At Play on the Fields of the Rich

If selling to the affluent were a sport, every day would be game day. For better or worse, in investment sales, there is no practice field, and only serious players should suit up. At the risk of overextending the metaphor, I would further submit that those who want to play the game need to find the right field. That means taking the time to find out where affluent people gather and then making it

If selling to the affluent were a sport, every day would be game day.

For better or worse, in investment sales, there is no practice field, and only serious players should suit up.

At the risk of overextending the metaphor, I would further submit that those who want to play the game need to find the right field. That means taking the time to find out where affluent people gather and then making it your business to meet them face to face.

Joiners Wanted

To accomplish this, there are a number of organizations a rep should consider joining. First, however, it's important to establish a list of criteria to use in selecting the best types of organizations for you.

Here are several questions that can guide the process of choosing:

  1. Does the organization attract wealthy individuals, and does it schedule activities that they attend? Some organizations have wealthy people on their rolls, but not at their functions.

  2. Does the organization provide opportunities to meet new people at least monthly? Some organizations schedule events two to four times a year, but that is not enough.

  3. Is the organization recognized as a gathering place for the wealthy? When you mention the organization's name, people should immediately comment on the elite membership.

  4. Does the organization's purpose and its goals capture your interest? It will be difficult to stay involved if you aren't drawn in some meaningful way to what they do.

  5. Is the organization viewed as making a positive contribution to the community? Avoid organizations connected to controversial issues.

  6. Can you afford to be involved? Go beyond basic membership fees, and check the typical cost of monthly meetings, special events and expected contributions to any fund-raising activities.

There are a number of organizations that meet these criteria. The most obvious ones include alumni associations, Chambers of Commerce, charities, churches and country clubs.

Our 2004 Affluent Purchase Decision research confirms that the affluent seek the opinions of family and trusted friends when initiating a search for major purchase options. When making the final purchase decision, however, they depend more on their own research and judgment.

Getting a quality referral or introduction is great, but assuming that a referred affluent prospect is going to trust you with managing their family's wealth just because of a referral is foolish.

Onward to Riches

After you select a group (or two), the next step is how and when to get involved.

  • Plan your involvement. Determine who will be there, what your networking objectives will be and what source materials you need to take to the event.

  • Show up early. Arrive ready to network, and stop at the entrance to plan your first move.

  • Walk the room at least twice. Become familiar with the area and who is there.

  • Stay alert. Eat early, don't drink and don't smoke.

  • Spend at least 75 percent of your time with people you don't know.

  • Identify three to six people you want to meet.

  • Tell the target prospects your name and what you do. Give them only enough information to encourage them to ask questions.

  • Exchange cards, if it is appropriate. Ask for the prospect's card; only give yours if — and only if — the prospect asks for it.

  • Ask the prospect something to get him talking: “What brings you here tonight?”

  • Ask questions to get them to tell you more about themselves.

Your goal is to become one with the affluent. This requires more than simply joining. The secret is to become involved with the right organizations the right way.

Writer's BIO:
Matt Oechsli
is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients. oechsli.com

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