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Social Prospecting for New Advisors

Austin: “I’m a natural in social circles. My family has excellent contacts and I can get face-to-face with all of them socially” began Jim. He continued, “But now what? I always have this issue of bridging the gap between social relationships and business prospects. Plus, I’m new to the business. Why would they need me?”

Jim is skimming the surface of a major issue that we hear nearly every day during our coaching and workshops – turning social relationships into legitimate business prospects. The concept of approaching people you know regarding business is often unnerving and downright scary. This is especially true for new advisors. They psych themselves out - what if I ruin the relationship? Why would they want to work with me? Will they ever talk to me again? Will I look too “salesy”?

From Jim’s perspective, he would much rather hold a seminar where people are there that he doesn’t know, supposedly for the purpose of business. He feels more comfortable in that context. However, from a 2011 Oechsli Institute research perspective, the marketing tactics most effective in today’s environment are all relationship based. Jim needs to roll up his sleeves and get outside of his comfort zone! The following is a simple process for tackling this difficult new advisor issue that requires courage, finesse, and practice.

Forget That You Are New

New advisors need to forget that they are new advisors. As contradictory as this might seem, it’s extremely important for your mindset and for your confidence. The truth is, you know more about your craft than 99% of the population. However, we often get caught up in the mind games associated with feeling we are too new, too young, or too inexperienced to work with larger prospects. You assume “Uncle Bob” won’t want to do business with you. After all, he could work with someone who has been an advisor for thirty years. This type of mindset is destined to serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

For example, last week we were on a call with an advisor who had only been in the business for two years and had a round of golf set up with a large prospect who happened to be a family friend. At the end of the round, the prospect asked him, “So why would I do business with you? You’ve only been an advisor for a couple years.” The advisor smiled and replied with self-confidence, “You work with me because you can trust me, I’ll communicate with you, and this will be a collaboration between us.” He maintained his composure and confidence. He got the business.

Like, Trust, Respect (Warning: Don’t Skip this Step!)

This should go without saying, but I can’t tell you how many advisors ask us questions like, “Okay, I just met this new prospect, when do I go for the business?” This is the equivalent of asking, “I just had a great first date, when do I ask for their hand in marriage?” The answer to both is a deafening– it depends! Building rapport and getting to know your prospect is fundamental to your relationship marketing strategy. Take the time to get to know your prospect on a personal level. You should know their hobbies, interests, organizational involvement, children’s names, children’s interests, pet’s names, philanthropic passions, vacation hotspots, etc. (Obviously, all of this is not required, but you get the idea).

Timing and Execution

With a solid rapport established it’s time to take action. When you pull the trigger depends upon your unique situation. However, the following are three basic situations in which it can make sense to approach your social relationships.

1. They Complain About their Personal Situation/They Ask For Your Advice.

The prospect in this situation is cracking the window – your objective is to jump through it in the form of a “second opinion.” This might be something along the lines of, “This has been the most volatile period we’ve seen in the markets in a long time. We’ve just been working feverishly with our clients to make certain they’re protected. We should probably sit down with you as well – just to make sure you’re headed in the right direction.”

2. They Mention a Life Changing Financial Transition

If your prospect is buying/selling a house, recently retired, widowed, divorced, or experiencing any other financial transition, this is your moment to step in and demonstrate your expertise. Once you discover the financial impact point, you might say, “You know, we do a lot of work with people who are going through a divorce, and we’ve seen people make a lot of mistakes. It would probably make sense for us to get together and make sure you have all your financial ducks in a row.”

3. You’ve Known Them For a Long Time (It’s Now or Never)

Sometimes, you just ask. When asking directly, be sure to focus on your inflection and position your offer as a supportive gesture. Be confident in your execution and limit your verbiage.

The Offer Stands

Not everyone is going to take you up on your offer to talk business. Therefore, in any of these situations, you have to be ready to walk away or drop the subject. After all, these are friends and family and whether they do business with you or not, they can be great centers-of-influence. If your prospect isn’t biting, let them know that the second opinion offer stands whenever they are ready and then continue on with your conversation.

Being able to bridge this gap takes a lot of practice and courage. Create a targeted list of social relationships that you would like to have as clients and take them through this process. As you master the skills component and just start doing, your confidence will grow and you’ll be well on your way to Rainmaker status.

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