Dallas, TX -“Matt, I was talking to my wife recently about some of her colleagues,” Richard told me at a recent team-building workshop. “She works for a large company and knows a ton of people who would make great clients. But the other day I asked her how she describes what I do for a living, and she said she feigns ignorance, basically defaulting by saying that I work for Merrill Lynch. My fear is that she is inadvertently pigeon-holing me with her colleagues. How can I help her properly communicate my value to her centers-of-influence?”
Richard’s wife was in a position to be a terrific center-of-influence (COI), but Richard needed to help her communicate his value to her affluent colleagues. I first needed to confirm that Richard could properly communicate his value, so I entered into a brief role-play exercise. I played the role of the affluent prospect and I asked him, “So, what do you do?”
He hesitated, and then replied with a rambling statement about comprehensive wealth management that sounded more like a mission statement.
I then asked him to clarify, and he proceeded to tell me all about his high-level personal service, and the fact that he is a financial-solutions provider for his clients. He had loosened up now, and was hitting the affluent “hot buttons.” Although he stumbled through his value statement, he clearly knew what his value was.
At that point I asked him if his clients, friends and networking colleagues would know what he really did, much less how to communicate his value to others who might be potential referrals or clients. “You know, I sincerely doubt it,” said Richard.
Even if your clients, friends and referral sources think they know what you do for them, they probably don’t have the entire picture. And the odds are very high that they cannot communicate your value to their friends, family and colleagues.
Our research on how the affluent make major purchasing decisions clearly tells us that word-of-mouth influence is critically important. When looking for options, the affluent are most influenced by the opinions of friends, family and colleagues. This fits hand-in-glove with the high-impact activities of a “rainmaker.”
Our research also tells us that the affluent dislike salespeople; to most of them, a financial advisor is the same as stockbroker—which is the same as salesperson. If Richard is being described as “my financial advisor” or “my stockbroker,” he’s in trouble from the start. He’s also not helping himself with a rambling explanation of comprehensive wealth management. It’s no wonder his wife chooses the default option.
Richard was leaving business on the table. He needed to work with his referral alliances—his clients, his family and anyone else who could refer business to him—on how to properly communicate his value. Let me walk you through a two-step exercise that will help those around you communicate your value effectively:
Step 1: Determine your unique Value Statement
This is where Richard must begin. He needs to simplify comprehensive wealth management for his world in North Dallas. When asked to elaborate, he mentions that he is the “go-to” financial coordinator for his clients, and provides them with high-level personal service. Then, and only then, can Richard get his clients to fully understand what he does, as well as his friends, family and referral sources. From there he can work on getting them to communicate his value.
Step 2: Share your Value Statement with your friends, family, colleagues and referral sources.
Any person who might refer people to, or even mention, your practice should be able to properly communicate this value. Here are a few ways that Richard can help these people communicate his value to their friends, family and colleagues:
- Referral Alliance: Here, Richard can be very direct. He should sit down with his referral sources and script them on how he should be referenced. For example, “Richard acts as the ‘go-to’ financial coordinator for his clients, and handles the totality of their financial affairs. He provides exceptional personal service, and essentially acts as a family CFO.” Richard and the referral source should also determine the best way to arrange a personal introduction between Richard and the prospect.
- Top Clients: Richard should be a bit less direct with his top clients. Instead of a meeting to script his clients, he should make it an, “Oh, by the way” conversation. As in, “Oh by the way, if anyone asks you about me, just tell them that I handle your family’s financial affairs.” This is especially helpful when they’re offering to give you a referral or introduction.
- Colleagues from civic and charitable groups: While you certainly don’t need to sit down with every member and script your value, you should plant the seeds of who you are, and what you do, with a select group who have sent (or can send) business your way.
- Friends, family and colleagues: While it may depend on the type of relationship, every one of your friends, family and colleagues should be able to communicate your value to their friends, family and colleagues. The next time you are talking to one of these individuals, simply say, “By the way, John, if anyone ever asks about me and what I do, let them know that I oversee the financial affairs of a select group of families.”
Richard was listening to me describe this exercise and furiously taking notes on who he wanted to script. Richard made a commitment to identify and coach all of the people who could potentially refer business to him. If you follow these steps, you can increase the quality and quantity of the referrals you receive.
Once again, we want to thank all of you who have emailed comments and questions to us. We will continue to do our best to answer each one. If you have any topic suggestions or special requests, please contact Rich Santos, publisher of Registered Rep. and Trust & Estates magazines, at [email protected].