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Life Health > Running Your Business

6 steps to turn friends into clients

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“Go after your natural market.” 

How many times have we heard that? You know more people than you think. Many like you, but they don’t see you in the context of offering financial advice or helping solve problems involving money. This drives you nuts when they either tell you about a financial product they just bought or want advice choosing between two providers offered by a competitor. How do I get them to come to me, or at least get into the running as a possible provider of solutions?

The six-step process

It all starts with increasing their understanding. This comes from my book “Captivating the Wealthy Investor.”

Step one: Build a list

Approach this systematically. Write down the names of family, friends, relatives and in-laws (outlaws too?).  This should include people who have the potential to be clients.

There’s a tendency to cull the list. “She doesn’t have money” or “He lives to far away.”  It’s difficult to build a business if you focus on what you WON’T do. Ask yourself: “If they approached me, would I take them on as a client?” If you answered yes, they stay on the list!

Step two: Meet

These are spontaneous. It’s not scheduled at your office. No one is presenting or showing slides on an iPad. At the other extreme, you aren’t jumping out of a birthday cake either. After playing golf you see someone in the bar at the clubhouse. Ask permission to join them.

Step threeAsk about their business

You’ve heard the expression: “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” To get the right to tell your story, let them tell their’s first. Admit it, you know they are an attorney or engineer, but you really have no idea what they do. That’s a good start: “We’ve known each other for five years. I know you work at Wibbly Wobbly Construction as an engineer.  What is it you do?” Stop talking. They will go into some detail. Draw them out. Show a sincere interest.

Step four: What about you?

You are tempted to give your elevator speech or another marketing pitch. No. They are wondering where this is all going. Surprise them by making a major assumption, namely they talk with others about you in a professional capacity.

FYI: This isn’t my idea, it’s been around for at least ten years! “We’ve known each other five years. You know I work at Genesis Securities (“We insured the pyramids”) When you tell your friends about me, what is it you say that I do?” Stop talking. You’ve put them on the spot. Ooops! They’ve never mentioned you professionally. Five years is a long time. They can’t admit that. They will use the pigeonhole description: “You are an insurance agent.” Maybe they mention product: “You sell life insurance and annuities.”

Step five: Explain your business

Here’s the cool part. You don’t need a marketing speech, just move their words around. “Life insurance. That’s part of what I do. I also do other things … ”  Briefly explain the broad scope of your business in terms they can easily relate to and see benefits. “I work with a small group of successful business owners and families. I specialize in succession planning and retirement planning.” You are many things to many people. You’ve aligned your answer to their situation.

Step six: Suggest how they can help

They know when they are being pitched. Don’t ask for their business right now. Get them looking for someone with a problem. As you sit across from your 49-year-old dry cleaner owner friend you ask: “If you know anyone in the 45-55 age bracket, runs a successful business but hasn’t saved enough for retirement and needs to play catch up, I would be interested in talking with them.” On the other hand, you might just say: “If you know anyone who complains about their current insurance agent, I would be interested in meeting them.”

It’s a referral scenario, but now you’ve got them looking for someone with a problem. There are lots of them out there.  You look like a potential solution. They feel as if they are doing their complaining friend a favor connecting you both.  Meanwhile, they know what you do and how you could help someone in their situation. Like them, for example.

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