people at party As was saidyears ago in the financial services industry, "We are all things tosome people." Here are some thoughts on how you can makethis happen. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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Newbie agents and advisors need clients fast, so they arewilling to be all things to all people.  Experiencedadvisors have often established niches: They've moved theirpractice upmarket.  They've figured out the client segmentwhere they can add the most value.  Word spreads throughthe segment, creating a virtuous circle.  These agents andadvisors can take the long view.  Because they takeownership of their practice, they are willing to spend some oftheir own money to cultivate business.

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As was said years ago in the financial services industry, "Weare all things to some people."  How can you make thishappen?

Approach #1 – Offering a free service to prospect for otherbusinesses

Once upon a time, there was a guy returning from militaryservice.  He became a financial planner.  Duringhis career, he determined there was tremendous opportunity if hetook his business in a new direction.  He decided toprospect municipal school districts in his state for their benefitplan business.  He knew they reviewed their providersperiodically.  He knew it was announced beforehand, yetgetting this information in a timely way was challenging for anoutsider.

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He decided to approach school districts with a novelproposal.  He would do comprehensive financial planningfor the senior administrators at no dollar cost.  Theywould be able to take their completed plan in hand, executing therecommendations wherever they chose.

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What did he want in return?  To be notified when theschool district was seeking proposals for its benefits plan reviewprocess.  He wanted the opportunity to compete. It's my understanding he handled the benefit plans for about 25% ofthe school districts in his state at the time he sold hisbusiness.

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Why did this strategy work?

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He was providing a service of value to the senioradministrators.  After climbing the ladder, many wereapproaching retirement age.  In this market niche, he knewhow their retirement plans worked.  He was asking forsomething that was public information, although interested partieswould need to know where to find it.  It's logical toassume one satisfied school district told another, enhancing hisreputation.

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Providing financial planning without attempting to sell productmeant he was leaving business on the table.  This enhancedhis credibility.  People would always have the option ofasking him to help them implement the plan.  That would betheir choice, something they would initiate.

Approach #2 – How golf can integrate into your prospectingstrategy

While doing research for the client acquisition training Ideveloped, I interviewed a bank president.  It was a localbank with a few dozen branches across two counties.  Aspart of the bank's transition from lending into broader financialservices, the bank bought an insurance brokerage agency.

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The bank president told an interesting story.  Theowner of the agency was given advice when he moved into a newtown.  "Buy a new Cadillac.  Join the mostexclusive country club."

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The guy balked at the expense.  He was told: "Thisbusiness is built on perception.  If you drive up to themost exclusive golf club in a new Cadillac, people assume you are asuccessful insurance broker."  He found the money andfollowed the advice.

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His strategy was to play golf several times a week, in goodweather.  On each occasion, he would invite his CPA toplay along with two of their own clients or he would invite threefellow Chamber members.  The only requirement was theguests needed to own small or medium-sized businesses.

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They would play a round in the morning.  The agencyowner would take them to lunch in the clubhouseafterwards.  Over lunch, he would ask theguests:  "Can I call you next week and set up anappointment?  I have some ideas I would like toshare.  I think I may be able to save you somemoney."  They would agree.  He would usually getthe appointments.

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Why did his strategy work?  Why did he specificallytarget small and medium-sized business owners?  Theybelonged to golf clubs too, but not the best club.  Theyonly get to play the best course when someone else invites them asa guest.  Playing the course plus having lunch afterwardsplaces them under such an obligation, it's difficult to say; "No,you can't have an appointment.  I won't meet withyou."

Approach #3 – The client's retirement party

A financial planning firm structured itself like a law firm withsenior, associate and para-planners on staff.  Their nichewas senior executives in the pharmaceutical industry. They developed a novel approach to get introduced to the peers oftheir best clients.

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When a client approached retirement, they would offer to host aretirement party.  It might be 10 peopleat a restaurant or 20 people for a catered affair at theclient's home.  The planner covered all theexpenses.  Their only request was to be invited to thecelebration.

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The executive would invite fellow  C-suitesenior managers.  They would say "Thanks for inviting meto your party."  The executive would explain the financialplanner was throwing the party and likely mentionhow the planner was instrumental in preparing them forretirement.

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These fellow senior executives realized they could usethe same type of help.  During the party, the planner andtheir team met everyone and thanked them forattending.  Connections were made.

What are the common factors?

In all three examples, the agent or advisor is filling theprospecting pipeline.  They are getting on someone'sradar.  They are in front of people who fit within theirniche, pre-qualifying them as prospects.  They are takingthe long view because people may not be ready to do business rightnow.  They are investing their own money in theirpractice.

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Bryce Sanders is president of PerceptiveBusiness Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition trainingfor the financial services industry. His book, "Captivating the Wealthy Investor" can be foundon Amazon.

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READ MORE:

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For your next prospecting meeting, forget thebinder

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10 commandments of prospecting for insuranceagents

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5 steps to holiday prospecting

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Bryce Sanders

Bryce Sanders, president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc., has provided training for the financial services industry on high-net-worth client acquisition since 2001. He trains financial professionals on how to identify prospects within the wealthiest 2%-5% of their market, where to meet and socialize with them, how to talk with wealthy people and develop personal relationships, and how to transform wealthy friends into clients. Bryce spent 14 years with a major financial services firm as a successful financial advisor, two years as a district sales manager and four years as a home office manager. He developed personal relationships within the HNW community through his past involvement as a Trustee of the James A. Michener Art Museum, Board of Associates for the Bucks County Chapter of the Fox Chase Cancer Center, Board of Trustees for Stevens Institute of Technology and as a church lector. Bryce has been published in American City Business Journals, Barrons, InsuranceNewsNet, BenefitsPro, The Register, MDRT Round the Table, MDRT Blog, accountingweb.com, Advisorpedia and Horsesmouth.com. In Canada, his articles have appeared in Wealth Professional. He is the author of the book “Captivating the Wealthy Investor.”