Don’t Underestimate Your Prospects: Knowledge is Power

Don’t Underestimate Your Prospects: Knowledge is Power

For many advisors, prospecting is an intimidating process that can take up both your time and money, without even a guarantee of a new client.

For many advisors, prospecting is an intimidating process that can take up both your time and money, without even a guarantee of a new client. In an industry where many consumers are leery of get-rich-quick schemes and pushy salesmen, how can an advisor stand out as a credible source for retirement planning information while also converting more prospects into clients? Through a little something called “knowledge-based prospecting,” you can do just that, and even double your business as a result.


Not Your Typical Dinner Party

Knowledge-based prospecting is different than your typical prospecting lunch or dinner event. In fact, it’s completely different. As a part of my prospecting process, I hold informative, two-day courses on college campuses and charge a nominal fee for anyone who is looking for retirement planning information. 

By hosting the course at a college campus, I develop credibility and create a classroom-like atmosphere while also demonstrating my commitment to helping people take control of their own financial and retirement decisions. Charging a fee for the course may seem risky and counterintuitive, but it is actually the most crucial requirement in hosting these courses. The money is not for me; rather, it drives the ideal prospect to my course. When they pay, even a small fee, suddenly the course has value.

Allow me to explain. At a typical dinner event, I would spend the time, money and effort to host an event that would hopefully draw a decent group of prospects. Without any charge to attend, I might see a large turnout. However, when it’s all said and done, I walk away with just one or two solid leads that may turn into actual clients. But, why such a poor conversion, when I hosted a free event?  

Let’s try flipping the script. Say I host a class and charge a fee. I refrain from using any sales-y language and, at the end of the class, I merely offer attendants an opportunity to share their information only if they are interested in hearing more from me. With this method, how many leads are likely to turn into clients? From my personal experience, I was able to double my business within one year through this approach..

I’ll admit, though, I hadn’t entirely realized how ideal my prospect would be until I hosted my first class and asked a series of very important questions. 


The Conversation

At the start of each class, I ask the attendees the same series of questions: Why are you here? Has an advisor ever tried gaining your business through a free dinner?  And, finally, did you attend?

On a fairly consistent basis, most of the attendees respond with similar answers.  They showed up to the class because the information seemed objective and by paying a fee up front, they felt they could expect more out of the class than they would a free dinner. Many of them say they have avoided any sort of free event because it typically turns into a sales pitch. To them, signing up and paying a small fee for a course held at an educational institution is seen more as an investment in their future, rather than showing up to an event where they will likely hear about a product and consume a sub-par meal. 

That is because these types of investors are different.


A New Type of Prospect

Those series of questions led to one of my most successful revelations: never underestimate your prospects. This concept has allowed me to open my eyes to an entirely new world of prospecting. By investing more time up front on my end and by requesting a monetary commitment from the prospects, I managed to turn a typical prospecting event into a room filled with serious and committed investors. 

These prospects don’t just show up for their free meal and leave at the earliest opportunity. These prospects sit, listen and ask pressing questions. They may not understand everything that comes with the complex world of retirement planning, but these prospects certainly understand it’s need in order to live the life they want during their golden years. 

In the end, it’s still always up to me to convert these prospects into clients, but by allowing myself to get in front of what I consider my “ideal” prospects and teaching what they find to be valuable information, I have managed to gain the trust of community members who later come through my office doors, looking to me for their retirement planning needs.  


Sean P. Lee is founder and president of SPL Financial, Inc. Lee specializes in financial planning for retirement and assisting individuals with creating retirement income plans. For more information, visit 

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