Attracting new clients means taking the time to learn what their expectations are and showing what you have to offer that will be of value to them.

You must first get a good understanding of what these prospective clients are looking for, says Prem Malik, financial advisor with Queensbury Securities Inc. in Toronto. "Listen, listen, listen and speak less during the initial meeting," he says. "Get to the bottom of why they're meeting with you."

The more you know about prospects, the better your chances of persuading them to work with you.

Here are five tips to help you turn prospects into clients:

1. Know your prospect
Try to gather as much information about prospects during your first meeting. Listen attentively and ask follow-up questions if necessary. During this conversation, watch for any indications that suggest they will be a good fit. Find out why the prospect is considering working with a new financial advisor.

"Some prospects might have been burned by the markets," Malik says, "while others are simply dissatisfied with their existing advisor."

The fact that a prospect is talking to you means there is a chance he or she will become a client.

> Tell your story
Once you've listened to a prospect's story, tell them about yourself and the benefits of having you as their advisor. Explain that you have the knowledge, skills and experience to help them achieve their goals.

"Do not talk about products," Malik says.

You can also tell them stories about how you have helped similar clients. This will help in demonstrating that you understand their situation, and in making them more comfortable. Your goal is to engage them and "deepen and strengthen the relationship," Malik says.

> Talk about your process
When prospects come to you they are looking for advice. Explain clearly how you work with clients, touching on areas such as setting goals, asset allocation and periodic portfolio reviews.

"Two of the most common questions that come up are about fees and performance," Malik says.

Be up-front about fees and explain how you always look out for your clients' best interests when trying to meet performance objectives. Also, emphasize that your goal is to maintain long-term relationships with clients by striving to meet their expectations.

> Set expectations
Make prospects aware of what they can expect from you once they become clients. For example, tell them how frequently you will meet with them; the type of reports they will receive; and how accessible you are in the event that they need to reach you. 

"You need to reassure prospects that once they sign on they will not become another number,"  Malik says.

> Present yourself as part of a team
Give prospects comfort that you are not working in isolation and that they can reach a team member, if necessary, when you are not available.

You also may wish to make clients aware of any relationships you have with experts such as insurance, estate planning and tax professionals. This will not only demonstrate the depth of your services, but also will give prospects a sense of security that they can have access to these services if they need them in future.

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