20 Great Prospecting Tips

By: John Steuernol
  1. If You Are Not Growing, You’re Dying: The life blood of any great business is new clients, and a few years ago I came across a statistic that said the average investment advisory business in North America had natural shrinkage of about 15% per year. Wow, that’s a big number; and even 10% would be a big number, which might not get noticed if you had a raging bull market on your side. But we have not had a ‘raging’ bull market for some time now. The last four years have been tough for a lot of advisors and so if you are not attracting new clients, then your business may be in trouble.
  2. Err On The Side Of Volume: When in doubt do just a little more. Prospecting is a numbers game. You need to be constantly reaching out to new potential clients to ensure you have enough new business closing each and every month. If you are not closing at least one new client each and every month, then in all likelihood you are not consistent in your prospecting efforts and you are not reaching out to enough people.
  3. It’s All About Momentum & Motivation: The two key principles in working your prospects are motivation and momentum; and recently I came up with a new theme, something I like to call Raw Hide. I grew up on a steady diet of western themed programs on the TV, and Raw Hide was one of them. The Raw Hide theme for our business is quite simple: Move them in; move them down, or move them out - Raw Hide! Good opportunities move along at a reasonable pace. You should see your opportunities naturally moving from suspect, to prospect to client usually within 2-6 weeks. If you find too many dragging for too long, you might want to consider their true motivation.
  4. So What About Motivation: If you practice the Raw Hide theme, momentum is easy. If they are not moving, then they simply are not ready, and that brings us to the issue of motivation. At the end of the day, it really is all about motivation. The number one job of the advisor when working with a new prospect is to gage their level of motivation, their willingness to consider a change. It does not matter how much money they have or how well you know them. It’s all about their willingness to open up to you, tell you what is really going on, and whether they would be willing to consider a change from their present advisor. Look for people who have a sense of urgency about moving forward, or who are looking for a ‘better’ way and then you have motivation working for you.
  5. Some People Can’t Be Helped: You would think everyone would treat their money seriously, but many do not. Some cannot be helped due to spending problems or other financial discipline issues. Others cannot be helped because they are incapable of making a decision and then there are those who are simply overwhelmed by the business of getting through each day, and so at the end of the day there is little to nothing left to allow them to focus on money matters. As much as you might want to help these people, you cannot, at least not now. There is a fine line between financial therapy and financial social work, and you can ill afford to become a Financial Social Worker.
  6. The dangers of emotional attachment: Prospecting can be an emotionally draining business. You put a lot into the business of reaching out and looking for new prospects and you may find yourself getting emotionally attached to your progress. This is dangerous and something you cannot afford to do. There are many factors affecting how quickly a person moves from suspect, to prospect, and finally to becoming a client, and sometimes things don’t happen just the way you would like them to. You need to remain emotionally detached from any single outcome or conversation and never take their rejection or delays personally. No two people are the same; some move quickly while others are slower. Some prospects become write offs, some write offs become clients. Everything happens on their time, so take the decisions as they come and stay focused on the end goal…a relationship that positions you as their primary financial advisor.
  7. The Big Account: Emotional attachment is frequently associated with the development of a larger account, one that might be in the $1,000,000 plus range. For most advisors in this business bringing in $1,000,000 in new assets in any given month is considered good production, and if you can bring it in with one new relationship; well that is wonderful. In a similar vein, if this bigger account stalls you and it doesn’t close, you can mentally move from euphoria to despair in about 3 seconds. To avoid this trap you mentally treat this larger client like any other client and make sure it is just one of the ten great opportunities you are working on at any point in time.
  8. The Power of Ten: If you are serious about prospecting and building a great business then you always have ten opportunities at various stages of development in your sales pipeline, with at least half of them at an advanced stage. If you always have ten and one goes sideways, you don’t care because you have nine more you are still working on.
  9. The 48 Hour Replacement Rule: Great prospecting is all about great discipline, something which is easy to talk about but harder to install. The 48 Hour Replacement Rule was designed to heighten your sense of self-discipline. Here is how it works: with 48 hours of you either closing or killing a name on you Top Ten List, you must replace this name from your pool of suspects and thereby always have ten on the list. You do this and you will always be bringing in new accounts.
  10. Ready, Aim, Fire ;VS, Fire, Aim, Ready: Know why you’re calling. Have a plan. Practice your scripts and skills. Refresh what you have and have not discussed with this person. Have a goal for the conversation. Dialing and then deciding mid-stream what you want to talk about often leads to a misfire. Once you pull the trigger it’s too late to aim the bullet.
