Getting Prospects to Meet

February 10, 2015

by Dan Richards

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Recently I talked to Randy, a financial advisor, about the challenges of getting meetings with prospects. “I’ve been in the business for 30 years,” Randy said. “I have never found securing meetings with prospects to be easy. But recently, the difficulty of getting meetings is at an all-time high. Everyone is so incredibly busy that getting people to carve out 45 minutes for a meeting is a huge ask.”

There are many reasons why it’s tough to get meetings. The fear of “being sold” and skepticism toward someone they haven’t worked with continue to be big barriers. Strong market returns over the past few years have increased inertia and dampened the appetite for change; older investors tend to be especially resistant to experimenting with someone new.

While prospective clients are pressed for time, the core issue is that many advisors fail to convey a big enough payoff when asking for the time to meet. After all, everyone can find 45 minutes if they really want to. So, how can you create urgency around your request?

Hitting hot buttons

Bruce, a highly successful advisor, is a CPA who employs his previous position with an accounting firm to get in front of prospects. His approach: Focus initial meetings on reducing taxes. “I’ve never met anyone who likes paying taxes,” Bruce told me. “When I approach prospects about meeting, I tell them that one of my key priorities is to help clients pay less tax. I tell prospects that in 30 minutes I can share three strategies that have helped people in our community reduce their tax load and that might work for them too.”

When Bruce meets with prospects, he devotes  a couple of minutes describing his background and spends about 10 minutes asking questions to get them to talk about their situations. Then he walks prospective clients through three one-page case studies of strategies that have worked to reduce taxes. He gives them a chance to ask questions after each case study and explains that everyone’s situation is unique, so these strategies might or might not be appropriate for them. He finishes by saying that if they’re interested in exploring this further, the next step would be to sit down to talk about their circumstances in greater detail. That way he can identify the tax-planning strategies that are right for them.

“I didn’t start off with tax reduction as my key message when trying to book meetings with prospects,” Bruce told me. “This evolved over time. But since moving to strategies to reduce taxes as my key message, I’ve found prospects much more open to meeting. Well over 75% of the people I meet with agree to that next in-depth meeting, where we get into a more general conversation about their financial situation and investments.”

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