Prospecting 101

Updated: Jul 13, 2020

Looking to expand market share? Here are a few rules for the road in defining target markets and managing prospects:


When the goal is sales, it is quite common for firms to seek to market broadly across channels and market segments without enough consideration of the trends, requirements and processes representative of each channel. STOP. Take the time to define each channel the firm is marketing to or considering marketing to. Create a matrix with the firm’s best estimation of the channel’s profile including size and scope, typical prospect, channel expectations, most common product structures utilized, and trends related to terms, asset classes and priorities. Once complete, rank order the channels in terms of prioritization for the firm. Finally, define both an expected asset growth level from the channel over the next 3-5 years, and the resource(s) the firm will commit to pursuing the channel over this same time period.


Prospects fall into channels. Firms that can be efficient about identifying and targeting key channels for which they are a better fit are more likely to find interested prospects.

However, channels are still broad categories and prospects will differ greatly. Three key pieces of information will improve efficiency and reduce the risk of pushing too hard on a poor fit: (1) whether the prospect utilizes a consultant; (2) the prospect’s current research priorities; and (3) the prospect’s investment criteria. The latter is certainly the most critical piece of information as it is less likely to change nor to be ‘swayed’ by a great story and numbers, particularly among the institutional investor population where mandate guidelines are generally strictly applied.


It is important to keep in mind that every firm is ‘marketing’ to some extent. It is critical to ask great questions; prospects are people and the more managers can engage them with dialogue about their own businesses, and conversations about what matters to them, the more likely a relationship will develop that is meaningful to both parties. While it has become increasingly difficult to get anyone to answer the phone these days in a world of online communications, it is critical to get both voice and face time with prospects. We know from the competitive data that prospects are swamped with inquiries. What will make them answer yours? Providing valuable insight and asking great questions, in other words creating a partnership of trust and value, is most likely to lead to opportunities to work together.


Prospects and channels are constantly changing. The movement in the financial services industry has been staggering. Thank goodness for database tools that should play a critical role for busy organizations seeking accurate, updated and timely data on a variety of channels and prospects. Yet, a major miss by firms is often their own organization and tracking of this data for easy access when marketing, sales and investment professionals get the opportunity to have that call or meeting with a prospect. A strong CRM tool that permits the firm to house its data and easily sort, prioritize and communicate internally regarding prospects is a necessity. Ensure the firm’s CRM tool is fully updated, completing a review at least annually of all data points. Take the time to train the team–all constituents who can possibly touch prospects–in the CRM’s use.