In an advice column I read this morning, a 29-year-old woman wrote in complaining that she’d been hanging out with a guy and his friends all the time, but she really wanted him to just ask her out on a real date for once — you know, alone.
According to the advice guru who responded, it’s a common problem he’s seeing among Millennials these days. We’re using technology as a crutch — texting to set up “casual” group outings, flirting by way of Facebook likes — to help us avoid outright rejection.
What we end up with, though, are messy, ill-defined pseudo-relationships and a lot of anxiety about setting up formal dates that build real connections. It’s such an issue that several colleges are now offering Dating 101 classes. Really.
As a Gen Yer who has been on her fair share of “Uh, is this Ultimate Frisbee game supposed to be romantic?” non-dates, I wasn’t surprised to hear it.
And as a giant nerd, I also wasn’t surprised to find that the column made me think of modern sales relationships, too. Because it seems the problems plaguing Gen Y daters today are also hurting client-producer connections.
It’s easier than ever for agents to send out mass emails and schedule automatic tweets and status updates. And — just like going mini-golfing with 10 other people — there’s nothing wrong with that.
But while your clients might appreciate those things, they’re not activities that promote close, real relationships. So when an advisor walks into a client meeting, expecting a warm reception — I mean, he sent all those helpful emails, didn’t he? — he’s instead going to be greeted as just another salesperson.
I’m not saying producers shouldn’t use technology. I think social media really can help build relationships — if a real person, and not just a link-sending robot, is using it, that is. Even mass emails have their place.
But like the poor letter writer who just wants a fancy dinner out, your clients need some personalized attention, too. A handwritten birthday card, maybe. Or a condolence call when a loved one passes. Those small gestures, while they might seem antiquated and time consuming, are actually a really big deal.
If you want a quick one-and-done sale with a client, then, by all means, do nothing but bombard her with generic, impersonal emails. But if you’d like a client to stick around for generations and recommend you to friends and colleagues, pick up her hanky, offer your jacket and, for God’s sake, make some dinner reservations.
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