Think You Don’t Have To Prospect? Think Again.


Why do you prospect? It’s a simple question that does not always have a simple answer, especially as you achieve success and the need for prospecting is not as readily apparent.

For new financial reps, the reason for prospecting is obvious: it’s your life blood. As the youngest advisor to qualify for Forum the first two times I qualified (Northwestern Mutual’s top advisor honor), I can tell you firsthand that prospecting is of vital importance in the first year.

Our industry has around an 80% failure rate for new reps in the business, and a large part of this is due to an unwillingness to continue to prospect. Quite simply, it doesn’t matter whether you are supremely knowledgeable, confident or influential; without people to call on, a new rep has no business.

However, once you’ve been in the business for three or four years, you’ve built some level of a self-sustaining business. You have enough current clients to see, over time they may be providing new leads, and therefore your relationship with prospecting and reason for doing it changes. If prospecting is no longer necessary to sustain your business at its current level, then why prospect?

Before I share this reason, I want to address a common misconception about prospecting. Many reps believe that prospecting is about generating as many names as possible and then pounding the phones until someone agrees to a meeting. There is some truth to this in the early stages of the career of a financial professional.

However, once you are past the first year of your career, prospecting is really about creating genuine referrals. These are not just names provided by your clients, family members or friends. Obtaining the name is just the start. A real referral is when someone introduces someone they care about to someone they trust. Honestly ask yourself, how many of your referrals meet that definition?

Prospecting is all about getting someone to nominate you so that you can get in front of their associates on a very favorable basis. That’s the art of prospecting, and it’s a major shift from the goal of simply maximizing the number of names on your list.

Think about it this way: If you were purchasing a car, wouldn’t you trust the car salesperson far more if your friend had already purchased a vehicle from him or her and raved about the experience? Similarly, as a financial professional, you want to be put in a position of trust rather than someone trying to meet a sales quota. When you have established trust, you will get referrals to potential clients as someone who will care about their interests. Now that’s a genuine referral.

With this in mind, the reason you prospect throughout your career is so that you can continue to work with more of your ideal clients and grow your business.

If you introduce me to a rep who is bored or whose career has stagnated, I guarantee you the reason is because he is bored of the cases he is working on. He is not being challenged anymore in his career and is not excited by it either. Professional prospecting can get you out of that rut so you can live your career and life by design and with intentionality.

You can regain that excitement and enjoyment in your career by taking control of your practice through prospecting. This is not about building a list of potential new clients. Instead, you identify your ideal clients – people who are engaging, enjoyable to work with and in your desired economic markets and careers. Then, through prospecting and referrals, you begin to incorporate these types of clients into your practice and grow your current business into your dream business.

This is a simple, yet transformational, concept and you may be wondering why more reps don’t do it. Part of the answer has to do with not having a proven prospecting system that accomplishes this goal and, at an even more instinctual level, it has to do with mindset. In future posts, we’ll take a closer look at both of these factors, showing how to prospect from an empowered mindset and my 8-step system for becoming a master prospector.

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