I’ve written many times about the problems that arise when advisory business owners let their egos get in the way of sound decisions. One example of this that doesn’t get talked about much is the use of prescreens for prospective clients.
I know, many of you are just too busy to waste any time with prospects who don’t meet your firm’s client standards. I suppose we all get a psychic boost from being the gatekeepers to an exclusive club — especially one that we own. But let me ask you this: Suppose those meetings could have provided a major source of business growth? How would that make your ego feel?
I had my “aha!” moment about prescreens about 10 years ago in a conversation with one of my advisor clients. I was giving him the party line about not wasting time with undersized prospects when he responded that they were the biggest source of his firm’s growth. What he went on to tell me changed my advice to owner-advisors — and the way I run my own business.
(Related: 10 Sales Behaviors That Prospects Hate)
Here’s the deal. When an advisor prescreens a client prospect, it may make the advisor feel more successful or exclusive, but it also sends two messages to the prospect. First, you’ve told them that they aren’t “enough” of something: wealthy, successful, promising, connected, etc. And second, that your time is just too valuable to be wasted on them. How do you think that makes them feel? If you said “not very good,” you get a cookie.
More importantly, how do you think that makes them feel about you and your business? Again, “not very good” receives top marks. Now have someone in your local community who doesn’t feel very good about you and your firm. How do you think they’ll respond if asked about your firm?
To make matters worse, if your advisory business is like most, you probably turn away at least as many prospects as you accept as clients. That means you have a growing army of folks in your community who probably aren’t going to say very good things about you.