When to Tell Prospects They Have to Wait
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It wasn’t something I imagined doing. But when my membership surged, I felt like I owed it to my subscribers. I found that starting a waitlist had unintended positive effects on my business. Here’s why you should do it too.
Waitlist pros and cons
You may not have the volume of incoming prospects to necessitate a waitlist but do it anyways.
- A waitlist demonstrates to the prospect that you follow a strategic plan for how you run your business.
- It makes your services seem more exclusive and scarcity is highly attractive.
- It creates suspense, building up anticipation of working together.
- It balances control between you and the prospect.
- It allows you to grow sensibly.
Before I found myself being forced to start one, I used to frown upon waitlists. It seemed like an obvious marketing ploy. But upon further reflection I have come to realize that was because those instituting the waitlists were stuck-up snobs who presented it in a pretentious, haughty way. It’s easy to sound arrogant, so choose your words carefully.
I feared that if I waitlisted people, they may seek other options.
Yes, you will have to work hard to keep the waitlist engaged. But it does cut out the impatient prospects who aren’t that impressed by you and probably would have been hard to please anyways.
Yes, you will lose people – the type A’s who “don’t do waitlists.”
Stop throwing away your value
At the core of this is the question of who you want to be as a financial advisor. Do you just want a client, or do you want a long-term client who values you and will wait for you?
Your value proposition has to be sustainable, multi-faceted, and rock solid. It can’t just be that you’re going to save them from a bad market, or you’re going to make them money in a good market. It can’t just be that you know a lot about divorces and your client just got served the papers.
You shouldn’t feel that by making clients wait you may not be useful to them. Your value is not lost as times passes because you are useful in many circumstances.
I’m sick of people looking at advisors like they’re disposable. It has to do with the flawed way that practices grow in this profession.
Recalculating the numbers game
Advisors say on their websites that they would do anything for their clients. Yet some of you have 150 clients, and you’re looking for more! So how does that work? You can run through the wall for 200 people at the same time? You say they’ll be the top priority, and then in the next breath you move on to everyone else?
The actions don’t match the words.
It would be to everyone’s benefit – clients and advisors alike – if advisors were to slow down and invest in fewer quality relationships with more profitable clients instead of making it “a numbers game.”
This type of attitude is largely encouraged by vendors to the industry. It is more money for them the more accounts you get, and who cares if it’s the right business for you to be doing?
- This quarter, let’s see if you can get more appointments, more accounts, more money to manage, more financial plans to write.
- And now we’ve got to get three forms of crypto in the portfolio.
- Get more prospect messages out on LinkedIn Sales Navigator!
- You’ll need higher AUM for this platform.
- You need more server space to host the three million blogs you have to write every week.
- Yes, you must post to Twitter every day if you want the algorithm to give you more views.
- Have you ever considered a second office in Boca Raton?
- And does anyone know the best way to use NFTs?
- What about some SPACs?
- The advisor next door to me said in the sales meeting she has more clients than me – I’ve got to get more than her.
- Scale your practice so you can get more clients!
More, more, more, more!
How about fewer?
How about you reduce, eliminate, take time back and give it to the clients instead of chasing every bone thrown to you?
I mean, can we just imagine for a minute what a nice business you could have if you were to just maintain extremely deep, profitable relationships with 70 high-net worth clients?
Yes, it is a numbers game, but why do the numbers have to be high ones? Why can’t they be low ones, squared or cubed? 15 is less than 24.
How about you write the math equation, advisors?
Give those clients you love what they deserve by taking your practice back from those drug-dealing number pushers!
Holding back raises integrity
One of the best skills I ever gained was the ability to hold back, to take pause, to make room for the truth.
I gained the ability to stop straight in the middle of a meeting with someone who was ready to sign up, and to say to them, “I’m not sure this is right for you. Are you really sure this is a fit?”
I learned that both of us –the prospect and I – needed to feel like we could take it or leave it in order to see the truth. Some say “no.” But the ones who stay turn out to be solid, value-rich, and real; because we already had the moment of truth before it even started.
And now that I operate this way, I don’t see how it can be any other way.
There was a time in my practice when I was just starting out and I had to take everything I could get. I recently told a new advisor to get a part-time job while he built his practice, because his desperation was getting obvious. I was worried it would cause him to make unfair decisions for his clients. Until advisors in their hungriest form – starting out, starting over, “in growth mode”, etc. – gain the ability to hold back, thirst for compensation will compromise the integrity of the profession.
If you’re not ready to thrust the waitlist onto your core offerings, try this.
- Limit the spots in your live webinars or seminars to a small number of prospects. Require confirmation the day before, and offer the cancelled spots to those on the waitlist.
- Institute a three-week waiting time for all prospect meetings, first and subsequent. It will give you more time to prepare, and also convey scarcity.
- For any “passing a second set of eyes” portfolio reviews, say you need six weeks. And, in order to get the results, they have to meet with you. No more emailing the prospect the analysis!
And by the way, I’m not a fan of these free portfolio reviews. Not only does it devalue your time, it’s also not fair to the prospect. You would never do the same quality job as you would do for a client, and many times these reviews are just a chance to show off how much you know. If someone asks you for a review, just say, “That’ll be $2,000. Will you be paying Visa or Mastercard.”
It would be super cheesy to talk about having a waitlist for my membership, but if you want to learn how to prospect on LinkedIn then check it out.
Or, if you like my style, read 47 Financial Advisor LinkedIn Messages.
Thanks for reading and catch you in the next one!
Sara Grillo, CFA, is a marketing consultant who helps investment management, financial planning, and RIA firms fight the tendency to scatter meaningless clichés on their prospects and bore them as a result. Prior to launching her own firm, she was a financial advisor.