During a recent conference call with our coaches, a situation was brought up in which a financial advisor (and one of our coaching clients) had offered a few "2nd opinions" to his prospects on their portfolios.  However, none of his prospects accepted the offer.  Not only was this advisor disappointed, but he was intimidated by the tactic of offering "2nd opinions," and felt it didn't work anymore.

Before he could go any further, his coach had him role-play each of the three situations. In listening to these role-plays, it was obvious that this advisor was nervous prospecting in affluent circles.  Yet, at this early stage of activity, his action of offering second opinions indicated that he was ready to master the necessary skills.   

This lingering recession, combined with the social nature of summer, provides an excellent opportunity for advisors to master the art of prospecting in affluent social circles.  Yet few advisors are even engaged in the activities, much less mastering the skills.

Why?

 “I don’t want to come across as a pushy salesman” is the most common refrain. In reality, most advisors are miles away from this persona.  The irony is that advisors who are overly fearful of being pushy wouldn’t come across as pushy if they tried.

Yet these role plays reminded me that when advisors finally muster the courage to prospect in affluent social circles, they often blow it by making one or more of the following five faux pas.  

1.     Talking too much.  And yes, this is often a case of nerves, talking to fill in the void, but it comes across poorly.  Advisors who talk too much typically talk about the markets, business, and themselves and their capabilities.  In social settings, talking too much is a surefire way for affluent prospects to avoid you.

Rainmakers listen­–typical advisors talk.  Become an active listener.

2.      Failing to build a relationship.  Advisors must establish rapport before offering a second opinion, much less approaching someone about handling their finances. Recently my insurance agent came into our office to take me to lunch; he was introduced to two of my associates, and he offered his services while I was waiting in the hall.  Sales alert! My associates asked me about him and I explained that he’s honest, knowledgeable and so pushy that he runs off more business than he writes.  

Develop rapport–the less business you discuss, the more you get.

3.     Being overly scripted.Listening to the second opinion role plays, I noticed how the advisor’s was too “perfect,” coming across as unnatural.  Memorizing scripts has merit, but the verbiage must become part of the advisor’s DNA. This reminded me of how advisors sometimes blow it when asked,  “What do you do?”  It’s as if someone hit the play button–too long, too descriptive, too much industry jargon, and coming across as disingenuous. Today’s affluent have a finely-tuned sales alert antenna–they pick up on scripted language.

Practice your script; keep it short and natural.

4.     Handing out business cards.As innocent as this might appear, prematurely handing out business cards is old school, and in today’s environment it’s a turnoff.  Handing out brochures is even worse.  The affluent perceive them as a sales piece.  We’ve also seen some advisors adopt the practice of not carrying business cards, but we don’t recommend this approach because it makes the wrong impression if you have a sincere request for your card.

Rainmakers exchange personal cards and cellphone numbers–typical advisors exchange business cards or don’t carry cards.  Always exchange cellphone numbers.   

5.     Pushy followup.Prospecting today’s affluent is like a romance; you meet, develop rapport, determine if there is or isn’t a fit, and take it from there.  What doesn’t occur is a discussion about marriage on the first date.  Affluent prospects need to be romanced, albeit in a different manner. 

Always think of creative points of future contact.

Don’t get me wrong, you’re not being salesy because you ask someone to discuss business with you.  It’s what rainmakers do, but it’s the technique, the timing, and the skill involved that count.  You owe it to yourself to offer your services when situation presents itself.