An Approach to Differentiation
A UVP (Unique Value Proposition) is a clear statement intended to differentiate you by describing the benefits of your offer, how you solve your client’s needs, and what distinguishes you from your competitors. It outlines the reasons why a client or prospect should do business with you instead of anyone else.
The Financial Advisor’s Success Manual and our coaching work details the wealth management solutions and the value you offer your clients. The fact is, it’s not easy to develop a clear and concise answer to the question of “what differentiates you” and have investors just accept your statements of differentiation, your words.
Let’s face it, anything you say about yourself during the marketing and sales cycle to try to differentiate yourself and your business, many thousands of other advisors also say. In fact, as I went through thousands of LinkedIn profiles the same words appeared over and over: “passionate,” “holistic,” “dedicated,” “comprehensive,” “integrity,” “experienced,” “committed,” “proven track record,” among others. These are little more than buzzwords that don’t differentiate you. In fact, words alone cannot distinguish you. So, what can?
An alternative is to demonstrate the qualities you describe when working with suspects, prospects, clients and COIs.
How do you do that?
In the movie “Bessie” (about blues singer Bessie Smith), Ma Rainey (played by Mo’Nique) says to Bessie (played by Queen Latifah), “You got The St. Louis Blues, The Chicago Blues, The Gin House Blues and the Why My Man Done Left Me Blues. They all the same song ain’t they? With the same three chords and you done heard them a dozen hundred times from a dozen hundred people. So what makes folks want to hear them from you? You got to put something else in them. The blues is not about people knowing you; it’s about you knowing people.”
It’s the same when you are offering your services: it’s not about people knowing you; it’s about you knowing people. How do you do that? One way is to be a listener. In conversation, if you let people do most of the talking, say 80%, they will like you better. Similarly, Dale Carnegie said, “Talk to someone about themselves and they'll listen for hours.” People love talking about themselves, so let them! So, one of your most valuable questions is, “Tell me about yourself.”
How can we apply this obvious “wisdom”? There are three phases in the marketing and sales cycle where you can get to know people and actually show vs. tell what sets you apart:
1. Marketing Phase – This is the introductory phase in relationship development. You are developing your reputation and building your brand with potential prospects (suspects at this stage.) You might publish articles, conduct seminars and events for suspects and prospects, use LinkedIn to identify suspects, participate in organizations, network, speak at various forums, sponsor events, etc.
Each of these activities involves both words and actions. Instead of saying you are passionate, independent, dedicated, experienced, committed, etc., you need to show it. How do you do that?
Let’s use conducting a small “roundtable” as an example. These private events would focus on a small group of people that one or more of your clients, neighbors, relatives and/or friends might be part of. Let’s say the subject is, “Preparing For Your Financial Future.”
Instead of a presentation, use a Q&A approach. In the marketing phase, your sole objective is to get perhaps 4 or 5 or up to perhaps 8 individuals, or preferably 3 or 4 couples, into a venue to discuss their financial future.
To get individuals interested in participating in a “roundtable,” here are a few questions to ask:
You are looking for potentially qualified individuals who would like to have better answers to such questions. When you find that person or persons, ask if they would like to attend an informal roundtable to discuss these questions and also hear how others are thinking about these questions. Hopefully, you get a yes. If not, you move to the next person. When you get a yes, ask that person if there are others they work with, who are friends with, who their relatives are, etc. who might also like to discuss the topic. Build a small roundtable group. Doing the 60 or so minute meeting over a lunch, a weekend breakfast or an early evening wine and hors d'oeuvres gathering should encourage participation.
During the roundtable, ask a similar set of questions, engaging the attendees, recording their comments and validating their views with them. After the meeting summarize the meeting in a thank you email to attendees and follow up by inviting them to a one-on-one discussion with you about their unique situation. Your goal is to get participants to a more detailed one-on-one “discovery” meeting to discuss their own financial future.
Your words in this case matters because you are learning about “them” by interactively seeking their feedback and are defining your deep commitment to your process and your differentiation. Does this set high expectations for you? Absolutely, and it should. It also sets the bar for your competitors.
This approach can be used with advisory boards, in talks to various groups, in articles, in larger events and seminars and in networking.
2. Business Development Phase – This is the selling phase. The focus here is conducting one-on-one “discovery” meetings with potential clients, the way to get to know the person more deeply. During your discovery meeting, it’s all about asking the right questions and, more importantly, listening to the answers to get to really know the person.
Your questions should be all about the prospect’s wants, needs, goals, and importantly their feelings. Work in what they want from a process perspective and what deliverables might be of value to them, whether they have a comprehensive financial plan and what it includes, whether they understand their portfolio, what they expect from review meetings and if they think a Personal Financial Officer would be a valuable asset/service.
See my article “How to Conduct Effective Prospect Discovery Meetings” at https://www.coachdavidleo.com/articles/how-to-conduct-effective-prospect-discovery-meetings.
Presenting the prospect with a high-level personalized “document of understanding” and a plan summary a couple of weeks after your discovery meeting is your commitment to your client and represents your differentiation. Now, the words in your document are your commitments to your deliverables and to your uniqueness.
3. Service Delivery Phase — It’s in the service delivery cycle, when you already have a client that you prove you “DWYSYWGTD,” or “Do What You Said You Were Going to Do.” In this phase, you have three primary tools or processes with which to set yourself apart from your competitors:
Since you have already discussed your Process and Promises during one or both of the above phases, you should quickly review them and solicit feedback on whether or not you are effectively delivering the components of your process and promises from the client’s perspective. You should also determine whether the client still values what you are doing, how well you are delivering on your services, and what else you could be delivering to improve your services.
To develop your differentiation strategy, consider value and uniqueness. Every advisor has the ability to deliver valuable content to their clients, such as a financial plan, a personalized asset allocation, and an investment portfolio. Of course, these deliverables are not unique, but the depth, breadth, and consistency of the sum of your deliverables contributes to your uniqueness. So did your discovery process and how you initially engaged the prospect.
In all your prospect and client contact, remember WIIFM (“What’s In It For Me”), the prospect or client? Also, understand the “Law of Fractional Advantage" and its applicability to you. This law says, “All you need to do to win at anything is be slightly better than your competition.” Often, DWYSYAGTD (Doing What You Say You Are Going To Do) and your execution can be much better than your competition and part of your differentiation.
David I. Leo
David Leo is Founder of Street Smart Research Group LLC. He is an author, speaker, coach, consultant, and trainer to financial professionals. David is an experienced business manager who works solely with Financial Advisors, Planners and firms who want to organize, structure & grow their businesses by attracting, servicing, and retaining affluent clients. He has been described by his niece as “a wise uncle.”
If you would like additional details or have any questions about his articles or an interest in coaching schedule a free 45 Minute Strategy Session @ https://calendly.com/davidileo or contact him @ David@CoachDavidLeo.com. Call 212-598-4229 (Office) or 917-379-1249 (Cell) and visit @ www.CoachDavidLeo.co