How to Convert Prospects into Leads: A 5 Step Process for Financial Advisors

8 min read
July 14, 2016

Over the past four months, I’ve converted 76% of my prospects into clients.

It’s been mentioned on XYPN Radio that if you’re converting more than one out of three prospects that you’re probably not charging enough. But I wouldn’t call myself “cheap.” I charge based on a percentage of income, and my hourly rate for those 76% averages $210 per hour.

I don’t say this to brag. I say this because the thinking goes that if your conversion rate is high, then you must be underpriced. That may be true in some cases, but doesn’t have to be.

The real reason I’m sharing this is if talented, honest advisors were able to convert more prospects into clients, we would be able to help more people live the lives they truly want and make the world a better place because of it.

Imagine - how many more lives could you impact if you doubled the number of prospects you turned into clients?

How Do You Communicate Your Value?

Think of a recent prospect who came to you, whom you truly believed you could help, but weren’t able to turn into a client. Even though you knew you could help that person, they weren’t able to see the value you could provide.

Think of the change you could have made in their life, helping them make tangible progress towards their dreams and goals. What could they have achieved with your help? How would you have moved them towards financial freedom and ultimately a fulfilled life?

I ask these questions because that’s why we do what we do: to help people discover what is important to them and use their money to turn those things into reality.

Yes, converting more prospects will allow you to make more money. But that’s a byproduct of a process, not the goal.

If you can increase the amount of lives you impact, the money will come.

So, the question is: how do you turn more prospects into clients, make more money, increase your impact and create a better world?

Follow these five steps and all your dreams will come true!!

Just kidding. But seriously – these are five things that have allowed me to better serve my prospects/clients and build a business that I’m really enjoying:

  1. Have a targeted message & marketing
  2. Be committed to the process, not attached to the result.
  3. Help prospects with the issues they have NOW.
  4. Be comfortable with the uncomfortable
  5. Sell the outcome, not the process

Here’s how you can use these steps to better your own financial planning firm.

Know Your Niche

This is where it all starts. Knowing who you want to work with and communicating that clearly will pull your ideal clients to you. This top-of-the-funnel work is the first step you need to take to substantially increase your conversions.

If you’ve ever listened to XYPN Radio, Alan and Michael have beat this drum more times than I can count, but it’s because IT’S CRITICAL!

The more targeted your marketing is and the better you’ve defined your niche, the more “ideal prospects” you’ll have approaching your doorstep.

This is important because it takes time (and therefore money) to screen prospects and have complimentary calls with people who aren’t a good fit to begin with. Honor your time and the time of potential prospects by being crystal clear in your communication about who you serve, why you are the best person to serve them and how.

Mapping your marketing funnel is the first step towards developing an effective  marketing strategy and a valuable tool for evaluating the health of an existing  strategy. Download our template to get started!

What does this idea look like in practice?

The name of my company is Be Awesome Not Broke. Right off the bat, that “clever” name turns some people away. My company name, my story, my use of 8-bit graphics – none of it speaks to someone looking for help with retirement, so they don’t call me as prospects.

They do often chuckle when they hear the name Be Awesome Not Broke, however, and refer their kids to my blog.

The more you occupy a specific space in people’s minds by being unique in your marketing and unequivocally yourself in your messaging, the better prospects you’ll get and the higher your conversions will be.

You’ll also have more time. Win-win-winner, chicken dinner.

Be Committed to the Process, Not Attached to the Result

Let’s be honest: knowing your niche and creating targeted marketing takes a while. In the meantime, you’re probably fielding calls from people who still aren’t the right fit.

When you’re starting out (in the first year or two), it can be tempting to say yes to those prospects who aren’t the best fit. When money is tight, or simply flying out the door, it can be tempting to say yes “just this once.”

Trust me - I’ve been in business for less than a year so I know this struggle is all too real.

Yet it is crucial that you don’t take on people who are a bad fit. Not only will you be unhappy and spend too much time bending over backwards for a client doesn’t fit your model, you’ll also be doing the client a disservice since you aren’t the best person to help them.

Be committed to your process of screening prospects. Make sure that you only say yes to those you want to work with and whom you can best serve. Don’t get attached to the result of whether they ultimately say yes to working with you or not.

If you realize during a prospect meeting that you can’t help that person with what they need, refer them to someone who can.

If you want to help that person but know there’s an advisor out there who would better serve their needs, have them talk to that advisor as well.

If the prospect ultimately chooses to go somewhere else, that doesn’t go down as a loss. It goes down as a karmic win, and reinforces your habit of respecting your process and always having the prospect’s best interest in mind.

