Attracting clients with whom you can forge a strong relationship is a question of compatibility.

    If you and your clients don’t have the shared values and interests to hit it off you may still have a beneficial relationship, but it is far less likely to be long-term and deeply beneficial for your firm. Surrounding yourself with the wrong clients could lead your firm down a costly path.

    By wasting time on the wrong people you risk missing out on some of your best clients. Sometimes the prospects who will one day blossom into your most fruitful clients may take some convincing. If you’re not sure who your high value prospects are, they might slip through the net while you’re wasting your precious time with the wrong person.

    There’s a common misconception that the more clients you attract, the better. But as much as you may want to increase your client base, populating your client list with the wrong people is going to harm your business in the long run.

    If you pick up clients who are badly suited to your firm, chances are you won’t be able to provide as excellent a service as you normally would. They may end up dissatisfied with your firm, and could damage your brand reputation through negative word-of-mouth comments or, even worse, bad online reviews.

    The right clients

    Avoid barking up the wrong tree by aiming at the right prospects.

    One way to do this is to develop a marketing persona. Marketing personas are fictional representations of your perfect client, based on your previous experience. They should embody the personality traits of the clients you want to attract.

    If you want to make your personas more accurate, you could consider doing your own primary or secondary market research. To develop a more accurate marketing persona, you should try to get an idea of the following:

    • Approximate age and location
    • Gender
    • Their lifestyle
    • Assets and income
    • What they want from an adviser
    • How you can help them
    • Challenges they face
    • Common objections they have to your service
    • What messages you should try to target them with

    Get to know this persona well. Imagine you are addressing this persona the entire time throughout your marketing. This will make your marketing target the people you want. It should also mean the clients you don’t want will (hopefully) realise your firm is not for them.

    Qualifying out

    Qualifying out means walking away from a potential client when they are already in the pipeline. This might seem antithetical to the point of sales, but is actually an effective way of preserving your firm’s integrity.

    Learning when to qualify out appropriately is always tough because you have to consciously lower your conversion rate in the short run. When you qualify out a lead already in the sales funnel, you are likely to feel a nagging doubtful voice saying: "What if I’d kept on a bit longer?"

    Qualifying out will likely always carry a shadow of what might have been. However, there are a couple of simple measures you can take to qualify out at the right time:

    1. Continuous questioning. Try to continually assess every client opportunity before it has reached fruition to get a handle on whether it's worth continuing to invest your time into it. Just because it seemed worthwhile to continue yesterday doesn’t mean it will be today.
    2. Create an assessment method and qualification criteria. The expression ‘follow your heart’ is rarely wise to take at face value in your professional life. Using an explicit assessment method and qualification criteria will make you less reliant on your intuition and enable you to make a rational decision.

    Both marketing according to your client persona and qualifying your leads will help you avoid wasting your resources on clients who won’t deliver the most to your firm.

    Like it or not, advice is a two-way process. For clients to get the most from your business, they are going to need to open up about the financial worries that keep them awake until 3am. If your clients are uncooperative, it will be much harder for you to do your job effectively.

    Identifying which clients will help you build your firm to become even stronger is an important tenet of success, if often an underappreciated one. If it isn’t already something you focus on, maybe it should be. 

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