  11. The Ultimate Spontaneous, Engineered Conversation: The best conversations with prospects and clients are in fact, conversational; but they are not just conversations. They are conversations with a purpose and a direction that has been calculated and engineered in advance and where you know the different ways the conversation might go. You have anticipated what might happen and you’ve practiced your approach so that it comes across with ease and a natural flow about it.
  12. It’s all about ‘intelligent’ persistence: Even though I have been in this business for greater than 35 years, I cannot tell you the exact moment when someone will finally agree to meet with me. There are simply too many variables. What I can tell you is that if you approach enough people the right way, and if they are motivated to consider a change, then it’s merely a matter of time. If someone is motivated to consider a change, about 60% of the time they will respond positively to your approach and agree to meet with you after somewhere between 5-7 contacts. In some cases it will happen after 2 contacts, and in other cases not until you’ve had a dozen or more contact conversations. A primary challenge for many advisors is that they simply give up too soon. It’s been estimated that close to 50% of those making the dials, given up on a prospect after only 2 contacts. Practicing intelligent persistence will significantly enhance your prospecting efforts.
  13. It’s all about trust: The # 1 ingredient absolutely essential in the selling process, is the creation and maintenance of trust. Without it you go nowhere; and, with it you go everywhere. You need to do whatever you can to maintain it throughout all your conversations and interactions with prospects and clients alike. As obvious as this may seem, it’s always been amazing to me, how many advisors engage in behaviors or activities that potentially undermine this essential ingredient. It starts with always telling the unvarnished truth, and that sometimes means telling prospects things they do not want to hear. It also means being totally transparent in terms of what you do. You explain to clients how you run your business, the type of clients you prefer to work with, how you plan to take care of them and how you will be paid for what you do. A simple and straightforward approach ultimately works best.
  14. What are you projecting? Are you smiling or frowning when you are making the call? Does your voice sound confident or weak? Are you happy in your work? Is your tone and inflection inviting, or disturbing? Nobody is going to say yes to a grouch or wet blanket. It’s just that simple! Make sure you either tape your calls so you can hear how you are performing, or ask someone to listen in and provide some feedback.
  15. Feedback is the breakfast of champions: Top performers embrace feedback. They are ok if people see their flaws or mistakes. They don’t try to hide because they know that the right feedback at the right time can make all the difference between a mediocre performance and a great one. Let people see you flaws and learn to become great at what you do.
  16. 30 ‘no’s’ and 1 ‘yes’ means YES: Keep dripping on your prospects. Staying in touch and checking in on their ever-changing status is just a good business practice. People’s circumstances are always changing, and a ‘no’ yesterday or last week, does not mean ‘no’ today. Persistence when practiced properly is always appreciated. Don’t pressure or be pushy; there is a difference between intelligent persistence and badgering the witness. Stay in touch!
  17. We are surrounded by opportunity: I’m a guy with an abundance mentality, and I see opportunity everywhere. In my 35 years I have been constantly and consistently surprised about where I find money and opportunity. It often pops up where you least expect it, and so I expect to find opportunities in the most unlikely places. The people I use as suppliers, the people I casually run into, people I target because I’m curious about their situation, and people who are referred to me because they are curious. What a wonderful business because there is always an endless supply of people to talk to.
  18. Offer simple solutions! A lot of Canadians are, in my opinion ‘financially dysfunctional’; and, it doesn’t seem to matter how much money they have. Those with a lot can be just as dysfunctional as those with a little. To get their attention you need to be able to suggest ‘simple’ solutions they can get their heads around. People’s lives are complex, and money matters can be terribly complex, and many people are put off by the apparent complexity of what we do. Show them simple ways they can effect an improvement in their financial lives and ultimately you’ll win them over as a great client.
  19. If they meet you, they might like you: And if they like you, they can do business with you. I once had someone actually say to me that he could not meet me, because if he decided he liked me then he would have to do business with me. People like to work with the people they like. So be likeable and go out and meet a lot of people.
  20. Tell them what you want: It constantly amazes me how beautifully simple this business is. Have a clear view of what you do; and then go and find people who might benefit from what it is that you do; and, then invite to take a closer look at what it is you have to offer. So the best way to get an appointment is to simply tell people that you want to meet with them. That’s it, and it really is that simple.
John Steuernol
Your ‘At The Moment Coach’
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