Prospecting Techniques

or Register to post new content in the forum

18 RepliesJump to last post

 

Comments

  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Jan 28, 2009 11:13 pm

I would like to ask people with these characteristics a question:


*have successfully built a business
*started in the business within the past 3 years
*don't have a rich family or natural market with a lot assets, aren't on a team, and didn't inherit assets
 
What technique did you use to effectively prospect?  What type of company do you work for?  (Bank, Wirehouse, Jones, Indy)  What size accounts did you start servicing when you began? 
 
I pretty much mostly tried to do the whole cold calling approach while at ML.  Overall, I didn't think it was as successful as I would have liked but I didn't start into production until September--nice timing, right.  Anyhow, I would like to hear from people who have recently made it. 
 
 
 
 
Jan 29, 2009 4:04 pm

(Sound of crickets chirping)


Anyone who meets at least these criteria?
 

*have successfully built a business
*started in the business within the past 3 years
Jan 29, 2009 4:24 pm

Akk,

Just to help get the party started here:
 
I meet your criteria, but not sure what you mean by "successfully built a business".  I have built a business, but it's certainly not self-sustaining yet.  I like to think it is continuing to grow.  I have consistently increased my production, even during 2008 (of course, the base I am comparing to is low). 
 
I started out doorknocking, heavily for the first 6 months.  Moved into some cold calling, seminars, networking, teaching classes, BNI, Chamber, Rotary, non-profit boards, Linked-In, some direct mail, some advertising, been getting some quotes inthe local paper (I got to know the Business Editor), networking with CPA's/attorneys.  That's the bulk of it.  I must say, I have gotten a little bit from each avenue.  And I have brought on large and small clients through almost every avenue.  It seems, though, that my better clients have come through referrals or from seminars/teaching.  Anytime you get someone (especially a CPA) to refer you, or you get to spend some time in front of people teaching them or running a good seminar, they seem to trust you much more.  The hardest clients tend to be the cold call/cold walk clients, as you have to really "sell" them.
Jan 29, 2009 6:41 pm

You work with Jones, right?  I really respect what Jones does with respect to teaching people how to effectively prospect.  Door knocking is effective, it seems, based on Jones' record.  My problem with Jones is their platform, but I agree 100% that their prospecting method seems to be second to none in the industry. 

 
At a wirehouse, I don't think doorknocking is effective because you won't be able to get in front of enough qualified people for wirehouse standards.  So, you end up cold calling.  I am not ready to write off cold calling just yet, though.
 
I am starting to think that actually doing some insurance business will make my natural market more appealing even if they have no assets.  I can't sacrifice not having a top notch investment platform, though.
Jan 29, 2009 7:11 pm
Akkula:

You work with Jones, right?  I really respect what Jones does with respect to teaching people how to effectively prospect.  Door knocking is effective, it seems, based on Jones' record.  My problem with Jones is their platform, but I agree 100% that their prospecting method seems to be second to none in the industry. 

 
At a wirehouse, I don't think doorknocking is effective because you won't be able to get in front of enough qualified people for wirehouse standards.  So, you end up cold calling.  I am not ready to write off cold calling just yet, though.
 
I am starting to think that actually doing some insurance business will make my natural market more appealing even if they have no assets.  I can't sacrifice not having a top notch investment platform, though.
 
You'd be suprised at what the mutual insurance companies can offer on the investment side.  Granted, you will need to sell life/disability/LTCi to keep a contract, but as long as you do that, you'll have access to MF wrap accounts/SMAs/Alternative Investments, etc.  If I had it to do all over again, I would have started at a mutual life insurance career agency.
Jan 29, 2009 10:30 pm

I actually may be able to hook up with an independent firm that uses horner, townsend, and kent (HTK) as the b/d and that uses penn mutual quite a bit for the insurance side.  I think they are affiliated.  I got the impression that they want you to use penn life on the insurance side.   Any thoughts on this?  Should I be concerned that they prefer one company on the insurance side or is insurance more of a commodity? 

Jan 30, 2009 12:02 am

Choosing a life insurance company is all about strength of the company, and their conversion options.  All term policies will pay a claim if someone dies young.  But most term companies only offer shitty permanent options, if at all.  A mutual company like Penn Mutual will offer all kinds of conversion options (UL, WL, SWL, GUL, etc.).  Not only that, they're not tied to the whims of shareholders when making strategic decisions for the company.  They can focus on what is right for their policyholders.  DI insurance is industry dependant.  LTCi is dependant on age, health, wealth, etc.


