Is any one prospecting method the best? Do certain methods work better with certain age groups? And when you need new prospecting methods, where can you find them?
Three top producers share their favorite prospecting methods and how they keep up with new ones.
For part one of this roundtable, see: Prospecting 101: How to build good habits
For part three: What's your best prospecting idea?
Q. What prospecting methods are you using today, and can you talk about which works best for specific kinds of prospects you serve? For example, what do you find works best for young professionals, what works best in attracting baby boomers, what works best for women, etc.?
Marc A. Silverman, CLU, ChFC, president/CEO of Silverman Financial Inc., in Miami: The prospecting methods we’re using today are referrals, prospecting to our existing database and, most successfully, workshops. We do approximately 40 of these events per year to our target audience — those ready to retire. We invite people from specific companies where we have learned their pension plan incredibly well. That way, the workshop really is tailored to our attendees. These dinner workshops are held on Tuesday or Thursday evenings starting at 6 p.m. at a great local restaurant. My practice has been doing this for years, and it really has worked best for us.
Marcus T. Henderson Sr., LUTCF, president/CEO of Henderson Financial Group Inc. in Nashville, Tenn.: My firm and I now work in an extremely niche market. We have customized our approach so it is very attractive to those who live and work in our targeted marketplace. The prospecting method we use most is to maintain a tremendous top-of-mind preference in the prospect’s mind. You may develop this preference through association seminars, drip marketing programs, keynote addresses or just being the advisor to know. The goal is to be so entrenched that prospects know us before we know them. Thus, when the actual approach occurs, there is a comfortable familiarity that already exists.
R.J. Kelly, CLU, ChFC, M.S.F.S., founder and chief visionary officer of the Wealth Legacy Family of Companies in San Diego: First and foremost, strive to be very, very referable. Learn as much as you can. Work toward the LUTCF, or the CFP, CLU, ChFC, M.S.F.S., and other designations. Be a professional. Dress like a professional. Act in a manner suitable to that of a professional.
One of the best ways to prospect is with other advisors to the type of clients you want to work with. Thus, even from day one, you can dress and carry yourself as a professional, and bring along mentors, agents and other knowledge carriers to join you on meetings.
Find the kind of people, situations and needs that appeal to you, and find resources you can bring in to them that are bigger than just the products or services for which you can get paid directly. Become known as a resource for connecting people with needs and you will have people seeking you out in short order.
In the Wealth Legacy Family of Companies, there are various services we offer — risk management; marriage, family and business counseling; investment management; fee-based insurance contract evaluation; litigation support — but usually our bread gets buttered through the door marked Wealth Legacy Group, which provides consulting services to business owners and highly compensated professionals and executives.
Before creating these various profit centers and ways to network, I still focused on business owners, professionals, and executives, but I now have a very different approach since I position my firm as fee-based for five of the groups, with our insurance group being commission but also fee-based on certain products. In this predecessor to Wealth Legacy Group, I joined with other professionals in the financial services arena nationally. We created a common name that we could operate under when we were in situations that called for that kind of perceived national firm. Despite this operating umbrella, we were all still separate entities. It gave the outside perception of a national planning firm, but, in reality, we ate our own kill and shared expenses to a very minor degree.
Career companies bring a credibility and expertise when you have not yet created your own. Some find that, for them, they fit well into a corporate structure and agency setting. I am very grateful for the eight years of training and relationships provided to me through the career company with which I started. My easily distracted and creative personality type doesn’t fit so well in that world, and so I have been independent for most of my career. Surveys show baby boomers respond best to options and more of a consultative approach, which works well with my personality and commitment to always learn and be the best I can be.
Q. What do you find to be the best source of fresh ideas for prospecting? Do you have a network of associates with which you share prospecting ideas and techniques? Do you read books and articles from other producers? Or are you creative enough to continually generate new ideas to find new people to talk to?
Henderson: My very best sources of fresh prospecting ideas have come from the MDRT Annual Meetings and my MDRT study group, without question. At the annual meeting, you can network with the best minds of the business and share ideas that will bring great value to your business. In addition to MDRT, I am a voracious reader in the areas of practice management, prospecting/rainmaking and practice positioning.
Kelly: I have co-created and chair a nonprofit that seeks out ordinary individuals doing extraordinary things to make a lasting, positive impact in the world. We seek out these wonderful and uplifting stories and put on an event called the Leadership, Legacy & Inspiration Awards. In that event, we feature a widely recognized speaker on the subject of servant-hearted leadership, as well as interviews I direct with highly successful business owners/leaders from the community who are not only very successful but are also givers back to the community and have been for a very long time. Finally, we also feature the stories of 14 or 15 individuals — some are professionals, some are business owners, some are simply people who have a vision to help others in a lasting way — who are making a difference in this world. We select four as our grand Inspiration Award winners. This has put me in front of a number of highly successful business leaders and owners and positioned me in a very positive way in my community. Please understand that is not why I co-founded The Center for Wealth & Legacy. It is not meant to be a referral generator. It has just turned into that over time, after a lot of sweat equity and with the help of an amazing advisory team that, likewise, wants to turn the world upside down for good.
Silverman: As an MDRT member, I’ve gathered valuable ideas at the MDRT Annual Meeting over the years in terms of where and when to hold workshops, as well as the right and wrong things to say in your discussions with potential clients.
See also: FIUL prospects: Think older
Our ideas for prospecting are a little unique in that we are targeting people at a specific company who are going to be forced out or will retire in the near future. We market our workshops around their pension plan to give the prospects information that will encourage them to come and see us for a more formal meeting. The biggest mistake you could make would be to tell invitees that the workshop will be specific to their pension plan and then conduct nothing more than a disguised investment seminar. Not only will this inhibit you from bringing in new clients, it will diminish your credibility significantly.
For more on prospecting, see: