One of seven children born to Depression-era parents, Brian Adair has seen first-hand the importance of planning for the future. In fact, his personal history motivates his selling strategy. “My parents … put all seven of us through college, helped us all buy our first homes, and to see that all be put into jeopardy as they became ill — and frankly, didn’t really have a plan put together — was devastating,” he says. “It’s a very typical scenario and I would use that as motivation for myself to try to get to as many families as I can to say to them, ‘Hey, don’t let this happen to you.’ ”
With just seven years in the industry, Adair brought in $29 million in production in 2011. Here, he offers five tips for maximizing the sales opportunities that already exist within your community.
See also: Brian Adair on Building Referrals
1. Build the right relationships.
Brian Adair understands the secret to his success — it’s building relationships with other financial and legal professionals. In fact, his entire business has been built on the shoulders of relationships he has with other industry experts, something he realizes is a rarity in this business.
“Almost all of our work comes to us from referrals from CPAs and law firms,” Adair says. “We don’t do any seminars at all. Our families are coming into us referred in a very warm fashion … [and] they’re already basically on board with us, even at our first meeting.”
2. Establish your niche market.
Adair began his career by working for his family’s health care agency, helping seniors who were in the midst of a health care crisis. When he made the decision to switch to financial services 20 years in, it made sense to stay with a market he knew how to serve well. His market is the Allegheny area of Pennsylvania, which is the second oldest county in the U.S., according to Adair. “We have a big pool of clients here who need help.” Today, seniors make up 85 percent of Adair’s clientele.
3. Find a need and fill it.
Because he knew the senior market so well, Adair was able to identify its unmet needs. While working at his family’s agency, he noticed a major hole in his clients’ financial preparedness for the expenses they would face in retirement. “We were a private-pay agency so I saw these families really losing everything they had worked for when they needed our help and started to have to pay for the care,” he says.
He began putting the different pieces together and saw that “nobody at that time, in my opinion, was servicing the seniors comprehensively and frankly that’s how the whole thing was born,” he says, referring to his decision to jump into financial services.
4. Partner with charities, local and national.
Adair has found that working with charities you believe in can be a win-win situation for both parties. “We play a role in several charities even at the national level. Ironically, they have asked us to assist in their efforts because, as you can imagine in today’s economy, with where we are with the interest rate environment, you’ve got these charities going to the same donors year after year asking for money and people are saying, ‘I can’t help.’ So the charities actually ask us to work with some of their donors to help them—which then ultimately benefits the charity.”
5. Mix business with pleasure.
Every year, Adair throws a Christmas party for his clients at the Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh. Last year, 250 clients showed up. “Our families love us,” he says. Spending time with clients outside of a conference room is one way he helps build a sense of relational trust, which he believes is critical to developing a relationship that can stand the test of time.
“We’re the furthest thing from an asset gatherer,” Adair says. “We know our families. I don’t have to open their file to know their story.”
For sales & marketing tips from other top advisors, see SMA’s 2012 Advisor of the Year Finalists.