3 Questions to identify a Real Prospect

Amar Pandit , CFA , CFP

Amar Pandit

A respected entrepreneur with 25+ years of Experience, Amar Pandit is the Founder of several companies that are making a Happy difference in the lives of people. He is currently the Founder of Happyness Factory, a world-class online investment & goal-based financial planning platform through which he aims to help every Indian family save and invest wisely. He is very passionate about spreading financial literacy and is the author of 4 bestselling books (+ 2 more to release in 2020), 8 Sketch Books, Board Game and 700 + columns.

One of the fundamental things that you must get good at is to identify real prospects. Many firms and people have a hard time figuring out the difference between a lead and a prospect. Even if they do find it easy, implementing it in a structured way (as part of the client acquisition process) is always a tough one. The best firms and professionals are super good at not just understanding this but also implementing these insights in their firm’s first meeting processes. These insights lay the foundation for saving time, creating scale, operating efficiently and most importantly saving real agony and pain for the firm and the team.

The point that I am making here is:

A Lead = Any name that you have received irrespective of the source.
It does not matter whether you have received this lead from a referral or from your marketing campaign or from a centre of influence (such as a Chartered Accountant or a Lawyer).

A Real Prospect = A Qualified Lead = Someone who you have screened and who you believe has a Need for the service that you offer and is likely to buy from you.

You might say “Every Lead has a Need for the service that I offer and is likely to sign up for my services.” Fair Enough. I understand where you are coming from, but this is exactly where most people commit this classic mistake by not understanding the difference at an insightful level.

Let us then get into the 3 questions first as these questions are likely to help you see the difference I am referring to.

Imagine you are meeting a lead for the first time. In the meeting, you have to get the responses to these 3 questions:

  1. What is the problem the person is trying to solve with your service?
  2. How much time has this person invested in solving the problem?
  3. How much money has this person invested in solving the problem?

First Red Flag:
The person has no problem that he is trying to solve. “My friend told me you are good and that I should meet you. I have no real need or problem. I am happy with my current financial professional.

Have you come across something like this ever? If you are like most of us, we all have come across folks like this.

Most people are happy with their professionals because they do not yet know what you do. If you are one of those elite ones, you still have a fair shot here.

In fact, you could utilize this line “I specialize in working with people who are happy with their financial personnel to be Happier.” You should use this line only if it were true and if you had a powerful offering. However, for most people, this is a red flag as we tend to flag such folks as real prospects in our client acquisition pipeline.

Yes, I know you can sign up a client after 5 or even 10 years and that you should be in touch with people and keep continuing to provide value through content. This is the sort of good advice that keeps a firm mediocre. I say this because people continue to believe they have a strong pipeline, but the reality is that their pipeline is super weak and is riding on the wheels of Hope and Luck. I have seen some of the biggest firms today falling prey to this. This is because there is no scientific method that has been applied to this process.

Most real prospects have problems that they are trying to solve. Some of them are as follows:
a. They are overwhelmed with so many choices. They do not know where to invest and have made some mistakes in the past.
b. Some do not have time.
c. Some have received inheritance, or they are going through a transition such as nearing retirement, going to a different country, birth, or death in a family and so on. There are more than 60+ transitions that a family is exposed to. Not each one of them is likely to occur in everyone’s life but most families are likely to be exposed to a few of them.
d. They are unhappy with their current professional, and they need help.

Second and Third Red Flags – They are so important that you cannot really ignore these clear signals. If they have not invested any Time AND /OR Money in trying to solve their problems, when do you think they will ever do it.

Figure out why have they not invested time or money in solving their problem or needs. Do not skip this step. There is a lot of gold for you in understanding this properly.

Inaction in terms of not spending time or money here could indicate their quality and speed of decision making, which can be a liability for you.

Have you come across folks who seek your counsel and then just not do anything about it?

Have you come across folks who use this phrase “Let me think”. Like I have written earlier, “Let me think” is most of the time used by people who are just putting off the decision or hesitating to say NO to you.

A Real Prospect on the other hand knows her/his problem and has already spent time or money figuring out solutions to the problem. The reason the person is meeting you is to figure out whether you are the right one for the family.

A Strong Pipeline is dependent on Avoiding Fake Prospects first and then building a list of Real Prospects. An Empty Pipeline is also a Strong one as it is likely to show us the truth that we all tend to be hiding from – the areas that we really need to work on. An Empty Pipeline is like a Clear Mirror that shows us what we need to see whereas a Fake One full of useless leads is like that Foggy Mirror that prevents us from focusing on things we should actually be working on.