As a sole practitioner you don’t have a team to help you reel in new clients. But this doesn’t mean you have to rely on cold calling. These four strategies will enable you to find and cultivate the types of clients you want in your book.
Strategy #1: The Stakeout
Overview: You want business-owner clients? Find a part of town where they’re concentrated. Pick a coffee shop and a luncheonette. Have breakfast at one and lunch at the other every day.
Rationale: Business owners eat quickly, and this is where they go. Become part of the diner’s social fabric.
What do I do? Sit at the counter and talk to the people around you. Don’t push business, but be on the lookout for opportunities.
Alternative: Enjoy a drink before going home? Use the same strategy and pick a bar or restaurant likely to draw your prospects. Looking for lawyers? The building housing the big firm likely has a bar on the ground floor. Become a regular, sit at the bar and make friends.
Strategy #2: Co-Branded Seminars
Overview: Approach a local retailer selling expensive items—jewelers, furriers and car dealers—and suggest a joint event. They invite their clients, you invite yours.
Rationale: Their clients’ demographics make them good prospects for you, and vice versa. Your clients get to see top end jewelry or sit in high performance cars.
What do I do? Each of you shares the platform and speaks about your specialty. “How to buy diamonds” is followed by, “Do I have enough to retire?”
Caution: It’s a joint event so be sure they share the cost—you’re not inviting an accountant to present to your clients, providing them a stream of prospects with no upside for you.
Strategy #3: Alumni Association Seminars
Overview: Approach your alma mater and ask if you could hold a series of seminars open only to graduates. Topics could include college planning and funding your charitable commitments. Ask if you can use the alumni association’s logo on the invitations.
Rationale: Alumni chatting about charitable donations on their alma mater’s campus bodes well for the school. You get a pool of prospects.
What do I do? Invite all local alumni, but focus on successful business owners and professionals. And ask compliance about this: Is a graduate calling a fellow alum about an alumni association-sanctioned event open only to graduates an exception to the “Do Not Call” rules? It’s a warm call too.
Alternative: The school says no. Do you have a local alumni club? Are you active? Does it have speakers at luncheons? If so, make arrangements to give an identity theft seminar.
Strategy #4: Dissatisfaction Pays
Your friends know people who aren’t happy with their advisors.
Overview: After five difficult years most investors working with an advisor know if he’s good. Many aren’t.
Rationale: Referrals mean fresh money. But friends may be reluctant, fearing something could go wrong.
What do I do? Ask questions like, “Who do you know that works with an advisor and is dissatisfied with the relationship? I would be interested in talking with them.”
What’s next? Your acquaintance hears a friend complaining his advisor never returns calls. She mentions your name and firm and says, “I bet he would return your call.” With this she isn’t going out on a limb.