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Filling Your Pipeline for the Holidays

December isn’t a time to “coast.”

PITTSBURGH — “We’ve always viewed advisors who were frantically working in December to hit their numbers as losers,” commented Jeb with a smug look, then admitting as much “Maybe I’m being arrogant, but we always hit our numbers mid-way through Q4 and view December as holiday time. Our reward is to relax. What are your thoughts?”

My cryptic response, “Kudos for the 11 month team effort ...” had the intended effect. Jeb proceeded to clarify how his team operated in December. This provided me with an opening and I took full advantage.

Keeping in mind, this was a brief conversation following a keynote and I didn’t have the luxury of getting Jeb to clarify what he meant by the “numbers” his team hit. My suspicion was it wasn’t about new affluent clients and new assets. It took just one question to validate my suspicion, “How many new $1 million-plus clients and assets did your team bring in this year?”

Jeb wasn’t sure. Translation: His team was probably keeping score by overall asset totals and production numbers. Although these numbers are comforting in a raging bull market, using those metrics alone is a misleading indicator. New clients and their corresponding assets should also be included as they are a forward indicator.

This leads me to the topic of pipeline management. I explained to Jeb that December was the month that top-acquiring teams typically used to fill their pipelines. And that this was accomplished by using the holidays as the hook for strengthening emotional connections with affluent clients and your circles of interest. 

I then challenged him to replace the mindset of “we’ve hit our numbers,” coasting through December, with filling the pipeline by socializing with affluent clients and COIs during the holidays. I had his attention, but it was apparent that he didn’t know where to begin.

Let me paraphrase what I outlined for Jeb as it can help you use the holidays to fill your pipeline.

  • Assess your current pipeline status; this is the mindset of rainmakers—they are always managing their pipelines.
  • Determine potential top-client social introductions; identify who you want to meet from each client’s spheres-of-influence.
  • Approximate the assets associated with these social introductions; this is an aspect of strategic intent as you pre-qualify who you plan on meeting.
  • Schedule social activities with top clients and referral partners; this can range from 1-on-1, to small group events you host, to attending social events hosted by others.
  • Approach each social activity with strategic intent; you’ve done your homework on who you’re planning to meet and have a game plan that goes beyond developing rapport.
  • Execute your game plan; schedule a social follow-up with every person you meet who meets your ideal client profile standard.

As we departed I explained that, in a sense, all of this could be viewed as coasting—with a game plan. The game plan being to fill the team pipeline using the good will of the holiday season as the hook.

It’s been our experience in coaching business development, that pipeline management is a mindset unto itself. I’ve yet to meet a rainmaker who didn’t carefully manage their pipeline. This involved both working prospects through the pipeline and converting them to clients, while simultaneously refilling their pipeline. As for the latter, they were constantly looking for “hooks” to assist in filling their pipeline.            

Make filling your pipeline a key component of your December game plan. 'Tis the season for getting social—and you’re going to do so with strategic intent. A quality pipeline is a strong indicator for a stellar 2018.

Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients.

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