Financial Advisor Prospecting : A New Approach(Ep 4)

What You'll Learn In Today's Episode
  • The traditional financial advisor’s model for prospecting is needlessly pushy. Rather than make leads cringe, it’s better to try a more relaxed approach. Few decisions in life actually turn out well when they’re made in a hurry.
  • Start with the goal of—not of making clients (yet), but—creating cool prospects. Offer them high-quality value through content (80% of which is absolutely free). This is more organic. It feels less hard-sell to those you’d eventually like added to your CRM.
  • Offer those cool prospects the opportunity to become warm prospects on their terms. Invite them to sign up for membership access to your RIA’s website. Meanwhile, set a barrier to entry. This might be a fee of $20 a month (or more, in certain circumstances).
  • Once you’ve built trust as a thought leader, provide an outlet for premium members to consider one-on-one help from you. In time, your marketing costs could be offset by those membership aspects.

Financial Advisor Prospecting: A New Approach


Welcome to the RIA Marketing podcast! Nolan has a take on financial advisor prospecting you may not have heard of. To be blunt, it’s less cringe-inducing than the classic approach, too. 

Be Convincing When Prospecting; Not Creepy

If you have a membership website, you’re out to turn leads into prospects—and then into clients. That’s the name of the game.

The classic method boils down, essentially, to 2 steps. First, an atmosphere is created. The advisor piques a lead’s interest, hoping to entice them into booking an initial consultation.

This is usually done through digital marketing ads, networking, referrals, et cetera. Marketing specifics will vary between niches, but the central idea is the same.

Next, the advisor moves straight into closing the deal. This was the standard for decades: Rush to the finish line with no hesitation.

In fairness, it works… sometimes. However, sometimes it fails miserably, too. In fact, there are times when some advisors have wished they hadn’t rushed into the working relationship.

There’s a reason why people aren’t encouraged to get married on the 2nd date: Sometimes moving too fast crushes a promising situation.

Similarly, the headlong rush to get someone into your CRM can lead to sub-optimal results.

So why do we even call it “prospecting?” To be honest, it’s not as though this method gives an individual time to become a prospect.

It’s pushy; like an arranged marriage. Leads are herded—practically before they can catch their breath—straight into becoming a client.

Do you like hard-sell pitches? Have they ever made you more likely to buy something?

Most people instinctively shun them. So, wouldn’t a relaxed approach be better?

A New Approach To How Financial Advisors Prospect


Relax, let the lead relax—and let them decide if they trust you, first.

It’s a simple concept, yet it’s strangely alien to how many advisors still prospect today.

From there, if someone wants to become your RIA prospect, the decision is 100% theirs. Both sides enter an agreement 100% by their own choosing.

There are 3 steps to doing it this way. The first is creating the atmosphere. Yes, this is similar to the start of the old way. However, the goal is different. 

We’re out to turn leads into cool prospects; not jump behind them and start pushing. That’s why at least 80% of the content you’re providing them must be absolutely free.

This way you’re truly delivering value to your ideal future clients. As a result, most will sign up for your lead magnet and notifications about future content.

The 2nd step is offering cool prospects the opportunity to become warm prospects. Do this by inviting them to sign up for membership access to your RIA’s website.

Consider a barrier to entry. This might be a fee of $20 a month. Just make sure to provide red-carpet value to those who accept your membership offer.

Finally, the 3rd (and final) step is providing an outlet for premium members to consider one-on-one help. This assumes you’ve built their trust as a thought leader. 

While this method isn’t utterly foolproof, it’s usually a lot more comfortable for advisors and leads alike. Just imagine offsetting your marketing costs through premium membership aspects.

Quick Wins


  • Be less clingy. Give clients permission to sleep on it. Instead of jumping from lead to client, figure out how to nurture those who aren’t entirely sure. They are going to do things on their own timetable, anyway.

