Finding Customers

Published in the March 2011 issue of Brokerworld Magazine by Bruce Sankin,  president of Financial Help Centers.


The key to success in our business is getting in front of potential customers. It is a percentage game—the more people you speak to and get an appointment with, the more prospects will turn into clients.

Top producers understand this. Top producers also understand that since most agents use the same vendors, using different types of marketing to get new prospects is paramount.

There are the old methods, where you can spend unlimited resources without any guarantees.

The first is the seminar. You put an ad in the paper or do a mailing, inviting people for lunch or dinner. This can cost between $1,500 and $4,000 for each seminar.

Next, you can buy leads. There are companies that will sell you shared leads, old leads, exclusive leads, appointment setting, etc. You can pay as little as $2.00 per lead or as much as a few thousand dollars. I know one company that, for $2,500, will sell you an appointment with a company that has millions of dollars in their 401(k) plan.

Of course, there is no guarantee that any of these methods will generate commissions or fees.

Online presence. There is one thing I will guarantee! We live in the world of the Internet, and customers will begin their search online. When you give a customer your business card, you must have a website address on the card.

Here is the first question: How do I create an effective website? A website is just a business card for the Internet. You have no idea when someone is on your website. You can spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on a website. You can make it elaborate or simple. The key to a successful website is not the website itself, but how to get prospects to find your website and visit it. Once prospects are visiting your website, how do you induce them to contact you?

In my opinion, a successful website does three things (and the first two are not as important as the third): (1) A website informs visitors of your contact information, name and address. (2) A website tells visitors about your product and services. (3) Most importantly, a website gives visitors a reason to contact you. You need a hook, or incentive, for them to fill out a form with their name, email and phone number.

You have 10 to 15 seconds to capture a prospect’s attention. If your home page doesn’t have an offer or call to action, the prospect will leave and you will never know they were there.

One marketing tool you need is a top level generic domain as your web address. In fact, the more domain addresses that get directed to your website, the more you can be found in the search engines. Here is a success story that proves the value of generic domains.

In the mid 1990s, before Google existed and Yahoo was king, Fidelity Investments realized the only way a prospect would find them was if the prospect typed in the search “Fidelity Investments.” So Fidelity bought the top two generic domains: and Now when people go to Google and type in 401k or 403b, Fidelity’s website comes up.

A good generic domain address will also show you are an expert, or specialize in a specific product or service. It also helps with the search engines. Some examples include, or

The next—and easiest—way to find customers is your existing client base. Referrals from clients are the best leads! There is nothing better than a client giving you the name and phone number of a friend or family member. The question is: How do you get your clients to voluntarily give you referrals without asking them for referrals?

Here is how you do it. First, you always want a reason to call your clients and not sell them anything. Call them and thank them for their business. In appreciation for the client’s business, tell them you are sending them a gift. An example is to give each client a newsletter or ebook about financial and retirement planning. Then ask the client: Would you like me to send his book to any family or friends with your compliments?

In most cases your client is appreciative, and they will voluntarily give you one or two referrals.

Good luck and good marketing!


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