The Key To Attracting New Clients: Be Less Available

April 14, 2015

by Dan Richards

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A key goal of my weekly articles is to highlight new research on what it takes to communicate in today’s short attention span world. This week’s article outlines how using “the law of scarcity” makes you more effective with existing clients and more attractive to prospective clients. Whether in booking appointments with prospects, getting key clients to come to events or winning over referrals, communicating a sense of limited supply helps you achieve your goals.

In recent articles I have discussed research by Arizona State’s Robert Cialdini on the laws of persuasion. One of those laws is the law of scarcity; believing that something is or will soon be in short supply increases demand for that item.

This is not a ploy to manipulate clients or stampede them into buying. It’s not a broker saying, “I’ve only got 1,000 shares of this hot new issue. If you don’t decide right now, chances are these shares will be sold out by noon” or a timeshare salesman saying, “This special price is only available during this meeting.”

The law of scarcity is about structuring day-to-day conversations with existing and prospective clients to legitimately limit your availability.

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If the perception that supply is in unlimited demand, then perception of scarcity makes that same item more attractive. In Why Landing Clients is Like Dating, I talked about the high school dating scene. A guy who tells a girl that he’s free to go out any day for the next month dramatically reduces his chances of success. In attracting new clients, as in dating, you need to communicate that you’re interested in doing business but not desperate to do so.

Here are some ways advisors accomplish that:

  • In Four Ways to Get Prospects off the Fence, I described an advisor who was referred to the CEO of a public company and had an extremely positive initial conversation. They agreed to a follow-up meeting, but then the advisor ran into a wall with no response to several voice mails, emails and calls to this CEO’s assistant.

At that point he left the CEO one final voice mail with an email that followed, along these lines:

Hi Jim. Sorry we haven’t been able to connect. I have capacity for four new clients in the next quarter. After our last meeting I thought we’d work well together and you might be someone I could help. It sounds like you’re busy right now … I’ll touch base in about three months. Feel free to give me a call if you’d like to talk in the meantime.

That email positioned the advisor as someone whose time was limited and who was interested in working with this CEO, but not desperate to do so. As it happened, he heard back from the prospect to schedule a meeting, but even if he hadn’t, this positioned him to pick up the phone and call back in three months.

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