Don’t stop prospecting just because you’re busy

By Sandy Schussel

Sandy Schussel, LLC


Brandon needed to block out the time to keep prospecting, even if it meant pulling back on some of the day-to-day work that was currently bringing him income. “What gets scheduled gets done,” goes an old cliché. But it’s the truth.

“I think too much business is the worst thing for my practice,” Brandon complained.

Brandon is a financial planner who was working with four or five newer clients. He was worried that he was too busy to be out looking for his next clients, and in a few weeks, he’d have no one waiting in his pipeline. Then, there would be weeks of writing letters, making phone calls and trying to set appointments before he would be busy with real work again.

He was also frustrated with how this roller coaster cycle between prospecting and handling cases was causing him so much stress.

“At the end of this month, a lot of money will roll in,” he told me, “But then things will be flat again for four or five weeks.”

I said, "Don’t stop prospecting just because you’re busy."

“But it’s not that simple,” he quickly replied. “Either my clients want — or need — their stuff done right away, or I get wrapped up in all the work anyway and just don’t get to the prospecting. If I do even think of it, it’s just too hard to switch gears.”
There are two situations in which professionals tend to reduce their marketing activity. The first is familiar to most of us: If people have been turning us down, we get depressed and our client acquisition activities decline at a time when we most need to improve them. The second situation can be equally damaging: Our calendar becomes full from previous efforts, so we stop looking for new clients.

Our marketing efforts are too often based on how we feel rather than on a system. But a basic principle of running a successful business is that everything you do needs to be systematized. Prospecting, marketing, sales, referrals, client relationships and paperwork all need to be in motion according to a plan. And a prospecting process requires regular activity, no matter what else is going on in your business.

When there’s a system in place for developing clients, a certain minimum amount of work must be done, regardless of your feelings. Unfortunately, it’s not a choice you can base on your current stress level; it’s something that simply must be done, no matter what. But then there’s the lie we tell ourselves: "There’s no time."

“You’re extremely busy,” I acknowledged to Brandon, “but you had time for this conversation, right?”

“Well, we had it in the calendar already,” he replied. “And to be honest, I almost cancelled.”

“And if you had a friend in the hospital,” I continued, “Would you be able to make time to visit him?”

Brandon whined that I wasn’t giving him a fair example, but acknowledged that he could, and would.

“That tells me that if you put some amount of new client-seeking activity in your schedule, you’d be able to make the time for it,” I concluded. Brandon needed to block out the time to keep prospecting, even if it meant pulling back on some of the day-to-day work that was currently bringing him income. “What gets scheduled gets done,” goes an old cliché. But it’s the truth.

Together, we created a simple system that involved making five phone calls a day, no matter how busy he felt he already was. In a matter of days, appointments were lined up for the weeks after he finished the work he was doing for his current clients.