Editor’s Note: There are many views on segmenting or profiling both client and prospect lists (or pipeline). However, bottom line in a relationship business is, it is a must. In managing existing business and forecasting ahead, categorizing relationships and opportunities allows you to allocate resources and capital for winning new business and retaining existing business. In our new digital era, this means not only traditional segmentation based on receiving referrals and leads from individuals and or through events – but now to include online systems you may use. This could be your efforts using blogging and social media as well as contacts generated from webinars or other online events. They all must find their way to your CRM system and generate a pipeline for you to take action on. Ms. Mosher outlines easy to follow steps to establish a systematic method for getting this efficient in your business.
A dreaded part of business for most advisors is making that much needed follow up call to a potential client. It’s much easier if you know them well, know what their needs are, and know how committed they are to doing business with you.
There are key questions you need to ask to secure some form of commitment from a prospect and validate that they aren’t the well-known plate licker waiting to attend your next seminar for a free meal. Your goal is to gain insight by developing a shared understanding in order to reach an outcome that is mutually beneficial.
Follow the steps below to move your prospect pipeline from problematic to prosperous.
Segment Your Prospects
Segment your prospects to gain a better understanding of their relevance to your pipeline. Start by qualifying each person on your list.
There are two conditions prospects should meet in order to assess their position in your pipeline:
- They have indicated an interest in your products and services
- They meet your entry-point requirements
If they do not meet these prerequisites, remove them from your prospect list.
Determine How Well You Know Your Prospects
We’ve been preaching about the ineffectiveness of “batch-and-blast” marketing and the importance in stop wasting time with a tactic that does not provide value or results. This is your opportunity to commit to a communication method in order to learn essential information about your prospects, and in turn, to make sure they know you.
Answer the following set of questions for each of your prospects.
Answers to these questions are vital in order for your firm to provide proactive service rather than playing a reactive role with potential clients.
The Art of Persuasion
Timing is everything. Don’t become impatient and pushy. Keep in mind prospective clients need to trust you before they will do business with you. Building trust is part of the decision-making cycle and is a process, not an event. Employ the following non-intrusive steps to build rapport, gain trust, and turn persuasion into reason:
Provide a Newsletter and/or Weekly Email: Most potential clients won’t turn down a simple newsletter or an email. Let prospects know that you provide educational information and that you would like to include them. This will help position your firm to be top of mind.
Plant the Seed: Include a note in an email or letter to let them know you are available to meet with them. Doing so will open the door for further communication.
Share Your Vision: Allow prospects to learn more about you by sharing your vision. Prospective clients will appreciate connecting with you on friendly terms which will start the trust building process.
Learn How to Show Your Value: Most advisors believe educational seminars, newsletters, and occasional emails express a form of value. While these are good practices, you can make a true impact by posing questions focused on the results prospects want to see, rather than the actions they need to take. For example; use this type of dialogue to start a conversation, “What do you see as the outcome if we were to review your financial plan now versus five years from now?”
A final thought
Persuading prospects to do business with you isn’t about selling. In a Harvard Business Review, “The Necessary Art of Persuasion,” Jay Conger states that in order to be persuasive you must provide four key elements; credibility, common ground, vivid evidence, and an emotional connection. When persuasion is used correctly, you will achieve agreement along with a shared solution.