From the November 2011 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

The Power of No Power

Any successful financial advisor will tell you they are always looking at ways to meet new potential clients. The problem is, after a while, you’ve pretty much tried every possible method of prospecting known to man. As sometimes happens with me, I’ll be standing there minding my own business when, all of sudden, I’ll get hit with a brilliant idea. Well, recently I had one of those moments and some of you may be the lucky benefactors.

During lovely Hurricane Irene this summer, I happened to live right in the middle of one of Irene’s favorite parts of the northeast. Shortly after the storm began, I lost power and water. The good news was two feet of water seeped into my basement at the same time. If things got dicey, I knew I’d survive because of my endless supply of water … down in my dark smelly basement.

For over a week I did without the creature comforts of electricity and clean water. My main solace was I wasn’t alone. Virtually, my entire town was off the grid. Word quickly spread about the coffee shop one town over that had power and free Wi-Fi. Halleluiah!

When I walked in the door of Molten Java — or should I say, tried to walk in — I realized just how much I wasn’t alone. The place was jammed. Every seat was taken and there were people sprawled all over the floor. Laptop and cell phone chargers were plugged into every available electrical orifice.

I couldn’t take it. I walked out and started back to my car. Halfway back, my hunger for power (and coffee), made me turn around and force my way back through the door. Once inside, I noticed the buzz of strangers conversing openly with other strangers. Everyone was thirsty for information about where all the power trucks were  (nowhere near us).

As the days passed, this became the routine. Strangers become friends. People invited complete strangers into their homes to take a shower. And no Dorothy, this wasn’t Kansas. It was Connecticut.

Shared hardship had broken the otherwise impenetrable veneer of stoic northeasterners. And that’s when it hit me, my brilliant idea. Whom would you want to buy 100 shares of Apple stock or a ladder of muni bonds from? Some stranger on the phone OR your buddy who helped you get through the hurricane (and/or any other natural disaster)? I don’t know about you, but I’m choosing my buddy in the shower.

I can understand if you’re reluctant to “take out” your local electrical substation or sabotage your city’s drinking supply. Rather than create a catastrophe, you wait for one. Eventually, no matter where you live, you’ll have something. Pick one: a tornado, earthquake, hurricane, flooding, drought, solar flare or asteroid hit. Anyone of these events can provide you with a fantastic prospecting opportunity.

As with any disaster, preparation is the key. In order to implement this strategy, you’ll need to stock your garage with bottled water, batteries and candles. These items you would give out to people in need that don’t quite fit your desired client demographic.

Another section of your garage should be stocked with items for people in need who do fit your desired client demographic. Some of these items may include: 100-year-old Scotch, Cuban cigars and Yankees tickets, to name a few.*

Now that your garage is stocked, you wait. When the unfortunate happens, you get to work. As one of my first sales trainers used to say, “Go out there and make some friends! New customers are waiting for you!”

One tip: do not lead with the offer of a shower.

 * FINRA Note: Because these items were given to disaster victims, the $100 per person gift limit does not apply.

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