Peter Welch discusses the importance of strong lead generation for equity release business
Bridgewater runs regular broker forums and, it would be safe to say, that at every event one of the first issues raised is always around new business generation, how best to go about this, what sort of marketing mix should be used to gain new leads, and the most cost and business-effective ways to achieve this.
At one session last year we asked attendees to list the different methods they used to generate leads. All in all, there appeared to be a group of core methods which should be used as part of an equity release adviser’s marketing/lead generation mix.
The first of those I would highlight is the use of introducers and formulating strong relationships with not just other professionals but other relevant businesses in the locale. When talking about adviser introducers the usual suspects such as accountants and solicitors are all well and good. However, in terms of potential equity release clients, advisers may need to think outside the box a little, particularly in relation to the client type.
For instance, we must not forget we are dealing with the retired market here and therefore targeting those businesses whose customer base is predominantly retired is a good start. At our broker forums, advisers revealed how they had built relationships with, among others, local care and nursing homes, local charities and social services, sellers of funeral plans, and coach companies who conduct holidays for the retired.
So, it is not just about the traditional introducers, although equity release advisers should also have strong relationships with other advisory practices who do not offer equity release advice. My rules for developing introducers are as follows:
• Never assume the introducer has remembered anything you’ve told them – keep politely and persistently reminding them of what you can do for them.
• Agree in advance on the regularity and type of contact with the introducer and stick to it. If they say, “Give me a call once a month to remind me to think of you” do so.
• Give examples of how you’ve helped people or businesses just like them – this helps in two ways; they won’t want to miss out on an opportunity their peers are enjoying and if others are using you, you must be good at what you do
• Under-promise and over-deliver on all your dealings with them.
The other vitally important lead generation mechanism is that of your existing client bank. Getting the most out of this substantial resource will often be the key to strong lead generation. Advisers should certainly be in regular contact with their client database about their services and, importantly, these should stress that equity release can provide a solution to a variety of problems, be that topping up the pension, ensuring quality of life or funding social care.
You should also not be afraid to keep in contact with existing equity release clients in order to obtain referrals. Some advisers are not keen on asking for referrals but the old adage of ‘don’t ask, don’t get’ is still true here. I know some advisers whose business relies on referrals from existing clients. They work hard at giving clients ’permission’ to refer them. What I mean by this is they tell their clients that they need them to refer in order to sustain their business, and that much of their business comes from happy customers telling their friends and family about the service.
Increasing your visibility in the marketplace is also critical for lead generation; it may be more of a slow-burn but providing your expertise free of charge, be it through local retirement seminars or talks to groups such as the WI, can bring in the clients.
Those in, or nearing, retirement are often eager to have all the information to hand when it comes to their available options and they will certainly value the expertise and quality of advice from an adviser who is active in the community. Even if equity release is not for them, the chances are they will talk to their peer group about the information you provided and the services you offer, with this hopefully turning into referral business.
A new year gives you the perfect opportunity to plan out your activity for the year ahead. While you may be tempted to continue doing what you have always done, make the effort to try a different technique or approach. You will only know of the results this can bring if you go ahead with it; don’t deem the approach a failure before you have tried it because it could bring the most lucrative stream of clients you have ever known.
Peter Welch is head of sales and distribution at Bridgewater Equity Release
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