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Life Health > Running Your Business > Prospecting

Why Am I No Good at Prospecting?

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Ever think, “My pipeline has run dry. What am I going to do?” Successful financial advisors and insurance agents are always adding new clients. They look for business because they know it won’t just come to them. What am I doing wrong? How can I fix this problem?

12 Reasons the Well Has Run Dry

Let’s examine the problem together and find a solution.

1. You’re looking for the silver bullet. Over the years, advisors have looked for the magic strategy that will get prospects lining up at their door, without much effort on their part. In the ‘90s, it was the internet. In the 2000s, maybe you felt an email campaign was the answer. Today, it’s social media.

Solution: Technology helps, but you must sit yourself opposite your prospect and look them in the eyes. Technology should be a tool that helps you talk live with a prospect and schedule an appointment.

2. You don’t have a formal procedure. You’ve heard trainers explain an A to Z process. Your prospect is at point A. Signing the paperwork and handing over a check is point Z. What has to happen in the middle? Do you have a series of steps or do you just keep talking to them, as they put you off?

Solution: You need a series of steps you can move people through. Talking, getting an appointment, doing a plan, presenting the plan with recommendations, follow-up.

3. It’s not a daily activity. Many established producers prospect every day. In the past, they shut the door for an hour and get on the phone. They would chase away people who interrupt them. They get it out of the way early in the day.

Strategy: Does your daughter take violin lessons? Is your son on the basketball team? Do you tell them “Practice when you feel like it?” No. You hold their feet to the fire. Follow the advice you would give your children.

4. You aren’t persistent. A California advisor told me “You can chop down a tree with a hammer.” Persistence pays off. Prospects distribute themselves along a bell-shaped curve. Some commit immediately, others never will. The big bulge is in the middle. Some advisors bring a strategy to the point where it’s about to start getting results, then abandon it because “It’s not working.” They start with a new strategy.

Strategy: Pick a strategy. Stick with it. Fine tune along the way.

5. You think “one and done.” You hold a seminar. No business comes. “That’s the last seminar I’ll ever hold.”

Solution: Many successful advisors plan a series of the same activity. A seminar a month. They recycle attendees from one to another, adding new ones along the way.

6. You don’t invest in your business. You want wholesalers or the office to cover all the costs of a seminar or client/prospect dinner. If someone else won’t pay, you aren’t interested.

Solution: The people who put up money want to see a level of commitment from the advisor. You know you will work harder if your own money is on the table. Think about companies that reimburse employees for college courses they take. If they get top marks, they might get everything covered. Just squeaking through or failing will cost you money.

7. Not asking for referrals. How many times have you heard a successful advisor at a conference explain “I grow my business through referrals.” It’s great if you can get your client to do the heavy lifting, delivering a prospect to your door. Does your client know you are accepting referrals? Do they know how you help people?

Solution: Let your clients know you are looking to add clients. Give them a profile. “Just like you” is pretty good. Tell them about the types of problems where they can help. Coach them how to bring up your name.

8. Not thanking clients for referrals. A client brings along his brother-in-law. They hand over their statements saying, “Will you handle my account?” The statement has lots of pages. It doesn’t get easier than that. Don’t feel you are doing a favor for your client by taking on his brother-in-law.

Solution: Reinforce good behavior. Thank them in person. By phone. With a personal note. Maybe their next portfolio review is conducted after lunch. Avoid anything that falls outside business entertaining, lest it be considered a finder’s fee or kickback. Don’t give them a Montblanc pen or a Rolex watch!

9. You use “Compliance” as an excuse. You have so many great prospecting ideas, but Compliance shoots them down. Why bother?

Solution: The next time an experienced advisor at your firm, presenting at a conference, shares a great idea, get in touch with them afterward. Learn what they did. Where’s their office? Tell your manager “I want to do what that guy is doing.” Tell them the advisor’s name and office. One manager calls another manager, finding out how they got approval. No one wants to be first.

10. Your follow-up stinks. Someone is interested. You commit to doing something. You don’t send something out or never call back until you find their name again two months later. The moment has passed.

Solution: Use that expensive CRM system the firm installed to track leads and remind you when to get back in touch.

11. You delegate prospecting. Congratulations! You are so successful the firm has supplied a newer advisor to work alongside you. Since you despise prospecting, you make “new client acquisition” their primary role. You don’t understand why so many of these folk quit.

Solution: You need to prospect personally. You will win a person over with the strength of your personality and industry experience. Your junior advisor isn’t you.

12. You think the good times will last forever. Prospecting has suddenly worked! After three years in the business, you have a book! Clients come to you with more money. They introduce you to their extended family members. We can turn the page on prospecting. The nightmare is over.

Solution: This is like the gig economy. You have assignments. More are coming in. You think this is the new normal. Things run in cycles. Feast or famine. You need to keep the pipeline filled.

There can be many reasons your prospecting strategy has stalled. Most can be easily fixed.

— Related on ThinkAdvisor:

Bryce SandersBryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor,” can be found on Amazon.


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