  • Identify a content medium and publishing schedule that are comfortable for you. If you’re building a separate niche website, allow yourself time for that, too. You don’t have to start releasing it immediately.  Just get used to creating content regularly.

  • Bounce ideas off trusted clients within your target niche. Find out what they’d like on a website catered just to them. For example, what’s the easiest method for them to set up an appointment? Getting a better sense of what they want will help build trust.

Nolan has more on improved financial advisor prospecting in today’s RIA Marketing podcast. Feedback, suggestions, and questions to are always welcome. 

Last but not least, thank you for listening!


WELCOME TO ANOTHER EPISODE OF THE RIA MARKETING PODCAST. I’M YOUR CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER AND HOST, NOLAN MARTIN. Today, I want to explore a new approach to winning prospects as a financial advisor.

Specifically, let’s focus on using your membership website to deliver value to prospects. It’s possible to convert them into clients without getting so… cringy about it.

Our approach at Gray Line Media differs from the traditional way most advisors prospect. It’s based on the successes of high-performing RIAs.

Traditionally, the goal of prospecting is to convert leads into paying clients, right? It goes something like this:

Step 1 is creating the atmosphere. A financial advisor piques the interest of a lead and then attempts to have them book an initial consultation. You can do this with digital marketing through ads, networking, referrals, et cetera.

Step 2 is moving straight into closing the deal. This risks a long-term relationship that neither you nor the prospect is ready for. Maybe it works out great, but, maybe it doesn’t.

Don’t get me wrong: I believe there is a time and a place to move this fast.

However, if there’s anything that I’ve learned over 10 years of marriage, it’s that rushing to any goal can lead to suboptimal results.

What I don’t understand is why we call this method “prospecting.” We never truly give the individual time to become a prospect.

In all honesty, the classic approach skips any prospecting phase. It’s pushy. It rushes leads straight into becoming a client.

It reminds me of something I noticed during my 10-year Army career: Many young Soldiers meet a semi-significant other and suddenly get married within the first 3 months of knowing each other. Moving too fast typically leads to disastrous results—and I’ll leave it at that.

So, what if we make things a little more relaxed? I’m talking about deliberately allowing leads to decide if they trust you, first.

From there, if they want to become an RIA prospect, that’s up to them. If they do, we just allow them the room to choose a long-term arrangement. The more value we provide, the more attractive we become.

At the same time, nobody feels pressured. It looks something like this:

Step 1 is creating an atmosphere that allows a financial advisor to pique the interest of each lead. The goal is for them to BECOME A COOL PROSPECT. As a result, they’ll sign up for your lead magnet and notifications for additional content releases.

Or, you could have them sign up for a webinar to learn HOW TO SPECIFICALLY OVERCOME AN ISSUE THAT THEY ARE HAVING.

You could also have your content naturally reach leads in Google Searches, podcast searches, or YouTube videos.

I’m using the term “COOL Prospect” because at this point, your lead hasn’t taken much action to sign up or subscribe to your content. The barrier to entry wasn’t that high—but your content is getting noticed. And that’s the goal.

80% or more of the content you provide in Step 1 must be absolutely free to the lead or “COOL PROSPECT.” This way you're truly delivering value to your ideal future clients.

For Step 2, offer your “COOL PROSPECT” the ability to become a “WARM PROSPECT.” Have them sign up for membership access on your RIA’s website.

Set a barrier to entry; maybe a fee of $20 a month. You could even charge $200 a month. Just provide red-carpet value to visitors taking that plunge; gaining access to your exclusive content.

We typically encourage advisor clients to create a monthly webinar with a Q-and-A.

Next, we have them create other forms of content—or an upgraded version of what they have.

We record full-length video podcasts exclusively for premium members. Crossing the subscription barrier also grants access to audio podcasts and specific tools, like calculators.

Step 3 is the last. You’re providing an outlet for premium members to consider one-on-one help.

Hopefully, you’ve built their trust as a thought leader. So, some members should be ready to consider becoming long-term clients.

