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12 ideas for prospecting

Bryce Sanders

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12 ways to fill the pipeline right now and build up your book of business.
You built a client base when you started in the business. Maybe you smiled and dialed. You’ve gained success and qualified for MDRT, but you still need a prospect pipeline. Where will they come from?

Before we start looking at strategies, here’s the most important lesson to pass along. An experienced financial advisor in Northern California said: “You can chop down a tree with a hammer.” Yes, a chainsaw would be faster and easier, but persistence pays off.

Regardless of your time in the industry, many agents and advisors adopt a new strategy, almost get it to the point when it starts to bring in business, then say: “It’s a stupid strategy. It’s not working.” They abandon it. They put a series of failed strategies in place instead of sticking with one and tweaking it along the way.

Now let’s look at 12 ways to fill that pipeline. They all work, yet have pros and cons. The majority of these ideas came from advisors in the field.

1 Social media. The latest silver bullet. You put something out there and people will get in touch saying: “I want to do business.”
Pros: It’s cheap and popular. You build name recognition, establishing yourself as a subject-matter expert.
Cons:Many firms have restrictions on how you can use it. It’s a crowded field. LinkedIn listed 265,595 results when I entered the words “insurance agent.”

2 Referrals. Considered the best overall. Satisfied clients send along friends.
Pros: You aren’t calling strangers. The referral is usually pre-sold on you.
Cons: You can’t lean on clients for referrals. It only works if they want to tell your story.

3 Networking in the high-net-worth market.You join the right organizations, develop friendships and transition some to business relationships.
Pros: It’s a targeted, top-down strategy. If they are interested, they are automatically prequalified.
Cons:It has a long timeframe. It’s passive.

4 Public seminars. You send mailings to prospects’ homes. People will attend if the topic is timely.
Pros: You get immediate results.
Cons: There are overhead costs to build an audience and host the event.

5 Cold calling. Although rules have changed regarding cold calling in many countries, it still produces results.
Pros: It’s an activity you can do during the daytime. Your firm likely provides scrubbed lists.
Cons: Many countries have laws against this. In others, it’s culturally offensive to call people at home for business.

6 Client/prospect dinners You invite a couple of clients to dinner. They each bring a friend. Business isn’t a major conversation topic. Everyone leaves liking each other. People do business with people they like.
Pros: The guest is pre-sold on the advisor by the client.
Cons: Some clients show up without a guest because they aren’t good at telling your story.

7 Prospecting business owners. They often have money, need insurance products, are easy to find and make decisions quickly.
Pros: Business-to-business calls are generally not prohibited under do-not-call rules.
Cons: Business owners usually have a very effective screener answering calls.

8 Speaking engagements. You bring a compelling, public interest topic to homeowners associations and other groups that provide meetings or activities for members.
Pros: Someone else assembles the audience. You can target professionals.
Cons: Getting access can be tough if they think it’s a sales presentation.

9 Mailings. They build name recognition. It’s a numbers game.
Pros: It works with high volume and repeated mailings.
Cons: The reply rate is very low. High volume means high expense.

10 Asking friends for business. In 2013, the New York Times ran an article making the case the average American knows about 600 people. Do they know what you do?
Pros: You are increasing your professional visibility among people who like you.
Cons: It’s a long-term, passive strategy.

11 Newsletters and e-newsletters. You have a list of interested people. Every few weeks, they hear from you with articles giving general financial advice or addressing lifestyle topics.
Pros: You build name recognition and stay top of mind.
Cons: It’s a passive strategy. It’s difficult to drive results.

12 Radio and TV advertising. You’ve seen local public television shows sponsored by a financial advisor. You’ve probably heard ads on drive-time radio.
Pros: You reach a large audience. Cons: It’s expensive and needs to be repeated often.

These 12 strategies each have reasons why they work along with why they don’t. Fortunately a workaround can usually be found.

Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides high-net-worth client acquisition training for the financial services industry.

Bryce Sanders

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