Your final decision should be based on the local culture.  I cannot comment on HTK and what they have to offer.
Jan 30, 2009 9:26 am
Akkula:

You work with Jones, right?  I really respect what Jones does with respect to teaching people how to effectively prospect.  Door knocking is effective, it seems, based on Jones' record.  My problem with Jones is their platform, but I agree 100% that their prospecting method seems to be second to none in the industry. 

 
At a wirehouse, I don't think doorknocking is effective because you won't be able to get in front of enough qualified people for wirehouse standards.  So, you end up cold calling.  I am not ready to write off cold calling just yet, though.
 
I am starting to think that actually doing some insurance business will make my natural market more appealing even if they have no assets.  I can't sacrifice not having a top notch investment platform, though.
 
Akk, I was not trying to convince you to go to Jones, just giving you my experience.  I guess their prospecting tehcniques/teaching are good for new/new's in the business.  Teaches you how to get out of your comfort zone and meet people face-to-face.  They are also very good with promoting seminars.  They have several dozen canned seminars that they are constantly updating.  I think they do fall short with teaching advisors how to find real money.  But they are getting very good at teaching people how to deepen relationships with clients through financial planning. 
 
I just think they encourage too many small accounts, which is OK when you are starting out and need to practice on smaller clients (we were all new at some point in our careers), just setting up Roths' and little rollovers and such.  Problem is, despite Jones' efforts, many Jones FA's never get out of the "want to buy a $5000 bond?" mentality.  Jim Weddle has even come out publicly and said "stop calling it doorknocking, stop calling on product all the time, and start developing deeper relationships with clients."  I think he actually gets it, but it's tough to change an entire culture overnight.
 
Sorry I digressed a bit.
Jan 30, 2009 4:09 pm

I know you weren't trying to convince me about Jones.  I just really respect how they do what they do to get people started.  I don't think the wirehouse model is sustainable; the reason they have such large average balances for their advisors is because they don't really have a viable development program where newer advisors can really thrive to begin their careers.  You have to crawl before you walk and so I don't think it is bad to start with smaller accounts.

 
Jones' platform can be a bit limiting if you want to move upmarket but I can see why a lot of people "drink the koolaid."  I don't think they are right for me but I do respect their methods to get someone started in the business.
 
Any cold walking tips that Jones or others could provide would be helpful.  Please, start from the beginning!  Please tell me the cliff's notes version so I can avoid 3 year, $78,000 commitment to get the full version.
Jan 30, 2009 4:22 pm
deekay:

Choosing a life insurance company is all about strength of the company, and their conversion options.  All term policies will pay a claim if someone dies young.  But most term companies only offer shitty permanent options, if at all.  A mutual company like Penn Mutual will offer all kinds of conversion options (UL, WL, SWL, GUL, etc.).  Not only that, they're not tied to the whims of shareholders when making strategic decisions for the company.  They can focus on what is right for their policyholders.  DI insurance is industry dependant.  LTCi is dependant on age, health, wealth, etc.


Your final decision should be based on the local culture.  I cannot comment on HTK and what they have to offer.
 
Thanks for the input.  Any thoghts on MassMutual...for the most part same as Penn?
Jan 30, 2009 5:05 pm
B24:

Akk,

Just to help get the party started here:
 
I meet your criteria, but not sure what you mean by "successfully built a business".  I have built a business, but it's certainly not self-sustaining yet.  I like to think it is continuing to grow.  I have consistently increased my production, even during 2008 (of course, the base I am comparing to is low). 
 
I started out doorknocking, heavily for the first 6 months.  Moved into some cold calling, seminars, networking, teaching classes, BNI, Chamber, Rotary, non-profit boards, Linked-In, some direct mail, some advertising, been getting some quotes inthe local paper (I got to know the Business Editor), networking with CPA's/attorneys.  That's the bulk of it.  I must say, I have gotten a little bit from each avenue.  And I have brought on large and small clients through almost every avenue.  It seems, though, that my better clients have come through referrals or from seminars/teaching.  Anytime you get someone (especially a CPA) to refer you, or you get to spend some time in front of people teaching them or running a good seminar, they seem to trust you much more.  The hardest clients tend to be the cold call/cold walk clients, as you have to really "sell" them.
 
Thanks, B, that's good information--even for a fellow Jonesie.
 
