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DNC prospecting: What to do when you can’t call people at home

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The people have spoken. Seventy-five percent of Americans do not want to be cold called at home, if we assume registration for the Do Not Call list is a reliable indicator. What can agents and advisors do if cold calling residences is off the table?

Let’s assume you are not the world’s wealthiest agent or advisor. You can’t sign up for a 3-week African safari to rub elbows with the rich and famous. You want to add new clients, yet at little or no personal cost to you.

Here are five strategies to consider:

Strategy #1: Referrals 

It’s everyone’s favorite strategy, or so they say. When you basically ask, “Who do you know that might do business with me?” They draw a blank or worry about their personal liability if the relationship goes wrong.

  • Rationale: Get them looking for someone with a problem instead. Suggesting you invest their fresh money and something goes wrong conveys a degree of risk. Finding a person where something has already gone wrong and positioning you as a potential solution is rationalized as helping.

  • Homework: What product or service is your specialty? What might your potential client already own? How might it have gone wrong? Develop some questions.

  • Objective: Get your friends and clients thinking about well-heeled complainers they know. Help them ride to the rescue.

  • How: “You know what I do. Who do you know that uses (generic product) and is dissatisfied with the relationship? I would be interested in talking with them.”

  • Cost: Little or none.

Strategy #2: Fun seminars 

Wealthy people might put active attention regarding their investments on the back burner, yet they are passionate about their hobbies and outside interests.

  • Rationale: If you can identify a non-investment activity that gets your client excited, they will likely attend your event and bring their friends.

  • Homework: Survey your best clients. Explain you are considering organizing an activity or two as a thank you for their business. Provide a list of choices (10?) and ask them to choose their top three. This could be done by email or an online survey tool.

  • Objective: Pick the most popular topic. Organize and publicize it. Position it as a client/prospect event.

  • How: “Many clients are interested in understanding how to buy fine jewelry. I’ve organized an event with the jewelry expert at Hy Commissions Auction Gallery who will be giving a talk. It’s for clients, but the unofficial cost of admission is to bring a friend you think we should get to know.”

  • Cost: Similar to a seminar. You’ll need a location, snacks and beverages. Your expert speaker might want a small stipend. 

Strategy # 3:  The different wrapper 

Investment seminars are so abundant the media doesn’t consider them newsworthy. Suppose another organization featured you as the speaker?

  • Rationale: Local non-profit organizations are often very popular in the community. Weekly newspapers publicize past and future events as a public service. They usually have a membership. What if they organized an event and allowed the public to attend?

  • Homework: List the community groups you have joined. Focus on where you have a high profile and good reputation. Do you have access to a compliance approved seminar aligned to their mission? Socially responsible investing is a good place to start.

  • Objective: Build on the non-profit’s visibility in the community to attract seminar attendees. Increase your name recognition.

  • How: Offer your services to the group. Explain it’s an educational seminar however its likely people would seek you out to discuss the topic further and possibly become clients. Are they comfortable with that? Does that fit within permitted activities? (There’s precedent: appraisers on PBS’s ”Antiques Roadshow” benefit from sharing their expertise in front of a wide audience). Ask the group to plan the seminar on the topic aligned with their mission, open it to the general public and send press releases far in advance to your local media outlets.

  • Cost: Minimal. It’s the group’s event.


Strategy #4: Alumni association seminars 

Does your school have a major presence in your market? If so, lots of people have a connection with you.

  • Rationale: The Do Not Call rules have an exception for charities. Your college wants to keep alumni thinking about their alma mater. If you gain their permission and organize events only for local graduates of your school, now you are an alumni calling fellow alumni to invite them to an event sanctioned by the college. Your compliance manager might see that as a legitimate reason to make those phone calls.

  • Homework: What’s your college’s level of alumni activity in the area? Do they have a local club, often a group meeting for monthly lunches? Join and establish yourself as an active member. Offer to speak on a non-business topic such as identity theft. Let them get comfortable with you.

  • Objective: Deliver compliance-approved seminar topics of interest to alumni, and those which may lead to business. Present to a large local alumni audience.

  • How: Contact the college alumni office. Outline your plan, possibly suggesting topics like funding your children’s college education or how planned giving strategies (like charitable gift annuities) benefit the donor and the institution. Can you mail to local alumni? Use the alumni association logo on your invitations?

  • Cost: The usual seminar related expenses.


Strategy # 5: Where do you eat lunch?

Business owners need to eat, too. People are creatures of habit. Why not become part of their world?

  • Rationale: Business owners need to eat quick meals. They avoid eating at their desks. They don’t have a company cafeteria. They often eat at diners and luncheonettes. Now you join them. Financial professionals are often considered snobby and elite. Once you have positioned yourself as part of the local crowd, you’ve removed the fear factor.

  • Homework: Which parts of town have a large concentration of small- and medium-sized business owners? What are the popular coffee shops and lunch spots? Pick one of each. Have breakfast in your coffee shop every day and lunch at your chosen locale. They must have a counter with stools, because that’s where you will be sitting.

  • Objective: Become a regular with the local crowd that comes in every day at the same time. Let them get comfortable with you. Talk to the people seated nearby.

  • How: Simple. Become a regular at your two locations. Show up daily at the same time. Take an interest in people. Let them draw you out. Word will get around about what you do. People do business with people they like.

  • Cost: Minimal. You buy lunch anyway.

Prospecting takes time. It’s easy to implement two or three strategies to cultivate markets that others may be overlooking.

See also:

Is your script working?

How to successfully follow up with anyone

9 ways to reach clients in a big city


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