What’s the best way to prospect for new clients? Focus on keeping it simple.


Prospecting is the most difficult task when it comes to building our business — especially if we’re trying to figure out how to do it with more clients.

I was reading a book over the weekend called The Distraction-Proof Advisor by Paul Kingsman. He talks about how he prepared for the Olympic Games. As a swimmer, he said, training was simple, but it was not easy. A lot of people ask me, “How can I make prospecting easier?”

The answer is that we need to shift our focus like Paul Kingsman did. We need to talk about simplicity, not about making it easy. Paul talked about how training was simple. He had to be in the pool a certain number of hours. He had to lift weights a certain number of hours. He had to eat right to fuel his body. That’s not easy. But it is simple.

The same is true with prospecting. Let’s think about how we can make it simple. There are three steps to take:

  1. Referral Track: The first step is to really have a good referral track for every appointment — and for every time that you give someone value. Getting a referral isn’t just asking for the next person. You must have a real, clear image about who you want to build your business with over the next 10 years and you need to be able to paint that picture for the person you’re talking with. They need to be able to visualize your next-level referral.

  2. Automation: We have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of email addresses. They largely go unused. We need to make sure that we are implementing nurturing campaigns for existing clients to take them to additional products and additional services. For most of our clients, the first few products we showed them didn’t meet their needs. We persisted until we found the right solution. As financial professionals, we need to continue to nurture those relationships, to get more ingrained with our clients and continue to provide solutions.

  3. Technology: You may think that technology and automation are the same. I disagree. I consider automation the process. Technology is the tool to keep your client focused on you. How many times have you gone to or conducted a seminar and not been able to get the number of appointments you wanted? And, at the same time, not been able to get the clients back into the office? It makes holding a seminar seem like a waste of time and money. But today’s technology can change that. Now, consider employing geofencing to target your attendees. For 30-45 days following the seminar, they’ll receive targeted advertising reminding them of the problem that is still unsolved. And reminding them that you have answers.

Use the next week to focus on developing a solid referral track, learning about how automation can help nurture client relationships and using today’s technology tools to enhance your reach.


Transformational Tactic

Keep it simple.

high performing practice retirement simple prospecting

More Prospects to Meet


Our day-to-day activities pull us in different directions. Sometimes we feel like we are going 100 mph in a 55-mph speed zone and getting no where. We are servicing clients, preparing and monitoring financial plans, and listening to rapidly changing market conditions on the television in our office. We suddenly look up at the clock and the day is over. Repeat that often enough and we will look at our business in a couple of months to find that we don’t have any new prospects. Or a plan to grow our business.

We must always be finding ways to recruit new prospective clients if we want our business to grow. We need a consistent pipeline of individuals that have a problem that our expertise solves. Because we are already so busy with running the existing business, we don’t find time to devote to the key metric in our business – marketing. And, if we find the time to think about it, the marketing efforts we implement are general and not specific to a targeted audience. In some cases, we know that recruiting is such a vital activity that we outsource it to a 3rd party to “get me in front of more people.” We end up with the wrong clients and therefore compound our day-to-day activity problem. At the end of the day, we should be choosing whom we do business with instead of the other way around.

There has to be a better way. I suggest three simple changes to create an ongoing flow of high-quality people that want to speak to you due to your expertise.

1. Clarify your message. People make decisions on initial reactions. They don’t take the time to research anything about the quality of person behind the story. You must be crystal clear on what you do and for whom you will help.

2. Use technology properly. We all have websites. Even if there are chock full of pleasing graphics if they don’t produce results or show up in search engines they aren’t serving their purpose. Figure out how to use your existing email lists better while you clarify your message to your targeted audience. This saves time, money, and effort on your part. Don’t waste time weeding through everyone to get to the truly high value prospective client.

3. Make referrals a part of your presentation. Whenever you meet someone, you should ask what a good prospect looks like for them. In doing so, you have created value that will reap benefits down the road. Create a closing script that includes this verbiage to separate yourself from any competition.

It’s not easy to be clear and concise, especially in a complex financial services practice. However, if you follow our guidance using the StoryBrand seven-step framework, you can create an environment where you become a magnet instead of a megaphone. Stop wasting time and money on the outdated marketing strategies of yesterday. Instead, use a plan that brings the people that need you the most to your doorstep. Automation allows you to continually prospect, even during your busy day-to-day activities running a financial planning practice. The consistency of your message combined with automation lifts you to new levels, helps more Americans, and adds time for you to do the things that are important to you.

Transformational Tactic: Use technology and the right words to create a consistent flow of prospective clients to your firm.

high performing practice retirement prospecting

Jump-Starting Slumping Sales


I have always been told sales is similar to a teenager’s first car – if you turn the car off to get gas, you aren’t 100 percent sure it will start again. It inevitably does, but you really have to work at it.


The summer lull is over and many advisors tell me they don’t have a reason to contact their clients. The stock market continues to be bullish and clients aren’t complaining. Low interest rates don’t seem attractive enough to reach out to clients. There is a lot of complacency in our industry. 


Let me give you a few reasons to contact your clients right now:


Take the option to lock in some gains

The stock market has reached several all-time highs in recent months. There are many signs that the market growth has slowed, or it may be ready to turn to a bear market. Signs such as high P/E ratios and dividend yields resemble those pre-financial crisis. Talk to your clients about sweeping gains off their IRAs using a tax-free direct transfer and lock in the gains from the account. You can protect your clients from a potential bear market and still keep them linked (subject to caps) to equity indices or asset allocation strategies.

Reduce the risks of longevity in the portfolio

The number one fear of Americans remains living past their assets and not having enough income. You can reposition your client’s portfolio, maybe making the portfolio more efficient, by implementing a deferred income annuity strategy. This will help take some longevity risk off the portfolio by making sure your client has income for the rest of their life, irrespective of their asset values. 

Consider positioning bond portfolios against rising interest rates

Earlier this year, the 10-year Treasury reached an all-time low. While no one can predict when rates will rise, the Fed has signaled a potential increase in interest rate policy. This will eventually have a ripple effect on bond prices. Take the time to sit down with clients and talk about that risk. Annuities as short as a five-year duration provide higher yields than 30-year Treasuries as of today (Sept. 9, 2016). Now is a perfect time to diversify the interest rate risk and protect bond portfolio values. 


Those are just a couple of reasons you should call clients today. If they don’t start your sales engine, you might have to keep trying to start that old car. Too often, we get lazy as an industry and think that because our clients aren’t calling us they don’t want to hear from us. I challenge you to think differently. I suspect our clients want to hear from us. In fact, they probably think that’s why they are paying us – to reach out and lead them through the complexities of retirement income planning.


Winning Strategy

Don’t wait for clients to reach out with a difficult situation. Take the initiative to reach out to your clients now and give them options to protect their retirement income savings.  


About the Author

Mike McGlothlin is a tireless advocate for the retirement planning industry. As executive vice president of annuities at Ash Brokerage, he heads a team providing income planning solutions focused on longevity and efficiency. He’s also a thought leader who provides guidance and assistance for advisors and broker-dealers navigating marketplace and regulatory changes. You can find a collection of his blog posts in his book, “Above the Clouds … Winning Strategies from 30,000 Feet.”

Annuities Sales prospecting