Providence -- "I belong to all the right organizations in my community. I'm in the Rotary Club, the Chamber of Commerce, the best country clubs, social groups and charitable organizations. Why am I not getting the results I want: more affluent clients?" cried Sherry at a recent rainmaking workshop. "I joined these groups to increase my networking exposure, and I feel like I'm traveling in the right circles, but nothing is developing in my pipeline. What gives? Am I doing something wrong?"
Sherry was performing what could be considered a high-impact activity -- strategic networking -- but wasn't getting any results. So I asked Sherry to list all of her networking opportunities, and let me tell you, it was a long list!
As I listened to Sherry rattle off the networking groups, social clubs, country clubs, charitable organizations and community functions she was involved with, I began to see a recurring pattern. While she was technically a member of all these various groups, she wasn't committing sufficient time and energy to any one particular group. So, I stopped her (she was still listing the networking groups), and asked the following question: Of all the groups and organizations you listed, have you either taken a leadership role or become active as a "doer" in any of them?
The question caught her off guard. "Well, now that you mention it, I'm not really in a leadership position for any of these groups. Frankly, I show up for the meetings or a function when my schedule permits, and then I simply try to network and meet new people I can prospect."
Bingo. Sherry was engaged in the right activity, but she wasn't engaging in the right way. In order to place affluent prospects in your pipeline from these networking opportunities, you need to work on your branding.
Research shows that the affluent are a skeptical bunch. They don't like sales people and always have their "sales antenna" out to protect them from being accosted by a salesperson. In order to sellto the affluent, you must first become one with the affluent. Simply showing up for meetings or functions and trying to sell your services will probably do more harm than good. Why? Because in your haste to sell your services, you will end up branding yourself as a "sales person."
That said, how can an advisor become one with the affluent? The answer is simple -- she must brand herself as an elite player on the affluent playing field. Let me walk you through a few action steps you can take to begin this branding process.
First, identify the organizations that are a good fit for you. Think about the two best groups for you on a civic level, such as the Chamber of Commerce or the Rotary Club, and then the top two social groups that would be a good fit, such as a country club or a hobby group. In both instances, civic and social, you want to spend time in an organization where the affluent spend time. You might want to create a list of the groups that would allow you to engage in your interests and passions, as well as to rub elbows with the affluent.
Second, do your homework. Who is a typical member of each group? How many members are there? What events or functions does the group hold? What charities or initiatives does the group support? What committees does the group have? What opportunities does the organization provide for you to get face-to-face with its members?
You are looking to determine whether the particular group will give you the opportunity to get face-to-face with potential affluent clients, and how it might allow you to accomplish that.
Be careful, however. There are three common mistakes you must be careful to avoid; Sherry made all of them.
3 Common Mistakes To Avoid:
Mistake #1—You Fail To Get Involved
You are there to support the group, but also to make yourself a magnet for others within the group. Become a committee chair, take the lead on a new project, host an event, or lead a fundraising initiative. Become a leader and a focal point within the group, and you will brand yourself as a player.
Mistake #2—You Sell Too Soon
The most common mistake advisors make is that they don't take the time to properly position themselves before they begin to solicit business. You must take the time to build affluent trust. As a general rule, wait six months after joining an organization to start pitching your services. In that time, become involved and brand yourself properly.
Mistake #3—You Never Sell At All.
You must approach each event and function with a strategic intent to place affluent prospects into your pipeline. You cannot sit back and wait for the affluent to approach you. You must be proactive and set specific goals. How many new people will you meet and talk to at the big event? How many people will you make a "mini-close" on, inviting them for a cup of coffee so you can "run a few ideas" by them. Once you've done the work to position yourself as an elite player on the affluent playing field, you can capitalize on that branding, and begin selling your services.
Based on our conversation, Sherry has decided to cut back the number of groups she belongs to, and has committed to getting more involved in three specific groups -- all of which have personal importance to her. She was already contemplating leading a fundraising initiative at a major charity in her community.
With that simple change, Sherry has begun the journey of branding herself as an elite player on the affluent playing field. She's now primed to get face-to-face with the affluent in her community. Are you prepared to do the same?
If you would like a FREE copy of our Networking Worksheet, please visit our FREE download page.
Also, if you brought in 10 or more $1 million-plus clients over the past year, and want to participate in one of our current research projects, visit 2007-8 Rainmaker Best Practices.
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].