St. Louis: “You have convinced me about the importance of prospecting socially in affluent circles, but I’m just so worried about coming across as ‘that guy’ – you know, the one who’s trying to sell something,” confessed Jake before asking “Do you have any advice?”
Suddenly, prompted by such a primal question, I thought of Charlie Munger, the King of Inversion. To which I explained Munger’s philosophy and proceeded to list what our research has identified as the top 7 social prospecting faux pas financial advisors tend to make.
Social Blunder #1 – Talking too much
Don’t you love being around someone who is always talking? Hardly. We do the eye-roll even if it’s someone in our personal spheres-of-influence. Yet, it’s almost as though financial advisors have been programmed to talk in social settings that present prospecting opportunities.
Financial Advisor Tip: It’s important to understand today’s affluent. They don’t like someone who talks too much or is pushy, especially in social settings. So make it a priority to observe, listen, and speak 20% of the time.
Social Blunder #2 – Talking about themselves
This is the younger brother of talking too much. Typically whenever someone talks too much, they are talking about themselves. It’s like they’ve inverted Dale Carnegie’s seminal message. You know the “Let me tell you how interesting I am…”
Financial Advisor Tip: Ask rapport building questions to get people talking about themselves. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them -- always.
Social Blunder #3 – Poor listening skills
Still part of the family of top mistakes is not really listening. Obviously it’s hard for a financial advisor to be a skilled listener if he or she is talking all the time. A more insidious habit that impairs listening is pretending to listen while really focusing on what “you’re going to say” and looking for a place to break into the conversation. Yea – you’re not talking, but neither are you listening.
Financial Advisor Tip: Make eye contact, repeat phrases without interrupting, and think of pertinent questions to ask when it’s your turn to talk. Then, take a pause after someone finishes speaking, and respond with a pertinent question.
Trying too Hard
Social Blunder #4 – Trying too hard for attention
This is a classic sign of insecurity. It is also precisely the impression a financial advisor does NOT want to project while schmoozing at an affluent social function. First impressions are lasting. And from a pure networking perspective, it’s so much easier for a financial advisor to work a room when not trying to be the center of attention.
Financial Advisor Tip: Approach every social event with a game plan, which we refer to as strategic intent. For instance, prior to the event you’ve identified three people who will be attending who you’d like to meet. You’ve also selected the person(s) who will serve as your connector, the person who will introduce you to each of these people.
Social Blunder #5 – Talking too much business
This is counterintuitive, but the less business a financial advisor discusses in affluent social circles, the more affluent business that advisor attracts. Today’s affluent dislike pushy salespeople as much as they dislike people who talk too much, and they often go hand-in-hand.
Financial Advisor Tip: Develop rapport with the individuals you meet, whether they’re prospects or not. You develop rapport by expressing interest in them and getting them relaxed and conversational. Whenever a financial advisor is able to connect on this level, numerous opportunities to discuss business will be on the horizon.
Social Blunder #6 – Goofy value proposition
Few things are as embarrassing as listening to a financial advisor recite some disingenuous value proposition when asked the proverbial “What do you do?” question. This comes across as salesy and serves only to activate that highly sensitive “sales alert” antenna. Instead of positioning the financial advisor as a person of interest, they are now someone to avoid.
Financial Advisor Tip: When someone asks the proverbial “What do you do?” at a social event, it is NOT an opportunity to sell. It’s an opportunity to do one thing – develop rapport. Have a short response and then redirect with a question relative to the social event, such as “How long have you been involved with…?” The days of being the most interesting person in the room are long gone.
Social Blunder #7 – Talking politics
This is a challenge in our politically charged environment. It seems as though political conversations have become the norm in today’s social settings. That said, few affluent investors are hiring a financial advisor for their political views. Our research is very clear on this, they don’t trust politicians of either party, nor do they trust the media. The affluent of today want a financial advisor with an open mind, who has a breadth and depth of knowledge, and who is capable of navigating their family’s financial affairs through these challenging times.
Financial Advisor Tip: Perceive yourself as politically agnostic whenever in social circles. Don’t take sides when someone is ranting on a particular issue, rather take a middle-of-the-road approach. Highlight your concern, comment regarding the confusing nature of the problem (they usually are), and throw the media under the bus for fanning the flames of the issue (they usually do).
Why are these financial advisor tips so important? Because social prospecting in affluent circles has ranked as the no. 1 most effective prospecting method for acquiring $1 million or greater clients -- which is why it’s the preferred marketing activity of elite financial advisors.
This shouldn’t come as revolutionary news to you. Our research has identified this trend over 10 years ago, now it’s no longer a trend – it’s a reality. Therefore it’s important for financial advisors like Jake, to venture outside the comfort zone and master the art of social prospecting.