In addition, this will lead to you only working with those you truly want to work with. That will increase your confidence in what you do, which translates into you doing better work, which attracts more ideal clients to you, etc.

And who knows? That prospect who wasn’t a good fit may even refer a friend to you down the road because you honored who your true ideal client is, and ultimately put their interest ahead of yours.

Listen for What They Need Right Now

When meeting with a prospect, listen for the problem they want to have fixed right now.

What’s the reason they picked up the phone and called you? What got them to such a place that they are willing to talk to a stranger about their issues with money?

Their problem may just be a small part of what you do. You may be able to offer them so much more. They may think their problem is overwhelming and their biggest block, while you know it’s just the first step of many they’ll need to take.

Yet in that moment, none of that matters. It’s not relevant that you’re a tax/estate/college planning expert if they’re calling you about cash flow problems.

They may ultimately need to focus on those things, and you’d do a damned good job of helping them, but right now listen and address their most pressing pain point.

I work with people specifically around cash flow management, budgeting and paying down debt. These are people who often spend more money than they make and have an acute, immediate need.

What the prospects are worried about is whether I can help them take away the pain they’re feeling – that’s it. Our job is to listen, understand what that pain is, and then speak directly to it.

Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

Read this section carefully! Then re-read it again for good measure.

When you are talking to a prospect about a pain in their life they want help fixing, it’s an emotional conversation. This is something that person has probably struggled with for a while, and has all these feelings of guilt, anxiety, stress and embarrassment floating around the topic.

It can get uncomfortable when a prospect really feels those emotions and is on the verge of crying. Yet this is when they are truly beginning to feel the impact of their habits, behaviors and what has gotten them there.

Instead of rushing through (because it can be uncomfortable) and moving onto something more familiar like your “process,” you instead need to stay with them and lean into those raw emotions.

Why? Because it’s important that persons sits with their pain. For them to want to change, you need to help them understand what their pattern of behavior has cost them in the past, is currently costing them, and will continue to cost them if they don’t take action.

This is not about manipulating people’s emotions. It’s about helping them see what it has cost them and will continue to cost them if they don’t take action.

But, as with most things, it can be used both for good and for ill. This is why you must always have the prospect’s best interests in mind, and why it’s so important to be committed to helping them (the process), but not attached to them becoming a client (the result).

By sitting in this uncomfortable space with the prospect, they’ll realize that their behavior can no longer continue. They’ll see that if they want to live the life they truly want, they’ll have to commit to change, and this can only be done if they understand the real cost of their actions.

Once they understand why they need to change (because of past/present/future costs), they will be committed to doing whatever it takes to make that transformation.

And committed clients are ultimately what you want to have your business consist of.

Show Them Their Possibility, Not Your Process

If you can show a prospect the cost of their habits and have them truly understand that cost, it doesn’t matter (in terms of getting a prospect to say yes) what your processes are and how you help them.

They just want to know that they’ve been heard and that you understand what they’ve been going through.

A question I love to ask is “Imagine we are having this conversation a year from now, and you were no longer worried about X or Y. Describe to me where you would be in life and how it would feel.”

This is important because you can’t just have them feel the pain and then leave them there – you have to have them see what’s possible by painting them a picture.

But resist the urge to jump into exactly how you will help them fix their pain, the fancy tools you will use, and how your X number of meetings on Y topics will help them get there. You first must help them paint that picture and get excited about what is possible.

Once they can see the possibility, then it is time to move on to your process: “Now that you know what this pattern has been costing you and are committed to creating this awesome possibility you just told me about, would it be okay if I shared with you how I think I can help you do that?”

But only after you’ve respected your process, sat with them in the pain, gotten them to share and commit to a vision is it time to talk about you.

By incorporating the above steps into what you do, I promise you will see a jump in not just the number of people who work with you, but the number of right people who work with you.

So, try it! Let me know how it goes for you: what comes easy, where you struggle and what feedback you get. I hope that by doing these things you will be able to serve more people, earn more money and ultimately make the world a better place.

Map your marketing strategy and get traction with clients

Garrett PhilbinAbout the AuthorGarrett Philbin is a Money Coach and the founder of Be Awesome Not Broke, where he teaches people how to use money in a way that lets them lead purposeful, meaningful and Awesome lives. He is the Public Relations director for the Financial Planning Association of New York, and oversees marketing for the Financial Fitness Workshop committee.

Giving back is an integral part of Be Awesome Not Broke’s mission, so Garrett donates 10% of his income each month towards causes that resonate. If you have any charities that you love and want others to support, send him an email telling him why they’re awesome and he’d love to add the charity to his list!


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