Suspects versus Prospects
Sales & Marketing for Professional Services & Sales Tips

Suspects versus Prospects

May 20, 2013

by Tony Vidler

financial advisory prospecting

It may seem a little strange to talk about Prospecting 101, but recently I have worked with some younger/newer financial advisers and was amazed to find that nobody has ever actually taught them some business basics.

Many of the newer advisers coming into the business are very bright – far more so than some of us older folk have ever been.  They are technically far more competent early in their careers than I ever was.  As far as the basics are concerned for being able to learn quickly and to perform their jobs well, they are generally very capable indeed.

But it seems many of them are not learning how to build a business.

If one runs a business, presumably with the objective of generating a profit, then inevitably someone somewhere has to be selling something.  It is in this pure sales context – not many of the other more challenging aspects of being a professional adviser –  that I detected a lack of knowledge.

The words “prospect” or “prospecting” actually tend to refer to quite a few different parts of the client acquisition process, and this in part leads to the lack of understanding in how to do it well.

When we talk about prospecting in this business it could refer to any number of areas of the formative stages of a client engagement.

It may be that it refers to:

  • generating leads, or opportunites
  • qualifying those leads
  • sorting and prioritizing the leads
  • managing leads information
  • arranging, and actually meeting, leads for the first time.

Mind mapping Prospecting

It is perhaps not surprising that some newer advisers with little “sales” training don’t quite get some of the basics of prospecting then.

The primary elelement that many do not understand is this:  Nobody is a prospect until you have qualified them.  Until then, they are merely a Suspect.

Your marketing efforts create opportunities, or Suspected potential clients.  In order to be sure that you have a prospective client though you need to be able to qualify them.  That helps you determine whether they are indeed somebody suitable for your business, and your area of expertise can address their primary needs, and that you are dealing with potential clients who are a good fit for your business.  For example:

  • Suitability: Do they have a need that they cannot fix themselves?
  • Do they have a want?  Do they really want an outcome or are they actually just happy drifters?
  • Do you have the likely solutions to their needs or wants?
  • Do they have the money?  There is no point generating hordes of people who cannot afford to work with you…though SOME Pro Bono is a good thing!
  • Do they have the authority to make a decision?
  • Do you know what their primary motivator is?

This is a very basic list to begin with, but it enables you to determine whether you are dealing with a genuine prospect that is potentially a good fit for you and your business or whether you are just pitching your services blindly in hope.

Once you know whether you have a Prospect it is worth investing your time and limited resources in engaging with them personally.

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