Your success as an advisor is built on the strength of your relationships. The rapport you establish with prospects directly impacts whether they decide to work with you, and the connections you develop with your clients determine how deep the relationships go, which influences how much they recommend you to family and friends. To establish better relationships with prospects and clients, we must focus on finding the shared experiences that connect us as people.
(Related: 4 Ways to Create Your Own ‘Random Luck’)
Many salespeople feel tempted to force new prospect connections as quickly as possible. They cram the relationship-building process into three months by blasting emails, dialing phone numbers, and sending social media messages. Building a lifelong relationship naturally takes years, but they look for shortcuts anywhere possible.
We have all been on the receiving end of these tactics. I recently received a cold email from someone in the executive search space. I sent a brief reply explaining I was uninterested and the service was not appropriate for our business. I was surprised a few days later when I received another email from the same individual with this subject line: “John, can you do a 6-minute call on Wed, Dec. 4 at 9:20?” The sales rep had completely ignored my previous email turning down the offer, and they instead decided to blaze forward to try to force a conversation between us. Upon reading the subject line, my next thought was sarcastic: “Oh, wait, did you say six minutes? Gosh, I can’t wait to spend six minutes together!”
These tacky approaches to building relationships are destined to fail because they offer little respect to other people. Prospects know when someone is trying to sell to them, and these signals make them annoyed and even angry. Instead, we should focus on establishing relationships through shared experiences.
When we find something in common, we can connect on a personal level. When I think about my kids graduating from high school, for example, I rarely think about the graduation ceremony. Instead, I think about the good and bad times we spent together to reach graduation. Those are the experiences we shared over time that bind us together today. Too many salespeople resist investing that same amount of time. Instead, they want immediate results without the shared experiences. We all know this strategy will eventually fail, but many continue to push as if it will work.
Discovering where your shared experiences lie with clients can be a long process. We use three strategies in our own office to help us make connections:
1. Learn more about them, especially in the first year of working together.
We maintain a personal file for each client with a list of questions we need to ask in the first 12 months of the relationship. We track their birthdays, whether they have kids, where they like to vacation, and other characteristics that define them as a person. This information helps our account representatives dive deeper into conversations and develop personal connections with each client.