The Three Minutes that Cost a Million-Dollar Prospect

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.Dan Richards

Small investments of time often pay big dividends. That message was agonizingly clear to an advisor who wasted several minutes having a coffee at a Starbucks, when he should have been preparing for the prospect he was about to meet.

Being a financial advisor can be a roller coaster – one week you get a referral that leads to a terrific new client, the next you lose a long-standing relationship for reasons entirely beyond your control. A recent call from a successful advisor looking for advice reminded of the fine line between success and failure.

An engineer by training, Bob came into the investment industry 15 years ago; today he runs a growing practice focused on mid- and high-level corporate executives in the tech and manufacturing industries. Last fall, he invited top clients to a market outlook lunch at a private room at a top local restaurant. He asked clients interested in attending to call him directly to discuss specific questions they wanted to address.

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Bob sent out 50 invitations and had about 15 clients say yes, over twice his typical response to sandwich lunches. (A free meal shouldn’t make a difference to million-dollar clients, but experience shows that it does.) After talking on the phone to the clients attending about what they’d like to cover, he mentioned that while this lunch was primarily for existing clients, he did have a few extra spots and asked if they had one friend or co-worker who might be interested in attending as their guest.

Capitalizing on an opening

A client in a senior role at a mid-sized tech company brought along a work colleague – let’s call his guest Jim. Both the existing client and Jim had substantial equity in their firm. While neither were huge clients currently, they both represented very significant future potential.

The lunch went well with lots of interaction and discussion. Next morning, Bob called his client to get his impressions of the lunch and also to get permission to follow up with Jim. While that follow-up call was politely received, Jim begged off an immediate meeting due to travel and work pressures, but did agree that Bob could add him to his monthly email list and then follow up in January.

Bob connected with Jim early in the new year and they agreed to meet for a casual conversation over a mid-morning coffee at a Starbucks across the street from Jim’s office. Bob got there early to ensure that they got a table in the corner and was waiting when Jim arrived.