Insurance Pro Shop
By Lew Nason
Insurance Pro Shop
I help advisors across the country attract a steady stream of the right prospects for them and the subject of dinner seminars is always a hot topic. Most advisors are very concerned about the cost of doing dinner seminars. Many of them just can't afford the upfront cost of $4,000 to $7,000 for the direct mail program (or newspaper ads, inserts, etc.) and the dinner before they make any money.
Others tell me they have tried dinner seminars and all they got was a bunch of plate lickers, so they don't want to do dinner seminars anymore. Then, there are the advisors who tell me that they just don't feel comfortable speaking in front of a large group of people - a very common fear.
While there is no question that dinner seminars require you to invest a lot of money upfront - without the guarantee that you'll make enough sales to cover that investment - there is also no question that dinner seminars are one of the easiest and fastest ways to be in front of large numbers of the right prospects every day.
When dinner seminars are done properly, they are one the best ways for you to take your sales to the top levels of the industry. However, when done wrong, dinner seminars can be a very expensive waste of your money and time.
The Seven Main Keys to Successful Dinner Seminars
No. 1: Make sure you are attracting the right people
If you want to enjoy success with dinner seminars, you can't afford to take shortcuts with the invitation process. The only way to make sure you attract the right people to your seminar is to mail your invitation to the right people. The right people are those people who have a problem(s) that you can solve for them. You'll need to determine who the best prospects are for your products and services. What's their age? Do they own a home? What their household income range? As the old saying goes, "The money is in the list."
Most advisors are making a huge mistake by only focusing on attracting high-net-worth prospects. This puts them in direct competition with every other advisor out there. Then, they wonder why these prospects want to talk to their attorney, CPA, stock broker, etc. before they make a decision.
There are many niches within the annuity and life insurance markets. You have the low-, middle- and high-net-worth people. Within those markets you have pre-retirees and retirees. Then there are CD owners, mutual fund investors, stock owners, widowed women, families with children, people in debt, home owners, IRA owners and so on.
Each of these niches has different concerns, problems, attitudes, likes and dislikes. You must decide which of these niche markets is right for your expertise, experience, knowledge and products.
Example: When you use newspaper ads and inserts there is no guarantee that the people who respond to your ad or insert are the people you want at your seminar.
Example: You can sell mortgage insurance to anyone who owns a home. But are you making the best use of your time and money by attracting and talking to single people who are younger than 25 years old? Isn't it going to be easier to attract and sell mortgage insurance to someone who is married and has children?
No. 2: Don't send cheap invitations
You don't want to waste your money on very expensive fancy invitations with gold embossed lettering. But, you also don't want to send out 5,000 invitations and achieve very little or no response. Your invitation needs to look and be professional.
One of the biggest mistakes agents make is to print and send out the invitations themselves (or their company does it) to save money. Don't kid yourself; you (or your company) will never get the response that a good, professional, experienced direct mail company will get.
And, forget about using postcards to save money. The best postcard won't get near the response that a good sales letter and invitation will. You just can't put enough information on a postcard to make it as effective as a good sales letter.
No. 3: Don't provide a cheap dinner
Many advisors ask if they need to provide a dinner at their seminar. The answer is a very definite yes, if you are trying to attract people who don't already know you. Why? Unfortunately, it's because everyone else is offering a dinner.
You don't need to use a five-star gourmet restaurant, but you don't want to have your seminar at Burger King, either. You want a popular restaurant in your area that is centrally located, easy to get to and serves good traditional meals. Italian restaurants and steak houses are consistently two of the best choices.
*Note: Do not use country clubs, or hotel or business conference rooms. Some people will feel too intimidated to come. You want this event to be non-threatening and relaxed.
No. 4: Follow up on all responses
I highly recommend that you send a reminder card with directions to the restaurant to everyone who signs up for seminar.
I also recommend that you contact everyone a day or two before the seminar to remind them of the event. I would call everyone, even if you use the reminder service provided by most direct response mail companies. The more times you contact these people, the more likely they are to come to your event.
No. 5: Invite people who already know you
One of the most overlooked and best ways to improve the attendance at your seminar - and maximize the number of appointments you get - is to invite people who already know you. Invite your friends, relatives, your clients (and their friends), businesses you work with, members of associations you belong to and anyone else you can think of.
It's a very non-threatening way for you to show the people you know exactly what you do. Inviting these people will help create a friendlier atmosphere at your event, and they can definitely help get the people who don't know you to trust you.
No. 6: Practice your presentation
One of the biggest mistakes advisors make is not practicing the seminar presentation. There's nothing worse than having a presenter reading from his notes or the screen, and never looking at his audience. How do you build rapport with your audience if you never look them in the eyes? Why should these people trust or respect you if you do not come across as knowledgeable about your material? Aren't they there because they're looking for advice from an expert?
By the way, you don't have to be a polished professional speaker or tell jokes, but you do have to come across as knowing what you are talking about.
No. 7: Get your audience emotionally involved
You've invited the right people to your seminar. You've gotten a good response and have 50 good prospects sitting before you. You've practiced your presentation and are comfortable with it. Now, what can you do to guarantee that you set lots of appointments at the seminar?
Have you ever been to a seminar and left disappointed? Was it basically a lecture? Did you understand how the information being provided related to your personal situation?
People go to seminars because they need and are looking for help. They are looking for someone who truly understands their problems and concerns - they're looking for someone whom they can trust.
The reason most advisors are unsuccessful with seminars is they tend to lecture their audience. They talk over the audience's heads, use technical jargon, talk products and give them too much information. Consequently, they fail to truly connect with their audience and fail to get them emotionally involved. Remember, you must write and speak at a sixth-grade level. Then, even the college professors can understand you.
You must ask questions throughout the seminar to get the audience actively involved and to get them thinking about how all of this information relates to their situation. If your prospects are even the slightest bit confused as to how the information you're providing relates to them, then why would they want to set an appointment with you or buy from you?
When dinner seminars are done properly, and you get your audience emotionally involved, then you will take your sales to the top levels of the industry!