How to stake out prospects

By Bryce Sanders | January 28, 2013 | Last updated on September 21, 2023
3 min read

If you’re a Seinfeld fan you’ll remember Jerry and George staking out the lobby of a law firm in one of the early episodes. Jerry had met a lovely lawyer at a dinner party but missed a chance to get her number. What he did manage to find out was where she worked.

Jerry was hoping to catch her at the elevator when she went to lunch, and would claim he just happened to be in the building for a meeting with his non-existent importer-exporter friend, Art Vandelay. The scheme worked flawlessly.

Using a variation of the Seinfeld stakeout is an easy and fun way to meet prospective clients – and it works. A bank president I interviewed told me he used this method back in his days as a loan officer. He still uses it today.

Read: Can someone else find your clients?

The after-work drink

If you stop off for a drink on the way home from work, choose a bar that will attract the type of prospect you want to cultivate.

If you’re looking to get more attorneys in your book, find a bar in the lobby of a high rise that houses a big law firm. I know an advisor who frequents the cafeteria of a major hospital – what better place to meet doctors and medical professionals?

Become a regular at the bar, visiting at least three times a week. (But don’t develop a drinking problem!) Dress well and take a stool at the bar, but don’t talk business right away. The other regulars will absorb you into the group.

An advisor in my area would stop for after-work drinks at a bar near the local courthouse. One evening someone approached him and said, “I know who you are and what you do. Something has changed in my life. Can I transfer some funds to you?” He wasn’t looking for business – it came to him.

Read: Teach young advisors to prospect

Want to speed the process along? Start conversations and tactfully bring up business. But don’t come across as pushy.

The working lunch

Small- and medium-sized business owners make excellent prospects. Where do they eat lunch? Not the company dining room – there isn’t one. Not behind their desk – too many interruptions. Not in restaurants – takes too long.

Many eat in coffee shops and luncheonettes.

Find an area with a high concentration of small businesses. Have breakfast at a coffee shop in the area and visit one of the local luncheonettes daily. But choose carefully: they have to have a counter with stools. Fancy coffee shops and fast food restaurants don’t work.

Sit at the counter and talk to the people next to you. Get to know the regulars, like the police chief, lawyers and local business owners. Become part of the eatery’s social fabric.

Read: Tips for attracting new business

The bank president I spoke with explained the rationale: “Country clubs have unwritten social barriers. But everyone talks to everyone in the coffee shop.”

They now know who you are and what you do, and are comfortable with you. They’ll probably walk over and bring up business. The bank president explained he did lots of business this way. Regulars would say, “See that guy over there? He’s the president of the bank!” Another replies, “He’s the bank president and he eats in the same place I do? He must be a down-to-earth kind of guy. I’m going to ask him about a loan!”

Bryce Sanders

Bryce Sanders is President of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. in New Hope, PA. His book “Captivating the Wealthy Investor” is available on