A: According to a lot of research we have gained from our coaching clients and industry statistics, those who respond to mailings for dinner/lunch seminars fall into several groups.

First off, about 15 percent of respondees really have no money at all. In fact, the average retiree in the U.S. only has $29,000 in assets at retirement age. Another 25 percent come only for the free meal, and the balance want to hear about how they can retire with more financial confidence.

When an individual calls in response to your invitation, the first question is: 1) “What about the invitation interested you?” “Plate lickers” – the somewhat nasty industry euphemism for those who come to your seminar only for the meal – won’t know why they are attending. They’re an easy group to dismiss, to help you concentrate on more worthwhile prospects.

The next is more of a “check” question: 2) “What do you hope to gain by attending?” Someone just looking for an evening out isn’t the best candidate to fill your seats. Again, recommend a good restaurant instead, but not an invite to your seminar.

A third, important question is: 3) “Do you currently have a financial advisor?” Find out if they are happy with that person. When did they last speak to that person? If they have spoken to their advisor in the last 90 days, it is unlikely that you will be able to make the sale.

The last thing you want to do is provide a potential client with a great retirement idea for their retirement, only to watch them later take that idea to another professional to implement.

Finally, you need to qualify the potential attendee for assets. I generally ask for a range of asset value instead of exactly how much they have. This range makes the answer come a lot easier: 4) “Would you say your retirement account is more than $100,000 or less?”

Another great technique is to ask them if they have lost money in the market in the last year. If they haven’t, they possibly already have fixed instruments like CDs. Ask them about their retirement assets. If they don’t have any, again, they won’t be good candidates to fill your seats.

They may come just to eat the food and distract people around them. Prescreening in this manner, with this type of question, may help you in setting up follow-up appointments.