If you had to pick one set of rules with staying power, the Ten Commandments tops the list. A second set of ten commandments, specifically written for prospecting, has come to light.
- Thou shalt not imagine business comes to you. You must find it. You need some form of client acquisition strategy. It might be client-prospect dinners, cold calling, social media, networking, seminars, mailings or many other approaches. It must be active, not reactive. You must be able to drive the process. It must target your market segment, not just anyone.
- Thou shalt not have a sour attitude when prospecting. It’s a driver of future revenue, not a necessary evil. Prospects can sense the enthusiasm (or lack thereof) in your voice, posture and attitude. Don’t overthink it. Once you get started and get into a rhythm, time passes quickly.
- Thou shalt prospect every day. Get it done early when you are fresh. Time block. Don’t skip it for four days and say you will spend all of Friday prospecting. You will end up calling in sick instead. Even the biggest producers allocate time to finding new business and new assets.
- Thou shalt use a script. Thou shalt not wing it and make up every conversation as you go along. You initially need to get the prospect’s attention, get them engaged and lower barriers. Sometimes they can make a comment or toss out a question that throws you off course. Working with a script allows you to easily get back on track.
- Thou shalt not take rejection personally. You approach someone for business. They say “Get lost.” Your entire relationship can be measured in seconds, not years. They don’t even know you. They either aren’t interested in buying now or don’t have money available. They’ve actually done you a favor and saved you time.
- Thou shalt not do all the talking. We think everyone else’s time is more valuable than our own. We want to appear smart. We want to get our message across. We should be doing more listening. Draw the prospect out. Let them do the talking. If we learn more about their situation and their previous investing experiences, we will have a better idea how we can help them.
- Thou shalt not waste time. The objective is to turn a prospect into a client. What needs to happen between talking on that first call and handing over a check with signed paperwork? Each call or conversation should have an objective, getting you closer to closing the business. It might be a face-to-face meeting, gathering information for a financial plan or presenting a proposal.
- Thou shalt not get discouraged. You cold call and people hang up. You send out LinkedIn invitations to connect and people don’t respond. You invite people to a seminar and they don’t show up. Take time to review what you are doing and improve the process. Get opinions from experienced people. Ask “What could I be doing better?” They might suggest you call up your confirmed seminar attendees, reminding them it’s tonight, not tomorrow.
- Thou shalt not count chickens before they are hatched. It’s tempting to tell your manager about the big order you are about to close. You brag a bit. When the business comes in, they aren’t that impressed because it was almost a done deal last week. If the business falls through, you’ve unintentionally raised expectations.
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s practice. You might sit near smug, successful looking people who hardly seem to work. They take long lunches. They don’t make outgoing calls. You wish your business was that easy. They might have one big client. If something happens to that person, they have no more business coming in. They might have clients they can’t stand. Their best clients are a competitor’s best prospects. Those clients might be picked off by the firm across the street with questions like: “When was the last time you heard from your advisor?” Focus on building a clientele of clients you’ve found that bring a smile to your face when they call.
One additional commandment was uncovered:
- Thou shalt ask for the order. You can’t cultivate a prospect, present a proposal and hope for the best. They often say: “Let me think about it.” You need to keep them engaged through the presentation process with questions like: “Does this make sense to you?” You need to confirm the proposal addresses their needs. You need to be upfront about costs and explain your value. You need to ask for the go-ahead to proceed with implementing your recommendations. You need to read the order back, so they know what they’ve agreed to. They need to know what happens next.
Prospecting is a process. It has steps. Properly done it brings in assets, revenue and even referrals.