The main problem with doorknocking is that it usually takes so many repeat contacts to finally convert someone into a client. I reach a point after about contact number 3 where I feel like I'm really irritating the person and wouldn't want someone hounding me, so I usually move on.
 
Seminars are a much better use of time, IMHO.
 
Jan 31, 2009 11:24 pm

[/quote]

 
Thanks, B, that's good information--even for a fellow Jonesie.
 
The main problem with doorknocking is that it usually takes so many repeat contacts to finally convert someone into a client. I reach a point after about contact number 3 where I feel like I'm really irritating the person and wouldn't want someone hounding me, so I usually move on.
 
Seminars are a much better use of time, IMHO.
 [/quote]

 
I start w/ Edward Jones this Monday, and I'm becoming more and more aware of "the recipe" and the focus on doorknocking. I personally don't have anything against doorknocking, and I know I'll be doing a lot of it, but it seems that most people on this board believe there are myriad methods of prospecting more effective than doorknocking. And, of course, there are those who feel door knocking is in some way a lower class form of prospecting (I'm not one of these guys).
 
A couple of pre-Seg 1's I've been talking to who've been doorknocking like crazy (so they say) are seriously struggling since Oct/Nov '08. One has a GK and the other took over an office. My can-sell is scheduled for June, and as of right now, I'm completely new/new. 
 
In lieu of these facts, although I don't want to try and reinvent the wheel, I feel compelled to have a "back up plan" as it pertains to prospecting in the event that doorknocking isn't as effective as it needs to be to sustain my employment and grow my business.
 
Any suggestions? Resources? Methods? Books? The list that B24 laid out was great...but I've never cold called, don't know many people (with money anyway), and don't know how best to go about organizing seminars or classes (i.e. Compliance approved topics, who to invite, etc.). BNI, Chamber, and Rotary in my area seem jam packed full of FA's already (including existing Jones FA's), so instinctively I feel like the potential there has dried up (correct me if I'm wrong).  I haven't looked in to LinkedIn yet. But my MySpace and Facebook pages rule!!!! Kidding...  I do have a reciprocal relationship on standby with a local Tax & Estate Planning attorney. But that's it. So really what I'm looking for is the information necessary to take all of B24's general ideas and make them actionable.
 
By the way....I'm not worried about passing the SR7 & 66, so don't worry about me getting ahead of myself. Frankly, I've never met a test I couldn't beat, so I'm very confident in that area.  Basically, I'm just looking for some ideas from those already in the jungle to supplement the training I'll be receiving from Jones.
 
Sorry about the long post. Thanks to everyone willing to chime in!
Feb 3, 2009 12:00 am

I don't quite meet your criteria but did a few years ago.  I started in March of 2000 - equally bad timing.  After three years I had build a fee based book of about 12 million exclusively from seminars.  Did this at Morgan Stanley, went indy to a b/d in 2003 then started my own RIA firm in 2005.  Today I manage about 100 million all fee based, all pretty much from seminars and now referrals - which really didn't come until after year three.

 
Things I tried, hated, and wasn't really good at:
 - cold walking
- cold calling
- networking (I was broke and had nothing to offer in those early years)
 
My advice would be to suck it up in the early years and NOT focus on annuities and life insurance (or any insurance for that matter).  Go as much fee based as possible as it will be well worth the struggles income wise the first year or two and you will actually have a business a few years down the road.  As b/d's go; I can't really say too much other than the ones you mention all have very high attrition rates so I do not believe their prospeciting and/or training programs matter.  What I think they really do is make your book a weight that has little long term value and thus locks you into their methods for better or worse.
 
To make it three years it matters not where you start but how motivated and willing you are to work.  Most big producers would be big producers no matter where they are: firm, geographically, family background, etc.
 
My first three years I never made more than 20k take home because I was spending all extra money on marketing to build the book of business.  By the time the market turned around in 2003 I had suffered through a lot of work (which was really not suffering) and the market really helped in years 4-7.  This is actually a great time to get started because wealthy prospects are looking for help.  Most all the major firms in my market have bought and held their way to massive client losses and last year was my best ever in terms of new client assets, revenue and the like.
 
Don't be discouraged.  Just make a plan to succeed and execute it stubbornly.
 
The best thing I did in the early years is not listen to the "old school" reps in my office who told me that my seminars would never work, that American Funds were the place for my clients money, and that fee based was just a fad.  Make up your mind what you are and what you offer and never let anyone tell you it won't work.  You almost have to be ignorant to all the jacka**es who seem to mean well but really love watching rookies fail.  Plus, it's great to take their clients down the road once you've passed them in every critical area of production .
 
