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Dan Richards

It's not always the bold strategic initiatives that pay dividends; rather, executing the little things makes a big difference.

In the fall of 2010 I ran a workshop for advisors in which I discussed a regular focus on a short list of high priority prospects. An attendee described how he'd used this idea last year as the jumping off point to add 15 minutes to his Monday morning team meeting – and doubled the number of new clients.

Three parts are now on the agenda for his weekly team meeting, in a section is called "hot list review."

Part 1 - Progress in the past week

First, this advisor and his team talk about one to three prospects who were identified for follow up at last week's meeting.  For each prospect who was highlighted, whoever was responsible for follow up (most often the advisor himself) leads a short discussion of what happened and any next steps arising from this.

Part 2 - To do in the coming week

Next, all members of the team review the "prospect hot list," typically consisting of 10 to 15 priority prospects who have shown interest over the past while. Prospects could have displayed this interest by attending an event this advisor put on for clients, via casual conversation at a community event or by a positive response during a phone conversation or meeting; they could also have been introduced by an existing client or a professional referral source.

The prospect hot list consists of five columns:

  1. Prospect name:
  2. Hot buttons:
  3. Last contact:
  4. Possible follow up:
  5. Follow up responsibility:

The advisor and his team go through each name on the hot list, identifying opportunities to get in touch with them in the coming week. They then assign responsibility for follow up based on prospects' hot button concerns and new developments, materials or resources that respond to those concerns. Hot buttons could include investment related topics such as market valuations, interest rate forecasts, volatility and portfolio risk, diversification opportunities, global investing or opportunities in alternative investments or specific stocks or sectors; they could also include broader wealth management issues related to tax or estate planning or charitable giving strategies.

This advisor's goal is to walk out of each meeting with at least one prospect for follow up, with something concrete and specific to draw to their attention.