I recently attended Michael Hyatt’s Platform Conference where I had an opportunity to spend some time with Derek Halpern, the founder of Social Triggers, a marketing/psychology blog with more than 100,000 monthly readers.

Derek had some interesting things to say and as I listened to him speak, I realized how well his theories could be applied to the financial planning industry. He believes there are three types of potential customers:

“Anytime you communicate publicly and passionately about something, there are going to be people who love what you do, and there are going to be people who hate what you do.”

  1. Believers are your core, loyal followers. They are often customers already, and they are “on board” with you. They trust in you and your expertise.

  1. Non-believers are quite the opposite. They protest anything you do. They are not buyers, and they likely never will be. But having non-believers is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s a good thing, because it identifies those people that are simply not a good fit for you.

  2. Sideliners are the undecided group. They may have attended your seminar or event, but you haven’t heard from them since. They haven’t told you “no”, but they haven’t told you “yes” either.

The really interesting thing that Derek pointed out is that these three groups break down in surprisingly consistent ways. The believers and non-believers each generally make up about 10-20 percent of your audience. The sideliners make up the rest. What this means is there is a massive chunk of potential business just sitting there, undecided.

So… How do you turn those sideliners into believers?

Most of us have heard of the “hamster” salesman — the guy stuck on that little wheel running as hard as he can and getting nowhere — that endlessly chases that million-dollar prospect with their endless string of follow up calls. If that prospect is a non-believer, chasing them is a waste of time and energy for you and your staff. 

Instead of focusing on prospects who aren’t interested, why not focus on those sideliners who haven’t made up their mind yet? For example, how many past seminar attendees do you have in your database? – my guess, more than you’d like to admit.

The good news is, there are ways of gently pushing those sideliners to a decision point more quickly, and I’ve seen it in action. One of my clients has taken an innovative approach to moving sideliners to a decision point more quickly. He has his staff follow up with prospects via phone using a script and a bit of psychology that, in a pleasant, non-confrontational way, asks, “Where are you at?”.

Recently, I shared this script with an office I consult in San Diego. The office succeeded in getting three sideliners to reengage with them, and ended up having their biggest month of business ever. The script may not have been the sole reason behind that success, but I think it certainly helped.

My challenge to you is this: take this opportunity to start down this path in your own practice. Think about where each prospective client truly falls.

Are you wasting energy pursuing non-believers? Are you actively engaging your sideliners to help them come to a decision point?

Doing so will help reduce wasted resources, and focus you and your team’s efforts on those prospects that are a fit.

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