Chicago - “I get it. I’ve got to get personally introduced,” Arnold groaned, as if it was a painful ordeal and then asked, “How are you supposed to handle being introduced without coming across salesy?”
Let’s assume that Arnold has already mastered his personal introduction request, which I doubt, and his affluent client has agreed to personally introduce him. At this stage, it’s important that Arnold does not approach this meeting feeling like he must prove himself. Remember, whenever you’re getting a personal introduction you have word-of-mouth marketing working in your favor. The simple fact that Arnold is being introduced gives him credibility.
This is why personal introductions are the most powerful marketing force on the planet. Here is how I outlined the process for Arnold. The idea is to approach your initial meeting prepared, relaxed and brimming with confidence.
1. Do Your Research
Your getting an introduction as a result of sourcing names, whether through conversation or LinkedIn, so start there. If a name comes up in conversation, ask a few questions about this person. If you uncovered a connection on LinkedIn, review their profile and be on the hunt for commonalities.
The reality is that you should do both; whenever sourcing a name through conversation, see if this person has a LinkedIn profile. If you sourced the connection through LinkedIn, call your client, mention that you noticed the connection and subtly gather some information about this person.
Gathering research on a prospect before getting personally introduced is a critical component in the art of affluent sales.
2. Build Rapport
This is your number one objective. Set your business hat aside and focus on sincerely getting to know the person you’re meeting. Jumping into a business discussion right away will be off-putting to your prospect and introducer. Put all of your focus on the prospect – not yourself. Arnold realized that he never had conducted this type of background research and always initiated a business conversation. Which, of course, had him talking about himself. Ugh.
This is a big step in becoming a Rainmaker. Building rapport garners trust. Most of today’s affluent tell us that they first discovered their financial advisor through a personal introduction at some form of social event. This is the arena where defenses are down and it’s much easier to begin to develop a relationship. Personal introductions are a core marketing tool for financial advisors who are targeting the affluent, but as I explained to Arnold, for it to be an effective tool – he needed to develop his sales skills.
3. Have a Follow-Up Game Plan
Approach this meeting with the appropriate expectations. You are meeting someone new, thus, your goal is to start building a relationship. Not all introductions will immediately result in business, (some will!) but as you nurture these relationships you will eventually have more new business than you can handle. There are three possible paths your introduction meeting might take:
1. Purely Social. If your introduction never gives you an opening to segue into business – that’s okay! Let the conversation be social, and look for creative points of contact. What are their passions? Golf? Baseball? Cooking? Fine dining? Arnold realized that it was most natural to connect on LinkedIn, discuss it, and arrange another social point of contact. Whether it was a lunch to share LinkedIn connections, a round of golf, or some other non-business interaction.
2. Purely Business. If the conversation takes a business tone – great! Your objective is to schedule a business follow-up with your prospect. Depending upon the tone of the conversation, determine if they should come directly to your office or if a business lunch might be more appropriate. At times, the introducer will prompt this conversation and that’s a good thing.
3. Re-Direct Opportunity. Re-directing a conversation is basically verbal Jiu Jitsu. It’s taking a conversation about the economy, markets, political environment and more, and turning it into what you are doing for your clients. You can then prompt a question to the introduction target regarding business. This is a high-level affluent sales skill and will take time to master. Here is an example….
If your introduction target is complaining about the uncertainty in the markets, you might re-direct the conversation by saying…
“I could see how you would feel that way. A lot of our clients are concerned about the same thing. We are spending the majority of our time right now making sure our clients understand the strategy in place. I assume your financial advisor has done this for you?”
The key for financial advisors in understanding the power of the personal introduction is that you are helping your client help you. Our research is very clear, today’s affluent make most of their major decisions through word-of-mouth, they talk. Don’t concern yourself worrying about “they know what I’m doing” because your right – they do.
With these three phrases, they are providing financial advisors – YOU – with a non-threatening way to introduce you into their spheres-of-influence.