There are three foundation stones necessary to sustain any serious effort to add new clients. Ignore one of them, and your efforts will fail, sooner or later. Ignore two … well, you get the idea. These foundations are: lead generation, lead development and lead administration
Lead generation consists of promotional actions designed to generate a first response. Your options are: cold calling, referral marketing, networking, Web site, seminars, direct mail, trade shows or even cold walking.
Each of these channels has its own “best practice,” and it is incumbent upon the advisor to identify and deploy it. When I hear an FA say, “Seminars (or whatever) don’t work in my area,” I know the complainer is not deploying the best practice. All of these channels work extremely well when the best practice is deployed.
Very few leads are, on first response, hot and ready to set an appointment. They need to be nurtured along. This is lead development. It takes a prospect from initial response to the point where the prospect is willing to begin the sales process. The sale begins when the prospective client agrees to an appointment. If the person will not set an appointment, he or she requires further “development.”
The core of lead development is a classification system that enables the advisor, junior broker, broker or sales assistant to know what to do with each lead type. I will summarize it here, and there’s more in my book Hot Prospects and at www.billgood.com/leaddevelopment. Each lead type has a definition and an associated “track.” The track is the sequence of messages and phone calls designed to maintain contact and nudge the prospect up the interest scale to hot.
Hot. This person is very interested, financially qualified and willing to begin the sales process. This is the end goal of lead development. Track: At the conclusion of each appointment, set the next one. Confirm every appointment by letter, e-mail and phone. Failure to set the next appointment immediately reduces the chances this prospect will become a client. Where there is more than a week between appointments, set reminders to e-mail, write or call, if only to leave a voice-mail message. Keep the lead alive.
Cherry. A “cherry” lead is someone who is interested, financially qualified, and willing to receive investment literature from the firm. If you try and set an appointment with a cherry lead, he or she will push back. If you force the appointment, most will cancel or not show up. Track: The initial track for a new “cherry” is to send requested information, and follow up three to five days later. On the first follow-up phone call, if the cherry is not interested enough to set an appointment now, send additional information, and most importantly, begin the profiling process, asking as many questions as you can on each succeeding phone call until you find the item the prospect wants or fears that will get you the appointment.
Green Cherry. A “greenie” is someone who is interested now but will not have funds available, or cannot make a decision until a later date. There are two subcategories. You know the date. You don’t know it. Track: In the first case, your mission is to make as good a first impression as possible, and then stay in touch until the funds are available.
In the second case, which I call a “conditional opportunity,” you obviously want that favorable first impression, but you also need to call periodically to determine when the opportunity will be available. There’s not a person reading this article, with the possible exception of someone who just got licensed, who has not lost an opportunity because it became available and you weren’t there.
In either case, it is vital you drip on your greenies. A very simple formula is: call half your greenies when they are unlikely to be home and leave a voice-mail message. Send the other half a short note along with a piece of interesting information (for which you have the requisite copyright permission). Next month, write the first half, call the second.