Land more clients this year: Tips to up your prospecting game

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So you've met someone who seems amazing, just the kind of person you'd want to become your client. 

Now comes the tricky part: How do you get them to commit to a relationship with you? 

As in other relationships in life, embarking upon a new beginning is often the hardest part for many financial advisors. But with a new year upon us, and the need to drive organic growth being ever-present, there's no better time for advisors to rethink how they win new clients

READ MORE: 4 New Year's resolutions financial advisors are making for 2024 

Potential clients often consider big financial commitments when a new year rolls around, and therefore may need advice, according to Yelena Melamed, the co-founder and head of product at Catchlight. Catchlight, a Boston-based startup incubated out of Fidelity Labs, uses data organized by artificial intelligence to help advisors with lead engagement and conversion. 

"It's an interesting time of year," Melamed said in an interview. "People tend to internally focus and start to think about, 'What do I want to change, what do I want to do into 2024 and beyond?' And start to formulate the need to potentially partner with an advisor." 

So those potential clients may be looking for you, too. However, Melamed said, a common challenge she's noticed for advisors is that they "have very little organized thinking" on which leads to engage first, and how to efficiently personalize pitches to stand out. 

Below, Financial Planning spoke with three experts from across the industry on how to seize the moment this year and succeed in creating more client relationships out of leads and prospects.

Lean into the power of testimonials

For industry marketing expert Diana Cabrices, one of the best ways that advisors can either attract more leads or win them over as clients is through the power of testimonials.  

"It is such a powerful form of social proof that advisors can deploy across multiple channels creatively," Cabrices said of testimonials in an email. "If advisors want to win business and convert more prospects in 2024, they must get with the 2024 times and begin incorporating testimonials within their marketing." 

She added that advisors should consider setting up testimonials in multiple channels — not just the website, but also social media, paper brochures and flyers, email signatures and newsletters. 

"To ensure compliance, advisors can send an email to all their clients asking for a review, whether that's simply 'reply and share' or 'write me a review on my profile on this certified advisor review platform,'" she said. "This creates an immediate compliance log and archives this outreach, ensuring they don't appear to be 'cherry-picking' any specific clients, favoring those who may have had better experiences with them."

Cabrices is the chief evangelist at Wealthtender, a Houston-based independent lead-generation firm for advisors, and chief evangelist at White Glove, a Troy, Michigan-based marketing firm for financial advisors that specializes in seminar marketing.  

Connect with prospects on their whole-life interests

Instead of jumping straight into talk about the lead's financial goals, Melamed said, advisors should consider approaching them through their personal life and seeing how their interests or passions could fit into their big-picture financial life — priming them to commit later as clients.  

For example, if the prospect's parent has just died, it may seem clear that estate planning goals are an important thing for that individual to consider. "But an advisor reaching out to me squarely talking about those things doesn't necessarily predispose me to open up," she said. 

Instead, for instance, if the advisor also learned about the prospect's interests — travel, fishing, golf and tennis are just a few common interests Melamed cited — they can approach that person to talk about what brings them joy and meaning in life, and what's really important to them that they might also want to financially plan around. If the lead has school-aged children and wants to budget for multiple family trips, for instance, it's something to balance with those official financial goals and discuss as well. 

"Any conversation, especially one that requires someone to earn trust, has to be formed on personalized relationships of individuals." 

Invest in quality relationships with centers of influence

For financial advisor Sandra Cho, the founder and president of boutique wealth management firm Pointwealth Capital Management in Encino, California, sometimes the most powerful relationship building with a prospect happens on your behalf before you even meet them — through referrals from an advisor's existing clients, and from centers of influence. 

COIs, as they are called, can be estate planning lawyers or accountants, for instance, and they can be a strong source of good referrals, Cho said. 

However, advisors should make clear what kind of client is a good fit for them to ensure the referral is likely to work out, and cultivate a strong relationship with such COIs to ensure they trust the advisor — taking care to reciprocate with referrals to them when appropriate, she said. 

"The main thing is … to be that voice and ear for their financial concerns," she said. "Be there and make yourself available for financial and investment questions that that COI may have, for clients that are not your clients. For questions that they might have, even on a personal basis."

Pointwealth affiliates with hybrid RIA Golden State Wealth Management which is based in South Coast Metro, California, and affiliates with independent broker-dealer LPL Financial.