“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” This has been attributed to Wayne Gretzky, the famous hockey star. It has applicability for financial advisors too. Let us look at reasons why you should ask for the order even when you feel the answer will be no.
Don’t successful advisors always ask for the order? Doesn’t the expression “ABC” stand for Always Be Closing? Most advisors build a pipeline of prospects. They might pull some names out because they feel the timing isn’t right. This brings us back to Wayne Gretzky’s quote: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
Let us look at 10 reasons why you should ask for the order, even if you think you will get a rejection.
1. The timing is never going to be ideal. Years ago, I met a California advisor who was cultivating a friendship with a wealthy guy with “prospect potential.” They might talk about the market, but the advisor always held back because “The timing wasn’t right.” One day, the fellow told him about another advisor he knew. “This guy kept bothering me about doing business. I finally threw him a few million just to keep him quiet.” At this point the advisor probably felt they missed an opportunity, but it gets worse: They guy continued, “The thing I like about you is you are an advisor too, but you never ask for my business!” Imagine how the advisor must have felt!
Strategy: Do people understand how you help people? You need to remind them from time to time. Ask where they get their advice? Are they happy?
2. They might feel flattered. Social relationships have lots of dynamics. You might feel your account minimum size is a large amount of money for some prospects. It might be more than they have available. You do not want to embarrass them, so you do not ask.
Strategy: Ask anyway. Do not be apologetic. They might be flattered, thinking the social persona they present to the community implies they have that kind of cash looking for a home. They declined, but neither of you has lost face.
3. It establishes you want them as a client. This reason ties into the above example. Let us assume your friends do not know where your clients come from. Maybe they know you find them on your own, but you have a “full book” now and are not accepting new clients. You have heard about mutual funds that close to new clients. It’s the same logic.
Strategy: Even if they cannot qualify now, they might win the lottery or get an inheritance. By asking, you eliminate the “closed to new accounts” perception. You have established you want to do business, when they are ready.
4. Expect to be traded down. Your prospect might do business elsewhere. You assume all their money is tied up. You don’t ask because you assume the other advisor has efficiently centralized all their assets at their firm.
Strategy: They might not have the potential to be a huge account but treat them as if they were. You might ask for a large amount of assets and provide reasons why they should bring over such a large amount. They might buy into the idea but come back with a smaller amount they are willing to commit. Now you are negotiating.
5. You don’t see the entire picture. You have an idea of your friend’s financial condition. You know the type of car they drive and the price range and frequency of their vacations. You determine they don’t have a lot of money socked away.
Strategy: Ask anyway. They might have quietly received an inheritance. Their spouse might have brought money into the relationship but is quiet about it. They might be changing employers and receiving a large signing bonus. They might stay with the same employer but get a nice annual bonus.
6. They might know someone. It makes sense to sit down with friends and exchange stories about “what you do.” Your friend might already have an advisor. Have the conversation anyway.
Strategy: This discussion can feel awkward because they know you are looking for clients. Soften it with the third-party approach: “Now that you know what it is that I do, if you come across someone with (this problem) or (that problem) you will know how I may be able to help them.
7. Don’t assume “someone has to get fired.” This situation shows how prospecting is an art as well as a science. Let us assume you want prospects to open a new relationship with a minimum of $500,000 in assets. If they have $600,000 at another firm, “someone is getting fired” because it is difficult to pull so much money away. This might cause you to think “If they have another advisor, they are covered.”
Strategy: This is easier with larger prospects. It is hard for the $600,000 prospect to send over $500,000 in assets. Most people prefer to avoid confrontation. If the prospect has $5,000,000 and you want at least $500,000, that is a different story. They need to pull together cash from maturing bonds and CDs or sell a few underperforming stocks. There should be little or no confrontation.