Los Angeles:  “I met this businessman at the La Valencia Hotel bar in La Jolla,” explained Mark as he set the stage for his question, “It was obvious that he was loaded. He was staying in the hotel while he was having his custom home built, and we had a good conversation.  I didn’t mention business, so lost any future opportunity.  How can I take advantage of those situations without scaring someone off?”

What’s interesting about Mark’s question was the fact that he was too embarrassed to ask it during the Q & A session following my lecture.  He waited for everyone to leave and then privately cornered me.  Why was Mark’s question so interesting, you might be thinking.  Because his issue has developed into a serious affluent marketing speed bump for many financial advisors.  Mark had no reason to be embarrassed, and he was very self-conscious.

This is the season where elite advisors shine.  How so?  In their ability to seamlessly mix business with pleasure in the affluent circles within which they travel.  These circles involve their affluent client’s spheres-of-influence, referral alliance partners, and one-off situational opportunities similar to Mark’s case.

I explained to Mark that he needed to study the art of relationship marketing.  The puzzled look on his face served as a non-verbal answer.  He wasn’t really sure what I meant.  Not unlike many advisors, he thought he was doing a good job of relationship marketing because he had refrained from talking about business and allowed his new acquaintance to tell him all about his new house. 

Mark was on the right track.  He was developing rapport by listening, letting his affluent prospect talk about what was important to him, his new house, and made no attempt to enter into a business discussion.  However, much like someone who suddenly finds his or herself back into the dating game, he wasn’t certain about his next step.  As a result, he did nothing.

Relationship marketing in affluent circles is very much like a romance, except here you’re romancing money and are allowed to have numerous romances (affluent clients and prospects).  What failed to do was suggest a future social contact with his new well-heeled friend. Without knowing the details of their conversation, I wasn’t able to suggest a specific social follow-up (lunch, dinner, golf, etc.) but I made my point.   

“You mean, I simply needed to suggest doing something with this guy that didn’t involve business in any way?”  Bingo!  Mark had just uncovered the heart and soul of romancing money (relationship marketing).  It’s about building a relationship first.  Trust is so fragile in today’s affluent investor, that advisors would be well advised to be hard at work in strengthening client relationships.  We refer to that as relationship management.  Now place yourself in the position of an affluent prospect who meets you for the first time in a social setting.  This prospect never asks the proverbial “What do you do?” question, so business never comes up.  What are you thinking?  Do you know what’s going on in the mind of this prospect?  Do they need a new friend?  Are they looking for a new financial advisor?  Or, are they at this event for their own reasons?  And you, whether by intention of happenstance, are in the position to make a good first impression and develop rapport.  

More often than not, it’s the latter.  For an elite advisor, this is also the opportunity.  You are in a position to make a good first impression and develop rapport.  But that’s just the beginning of the romance; the relationship marketing process.  As Mark just discovered, the next phase of romancing money involves developing the relationship.  This requires a game plan.  We refer to this as strategic intent.  You do everything in affluent circles with an objective.  Granted, in Mark’s case he simply stumbled into an opportunity, but the romance formula still holds true to form.  He was in the initial phase of relationship building and he allowed it to get away. 

During the upcoming holiday season, give yourself permission to mix business with pleasure.  What’s so ironic is that this is about your mindset.  You’ve got to give yourself permission to play, to engage in the game of romancing money. Therefore, you’re going to discuss little if any business and approach every venue with strategic intent.  Whether it’s getting introduced to a colleague of a top client, uncovering a surprise and delight opportunity with an existing client, or sourcing a name (uncovering a connection) within a client’s sphere-of-influence, you’re in the game and are playing with a plan.

The following are a handful of elite advisor romancing money tips…

  • Increase your social (non-business) activity
     
  • Don’t talk business (the less you talk the more you get)
     
  • Apply the 80/20 rule of listening (LISTEN)
     
  • Always approach a social event with strategic intent (elite advisor’s mindset); who am I going to meet, what is my romancing game plan?  This is your creative follow-up social contact.
     
  • Dress well; formal is formal, business attire is business attire, and business casual should be high-end business casual.
     
  • Enjoy the game; you’ve got to get comfortable amidst this world of affluent opportunities.

I didn’t have the heart to get into “dress well” tip with Mark, but if his business attire is an indicator, he needs to raise his game.

Romancing money, mixing business with pleasure, takes practice.  Practice builds confidence and improves your skills.  Today’s affluent don’t like sales people, most aren’t particularly pleased with their current advisor and are ripe for making a change – if – they encounter a clearly superior alternative.  This is your opportunity for multiple romances. 

Matt Oechsliis the author of The Art of Selling to the Affluent.  His firm, The Oechsli Institutedoes ongoing research and coaching for nearly every major financial services firm in the US. To take the first step towards coaching with The Oechsli Institute, complete the pre-coaching business profile for a complimentary consultation.