Once your client has given you a reference who she thinks you can help, it’s time to connect with the prospect. In some cases the client may agree to call and invite the prospect to a meeting or event; other times you may just have a name. Advisers often start on a social footing to help the prospect feel comfortable (meal, social event, etc.) before moving to the business conversation.
If you do progress into these conversations, use the steps below to maximize the productivity of your prospect meetings.
- Learn about the referred prospect – Depending on the depth of the relationships involved, you may be able to learn essential information from the referrer. How did your name come up in conversation? Was there anything specific that caused the prospect to raise the issue? Does your client have a sense of what the friend is looking for? What is the current situation, prospect’s personality type or names of other potential decision makers involved? Get the answers of these questions to know your referred prospect well.
- Decide the goal of the meeting – If the referring client and prospect have already talked and the prospect wants to have a business conversation with you, do not jump for such meetings. You initially need to know the clients well so having a business conversation directly may not yield desired results. In this situation, you can set up an introduction meeting – such as a lunch or any other place – which is strictly for getting to know each other with no business discussed. You will likely find that more than one may be required before business is discussed.
- Identify your strengths relative to the prospect’s situation – What is the basis for you to suggest a meeting in the first place? How do you propose to add value for the prospect? This will often come out in your conversation with the referring client. Other times you may need to do some research or rely on the introduction meeting to uncover this. Focus on your strengths that can be useful while interacting with the prospect. For instance, if you like telling stories, share with them useful case studies to make them understand easily.
- Identify your weaknesses relative to the prospect’s situation – If you do get the opportunity for a conversation, what barriers might you run into? Does the prospect have needs you are ill-equipped to handle? Have they had bad experiences with other advisors? Conversely, do they have a strong relationship with their current advisor? Or this maybe their first time while dealing with an advisor. Knowing these factors will help you to create a better impression among your prospect.
Source: Raymond James, a US based advisory firm.