“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” – Carl Buechner
During a recent coaching call, one of my financial advisor clients relayed a major prospecting disappointment.
He had been working on a 7 figure IRA Rollover with a “humongous prospect” for a number of years.
When the time finally came to arrange an appointment to sign the necessary paperwork, he learned that his prospect had already set the rollover wheels in motion with her current advisor.
What’s more, this happened despite the fact that this prospect had regularly complained about her current advisor’s lack of service.
Unfortunately, these near misses take place all too often.
You believe you are on track with a future client, but are suddenly derailed by an unexpected event. Whether you are blindsided by a significant event that hits the news or the sales efforts of a competitor, you are only left to wonder what you could have done differently.
Weeks and in some cases years of effort can go for naught.
Although there are no silver bullet solutions, the best long-term strategy for avoiding unexpected prospecting surprises is treating your top prospects as if they are already clients.
This process helps you eliminate the common misperception that all advisors are the same.
As you show your future clients how they will be treated once they become actual clients of your practice, they realize you are a professional and not just a product pusher.
When your prospects can see how your current recommendation will evolve into multi-dimensional solutions, they recognize the advantages of developing a lasting relationship.
So let’s dive in…
5 Steps for Treating Your Top Prospects Like Clients
1. Decide which of your prospective clients truly have the potential to become ideal clients of your practice.
All too often financial advisors allow prospects to slip into their databases before they are qualified.
This may mean spending weeks or months courting someone who does not meet financial or other important qualifications.
2. Make sure you understand both the long-term and short-term financial needs of your qualified future clients.
When you treat every prospect the same, they will view you as someone who provides “cookie cutter” solutions.
Therefore, before you can treat a top prospect like an ideal client, you need to understand their financial goals. This will allow you to customize your ongoing communication and follow-up.
3. Record the personal interests of your top prospects.
Just like your clients, your top prospects want to be thought of as more than their money.
Take a genuine interest in personal matters like family, hobbies and businesses.
Include these interests in your notes and contact management system as a means to stay connected on a personal level.
4. Create a communication calendar based on both financial and personal interests.
Once you identify your top prospects and understand their interests, you need to build a communication calendar which allows you to maintain constant contact.
From scheduled letters, calls and appointments to impromptu handwritten notes, your prospect communication should mirror your ideal client communication.
In fact, to keep it simple, you may want to re-purpose your client communications to fit the needs of your prospects.
5. Be prepared to tell your top prospects your complete story (as often as possible).
You need to be sure your top prospects understand your unique value proposition.
No matter how hard you may try to articulate the full scope of your services, over the course of time many of your prospects may form a narrow view of your practice.
This view is based on how they see you meeting their current needs.
But when you think about relationships with your ideal clients, they are multi-dimensional.
Repeatedly reinforcing your complete story will help your future clients picture your ability to work with them through changing times and with ongoing challenges.
The advisor I referenced in my opening example did a good job of identifying a future ideal client and knowing when the prospect would be in a position to take action.
But my further conversation with this advisor uncovered the fact that his contact with this prospect was limited to 2 “touching base” telephone calls per year.
Over a 3 to 4 year period of time, he made no attempt to get to know his “humongous prospect” more personally.
The prospect was given little opportunity to get to know how this new advisor would be different from her current advisor.
In the end, she took the easy way out. The advisor’s patience and persistence was thwarted by poor positioning.