Broaching business conversations with social contacts is tricky. Few would refute this statement. Our research on advisors who prospect socially reveals that their biggest fear is “coming across salesy.” This is completely understandable.
The following is a natural, yet powerful, way of broaching a business conversation with a social prospect. Our coach, Greg Blackwell, refers to it as the “dramatic approach.”
The idea is to catch your prospect’s attention by sharing a quick story or situation about an area that impacts your work. The situation should be recent and topical. It could be a client issue, the upcoming election, the markets, economy, you name it. This concept also involves some story telling – painting the picture – for the social contact regarding the type of people you work with and problems you solve.
Take the following example. An advisor sits down for lunch with a friend with whom they would like to do business. The advisor sits down, takes a deep breath, sighs, and vents, “What a mess! I just got out of a meeting with a client who is petrified of the upcoming election. She watched the DNC last night and said she couldn’t sleep. She’s concerned that if Trump is elected, stocks will plunge and the bond market could capsize. If Hillary wins, she concerned she’ll cripple the economy with tax reform.” The friend responds, “What did you tell her?” Bingo!
If you’ve done a good job of selecting a story in which your social contact can relate, there’s a good chance they will ask some inquisitive questions. You’ll likely get comments like “Do you do a lot of that?” “What happened?” “What are you going to do with her?” etc.
Here are a few other examples to get your wheels turning:
- “Whew! I just met with this widow who lives here in town and I can’t stop thinking about her. She is such a sweet lady. Her husband passed away 6 months ago and she was basically oblivious to their financial situation. She had no idea that all her assets were basically tied up in two stocks.”
- “It blows my mind, the amount of people who don’t have any sort of succession plan. I just got out of a meeting with a business owner who has never even considered an exit strategy, but wants to know if he can retire.”
By the way, you can’t just make this stuff up! Don’t start creating sensational stories. These need to be real situations you’ve recently encountered. You don’t want to run the risk of sharing the same story with the same person twice!
What’s the best part of this approach? You don’t have to wait for your prospect to broach the conversation! The next time you see your social contact you appear pre-occupied with the details you’ve recently experienced.
Your next step? Segue the conversation to them personally, and close for a meeting. You might say, “When was the last time your advisor updated your financial plan?”
Stephen Boswell and Kevin Nichols are thought leaders with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry. @StephenBoswell@KevinANichols www.oechsli.com