How do advisors ask for business from people who are new friends or acquaintances along with old established friends?
Bryce Sanders, president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc., New Hope, Pa., raised that question here in a focus session of the annual meeting of the Million Dollar Round Table.
“We want to expand the relationship to be one that is both social and business,” he said, but the question is, how to do that? “Because you are a friend or acquaintance, you (might) find it difficult to ask them for business,” he said.
At least 10 things hold such people back from doing business with a friend, Sanders suggested.
Sanders said his interviews with successful high net worth individuals revealed that, when being approached, they prefer the professional to be “gently persistent and patient.” Oddly, he said, they did not list “pushy” as an attribute.
In addition, “they would like to see a willingness to be thoughtful. They would like to be reintroduced through a peer. They would like to have an established basis of trust. They would like you to be satisfying a need.”
Finally, they would like the advisor to be “reactive,” said Sanders. “They said, ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you,’” he explained.
When approaching one’s own friends, though, Sanders suggested 3 strategies:
First, increase their understanding of what the business does and what benefits the clients gets as well as relevant training, experience and professional certifications. Let them know the number of clients now on the books, the firm’s commitment to fair pricing and that client needs come first. This is a low key approach and won’t require the advisor to leave his or her comfort zone, Sanders said.
Second, win them over. “Your friends (already) know who you are,” Sanders said, but “they need to learn more about what you do and why you are good.” That requires investing in the relationship, and being ready to talk about business when the questions come up, even if only stories about something that happened during the week that shows how the work benefits people. This is a slightly more active approach that also keeps the advisor in the comfort zone, he said.
Third, ask for the business. This entails identifying a need, approaching the person, and offering a solution through which that person becomes a client, said Sanders. So, “find out what keeps them awake at night. Look for life changing events–death, divorce and disease are the big three.” And remember, people talk to their friends about such things before they talk with their advisor and money changes hands, he said. This approach is “shooting them between the eyes,” he allowed. “It’s riskier but you get your results a lot quicker.”
Sanders also presented several short-term strategies or what he termed “one-liners” for advisors to use in social situations to ask friends to do business with them. Here are some of them:
Saving money. Most wealthy people want to stay wealthy, Sanders said. “Regardless of market conditions, if you can save them money, they usually have an interest in what you have to say.”