Cultivation through social prospecting makes sense, but it has a drawback. It can take a long time to get results. The solution is to have many prospects. Some will come around sooner, others later and some never. But what if you have numbers to hit?

Your chances of asking a friend for business and getting it increase substantially if you’ve identified a need. That’s the genius behind financial planning. Once you have uncovered the need, it isn’t going away. At some point, it needs to be addressed.

How to Ask a Friend for Business

Here’s the scenario. Your successful Gen X professional has aging parents. They are getting frail, but are still OK living on their own. The Gen Xer is in good financial shape, but thinks the future might include home health aides or an assisted living facility. They are trying not to think about having their folks move into their house.

Let’s try a seven-step procedure to ask that friend for business.

Step 1: Identify the Need

Clearly, it’s looking after their aging parents. They talk about their folks all the time. You ask about their health. You show genuine concern. In the background, you’ve thought about “what if” situations and how you could help in a professional capacity.

Step 2: Discuss and Demonstrate Understanding

Their parents are a frequent topic, addressed every time you see each other. You always ask about their health. Now you go a step further. “I realize looking after them is the most important thing on your mind. I’ve thought long and hard about it. I think I may have a solution.” Stop talking.

Step 3: Assess Their Level of Comfort or Unease

Now they speak. Are you a life preserver thrown to a drowning person? That’s a good sign. On the other hand, they may put everything in compartments. Their parents are in the family compartment. You are over in the friend compartment. They might say: “Thanks for your concern, but this is a family matter. We prefer to keep this private.” It’s a no go.

Step 4: View Objectively as a Third Party

They see all options leading to one outcome. Their folks move in with them. This usually stops them from further thought. They don’t want to be the Sandwich Generation. You’ve seen this situation before. Long-term care insurance might be the solution. This wasn’t even on their radar.

Step 5a: Offer to Do Something (I’ve Got Your Solution)

Your folks aren’t that old, they’re just frail. Here’s what you should do. Buy long-term care insurance. I’m licensed for it. You can buy it through me! Look at it this way: They can both fall down the stairs. They can both break a hip. Relax, it won’t cost you a dime.” You stop talking.

Result: Disaster! They recoil. “We’ve never told anyone about this before! We confided in you! You want to sell us insurance! You want to make money off us! Get out of here!” Not the result you wanted.

Step 5b: Offer to Do Something (Sell the Firm)

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard about this problem. You would be surprised at the number of people we’ve helped in similar circumstances. There’s this guy at our firm. He’s helped lots of people just like you. You might say he’s a specialist. Why don’t I give you his name and phone number … Come to think of it, he will be in our office in two weeks. Why don’t I make an appointment for you? I would be glad to attend that meeting, if it would make you feel more comfortable.”

Result: Now the solution comes from that faceless organization, the firm. You’ve brought in the product specialist. Your friend sees you as hooking them up with a solution provider. It’s your client, so the business accrues to you.

Step 6: Do a Good Job.

Give them a turnkey solution. Include pros, cons, costs and next steps. Ideally, they just need to say “Do it” and write a check. Your friend (and his parents) just became a client.

Step 7:  Follow up.

Suppose they don’t write a check. They say: “Food for thought.” The conversation is over. You need to follow up. Your initial thought is to call every two weeks for the next two years, asking if they’ve made a decision. They stop taking your calls. You need a better approach.

Remember dates and events. When you see your friend, remark: “Thanksgiving is around the corner. Are you going to California to be with them or are they coming to you? I know you always spend the holidays together.”

The news is full of stories about wildfires in California. You call your friend, asking if his folks are OK. “I realize they are the most important thing on your mind.”

You are tactfully bringing the situation top of mind. They realize they have a problem that needs a solution. The problem isn’t going away. They had zero solutions before. They have one now. They will eventually need to make a decision.

This is a tactful way to help a person solve a problem. In addressing the issue, the friend has also become a client.


Bryce SandersBryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor,” can be found on Amazon.