re there
  3. Open with a close

Stories are Critical

Narrative is a powerful tool in anyone’s toolbox and is an underrated persuasion tool.

Two of the things we learned that make people trust advisors is the appearance of both honesty and integrity. A great story will allow you to check off both of these requirements.

According to research done by Melanie Green, a researcher and professor at University at Buffalo, good stories can help people be more receptive of new information. When people are transported into a narrative, they are more likely to take their guard down and see how information can apply to their current situation.

The type and context of story is important too. In an article in the Journal of Consumer Research, Tom van Laer states the effectiveness of narrative can be defined as the extent to which an individual empathizes with the story characters and the degree to which the story plot activates the consumers imagination. Seminars offer a unique context for a captive audience and an opportunity for advisors to tell an impactful, quick and persuasive stories.

A few successful methods and ideas we’ve seen work are:

  • Stories about your own experience with retirement
  • A success story sharing a client’s success in retirement, not your success in helping them
  • General retirement story

Set Financial Expectations

Each local market demographic is different, so your workshop may have people attend that won’t be the best fit for you as a new client. When speaking to your audience, use language to talk about income levels, how much they currently have saved, net worth, and net assets that you typically work with. This will help add an additional layer of qualification for attendees.

While we try to prequalify on the front-end by optimizing our ads to reach more affluent prospects, some advisors prefer to have larger rooms with full energy. Using assumptive language can be powerful when setting expectations. Spending a little time on the front end can ultimately help set up successful and productive appointments with a more engaged buyer.

The Advisor we interviewed emphasized using humor as a way to help create a strong presence in front of a crowd. He loves to have a packed room and his whole process represents that. He’s found that a big crowd leads to a higher energy level and when that happens, he sees more people who are willing to set appointments. There is a strong correlation to the psychological phenomenon of groupthink. In Victims of Groupthink, Irving Janis, a former researcher at Yale, states that when there is a high group cohesiveness and there are many people in the room who have similar perceived values, sticking with the group and setting an appointment becomes more of a priority than individual expressions of freedom.

Open with a Close

One way you can encourage people to set appointments is to talk about the difference between doing retirement yourself versus having someone help guide you through that process. For people who are the DIYers he’ll say that this is still a great workshop to help them understand what they will need to do and for those looking for help it’s important to understand the backend of what needs to be done. While this may seem contradictory to Janis’ thoughts on groupthink, establishing this early on can lead to a higher cohesiveness within the group as the seminar goes on and people understand that there is much to learn and do to plan for retirement. In the same way that these statements will push some people away from you, it will also help the people who you are best suited to gravitate towards you. These kinds of qualifying statements can have a big impact on your seminar’s success when executed thoughtfully.

Everyone’s time is valuable; advisors hosting many seminars late in the day know this first hand.  Opening this way, in combination with setting financial expectations, can help reassure attendees that you want to set appointments with that they are in the right place and that they should be seeing you for their retirement needs.

While there are many tricks and tips that add up to a successful seminar event, these three takeaways may be just what you need to move the needle on your upcoming events. As with anything, ideas are worthless without implementation. Arm yourself with these tools and start integrating them in your presentations for even better results!

Clayton Adcock

Author Clayton Adcock

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