Have you ever heard these two expressions?
A person in financial services has “China eggs” in the CRM when the names of wealthy people are maintained on the prospect list even though no sale has yet been made, or where no relationship actually exists.
Someone in financial services can aptly be described as an “elephant hunter” who follows a strategy of only going after very large customers.
At various times in my career, I have been accused of both these behaviors. I began researching how to build your reputation at work and how to better my business techniques. I just wanted to be good at my job. I remember as a young agent keeping a man’s name on my prospect list who I was too intimidated to call, but who I believed would buy a large policy if I ever found a good reason to call him. My district manager finally sat me down and said, “Do you know what a ‘China egg’ is? One that never hatches. Move on!”
Years later I closed several large cases and began thinking that I would focus only on writing business of a certain size. Trouble is, I lost sight of how long it took me to close the earlier large cases. Income flow dwindled as I stalked big game.
Gilbert K. Chesterton wrote, “One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.”
When in a sales valley, while no cases are being written, it is easy to look up from the slump and fixate on large potential cases that could, with the sweep of a pen, wipe out the deficit of many smaller sales.
On the other hand, after a period of sustained success, it is possible to look back and see a series of sales that are indistinguishable from each other and in their smallness, seem less than impressive. We tend to remember the larger cases, the wealthier clients and the more impressive earnings.
Maybe that is why you rarely hear independent financial professionals ask the question: “How can I find some more very small clients to work with?”
Perhaps a better perspective to cultivate, as opposed to comparing potential revenue from the spectrum of prospects, is to see every moment as an opportunity to change the world by serving your purpose.
Three Reasons to Work with Smaller Clients
Here are three reasons for all independent financial professionals to consider including smaller prospects in their client mix:
- Smaller clients often grow.
- Everybody knows somebody.
- They can strengthen your unique selling proposition.
Let’s look at each of these in turn.
Smaller Clients Grow
Most millennials fall into the smaller client category. Assuming they are beginning a career, and starting to find their way in the world, these very same people will, in the relatively near future, be hitting their strides. Fewer financial advisors are prospecting for them, which means less competition. Additionally, they have a unique way of viewing the world, such that the impact they will have on the advisor working with them exceeds the immediate financial success.
Prospects of modest means in other demographics (Generation Xers, Boomers, etc.) are in no less need of our industry’s products than the wealthier prospects. Remember, the products we represent have the wondrous ability to create growth in the clients’ savings, investments and security. Accumulation attracts accumulation. Success begets success.
Everybody Knows Somebody
An MGA I know is personal friends with Harrison Ford.
I have a dear friend who is a Lutheran Pastor in a small town in North Carolina. He is the uncle of the actress Emma Stone.
My widowed mother, living on Social Security, was close friends with the President and CEO of a major American steel company.
I personally know Charlie Gipple!
See the trend? Nearly everyone you know has a connection with someone very successful. (Note: The only way to ever capitalize on these connections is to exceptionally serve the smaller client first.)
Smaller Clients Can Strengthen Your Unique Selling Proposition
The secret to a successful financial services practice is to treat everyone the same and provide everyone with consistent and exceptional customer service, no matter the size of the prospect. Working at your best with smaller clients prepares you to be at your best with larger clients.
Every relationship is important, and even your smallest clients can be helpful in amazing ways. They make you more efficient, because you cannot spend too much time on a small sale. You cannot lose sight of the opportunity cost associated with your time and your team’s time. Smaller clients must be informed of your services that are unavailable to them because of the value of your time. All this focus on matching cost with revenue makes you more attentive to how your profit grows.
Lastly, remember that smaller clients still deserve your A-game. The best that you can offer is what you should always be refining. Alvin Toffler wrote, “You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.” If you commit to bringing to smaller clients the excellence upon which you are building your reputation, your reputation will expand.
One-size-fits-all should apply to what you are as a professional. Your integrity, competence, ardor, preparation, follow-through and delivery ought never to fluctuate. These factors define your character. Your character bears fruit through your labor. That fruit creates your reputation.
As we are all keenly aware, our industry has failed to keep up with the need that exists for our products. If every independent financial professional made a commitment to serve both small and large clients, we would reduce the exposure that too many people bear and perpetuate the industry’s great history of making lives better.
I encourage you to have a zeal for the difference that you can make in people’s lives and to not restrict your expertise to people who are already on someone else’s prospect list. In other words, I urge you to match your great skills with the great need that is all around you.