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Prospecting Techniques That Work

Use these Circle of Friends techniques to gain more senior clients.

By Kerry Johnson, M.B.A., Ph.D.

In a tough economy, a major problem is prospecting. So what is the best way of gaining contacts and booking appointments with affluent seniors?

Let’s consider the example of Warren, who was great at seminars. In 2003, all he had to do was send out a 5,000-piece mailing and wait for a response. A consistent 1 percent rate helped him predict exactly how many seniors would attend. Fifty confirmations would result in 20 appointments.

But that was 2003. Now Warren is lucky to get four people to attend a free dinner. At $4,000 a seminar, it wouldn’t be long before Warren was out of the business of providing free dinners to attract seniors for appointments.

In a recent study, 89 percent of clients cared more about their advisor relationship than the market return.

The Circle of Friends technique
Warren had nearly 200 “B” and 100 “A” clients. Luckily, he had kept in contact using the three-month call script. Most clients were grateful for the calls that Warren made. In a recent University of Connecticut study, 89 percent of clients said they cared more about their advisor relationship than the market return.

We decided to test Warren’s relationships. Warren called a small part of his A and B client list and asked if they would like to attend a special client dinner. Warren would speak about the economy, how the mess started and what was likely to happen in the next three to six months.

There would be a local college string quartet playing during dinner, and prizes would be given. Would they like to attend? Seventy percent said, “Yes.” Warren asked his clients if they knew someone who would enjoy dinner and benefit from Warren’s investment market briefing. Fifty percent gave him names on the spot. Warren then asked for the contact information and said he would send the invitations to the guest and follow up. Seventy percent of the guests accepted the invitation. Warren asked those who could not make it to the event to meet with him individually.

The results
Thirty-five clients attended, along with an equal number of guests. Twenty-eight guests booked appointments and 25 guests decided that Warren was the right advisor for their money. Warren earned $250,000 in fees and commissions over the next few weeks from that one meeting.

But then came the “bump.” One of his clients who attended the seminar and booked an appointment with Warren received a $1 million inheritance three months earlier from a wealthy aunt. He asked Warren what to do with it. The client wanted to keep it safe, and Warren made $80,000 in the process. A client event that cost $35 a head made Warren $330,000 in commissions and fees.

Events you can organize
There are several types of Circle of Friends events you can organize:

  1. The big Circle of Friends dinner
  2. The Hybrid Circle of Friends dinner. This involves inviting your clients to a cold prospect group.
  3. The Mini Circle of Friends dinner. Here, you invite an affluent senior couple and ask them to also invite four of their friends to a special briefing.
  4. You can also organize a Circle of Friends event and raffle off prizes for referral names.
These are events that your clients will enjoy. More importantly, they will give you the names of their friends if you ask them.

Kerry Johnson, M.B.A., Ph.D., is a best-selling author and frequent speaker at financial planning and insurance conferences around the world. One of his coaching programs, Peak Performance Coaching, promises to increase your business by 80 percent in eight weeks. Take a free evaluation test at to see if you are a candidate for this system. Call 800-883-8787 for more information.


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