Business occasionally comes to you, but most of the time you have to compete for new clients by establishing yourself as a better alternative. How do you make this happen?
Your long-term plan is to join the clubs and organizations that will help you become part of your prospects’ world. But you need a short-term strategy as well. Here are five ideas.
1. Short Lists
You have clients and friends in your target market. Break down your list of hundreds into lists of 10 names, grouped by neighborhood, firm or organization. Sit down with friends from time to time and ask them to help.
What you say: “This is the type of person I would like to get to know. Would you introduce me socially?”
What you don’t say: “She’s really rich. Would you refer me?”
Why it works: Friends may play golf together. Their children may attend the same schools. Arranging a social introduction is easy.
2. Seminar Invitations
If these prospects have money it’s likely they have problems. They live in a concentrated area. Plan a series of monthly seminars on topics of interest and mail out invitations.
What to do: Send hard cardstock wedding-style invitations in handwritten envelopes with an actual stamp attached.
What not to do: Send white paper photocopied flyers in business envelopes with address stickers and postage machine imprints. And don’t rely on e-mail or electronic invites.
Why it works: You earn name recognition. A Midwest manager I know explains: “Worried people attend seminars.” You’ll position yourself as an expert in the field.
3. Company Research
You probably have clients who work for publicly traded companies. If your firm does research reports on them, send the clients letters asking if they’d like you to forward the reports. You could also widen the net and offer research on other stocks they own.
Read: Charm wealthy prospects
What to do: Mail a personalized letter on letterhead using their correct titles. Include a postcard to make responding simple, ideally with a return mail imprint.
What not to do: Send a letter making the offer and asking them to get in touch if interested.
Why it works: Executives and managers like to hear an outside point of view on their company’s prospects. Engage them in conversation later and offer research on competitor firms.
4. Relocation Package
Your executive client might be new in town. One advisor I know buys the local magazine bearing the city’s name, particularly the issue featuring top 10 lists. He sends it courier with a cover letter and follows up by phone.
What to do: Include in cover letter: “Welcome to (City). I hope you find this useful. I’ll call next week.”
What not to do: Cut corners by photocopying articles or sending via regular mail.
Why it works: The new executive needs to make lots of decisions quickly: Where to live, golf club to join, schools for children, etc. The magazine helps, and sending by courier makes you stand out. Gatekeepers remember these things, increasing chances the call gets through.
5. Call Them
Most successful people have done sales or marketing. They’ve developed respect for people who seek business and get to the point. Pick up the phone and introduce yourself.
What to do: Call before or after business hours to avoid screeners. Be professional and brief. Ask if they’re happy with their current advisory relationship. Draw them out.
What not to do: Read from a script and do all the talking.
Why it works: Sometimes you get lucky. Successful people are busy, and often they have a need but are too preoccupied to address it. They like face-to-face local relationships.