The day you started in the business, someone told you: “Go after your natural market.” Family and friends are at the center of this group. You were wary of a “one size fits all” approach because you have all sorts of friends, near and far, new and established. What do you do?
7 Stages in the Development of Relationships
Most people you know (except your parents!) start at the beginning and gradually move through these steps. Many relationships stop at one stage! Although we describe many people as friends, a more accurate description is “People you know.” Let’s get started.
Stage 1: Strangers.
Who: Someone you met a party. Maybe you asked a client for a social introduction to a potential prospect. They often ask: “What do you do?”
Your approach: You might say: “I’m a financial advisor at (firm). You probably work with an advisor already.”
Strategy: They have three possible answers. Yes, No and everything else. “No, I don’t have an advisor” might imply they think they are smarter. Tread carefully. Staring at you and saying nothing might imply: “I’m suspicious of you and not cooperating.” Change the subject. Yes is the answer you want. You might ask: “What do you like best about them? Would you recommend them?” Draw them out about the quality of the relationship.
Stage 2: Acquaintances
Who: Commuters on the same train. Fellow parents with children in the local school system.
Your approach: Find a common issue. Discuss it.
Strategy: Let’s assume the common issue is young children. You mention yours, confirm the ages of theirs. Everyone wants to provide the best education possible. This costs money. You found a savings solution. What are they doing to address the issue?
Stage 3: Sharing Similar Interests
Who: You are a gym regular. You see the same folks four times a week. You nod and wave.
Your approach: You want to tell your story by raising your visibility.
Strategy: Buy tasteful workout gear with the firm logo. Wear one logoed item at a time. Read the Wall Street Journal on the elliptical machine. Stand and watch CNBC when resting between sets. If it’s not on, ask the manager to change channels. Pay attention to everyone else’s tee shirts. Ask questions based on the message or logo on the shirt. Learn who they are, what they do and where they work.
Stage 4: Friendship
Who: These people are actual friends. You spend time together. You have history. You call them to go out and party.
Your approach: Endeavor to tell your story by asking about their job first.