(Related: 6 Types of Financial Advisor)
Many agents and advisors think of prospecting as an ordeal to be survived, similar to pledge initiation week in fraternities. Once you are through you think: “Thank goodness I never have to do that again.” Wrong.
New client acquisition needs to be part of your business plan.
Here are a dozen reasons why you can never put prospecting behind you, an item checked off your “To Do” list:
1. Watch your competitors. Your best clients are your competitor’s best prospects. They are getting called. They are the subject of drip marketing in social situations. Fellow insurance agents are marrying into their family.
Strategy: If your clients aren’t reminded what you do for them, someone else will tell your story. It will not be good.
2. It worked before. I heard a story from an excellent business coach. He would ask an advisor to list their top 20 client relationships. Next, he would ask: “How did you get this client?” A pattern would emerge. He then asked: “When was the last time you used that strategy?” “Oh, I haven’t done that for years” was often the reply.
Strategy: If you owned a horse and it was winning races, would you shoot it?
3. Attrition happens. Clients die. They move to other cities where the cost of living is cheaper. They stop doing business. How are you going to replace them?
Strategy: Clients might age, some even die. Their children age too. They become heirs. Have you asked your client to introduce you? You are going to meet someday. Shouldn’t it be under happy circumstances?
4. Reassignments is not a strategy. Some agents and advisors think they will benefit when older folks retire or newer ones wash out. They consider the accounts they expect to receive the growth strategy for their business.
Strategy: Your manager might have some discretion on reassigned accounts, but they will logically first look at people who are hitting their numbers.
5. Referrals is passive. Many successful people say: “I grow my business through referrals.” It makes sense, but you need to ask for them. You can’t wait for them to come to you.
Strategy: You need to tactfully drive referrals: “Who do you know that’s retiring in the next year?” That’s a classic.
6. My clients know what I can do for them. It’s an excuse why you don’t tell them about investment products or new lines of business. The rationale is they haven’t asked, so they don’t need it. You might be pigeonholed as “my insurance guy.” They need to buy other services. They like you. They would probably prefer doing more business with you instead of starting a new relationship with a stranger.
Strategy: Often you learn about a client’s need after they move money away from you to address it elsewhere. You should meet with each client annually and remind them of the range of your product and service offering.
7. Social media is my silver bullet. Everyone wants a painless strategy that brings qualified prospects to your door. First it was having a website. That would do it! Then there was e-mail! Today, it’s social media. It’s highly unlikely anyone is going to send serious money to a stranger they never met. This is a face to face business.
Strategy: You need to sit across from someone, look them in the eyes and ask for business. Consider social media part of the process, but ask: “How is this going to get me into the chair across from them?”
8. I was told that strategy doesn’t work. You heard about a great prospecting strategy at a meeting you attended. You really liked it! You asked around. Others either hadn’t heard of it or did and gave positive feedback. You were persistent. Finally you found someone who said, “It doesn’t work.” You won’t be trying it because now you know it doesn’t work.
Strategy: Everything works, but nothing works. Pick a strategy. Stick to it. Fine tune it. Get advice from experts on how to do it better.
9. Do Not Call rules. You would love to prospect, but you built your business on cold calling. That’s been taken off the table since 2003. You want to prospect, but cold calling is all you know. Nothing else works.
Strategy: The DNC rules were likely the catalyst for the upsurge in business to business calling. You are calling business owners, not private homes.
10. Seminars are a waste of time. No one attends them anymore. The people you get are “plate lickers” out for a free meal. I’m not going to waste my time.
Strategy: Ask friends and family members if they get invitations to dinner seminars on topics like retirement planning. They probably do. The strategy is working for someone. Instead of writing it off, do some research. Learn the best practices for building seminar audiences today. Filling the room is at least 85% of the work involved in holding a seminar.
11. Top agents and advisors do it. You’ve heard them speak. They need to grow their business to stay on top. They are aggressively doing something. Find out what it is.
Strategy: Ask them how they keep the pipeline filled. They will likely tell you, at least in general terms.
12. Be on the revenue side of the equation. Firms reorganize. Offices are combined. Branch and sales managers often lose their jobs or return to production. You are already a producer! Most firms treat producers like gold. It’s riskier to be considered part of the overhead.
Strategy: Keep bringing in new business and new assets. Regardless of changes to the compensation plan, this is usually the behavior that’s rewarded.
It’s easy to make excuses. It’s easy to rationalize why clients leave. You must make prospecting an integral part of your business.
— Read 10 Ways to Tactfully Get Your Point Across, on ThinkAdvisor.
Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides high-net-worth client acquisition training for the financial services industry. is book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor” can be found on Amazon.