I’d offer a 1-week sign-up opportunity for them to become your clients. Maybe only take on these new clients during that time. FOMO, or fear of missing out means they’ll be more receptive to taking the plunge.

Doesn’t this process sound—I don’t know—a little less creepy? A little less rushed? A little less desperate?

It doesn’t work for everyone. But, imagine being able to offset your marketing costs through premium membership aspects from your RIA’s website. You might even try it on a separate niche website, too.

You can use that money to improve the quality of your content by hiring professionals. Gray Line Media—or any design company can increase the quality of your content.

Your content is more likely to be consumed by your ideal clients, right? This has a compounding effect on your entire prospecting process.

However—full disclosure time—there are times when this method may not work for you and your RIA.

Reason #1 is that it isn’t magic. It’s going to take some thought leadership and time for you to be successful. It’s not easy creating a community that wants to hear what you have to say regularly.

Choose the least time-consuming content medium that allows you to convey your value clearly.

Notice how I didn’t say the easiest medium for you?

If you aren’t already creating content now, expect to get pushed out of your comfort zone. To be honest, you probably won’t be great at podcasting or on video, to begin with.

I’ve been doing this, myself, for over a year. I know firsthand how some improvements only come with time and experience.

But, don’t let that intimidate you! Just find the least time-consuming medium—because you're probably still trying to grow your practice.

For instance, I generally provide my talking points to my writer, Jon. He’ll piece together my thoughts with the words to make a cohesive article.

Next, I’ll go back to the article and use it to start building the script for social media or a YouTube video. This helps make sure that the article represents what I initially meant to script and vice versa.

Yes—I hate to say it, but—most of my videos are scripted. I’m reading this from a teleprompter.

If I didn’t, I’m thoroughly convinced that after 10 minutes, you’d wonder what the Hell I was talking about.

Reason #2 is that you must be consistent. You need to show up for your audience whenever you’ve told them that you would.

If you sign up for 3 podcasts a week, then you need to pump out 3 podcasts. You can always change the number, but you should be relatively consistent. You can’t put out 2 podcasts this week, 3 for the next, and only 1 after that.

Reason #3 is that you’ll need to be comfortable with an 85% solution. Whether you’re editing the content yourself or using a media team to help out, it goes with the territory.

For example, I don’t do a final proof on our videos. If the overall quality is there—I didn’t record with a microphone off or anything—then I trust my content manager to ensure we have a great product.

If I get involved in the overall approval process, I’ll want to make small changes. These won’t affect the overall message, but they will eat up the time we’ve allocated for the project.

Okay: Let’s get to your quick wins. Here’s how you, as an RIA can take a better, less creepy approach to prospecting.

For Quick Win #1, let’s try to be a little less clingy. As Matthew Jarvis says on ThePerfectRIA podcast, give your clients permission to sleep on it—and even review other advisors.

Why do we do this? Because they are going to do it anyway, for starters. Instead of immediately moving from lead to client, figure out how to nurture the ones who aren’t entirely sure.

Quick Win #2 is identifying a content medium and publishing schedule that are comfortable for you.

You don’t have to start releasing it yet. If you're building a separate niche website exclusively for ideal future clients, allow yourself time for that, too.

Just get into the habit of creating content regularly. If you're going to use a media team, you probably only need to get into the habit of outlining the overall idea; probably a 40% solution.

If you want to do all the work yourself, get used to bringing your content to that 85%. Figure out a publishing schedule that works without burning yourself out or affecting your RIA.

For Quick Win #3, bounce ideas off your trusted ideal clients. Get feedback. Find out what they’d like on a website just for them.

Learn what could help the most. What’s the easiest method for them to set up an appointment? Would they prefer a Calendly link—or is it easier to call your RM?

Having a better sense of what they’d like is only going to build trust between you, your leads, and your prospects.

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Please remember: We’re determined to help RIAs connect with Superfans and their Ideal Future Clients through remarkable websites and relatable content. My only question is, will it be your RIA?