What You Need to Know
Most Seminar systems are not actually systems. They are merely a bunch of slides, which are the least important part of a seminar system. The most important part of a complete seminar system is the method to fill the room. As the ministers say, “you can’t save the souls in an empty church.” So the first things to look for in a seminar system are the instructions and details on how we will get the room filled with the right people.
Fill the room with your seminar system
Most seminars system vendors solve this problem by telling you to feed people a meal. If you want to attract “eaters” rather than buyers, serving a meal makes sense. I have never done this and have been one of the most successful seminar producers in the country. The reason that most seminar system vendors tell you to serve a meal is because they don’t know anything about marketing. The way to fill the room with the right people is to have a compelling seminar invitation (note: NASD licensees must serve a meal because they will not be permitted to use compelling language). A compelling invitation is always more important than serving food.
Compelling means you appeal to people’s emotions. To write a seminar invitation that appeals to people’s emotions requires that you have studied the science of copy writing. Most seminar vendors have not taken the time to do this so they merely tell you to spend lots of money, feed people, and fill the room that way.
Get Appointments at the seminar
The next most important aspect of the seminar system is a process for gaining appointments at the seminar. You’ll find most seminar systems weak in that regard. The seminar system will most likely include a little card to give the attendees and that card has a little check-off box for appointments. This check off box says something like, “yes I’d like to meet with you.” This is a totally insufficient way to get appointments. Why? Because you will spend the next week chasing people to tie them down for a specific meeting time. This is not only a huge waste of your time but it puts you in the “one down” position. In other words, you are the “chaser” and you have the weak position in the relationship. You demean yourself and lose all professional standing. Do you know any doctors, lawyers or accountants that chase prospects for appointments? If the seminar system you are considering does not have a highly structured process to gain appointments, pass.
Any worthwhile seminar system will show you how to:
- Get appointments with firm dates and times right at the seminar.
- Show you how to take away the attendees’ fear and give them an incentive to set an appointment.
- Show you how to conduct a presentation that is focused solely on maximizing the number of appointments.
In closing appointments, you must take away people’s fear and give them an incentive. The item that people fear is that they will be trapped in a high-pressure sales situation with you. So you must take away that fear. How do you do that? By telling them, “if you make an appointment to see me, I won’t sell you anything, that’s not what the appointment is for.”
Secondly you must give people an incentive, which means you must know what your audience considers a worthy incentive. In most cases, that incentive is not a thing (e.g. a software CD showing how to reduce your mortgage payments). An incentive is also specific. You do not offer a “free financial review” because people don’t know A) what that is, and B) don’t know what the benefits are. It is too vague and does not compel them to act. You must provide an emotional incentive because people act emotionally, not logically.
In my case, since I prospect seniors, I know that their greatest financial fear is making an irreversible financial mistake. So a huge incentive to seniors is to be shown what financial mistakes they are making that could be very costly. So I tell my seminar attendees if they come to see me, I promise to show them at least one financial mistake they are making that they are unaware of. This is a significant incentive to seniors to come for the appointment, as they fear making financial mistakes. This is a compelling emotional benefit for them. That incentive will of course be different for different niche markets.
But the third part of any seminar system (and the least important) is the actual presentation. Many vendors think that pretty slides or good information make up a good presentation. This is false. You are not there to educate people. I always advise financial advisors that if you educate people, you will never earn more than a school teacher. Your only goal in your presentation is to have people want to make an appointment with you at the end of the seminar. I have found after 18 years’ experience, that when employing a quality seminar system, you make attendees want to set an appointment in two ways:
First, you have them like you. How do you do that? You entertain them. Look at who we pay the most in our society. We pay entertainers and sports figures the highest salaries. In other words, our culture values being entertained more than anything else. Therefore, if you want people to like you and value you, you entertain them. This is probably different advice than you’ve ever heard.
How do you entertain attendees? Just like entertainers do. You have several choices:
- You can tell jokes. If you are not a good joke teller then don’t tell jokes.
- You can tell stories. Tell stories from your clients, stories from your family or stories from your own experience.
- You can play an instrument. You need to compose some simple songs and lyrics with financial topics. Maybe you can write a short song about taxes or investing in the stock market or purchasing insurance. When you play your guitar and sing your songs, people will love it. You endear them to you.
- Do magic tricks. It’s easy to learn half a dozen magic tricks that will illustrate the points you want to make in your seminar. Again, people will really appreciate the length you go to entertain them and make your points in a very clever way.
- Compose poems. Make up poems about various financial topics and then memorize them. People are always amazed when someone can memorize a lengthy poem.
The other thing you want to accomplish during the presentation is to show people why you are superior to their current advisor. You do this by showing them you are their champion and their advocate. Here’s how you do that: during your presentation, you start each topic with a sentence like, “Folks, many advisors do not explain the following to their clients very well. They don’t want you know what kind of fees are included in the mutual funds you buy. But I think it’s important that you know. So let me show you.”
Most advisors would never talk about fees in mutual funds because they believe if they do so, the attendees will never want to buy a mutual fund. This is a mistake. In fact, the attendees will never want to buy mutual funds from anyone other than you—the person who tells them the straight story. People are not stupid, they know mutual funds have fees in them. But you’ll be the first advisor to ever come clean about this, and show them exactly what fees are included. Or maybe when you’re explaining a certain type of insurance you say, “Folks, maybe you’ve noticed that the insurance companies all have really large buildings. They know how to make a profit. And while insurance is a very important aspect of your financial security, I want you to be smart buyers. Let me give you a few tips that most insurance agents never tell their clients or prospects.”
So all through your presentation, you point to other advisors or to Wall Street or to the insurance industry or to big corporation executives or to some “bad guy.” All throughout, you remain the good guy. You position yourself as the first person to show them “the dirty laundry.” The attendees will not only respect you, they will want to deal only with you. From then on, they will want to have you as their advisor as opposed to their current advisor who never explained those issues to them.
So, up until now, you thought that a good seminar system was about good facts or good slides with pretty graphics, or educating the attendees. These things certainly make for a solid presentation, but welcome to the reality of what really works. You entertain and show them why you are clearly the superior advisor. The result will be appointments with 60% to 90% of the attendees.