The rich are different, as they say. And that applies to how they talk — and how they want to be talked to. “We're all successful and travel in affluent circles. But I know that I'm not the only one letting affluent opportunities slip away for fear of coming off like a sales person,” says Dick, a rep I was working with.

We had just completed an “affluent verbiage” drill at one of our rainmaker weekends, and Dick was voicing his frustration over having stumbled through the exercise. Before you jump to any conclusions about Dick, he brought in 11 new $1 million-plus relationships this past year. How many did you bring in?

By our definition (creating 10 or more new $1 million relationships a year), Dick is already a “rainmaker.” But like all rainmakers, he was looking to improve his skills. He knew he could do better.

The foundation for this drill is pretty basic. This involves both nonverbal and verbal communication. It's best to start with four key rules:

  1. Less jargon is better.

  2. More direct and straightforward is better.

  3. More rehearsed and practiced is better.

  4. Yet, sounding less scripted and more conversational is better.

Our research shows the affluent view the financial-services industry with caution; they see it as a sales and marketing machine. And we know that the affluent aren't crazy about financial sales people. That is why your sales skills must be so refined as to be almost invisible. At first glance you might think that the third and fourth concepts above contradict each other. They do not. You will only be able to be conversational and confident in your “pitch” through practice.

Before I walk you through one of our rainmaker drills, let me quickly review the research. This is the platform upon which you'll begin to craft your affluent communication style. Let's start with what affluent baby boomers are looking for in a financial relationship:

  • Complete understanding of both personal and family situation

  • Full access to financial experts

  • Complete knowledge of all fees and commissions

  • Proactive contact whenever events might impact their portfolio

  • Vigilant, risk-tolerant asset allocation

  • A working financial plan

  • Organization and coordination of all financial documents

  • Synergy among all financial affairs

Words Count

So, when asked, “What is it that you actually do?” If you make the lazy mistake of reciting the label printed on your business card, saying, “I'm a financial advisor with XYZ Firm,” or “I'm a wealth advisor with XYZ Firm,” you've just pigeonholed yourself. Your affluent prospect will very likely translate this answer into “stockbroker.” This is an affluent marketing “don't.”

Or let's say someone asks you at some social event, “What do you do?” Don't make the mistake of reciting some long-winded treatise that comes off like a canned version of the “financial pledge of allegiance.” This kind of “transparency” reeks of a sales pitch. This is another affluent “don't.”

Rainmakers are on another level. Their responses tend to consist of simple statements that typically combine appealing and familiar words with specific demographics. A rainmaker might say something like: “I oversee the personal finances for a select group of families in (your city).”

Naturally, the response will vary. My point is that a simple statement carefully crafted can create a word picture that depicts exactly what the affluent want in a financial relationship. Notice that words like affluent, wealthy and labels such as high net worth are absent. While the words personal, finances, families and select are included. This is because our research shows that 93 percent of the affluent are self-made; they work long hours, endure lots of stress, make a lot of money and don't consider themselves wealthy. And they want a financial professional to assist them with the multidimensional aspect of their family's financial affairs, but don't know where to look.

So let's be like Dick and his rainmaker colleagues; make time to work on your affluent communication style and develop a “practice, practice, practice” mantra — as your sales skills can make the difference between personal wealth and mediocrity.

Writer's BIO: Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients.