All advisors need new clients. Your current ones may seem satisfied, but they die, move or get prospected by other advisors. This means prospecting. Many advisors consider prospecting an unpleasant task they endured early in their careers. Been there, done that. It’s behind me now.
Logically, you know you need to find new clients, but it’s difficult to get motivated. Here are a dozen ways to get yourself into it.
1. Everyone should have the opportunity to say no. You do a great job for your clients. You help them. If a stranger with money walked through the door, you would do the best job you could for them. If that’s the case, why do you take certain friends and family off the list? If you ask politely and they say “NO”, that’s fine. Don’t make the decision for them.
2. Every day is a blank canvas. It’s one of the best arguments for optimism. Every day is a new day. Nothing has happened yet to wreck it. No angry client has called, the market isn’t down because it hasn’t even opened yet. Using this logic, whoever you call or contact should also be in a good mood. Let your enthusiasm and good attitude come across in your voice.
3. Time block. Get the unpleasant tasks out of the way first thing. Set start and end times for each activity. You might think prospecting is unpleasant, but it doesn’t need to be an all-day activity if it can be done a little a day, every day.
4. Prospecting is like roulette. You might do cold walking. You might cold call. Maybe you call groups about speaking engagements. If the last five calls said “not interested” this doesn’t mean the next call will too. Like roulette, each spin of the wheel has approximately a 50/50 chance of being red or black. The fact the last five spins were black doesn’t increase the odds the next spin will be red. Approach each contact as a separate event.
5. Don’t overthink it. Once you start, prospecting can be pretty easy on the mind. You get on a roll. You use a script. You pause and listen to what the other person says. Hopefully a few people will want to engage, not simply hang up or say not interested. Set a time for the activity. Stick to it.
6. Compete with yourself in several ways. If the sole measurement of success is “Did I get business”, prospecting can be pretty grim. What are the chances of getting a person to get to know you, buy into your idea and commit money in one call? It’s a longer term process. Set goals in terms of number of dials, contacts with a live person, interested people, appointments, sales and even referrals. You might not win on sales that day, but you might win on dials or interested people.
7. Scripts make sense. Shakespeare is performed the same way every time. Cars are built on assembly lines. Standardization allows a process to be improved incrementally. Don’t approach each call as “How am I going to get them interested?” Lead with a script. If they get into a discussion and ask questions, then you customize.
8. Be realistic. Not everyone wants to be a client. Yes or no questions are easy to answer. Do they invest? Do they work with an advisor? Are they happy with their advisor? Have you heard from them recently? If they are happy, it will be an uphill battle. Look for people who aren’t happy with their advisor. There are probably lots out there.
9. How many touches make the sale? You call someone. They aren’t interested. You call another person. They are interested. Why the difference? There’s a lot going on in the background. Your firm might advertise on TV. You have a big sign on a big building. They met you once, but you don’t remember. They heard about you through a friend who is your client. Your reaching out to prospect them is only one of several touches that may ultimately win them over down the road.
10. You help people. You aren’t selling them something they don’t need. Most Americans are inadequately prepared for retirement. You can help them change that, or at least face up to the problem. You must sincerely believe they will be better off after meeting you and working with you.
11. Is Wall Street fixed? Some people think investing is a racket run by insiders. Who do they think is the most despised firm on the Street? They probably have a pretty good idea. Why? Because they hire smarter people. They suspect their investment strategies are within the law, but only barely. Does that firm have a line of mutual funds or offer separately managed accounts? Why not get them on your side, working for you?
12. Something they want. In their opinion, who is the smartest investor in the country? They probably have an idea. Suppose that person took on individual clients. Would you want to be one? Of course! They probably don’t, but they might have a mutual fund or other vehicle they advise offered to the general public. This can be a lead in to other smart investors who are represented on your separately managed funds platform.
At this stage of your career, you probably have some great, loyal clients. Many might have come through prospecting or referrals. Referrals is another form of prospecting, a client acquisition strategy. Get back to doing the activities that made you successful in the first place.
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