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The Paradox of Prospecting

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(Related: Into the Valley of the Lost Prospects)

Everyone wants the weight loss program that sheds pounds without exercise or dieting. In prospecting, the equivalent might be buying a retiring advisor’s book. It’s the liposuction of prospecting. Instant results, just pay the money. Most agents and advisors want to add clients without going to great expense. But prospecting is so frustrating! Why?

1. Advice you get.

You ask agent #1 for a prospecting idea. They comply. You tell agent #2 you are going to use that strategy. They say “It never worked for me.” Everything work. Nothing works.

Lesson: Success is in the execution of the strategy. Suppose you held one seminar. Few people showed up. You determined “Seminars don’t work.” Well, they did for the guy who did them month after month.

2. Persistence is a virtue.

You’ve heard how many failures Thomas Edison had before he arrived at a light bulb that worked. If you implement a strategy for a short time, give up and try one after another, you have succeeded! You have succeeded at implanting failed strategies.

Lesson: The seminar guy described above did a series of seminars over months. The people he invited got used to seeing it as a series. They might not pick up on the first, but attend the third and fourth.

3. Learn to adapt.

Remember cold calling? Suppose you called business owners and always got gatekeepers. Some might ditch the strategy. Others might say: I’ll call on weekends. Very early in the morning. I’ll try to figure out when the gatekeep won’t be there. Many business owners cannot let a phone ring without answering it.

Lesson: Don’t just discard a strategy. Learn from experience. It might be the right strategy, but the timing is off.

4. Don’t blame compliance.

You hear about a great idea at a conference. Energized, you return to the office and say: “This is my great idea!” Compliance says no. Clearly they don’t want you to succeed.

Lesson: No one wants to be first, especially when risk is involved. Hopefully you got this idea from an agent at the same firm on the other side of the country. Tell your Compliance manager about that! They should call their counterpart and ask: “Tell me how you got this approved. I want to do it too.”

5. Use multiple channels.

Some people have one strategy. They keep doing it, even if it isn’t working. The problem might be your target audience prefers a different channel. Try contacting people using different channels. They don’t need to be the same people.

Lesson: You need to engage prospects on their terms. This often means leaving your comfier zone.

6. Don’t claim a reactive strategy is proactive.

Ever hear an agent say: “I grow my business through referrals?” Of course. You can politely ask. Asking too often turns people off.

Lesson: You need a proactive strategy, something you can drive. A strategy where more effort yields more results. If you don’t have one, then you don’t have a real prospecting strategy.

7. You need both short term and long term strategies.

Newer agents have numbers to hit. Experienced ones can take the long view. Raising your visibility in the community gets you close to the big prospects, but cultivation takes time. You need to book business this month. That requires another strategy running simultaneously.

Lesson: You need to get out, get appointments, meet with people and talk with them. That’s the desired result of your short term strategy. How will you make it happen?

8. Grow your clients.

Many big clients started as little ones. Once they learned you are trustworthy, they did more business. Others built relationships with small business owners who grew their businesses and added new needs.

Lesson: Don’t assume you have “all their money>” Don’t assume you have “all their business.” Keep asking with ideas that make sense.

Prospecting works. It’s how experienced agents in your office built their business. It’s how you will build (and continue to build) yours too.

— Read What Can Insurance Agents Do During Stock Market Declines?on ThinkAdvisor.

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