New York Times best-selling author Michael Levin learned an important lesson about sales when he accepted an invitation for a weekend aboard a boat off Cape Cod.
“The boat owner was a stockbroker,” Levin recalls, “and he moored the boat close to a prospect’s house on a large tract of land. He spent the whole weekend staring at the house, trying to figure out how to approach the guy. It seemed a little obsessive, but he ended up with a solution, and the guy has been a client for decades.”
The stockbroker’s “in” was the prospect’s land. The stockbroker realized that the owner might want to avoid the high taxes associated with such valuable property. So he phoned him to suggest that he and the prospect consult an estate-planning attorney to craft a land trust to reduce the tax burden.
The prospect welcomed the idea and ended up hiring the financial advisor. Perhaps best of all, he ended up conserving a mile of coastline for future generations. The stockbroker and has been working with the client ever since.
“Financial advisors today are all pretty much in the same boat,” notes Levin, who specializes in working with financial experts. “They’ve got their eyes on high-net-worth prospects. But they have no idea of how to land them. That’s because they face this agonizing dilemma: How can you get people to trust you when they don’t even know you?”
Competition for the most sought-after prospects has never been stiffer. At the same time, financial advisors operate under a dark cloud of public mistrust. Separating yourself from the Bernie Madoffs of the world is a real challenge. Financial advisors, says Levin, all tend to be painted with the same brush.