In our studies of the industry’s elite, we see a variety of techniques for pipeline management. Some advisors stick with yellow notepads, others create spreadsheets and others customize sophisticated CRM systems. Our conclusion: the medium doesn’t matter at all, but the process matters greatly.
Rainmakers actively manage their pipeline. They provide enough, but not too much contact to their prospects, and are very thoughtful in their touches. One of our coaching clients just had a first meeting with a new prospect. Afterwards, she followed-up very professionally with a written request for the documents they discussed. She also included an article clipping linked specifically to their vegan cooking conversation.
These are the “little things” that set Rainmakers apart. It’s not a one-off. It’s a systematic part of how they manage their pipeline. The following are three techniques you might consider working into your routine:
1. Keep a “New Prospect Checklist”
In addition to tracking things like projected assets, last contact, and prospect phase, keep a checklist of all the “little things”:
- Connecting on Social Media
- Performing Online Research
- Sending a Handwritten Note
- Having a Non-business Contact
- Thoughtful Touch (i.e. article clipping)
2. Start Every Day with Your Pipeline
We worked with an advisor a while back who told us that one new habit paid for his coaching with us. What was it? He stopped in the lobby every morning to spend a little time with his pipeline. He thought about each person, the next steps, and what actions he needed to take – well before he got into the “distraction zone” of his office.
What’s your routine? Do you have your pipeline open on your screen when you arrive each morning? Do you share it with your team or manager every week? Every little bit of accountability helps.
We often get asked, “How often should I follow-up?” Follow-up strategies are tough to discuss in generalities - each situation is different – but we know that Rainmakers are masters at thoughtfully “mini-closing” prospects from one stage of their process to the next.
A critical component of mini-closing is thinking about next steps before your prospect meeting. Before the meeting, if you’re thinking about inviting them to your next intimate event, asking them to lunch with their spouse, or offering a visit to your office– you’ll be more likely to seamlessly arrange this next step. Mini-closing isn’t about closing the business; it’s about closing for the next step in the process.
Pipeline management isn’t anything revolutionary, but it works. Aside from client service, this is the most important aspect of the job – finding and maintaining a list of potential clients, as you move them through your pipeline into clients. What’s your system for managing your pipeline?
Stephen Boswell and Kevin Nichols are coaches with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry. @StephenBoswell @KevinANichols www.oechsli.com