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The Art Of Qualifying Prospects

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Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

Our year ended on a fairly sour note. We had a number of clients who appeared to be very warm and we assumed were going to close by year end. I think the changing political landscape drew attention and many people started to get cold feet about switching advisors or using one for the first time. That said, many of the people seemed very interested and ready. Now that the new year has started we are calling and no one is responding. I don’t know if we are still dealing with holiday fallout but it seems someone should be ready to go. Is there a technique we could use to generate a response? Should we be more or less aggressive?

Steve P.

Qualifying Prospects

Dear Steve,

You have encountered the need for what I like to refer to as the art of qualifying! This is an area where even professional salespeople struggle. I have seen this struggle in my experience working with thousands of professional salespeople. There are so many reasons why a seemingly interested prospect goes dark but let me outline just a few:

  1. You misread their need for information or their apparent enthusiasm as genuine interest.
  2. You didn’t ask the hard questions to ensure they were ready to make a move.
  3. The prospect isn’t strong enough on the pain or pleasure continuum to want to do anything.
  4. The prospect might have already made a decision to work with another advisor and they were just “checking the box” by talking to someone else for comparison sake.
  5. You did not gain agreement from the prospect which gave them some stake in the process and ensured action on their part.

These, and others, are all too common in any sort of buying interaction. It’s often hard to know what trap you might have fallen into, so let’s look instead at what you could be doing differently to ensure your 2017 doesn’t end on a similarly sour note in 12 months!

Whenever you are dealing with a prospect be sure to ask more questions than you give information. This industry and the advisory process itself is confusing and complicated for many. It’s easy for an advisor to blah, blah and blah some more without knowing whether the prospect is even interested. Be sure to first ask questions like:

  • Why are you seeking a financial advisor at this point?
  • What kind of information is most important to you?
  • How will you evaluate a decision like this?
  • What are your top three priorities for choosing an advisor?

By Beverly Flaxington, read the full article here.

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