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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Business Development-How to Get the Types of Clients You Want

The title of this article is bad. It emphasizes what you want, but if you want to win specific new clients and win at business development, the focus needs to be on them. While this sounds simple enough, most professionals conduct their marketing without an understanding of their potential clients. We assume we know what they want but the assumption is often incorrect. So the first step is to know exactly what your potential clients, your prospects, value.

Take this simple example. What do business owners want? We assume they desire more profits, better cash flow, higher value for their business, and better quality employees. But top on their list may be to spend more time with their families. If you assume rather than KNOW what your target market desires, your business development efforts will flounder. Once you know what they really want, your marketing can be so much more effective because you can market a solution for what they really desire, not what you believe they desire.

To make your business development laser sharp, you have two ways to learn what prospects really want. You can contact ten potential clients and have a one-on-one interview with each. So that they will be open to you, decide to write an article for your State society or local chapter so that when you call your interview candidate, you frame the meeting correctly: “Stan, My name is Bob Richards. I am a financial planner here in town and I am writing an article for the local Financial Planning Association about the professional and personal challenges faced by CFOs of manufacturing firms. For my article, could I interview you and get your ideas over lunch on Friday?” This approach opens the prospect to truthful answers rather than leaves them guarded that their responses will come back to them in a business pitch.

You must conduct ten of these interviews to get a solid profile of your prospects as the foundation for your business development plan. Alternatively, you can conduct a focus group. To do this correctly, you want to read books on conducting focus groups or possibly hire a local market researcher with experience ( and are excellent sources of this type of specialized help for projects).

Now you know what your prospects desire. There are several ways to reach them so that you have the opportunity to explain how you can assist them to get what they want. The following recommendations may seem unconventional and that’s why they have value. Many people with financial planning backgrounds market passively and don't have the business development results desired (i.e. they rely on referrals). If you use the same passive and reactive tactics as everyone else, you won’t stand out as special and you won’t win business.

The Best Business Development-WIN Client Referrals—don’t wait for them

Identify current clients that are either part of the group you desire as clients or can introduce you. Once you do, call them and ask them for help. “Tom, I am always working to improve the quality of my services and determine what people really want. Can I ask you what you like working about me best? (Write down everything your client says). I appreciate those comments. Would you be willing to join me for lunch and help me with my business development process?”

At lunch, you explain to Tom, your client, that you believe he can help you with your business development program. You show him the following letter that you typed up that repeats the comments he made to you on the phone just a few days earlier when he told you what he liked best about working with you. Here’s a sample letter:

Dear ,
Bob Richards has been my financial advisor for many months. As busy as he is, Bob returns my calls the same day I phone him. Additionally, Bob is the only advisor I have ever had to walk me through my investment statements, insurance policies and tax returns so that I really understand what’s going on. As a result, I have felt more comfortable about my financial situation with Bob than at any other time. He also keeps in touch with me every couple months so I know he is always looking out for my interests. I highly recommend you call Larry at 800-xxx-xxxx if you want a top quality financial advisor or please call me and I can answer any questions.

You ask, “Tom—is this accurate? Would you be okay signing these letters as a way of introducing me to other CFOs, business associates and friends and helping me with my business development?” You then proceed to get a list of appropriate people to mail and use Tom’s letter as the first part of a drip marketing campaign to this select list.

Professional Referrals—what can you do for them?

Other professionals may send you business just because you’re a nice and competent person, but it works better if you seek the referrals proactively. Here’s the fundamental element of success if you want referrals from other professionals: what can you do for them? Even if you are new in the business, you could open the phone book, call another professional and say, “I am a financial advisor here in town and my clients often have need for (legal work, business brokerage services, business financing, etc). I may be able to refer some of these people to you but I wanted to learn about your business and determine if my clients would be suitable for you. Can I take you to lunch on Friday?”

Here’s the point—think about what you can provide another professional if you want them to send you business. And once they see you can be of value to them (because you send them business), tell them the types of people you seek to meet and this will give a big boost your your business development efforts.


Seminars are a super powerful business development tool and you control the results. You can be a total stranger in town and if you send an invitation for a compelling presentation to your target market (lists are easily purchased—see the SRDS Direct Mail List Source at the main library), you can have 25 to 100 of the right people in a room to listen to your wisdom. While the structure of successful seminars could take up a book you can obtain a number of articles at


Many professionals don’t use telemarketing but it is inexpensive and effective. Of course, you won’t be doing the calling because you will hire someone to do this for you, paid largely on a success basis. You can have people telemarket to:

1) Fill seminars
2) Identify qualified prospects with a survey

Here’s an example. You could have a telemarketer call and do research. Assume that your target market is people with $500,000 or more in an IRA because your specialty is IRA distribution planning. Your telemarketer calls with a survey and two of the questions are: does anyone in your household own an IRA? Is it under $100,000, between $100,000 and $500,000 or over $500,000? You’d be surprised at how many consumers answer such questions especially if they get something (e.g., $50 of coupons at the supermarket which you can print from dozens of websites).

Once your qualified prospects are identified, you can mail them a specific item of interest and then have the telemarketer call again and set appointments.

Direct Mail & Advertising

Hire a copywriter so that you get good results. Writing copy is a science that most professionals do not take the time to study and consequently, don’t get good results from direct marketing efforts of mistakenly conclude this is a low-end type of marketing. However, the following process gains you inquiries from exactly the type of people you want to meet.

You send a postcard or run ads in local publications offering a booklet. Let’s say your target market is CFOs. You run your ad in the local business journal and send your postcard to a list of CFOs offering your booklet, “New Profit Strategies for Corporate Cash Management.” By targeting your target market and offering an item of specific interest to one of their concerns, you gain responses from the right people. After you send your booklet, you can follow up with a call and set appointments.


The key point of business development and getting the clients you want--get ACTIVE. You don’t wait for the business you want to come your way or pursue low impact tactics as networking. If you take active steps to identify the people you want as new clients, learn what motivates them, and offer them what they want, they are happy to choose you as their financial advisor.

This post provided by Javelin Marketing