imgbd Marketing Wiz

The smartest way to sell goal based plans

In a nutshell

One of the biggest challenges that financial advisors face is the issue of delayed gratification in a world obsessed with instant gratification. You can't instantly touch and feel what you bought based on your financial advisor's recommendations. You only have a promise that your money will grow over time - over many years - which will ultimately enable you to buy what you desire. But that's years down the road.

In this scenario, it is difficult to sell the concept of a goal based financial plan and perhaps more difficult to get an investor to stay committed to the plan over several years. The solutions for this challenge that we are familiar with are education, education and more education. But beyond education, there's perhaps a marketing solution as well. And that solution comes from understanding a very interesting case study of Mumbai based Godrej Properties, a real estate company.


When real estate companies sell pre-launch and launch offerings in proposed high-rise buildings, they essentially sell a promise of a flat in a tower 3-4 years down the road, while what one can see today is just a vacant plot of land with some earth movers hovering around trying to dig a pit. Delayed gratification, but money to be paid now to book and then in instalments over the next 3 years.

Use virtual reality to battle the challenge of delayed gratification

Godrej Properties came up with a brilliant Customer Experience Transformation strategy to overcome the hurdle of delayed gratification. The thought was simple yet brilliant: you can't touch and feel the house yet, but you can help the customer get a high quality simulation of every minute detail of his dream home, exactly the way he wants it to shape up.

Potential customers take a virtual tour of projects, where they can actually see how even individual rooms look when completed. In this virtual world, customers can modify and change wall colours, place furniture in the rooms and make changes according to their taste. This gives customers a clear idea of what to expect when they actually walk into a newly built unit. The system is connected to satellite maps and customers can analyse the location of the project in relation to known landmarks. This information is regularly and periodically updated. The system enables customers to visualise the shape of the final product they are buying. Their "dream home" no longer sits in their minds - it is transcribed, in every minute detail, into virtual reality. The dream home suddenly becomes a whole lot more tangible, a whole lot more real. The customer has a much better idea of the outcome he is buying into today, though he will actually touch and feel it only 3-4 years down the road.

In parallel, a customer portal was developed to enable buyers of homes to check the progress of the project. This includes videos and pictures. They could also access their case history, payment plans and obtain account statements.

To ensure delivery of the end product as promised, the Information Technology team developed a special program to ensure a zero defect product. A snagging application used in the construction industry process was used. This captures defects if any and acts to rectify them. Thus defect free units could be delivered. The best part of the system is that it acts as a knowledge management system and creates a 'memory' of the snags and mistakes it encounters. This is used to ensure that similar mistakes are not repeated in other projects. It also controls workflow management. Shortcomings reported by site managers using mobile apps and net are processed and the system highlights the same to the concerned contractor or sub-contractor. Since it records all actions by every user, it builds up an audit trail of the snags and mistakes. A checklist is generated for each snag and disseminated through mobile devices.

This single minded focus on delivering a superior customer experience has paid off as there is now greater customer conversion rate and increased sales across all projects. With this BPM solution, Godrej Properties has succeeded in achieving 99% customer satisfaction rate in the 500 flats it has delivered using this process, while the earlier rate was a mere 65%. High customer satisfaction levels translate to prompt payment of instalments, thus improving the company's cash flows, apart from of course generating more leads and referrals from satisfied clients.

Godrej Interio is now using the same virtual reality software to help clients make and finalize the interior decoration of their homes, before awarding contracts to Godrej for execution.

How can financial advisors apply these insights?

The outcome of a goal based plan is not exactly as tangible as the outcome of buying an under construction house. But, there is still enough scope for advisors to try and apply some of these insights to help clients relate better and "own" the outcomes they are saving for.

Let's take a simple example. All of us create children's education plans for our clients. Our plans talk about the amount to be saved every month for the next few years and the likely corpus this will grow to under 2-3 simulated rates of return, which will then fund the education of choice. Some of us put a name to this plan to encourage greater ownership - such as "Deepa's education plan".

Suppose you were to talk to Deepa and her parents and in the process you discover that their dream is to see Deepa graduating from Cambridge University, UK. A quick round of googling and photoshopping will help you produce a set of images of Deepa at Cambridge, Deepa donning the Cambridge graduation gown at the lawns of the fabled University, Deepa in a Cambridge dorm, Deepa in a Cambridge lecture hall etc. Put these together into a neat collage, put the collage as the cover page of your financial plan for her education and now present your plan to them.

This plan is no longer a set of numbers. It is virtual reality of what the parents are saving up for. It is motivation enough to keep the savings plan going through all forms of market volatility, because you have helped them clearly visualize the outcome they are saving up for.


All content in Marketing Wiz is created by Wealth Forum and should not be construed as views of Kotak MF.

Share this article