Sidney C. Walker
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August 2013

Prospecting For Gold...
by Sidney C. Walker


A  metaphor I've been using a lot lately in my coaching sessions with financial advisors who want to do more prospecting is prospecting for gold. We have all seen the photos and the movies about the rough and tumble days of the old west and the rugged life of panning for gold. It occurred to me that there is an important analogy between panning for gold and prospecting as a relationship builder (vs. a client controller).

As a relationship builder you see your prospect as someone you want to be friends with whether they buy anything right now or not. You are building bridges for the future. You are looking for people you have chemistry with and not people you can conquer. You are looking for people who want your help. You are not throwing everything at people but the kitchen sink to get an appointment and then hoping to wear down your prospect until they give in and write you a check. The latter style is what I call the traditional approach of dominance and control which is still being taught by most sales cultures.

The traditional approach to selling teaches us that everyone is a potential client and our job is to turn them into a client. The analogy I have been making to panning for gold is this. The way we are taught to sell is the equivalent of taking your pan of gravel, finding a good looking stone and then trying to turn it into gold. The traditional approach to selling is about doing everything you can to take that plain old worthless stone and magically turn it into gold by getting that stone to become a client. Sure it's possible, and there are a few advisors who are very good at it. But is that really the most efficient and effective approach if your are a relationship builder?

If you told a bunch of prospectors back in the late 1940's that their job was to turn those ordinary stones into gold, they would question your sanity. Anybody knows it is a lot easier to look for an actual piece of gold rather than try to turn an ordinary stone into something it is not. And that is exactly what I have been telling my relationship oriented financial advisors... stop trying to turn ordinary stones into gold.

When you are prospecting in the financial services business, offer a lot. Tell people you are going to teach them what smart people are doing with their conservative money. Tell them you will talk about whatever is of interest to them. You will answer their questions. There is no cost for this meeting and there is nothing to buy so there is absolutely no sales pressure. This is a free service worth thousands of dollars, even tens of thousands of dollars to the prospect. Then if they don't show some interest, you give them one more chance because people are conditioned to never be too excited about any offer the first time. If they don't show interest on the second version of your offer (you can almost say the exact same thing again), you walk. You don't try to turn that stone in to gold. It's too much work. As a relationship builder it's not your strength to argue with people or to turn around disinterested people. You will do much better if you continue on your search for people who express some interest in your offer. They don't have to express a lot of interest, but at least some!

Yes, the "looking for some interest" approach requires more trust and faith. Yes, you will walk away from people you could have turned into clients if you had ten meetings with them! (It takes ten interviews to turn an ordinary stone into gold.) But here is the reality. I have thousands of converts to the "only work with gold prospects" approach who would never go back to the aggressive and controlling way they were trained to sell. They are making too much money and having too much fun only working with the prospects who show some interest. They are the gold nuggets.

If you want to learn more about the low-key approach for relationship oriented financial advisors, as far as I know, I have the biggest website with the most free stuff on the subject. Check it out at or (same website).

Enjoy the summer,

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