Every advisor who is interested in acquiring affluent clients must become skilled in the art of social prospecting. This is the new normal in affluent marketing. Social prospecting is to rainmaking what cold calling was to marketing 25 years ago and what seminars were to marketing 15 years ago.
Our ongoing research on rainmakers confirms the increasing importance of this practice. Participants in our Rainmaker Focus Group (who averaged $42 million in new assets in 2010) estimated that 70 percent to 80 percent of their prospecting is done in social circles.
Now consider this comment from a wealthy client who belongs to our Affluent Focus Group (clients with $1 million to $10 million who had a primary advisor):
“If my financial advisor would do more than simply meet with me once a year to review my portfolio, if he would do something fun, social, non-business, I'd be happy to introduce him to my friends.”
So let me explain the realities of social prospecting. First of all, in affluent social circles, whether it's a small dinner party or a social event at the club, defenses tend to be down. When defenses are down, it's easier to develop rapport, which is an essential ingredient in likability. Once rapport is developed, the next objective is to gain trust on a personal level. None of this is within the realm of rational decision-making; it's simply how humans are wired. We tend to trust people on an emotional level, people with whom we've developed rapport. From a rainmaker's perspective, all that is left is uncovering an opportunity to offer an opinion (put on your professional advisor's hat) in a natural, non-salesy, manner.
Advisors often ask us, “When is it appropriate for me to talk business?” and “How many times do I have to meet a prospect before asking for their business?” And the answer is what every non-rainmaker doesn't want to hear: it depends.
Social prospecting is about romancing money. You target a prospect, orchestrate an introduction, develop rapport, and guide this individual into your pipeline. Ultimately you want to turn your prospect into a client. Like any form of romance, nothing is black and white. There will be the odd occasion where the prospect-to-client timeline is short, while others will take months or even years — each will be different as people and circumstances are different.
The following are six steps that can help you with your social prospecting in affluent circles:
- Create a Master Dream List of affluent prospects and key centers-of-influence. This list should include anyone in the community that you'd like to have as a client. It's a lengthy exercise, but well worth the time.
- Identify the connections between your Master Dream List and your client base.
- Determine the best social method for getting introduced to those on your dream list. This should be social interaction — something non-business.
- Contact your client or COI and set up the interaction. For example, “Bob, are you going to the fund-raiser for the new wing of the XYZ Children's Hospital?” It's all about creative points of contact. Then ask, “Is your partner Jerry going?” If yes, explain that you'd like to meet him. If not, suggest taking them both out to dinner. Once the event is confirmed, get a little background on your prospect — it makes it easier to develop rapport.
- Develop rapport with your prospect (Jerry). Make certain everyone has a good time. Find areas of commonality and make certain both client and prospect do most of the talking.
- Mini-close for another social contact (unless a window of opportunity opened and you were able to mini-close for second opinion).
Rainmakers put structure around these steps. In other words, they take them seriously and don't wing it. The implications of this marketing shift are profound. Today's affluent want to get to know you, determine whether or not they like you, from which point they will come to a determination as to whether or not they trust you. And this is merely the prerequisite for earning the right to present your services on a professional level. Yet, master social prospecting and you're on the road to personal affluence.
Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients. oechsli.com.