The ClientWise Blog

Marketing Tip: Segmenting Prospects by Their Readiness to Change

Posted by Chris Holman on Mar 18, 2014 9:15:00 AM

All prospects are not created equal. By segmenting prospective clients by means of their dissatisfaction levels and willingness to change, financial advisors can greatly enhance the flow of prospects through their pipeline.


A tip-of-the-hat to Anthony Iannarino, for his thoughtful and provocative blog, “Dissatisfaction and Willingness to Change.” In this post, @iannarino points to the 4 stages of a prospect’s unhappiness/happiness with their current situation, and willingness to change from the status quo.


Prospects who are:


  1. Not Dissatisfied – Unwilling to Change
  2. Not Dissatisfied – Willing to Change
  3. Dissatisfied – Unwilling to Change
  4. Dissatisfied – Willing to Change


Not Dissatisfied – Unwilling to Change. These are prospects that are happy where they are, and appear to have no interest in changing their status quo. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s assume that the prospect is being truthful when they tell you that they’re “happy where they are”, although real-life experiences might tell you that this is often just a ‘brush-off’ reason to get out of the conversation. Iannarino suggests that these prospects are still viable candidates for your pipeline if you can plant a budding seed of dissatisfaction that continues the discussion.


Not dissatisfied – Willing to Change. For financial advisors, this is a tricky category. For a prospect that doesn’t appear dissatisfied, how do you take advantage of a willingness to change? When working with someone of this mindset, try taking a bigger, more strategic approach. Also, rather than focusing on a complete and wholesale change at the outset of the relationship, think of a more targeted solution whereby the prospect can give you and your team a “test-drive” first.


Dissatisfied – Unwilling to Change. Prospects in this group are even more problematic, and can be a great source of frustration for financial advisors. The prospect that is openly unhappy with their current state of affairs yet is unwilling or unable to make a move, is the prospect that is tantalizing, and exasperating, to the nth degree. In some cases, the unwillingness to change is simply a function of fear of the unknown. In other cases, it might point to an intrinsic indecisiveness. In still other cases, this prospect may be someone who is inherently unhappy, wherever they might be. Financial advisors can help prospects like this by identifying the barriers to change, and helping the prospect understand how (or if) they can overcome these barriers.


Dissatisfied – Willing to Change. This would seem to be the highest priority category from the standpoint of timeliness and urgency. However, the challenge within this category is that things can move fast. When a prospective client is dissatisfied and willing to change, they are ready to move soon. Yet financial advisors who have an pre-existing relationship with the prospect who activates into this category have a head-start advantage. The key is to be known to the prospect well before they become “ready and willing.”


How Do You Know?

How do you know if a prospect is dissatisfied and/or willing to change? One possible solution: Ask them.


“On a scale of 1-10, with 10 meaning “Very Satisfied”, I’m curious to know how satisfied you are with the state of your current financial life, and the achievement of the goals that you’ve set for you and your family?”


Or… “Is there something about your current financial life that you’d like to change or improve? On a scale of 1-10, how important is this for you?”


Or… “I’m curious. Under what circumstances would you be willing to change your existing state of financial affairs, including your relationship to your financial advisor?”


Important Note: When inquiring about a prospect’s level of satisfaction, focus on their existing financial situation, not the relationship that they have with another advisor. We observe that it is much more likely that a prospective investor has unmet financial needs and aspirations, even if they have a moderately satisfactory relationship with an advisor.


Summing Up

Each of the 4 stages of prospect dissatisfaction and willingness to change will have different and appropriate follow-up steps. By segmenting your prospects along these lines, you create a pipeline of realistic prospects where known and specific actions will lead to measureable results.


Coaching Tip:

  • Identify all of the prospects in your pipeline. Catalog each prospect in each of the 4 categories.
  • Do you notice a pattern, i.e. are your prospects skewed heavily toward one category?
  • Within each category, determine appropriate “next steps” that move the prospect forward through your pipeline.
We trust this helps.


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Topics: Client Acquisition