Last Sunday night, I took part in a freelance writer “brain trust” conference call on Zoom.com. These were a handful of professional writers I’d just met at the American Writers and Artists, Inc. bootcamp last month. It was easy to register at Zoom. Everyone was just sitting at their desks, and the technology allowed eight of us to communicate via video chat. It turned what could have been a boring phone audio-only call into a lively discussion, combined with a few funny interruptions by a kids and even a cat.
I was impressed with how the software recognized when the someone was speaking and enlarged their video box while the others stayed small.
Meeting clients online may seem like technological overkill. After all, it’s much easier to just pick up the phone and chat, right? But, in reality, online meetings solve a myriad of practical everyday problems for you. And just like I found—they really can be a lot of fun. (My financial advisor uses them, too.)
Geographically diverse client base
My financial advisor lives in Arizona. I’m in California. If you serve out-of-state clients, you’re not able to meet with them face-to-face – at least not as often as you’d like. Online meetings allow you to log face time without the travel costs. Nowadays you can easily embed a live video feed into your Power Point presentations so your clients can see you speaking to them from your office. There are numerous affordable and secure platforms for two-way video chat as well: your client can see you, and you can see your client, even from their iPhone. As more and more “grandparents” become comfortable with Facetime, Skype and other mobile platforms to communicate with distant grandkids, they’re going to be more confident meeting with their financial advisor online as well.
Need to educate clients about their financial situation
Online meetings give you more robust educational tools than a simple phone call. Another advisor I know in Phoenix, for instance, uses her financial planning software suite to host online meetings with clients across the country and even internationally. She is able to alert them to their tax situation, and update them on progress toward their goals – a one-on-one seminar presentation. You can communicate better with your clients when you include visuals during your phone conversations. Today’s technology makes it easy to share everything that’s on your desktop during a conference call.
Assembling the client’s team and family members
Online meeting technology also makes it easy to coordinate a meeting with all the important people in your clients’ lives, including their far flung children and other key advisors—even their favorite fury pets. Imagine conducting a quarterly review session with your client and his or her attorney and CPA. Participants in your call can share applications and open and examine common documents while online. As the host, you can show a PowerPoint presentation that will be visible to all attendees. And some software even allows you to remotely control the computer of another participant.
Online meetings can save busy clients the hassle of traffic and parking, and can make a big difference for clients who may not be as mobile as they once were. David, an advisor in Southern California, turned his client education workshops into webinars when he realized that many of his best clients were not able to attend in person. He wanted to allow them to attend on “their schedule” so he learned how to upload the slide presentation from his educational events to his website. He sends the workshop invitations to his best clients. After the live event, he blasts out an email to his entire client base inviting them to attend the webcast version of the event.
With a web meeting, you can meet one-on-one with a client, or use the technology to communicate with many clients all at once, as David did above. You can use the camera in your computer or upload digital video from a separate camcorder. You can use Power Point slides and custom financial spreadsheets.
When you encourage clients to meet with you online, you’re not only addressing the issues above, you’re sending subtle marketing signals about yourself:
– “I’m tech savvy.”
– “ I value your time.”
– “I’m cutting-edge (and so are my financial solutions).”
Online meetings have the potential to erase geographic barriers and create new competitive dynamics for advisors. Remember, when you’re pursuing a high net worth female executive prospect, you many not just be competing with local advisors, you could be competing with a specialist in Santa Fe that focuses on serving women who uses online meetings.
Would you rather be ahead of that competitive curve – or behind it?