Best of luck.
Feb 3, 2009 9:17 am

Thanks for the input.  What types of topics worked for your seminars?

 
ditto on the comment about "old school" reps.  That was why I wanted to learn from people who had built their businesses in the more recent past.  This industry has changed so much over the last 10 years. 
Feb 3, 2009 9:24 am
Akkula:

Thanks for the input.  What types of topics worked for your seminars?

 
ditto on the comment about "old school" reps.  That was why I wanted to learn from people who had built their businesses in the more recent past.  This industry has changed so much over the last 10 years. 




Really? Figuring out what people want to buy and selling it to them doesn't work anymore?

Feb 3, 2009 10:40 am
Borker Boy:
B24:

Akk,

Just to help get the party started here:
 
I meet your criteria, but not sure what you mean by "successfully built a business".  I have built a business, but it's certainly not self-sustaining yet.  I like to think it is continuing to grow.  I have consistently increased my production, even during 2008 (of course, the base I am comparing to is low). 
 
I started out doorknocking, heavily for the first 6 months.  Moved into some cold calling, seminars, networking, teaching classes, BNI, Chamber, Rotary, non-profit boards, Linked-In, some direct mail, some advertising, been getting some quotes inthe local paper (I got to know the Business Editor), networking with CPA's/attorneys.  That's the bulk of it.  I must say, I have gotten a little bit from each avenue.  And I have brought on large and small clients through almost every avenue.  It seems, though, that my better clients have come through referrals or from seminars/teaching.  Anytime you get someone (especially a CPA) to refer you, or you get to spend some time in front of people teaching them or running a good seminar, they seem to trust you much more.  The hardest clients tend to be the cold call/cold walk clients, as you have to really "sell" them.
 
Thanks, B, that's good information--even for a fellow Jonesie.
 
The main problem with doorknocking is that it usually takes so many repeat contacts to finally convert someone into a client. I reach a point after about contact number 3 where I feel like I'm really irritating the person and wouldn't want someone hounding me, so I usually move on.
 
Seminars are a much better use of time, IMHO.
 
I had a conversation with my GP just before I left home office for the field.  She was a top producer, managed something like $150MM and started new/new.  She said that if she was going to give me one piece of advice it would be to take the line I'd been teaching about 5-7 contacts seriously.  She said that most new FAs never get there.  They average three before they give up on someone.  She said she made it a point to make at least 6 on someone before she gave up on them.  She said you'd be suprised at how many will turn around after that 4th or 5th consistent contact.  She did say that she didn't do it every two weeks like Jones said to, but she did it over a longer period of time, like 9 months to a year.  Had I only followed her advice.  
Feb 3, 2009 11:04 am

Most of my best (largest) clients took many months, some a few years, to parlay into clients.  One of the things that I learned was that most often, people REALLY are telling the truth (about being sick, about being on vacation, about being busy at work, etc.).  So many people just want to put off the financial discussions as long as possible because they don't want to face reality, are embarrased about tehir financial situation, are disorganized, all of the above, whatever.  So sometimes it's a matter of catching the prospect at the right time and place to get them to come in.

Feb 3, 2009 5:53 pm
Hank Moody:
Akkula:

Thanks for the input.  What types of topics worked for your seminars?

 
ditto on the comment about "old school" reps.  That was why I wanted to learn from people who had built their businesses in the more recent past.  This industry has changed so much over the last 10 years. 




Really? Figuring out what people want to buy and selling it to them doesn't work anymore?

 
Thanks for the comment Hank.
 
I think the new generation of advisor is more interested in building a book of business with residual value and not simply selling products to people.  To get a new, 100% of assets committed client is NOT about selling something.  It's more about creating a process that is desirable for investors to flow through with as little resistance as possible into a client/advisor relationship.  This may sound corny - but it works.  Part of a "new rich" movement to qoute Timothy Ferriss.
 
Anyway, if it weren't for those "old school" advisors building unmanagebly large books and selling loads of sh*t products - then it wouldn't have been nearly as easy to get clients.  So: if you're selling what you perceive people to want (whether old or new school)- keep doing it; it will create great opportunity for future generations of advisors.  If you are new and want to build a business that is enjoyable, manageable, and creates very high residual value; then be sure to send a thank you note to the most annoying "old-schooler" at your firm for their invaluable services.  They'll blush...you'll make hay.