Growing your client base is easy as ABC

How do you turn networking contacts, referrals and acquaintances into clients? The ABC system is an approach to engagement designed to do just that.

Each component builds on the next:

  • Acquiring adds names to our database.
  • Branding filters and qualifies the people in our database.
  • Cultivating creates meaningful engagement with prospects.

It is important to get each component right to have the maximum positive effect on our business.


There are three modes of acquiring:

  1. Hunter. Actively seeking out prospects, usually done through direct referrals.
  2. Fisherman. Putting out relevant content in the place where our desired prospects are and waiting for connections to happen.
  3. Farmer. Building trust and confidence with the objective of growing prospects into clients.

Knowing whom to prospect strongly depends on our next component.


While many books have been written about branding, I’ve found for prospecting it boils down to three components:

  1. Describe your ideal client. Who do you love working with?
  2. Determine what they need. What will they be interested in, and where do you find them?
  3. Why should they work with you? What sets you apart from other financial professionals?


Cultivating can be broken down into two parts: grouping and consistent connecting.


We split the people in our contact list into four groups: 1, 2, 4 and 8. The group number indicates the frequency of contact — Group 1 every week, Group 2 every two weeks and so on. Group 1 is hot, whereas Group 8 is very cold.

How do we move prospects from cold to hot (from Group 4 to Group 1 for example)? Emotion can be a good metric on when to move prospects up the ladder. When prospects start to use emotional words — like, love, dislike — it is an indication to us that we can initiate the business invitation.

Consistent connecting

Dedicate time to do this. It doesn’t have to be a lot. I typically spend an hour or less each day reaching out to as many people as possible.

You can talk about anything under the sun to all four groups. Business talk — sales and referrals — is allowed only for groups 1 and 2.

Here is the most important part of the process: closing the conversation. At the end of the dedicated outreach time, close the conversation regardless of where it stands. For example, “I’ve got to get to an appointment, but let’s talk again soon.” It is essential to give prospects a chance to reply. Even if they don’t, it will make it less awkward the next time you send them a message.

Cheng Huann Yeoh, ChFC, CLU, of Singapore, is a Court of the Table qualifier and has been an MDRT member since 2013. This blog post was based on his 2021 MDRT Annual Meeting Virtual Event presentation.

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