This article was originally published on ThinkAdvisor.
It would be great if people did business on your timetable. If you needed 100 of the right clients to build a successful practice, wouldn’t it be great if you could make 100 phone calls, schedule 100 meetings and open 100 new accounts? We all know life doesn’t work that way. I found being politely persistent can deliver results.
Polite persistence means staying on the prospect’s radar screen without being annoying. We’ve all had the marketer who sends a sales-related email every day until we finally click “Unsubscribe.” Yet we also have experienced the opposite in our own lives. When it’s time to buy something or take action, one name comes to mind.
That’s the effect you want to create with prospects. This is a longer-term strategy, but it’s employed with many, many prospects. You know if you have enough data points, they often distribute along a bell-shaped curve. (I got a “D” in statistics in college, but I remember that much.) Some prospects will be ready to act on your timetable. Some will never pull the trigger. The vast majority fit within that big bulge in the middle.
Does Polite Persistence Work? Some
A California advisor gained a company retirement plan via a phone call he received from a friend. He makes it a standard practice to ask: “Why did you choose me?” The person replied. “You stayed on our radar. You weren’t intrusive. When it was time to make a decision, you were the first name that came to mind.”
It’s always important to let people know what you want. You need to circle back and invite them to do business every so often. The advisor approached a fellow member at his club. The guy said: “I was wondering when you would approach me. Yes, I would like to become a client.” Naturally, he asked why he didn’t speak up first. The guy said: “I know all the big people around here work with you. I assumed I was too small. I only have (large number)!”
There’s a cautionary lesson, too. A California advisor befriended a wealthy fellow yet didn’t ask for business. One day, the guy said: “The thing I like best about you is you never ask for business! There’s this other guy. He’s always after me! I finally threw him (very large number) just to get him off my back. Thank goodness you never do that!” I think this advisor changed his approach.
You want to actively stay on the radar of many, many people. It helps keep the pipeline filled.
1. Communicate regularly.
You might do it via your e-newsletter, LinkedIn posts or personalized emails. Keep your name in front of people. I’ve seen advisor newsletters that include recipes aligned to an upcoming holiday.
2. Keep it simple.
Many people simply want to know what the stock market did and why it did it this week. If they want more detail, they can click on a link and get it. The weekly email reporting month-to-date performances gives them a clue what their month-end statement values might look like. Every week I receive a short email from an advisor whose message is usually: “steady as it goes.” They know they shouldn’t be getting worried if he isn’t telling them to worry.
3. Always bring something new and valuable.
One of the LinkedIn groups I visit has a member who posts “Throwback Thursdays” every week. It’s about an example of technology that came and went, yet is still familiar to most of us. In a few paragraphs he explains how it came about, what it did, what it cost and why it went away. It’s unique because I find myself looking for it every Thursday.
4. Engage with them.
There are plenty of marketing systems that are untouched by human hands. If you send a message back, it never gets a personal reply. It might get a “like.” I connected with a person on LinkedIn and started sending a message with a weekly article link. She replied. I messaged her back and thanked her. She came back with “Wow! There’s an actual person behind these messages!” We message much more frequently.
5. Be where they are (virtually).
You post to LinkedIn. You send messages. You post to groups. It’s tempting to say: “I won’t send a message. They probably saw this article already.” Your outlook should be the opposite. If they see it two or three times, they start to recognize your name.
6. Be where they are (physically).
Let’s assume social and community events return sooner rather than later. You know local people who are movers and shakers. You want them as clients. Turn up at the same events. Walk over and say hello. Remind them where they saw you last. Wear something that aligns to your profession, like a lapel pin or a discretely logoed item. If you politely say: "You might not remember me…" they will often counter: "Of course I remember you!" You are getting onto their radar.
7. Remember the rule of six.
The first sentence of the article talked about 100 calls, 100 clients. You know it’s not that easy. People need to hear your name or see you at least six times before you get onto their radar screen. Yes, persistence is a virtue.
8. Share success stories.
They might know your name. They might know where you work. They don’t know what you do or more importantly, how you can help them. When they ask: “How’s business?” hear the question as “How have you helped someone recently?” Share short, anonymous success stories. Gradually, you are getting your message across.
9. The phone message strategy.
The above strategy can be reinforced by the person answering your office phone. When you aren’t available, keep them updated on what you are doing. “She’s not available because she is meeting with a client helping set up a college savings plan for their new grandchild.” Gradually, people learn more about your range of services.
10. Let them know what you want.
You hope you will be able to help them someday. You help people with problems (A), and (B) you’ve helped others. You might help them, too. You are glad to answer general questions. Helping people with this problem is what you do. You will know from the verbal clues they give when the times comes to approach them in an even more direct manner.
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