Prospecting is a long game that can stretch out for months, even years, before the benefits materialize.
"It takes a while to nurture relationships," says Carrie Kimberley, director of practice management at Credential Financial in Vancouver. "It will happen over time."
Even if your efforts seem fruitless, you need to train your sights on the goal, apply your best moves and stay the course.
To help you gain and sustain momentum, here are steps for developing a game plan for prospecting:
> See what works, and what doesn't
Evaluate the strategies that have reliably produced results for you in the past, Kimberley says. Depending on your level of comfort, you might apply a blended approach of sending out LinkedIn invitations, making cold calls and attending community functions.
While it's important to test various methods, you have to recognize when one might not be paying off, or when to take it to the next level, Kimberley says. For example, if you're concentrating too much of your effort on LinkedIn, it's probably time to deepen that connection in person.
People are bombarded with so much information online that many emails and newsletters often go unopened. Some advisors have reverted back to old-school tactics, such as cold calling and sending mail, because they're less common and may just capture the attention of prospects, Kimberley says.
> Know your market
Be strategic about how you seek to engage prospects from different professions or demographic groups, Kimberley says.
For example, if you want to attract clients from the tech sector, a four-page, printed newsletter is probably going to end up in the recycling bin. These prospects might be more responsive if you were to deliver your message digitally — using the medium or platform they consume much of their information through.
> Create "mental imprints"
Use stories, as opposed to "canned" pitches, to make an impression on prospects, says Larry Distillio, assistant vice president at Mackenzie Investments in Toronto. Distillio calls these stories "mental imprints," which can help engage clients in a conversation about your work.
Think about the critical life events and challenges that members of your target market face, and build a story around how you fit into the equation.
You should have a few of these ideas in your back pocket, Distillio says, specifically tailored for every market you work with. If you want to appeal to overworked business owners, for example, talk about how your role in looking after their financial well-being frees up time for them to spend with their family.
> Develop a system
It's easy to become complacent about the need to consistently hunt for new prospects if you want to grow your business. So, involve your team in the process. They can help hold you accountable, Kimberley says.
Create a database that lists your prospects and make a note of how and when you plan to follow up with them. Make sure your team members have access to this data. So, for example, you can delegate the task of tracking the people who need to be contacted and your overall progress.
This is the second part in a two-part series on prospecting. Click here for part one.
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