Three Ways to Turn Casual Contacts into Clients

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Most advisors routinely cross paths with people who are attractive prospects, whether at their golf club, get-togethers with neighbors or through charitable activity in their community. The challenge is how to raise the possibility of working together without appearing to be one of those stereotyped hustlers who give salespeople everywhere a bad name.  (For an amusing example of how life insurance salespeople are commonly viewed, watch this short clip from the movie Groundhog Day.)

Here’s how Gregg, one financial advisor in New England put the problem to me in a recent email:

For the past 10 years, I’ve volunteered on the fundraising committee for the local hospital. I’ve received awards for my contribution and met lots of interesting and wealthy people in the process. While it’s been hugely rewarding, it hasn’t translated into a meaningful number of new clients, even though people know what I do. How can I convert my profile and relationships into clients without offending people and risking the goodwill I’ve built?”

Gregg’s situation is far from unique. I recently met with an advisor, let’s call him Phil, who lives in a large city in the U.S. southeast where he’s president of a fine-wine club. Four years ago, he made three changes in his interactions with other members of the club that have led to a significant increase in the number that have become clients as a result. Critically important, he did this without the sense that he was alienating anyone in the process.

Step one: Changing his mindset

The first step was for Phil to change his mindset with regard to talking about markets and financial matters with his casual contacts. In the past, he had shied away from having these conversations, concerned that he would cross the line and offend people by getting into discussions about business.

Phil had to change his comfort zone about mixing talk on markets with talk on wine. He still lets other members initiate conversations – he never brings up what he does or raises the topic first. But, given that most of the members know that he’s a financial advisor, investing-related topics come up with remarkable frequency.  (This happens a lot more often as a financial advisor than if you were a dentist or doctor – when’s the last time you heard someone in a casual social gathering ask ”So what new innovations are you seeing in dentistry?” or ”What do you think about the developments in accelerated depreciation for oil reserves?”)

The key is that once someone raises this topic, Phil is now comfortable engaging in casual conversations about his views on markets.

Read full article on Three Ways to Turn Casual Contacts into Clients By Dan Richards, Advisor Perspective

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