'Tis The Season For Prospecting

Phoenix: "December has always been a challenging time for getting together with people," said Jarrett. "Everyone is busy with the holidays and I'm trying to close out the year, maybe I should table my rainmaking until January."

Phoenix: "December has always been a challenging time for getting together with people," said Jarrett. "Everyone is busy with the holidays and I'm trying to close out the year. Maybe I should table my rainmaking until January."

Have you ever had a similar conversation with yourself as you approached December? After all, it is the end of the year and it has become common practice for many brokers to try to make their numbers for the year in the fourth quarter.

Bear with me, because I'm going to turn that thinking upside down. New World Advisors, the industry's elite (not stockbrokers), usually finish the year as they started: client focused, delivering Ritz-Carlton service, and actively rainmaking.

As I explained to Jarrett, he was simply parroting a myth often accepted by advisors: the belief that it is hard to catch-up with people, including clients, during the upcoming holiday season. This is dead wrong! Mind you, affluent investors don't want to spend time with anyone they perceive as a financial sales person, stockbroker or insurance agent, no matter what time of year it is. But the affluent tend to clear their calendars in December for social activities. Because their financial health is extremely important to them, they will often carve out time for a second opinion on their finances, if approached properly.

Social Prospecting

The idea is to approach every affluent client, prospect and center-of-influence with purpose. For instance, if you've already reviewed a client's plan you will want to look for ways to have social interaction. If you are attending a holiday party, you will want to do some pre-party work and determine who is attending, with whom you want to develop rapport, and who you are going to get into in your pipeline. None of these things is difficult for the advisor who recognizes the social opportunities that December affords. But he or she must be willing to prepare for such social opportunities and then execute seamlessly.

I recognize the inherent differences between the social and professional modes. Nothing will ruin a social event faster for an advisor than being in full professional mode. After all, no affluent investor is looking for another stockbroker, which is how advisors are perceived when they're too quick to talk business in social settings. The secret is being able to develop a social aura while maintaining a rainmaker's mindset.

Social aura: What does this mean? It's quite simple. Developing a social aura means being social. You are giving off the perception that you are thoroughly enjoying yourself, mingling with the right people, and engaging in personal conversations. Remember, people love to talk about their favorite topics: themselves, their families, and their passions. Maintaining a rainmaker's mindset involves preparatory work and execution in the moment.

Rainmaker mindset: Rainmakers never enter a social situation cold. They know who will be there, the people they want to meet, and they engage in a little background reconnaissance on their targets. This is what I refer to as preparatory work. Handling the actual event requires that the advisor have well-honed affluent sales skills. In other words, your sales skills must be so refined that they are virtually invisible.

Approaching December with Strategic Intent

I'm going to break this into three parts; 1) Clients, potential prospects, centers-of-influence (CPAs, attorneys, etc.) 2) Pipeline 3) Approaching December with strategic intent.

1. Clients, prospects, centers-of-influence (COIs): You will want to review every affluent client and COI relationship. When was the contact made? When was your last face-to-face meeting? When did you last interact socially? What professional needs does the person have (reviewing plan, etc.)? What names have you sourced in their COIs? What would be the best method for social contact?

2. Pipeline: Rainmakers manage their pipeline. It's the quickest method for turning a prospect into a client. So, who is in your pipeline? What is each prospect's status? When did you last meet face-to-face? What would be the best method for social contact? If they are connected to one of your COIs or affluent clients, you want to think of the best way to involve both prospect and client or COI.

3. Scheduling a rainmaker's December: This will run the gamut from holiday lunches, to special events (theatre, sporting, wine tastings, scotch tastings, holiday cooking class, etc.), to holiday parties (your own and those to which you are invited).

All of the above works best when everyone in your practice is involved. A team we're coaching has created a 'question of the month' designed to help the support staff source names (uncover connections). The idea is for it to be seamlessly interjected into every affluent client conversation; "Oh, so who are you going to see over the holidays?" or modified in the short-term to "Oh, so who did you see over Thanksgiving?" According to the team leader, "We're on fire, sourcing names like crazy. December's calendar is already getting full." Be careful, though. The secret is in inserting this question subtly.

As for managing your pipeline, everyone in your practice should be in the know. Who are they connected to? What is their status? Do they qualify for social contact in December?

Once he has completed all three steps, a good rainmaker then delegates the implementation of step three. The idea is to have someone else organizing your social (prospecting) calendar and whatever event(s) you're either planning to attend or hold.

By the time I finished my conversation (less than 15 minutes) with Jarrett, he was already planning at least eight social holiday lunches, a holiday party at his home, and attending three other events with his newly developed “social aura” and “rainmaker mindset.” His parting comment was, "Wow! Now that I think about it, December is actually a perfect time to prospect because people make time for social activities."

How about it? Let's view December as an ideal time for prospecting, approach it with strategic intent—and remember it's a rainmaker's perfect playing field.

To ensure that you are effectively prospecting and making the most of this holiday season visit our FREE download center for a copy of our Penetrating Centers-of-Influence Rainmaking Action Plan. This quick guide will help put some structure around your Rainmaking efforts for the coming weeks.

Once again, we want to thank all of you who have emailed comments and questions to us. We will continue to do our best to answer each one.

If you have any topic suggestions or special requests, please contact Rich Santos, publisher of Registered Rep. and Trust & Estates magazines, at [email protected].

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