The best prospecting strategy for success

One year, I heard something at an MDRT Annual Meeting that I really needed to hear at the time, and it stuck with me.

I was in a Focus Session where the great 54-year MDRT member Bruce W. Etherington, CLU, CH.F.C., of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, was speaking. He said that to be successful in our business, we must see the people, love the people and ask the people for their business.


What Etherington, who is also a Top of the Table member, was saying is that prospecting is the lifeblood of building a financial services practice.

Another MDRT great and Top of the Table qualifier, former member Dermot T. Healey Sr., CLU, ChFC, a 44-year member from Jupiter, Florida, USA, said to me in my first year in this profession, “If you’re breathing, you should be prospecting!”

Prospecting, I have found, is a skill based on your personal awareness combined with the self-confidence to believe that you have a mission to help people get what they want. See, love and ask the people.

When you walk into a room full of people at a networking event or when meeting someone one-to-one, you should be asking yourself, “How can I help?” And “What service can I offer?” This is your best approach to prospecting.

Most people easily see through the person who either starts by talking about himself or is selling right away. Start by asking about the other person. Get them to tell you their story. Keep questioning them by saying things such as, “Please tell me more about that.” These are the best “scripts” you can use!

When attending events, I intentionally do not bring business cards with me. My goal is not to be handing out my card to as many people as possible, many of whom will never call me. I want to collect the cards of people with whom I have interesting interactions that lead to mutually agreed-upon follow-ups.

Ideal client profile

As a prerequisite to great prospecting, you should have a clear idea of what kind of person makes a good client for you and then look for those qualities in others. These could include open-mindedness, action-oriented, family-focused and integrity.

A strategy for doing this is scoring your current clients on a spreadsheet based on the most important qualities or virtues you desire for your practice. You can update scoring each year based on your interactions with them. As you do this, those key qualities become ingrained in your thinking.

As you prospect, you begin to start looking for those qualities in people. By using these measures, you can improve the quality of your prospects. The result is doing more business with people you like and who appreciate what you offer. It will make your work feel much less like work. Life is just too short to make this business an arm-wrestling contest!

Habits for successful interactions

Finally, your best prospecting script is your behavior, not your words. People do business with people they know, like and trust. This has been true in business since the beginning of time. Show your values in your interactions with your clients and in your community. This leads to people knowing you for the things you do and then liking and trusting you for how you do them.

Showing up, finishing the job, following through and doing so with a smile and a true attitude of helpfulness is the best prospecting strategy for success.

Thomas Levasseur is a 34-year MDRT member and a Court of the Table member from Dover, New Hampshire, USA.

For more ideas:

  • Read “Process and the 12 P’s of performance,” from the 2018 MDRT Annual Meeting presentation by Bruce W. Etherington, CLU, CH.F.C. (MDRT member exclusive)
  • Watch “Start your year strong,” an MDRT Canada Day webinar with Bruce W. Etherington, CLU, CH.F.C., as a guest panelist as well as MDRT members Sim Gakhar, CHS, BSc; Clay Gillespie, CFP, CIM; Elli Schochet, CFP; Dana Mitchell, CFP, CLU; and Alphonso B. Franco, RHU, RCIS (MDRT member exclusive)
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