As you enter the holiday season, it's time to make certain that you have your rainmaker's mindset fully activated. Why? Because 'tis the season for social prospecting. It's within this arena where rainmakers thrive, and it's high time for more advisors to take advantage of this opportunity.
Let's debunk that ridiculous myth about clients not wanting to meet with their advisors during the holiday season. Elite advisors spend time with their affluent clients during the holidays, but usually on a social level.
Before going any further, let me explain the importance of mastering relationships and the art of social prospecting when dealing with today's affluent. Client skepticism and distrust of the financial services industry in general, coupled with personal dissatisfaction (8 of 10 clients would consider changing advisors) has created an environment that has become counterintuitive. Avoiding business discussions until rapport is developed has become a requirement for discussing business. One of the many cultural shifts resulting from this financial crisis involves relationships; people are focused on strengthening relationships within families, friends, colleagues, and yes, service providers. Today's elite advisors understand that everything begins and ends on the strength of the relationship.
Once rapport is developed, it is natural for affluent prospects (and yes, clients) to determine that they like you, which, depending on your interpersonal skills, can quickly lead to determining that they trust you — on a personal level. All of which are critical prerequisites for today's affluent before they will consider giving you the opportunity to earn their respect professionally.
I'm continually amazed by advisors who, failing to understand this human relationship continuum, skip rapport building and move directly into a business presentation. Whether in a social setting or at an official office meeting, that boring one-way advisor-directed conversation typically results in a brush-off with some version of, “I'm not ready to do anything now.” This damages confidence.
We're in a new world, and today's affluent are cynical and skeptical. This is forcing advisors to work harder to develop trust. Consider this the new normal, both for existing clients and affluent prospects. Which is why you want to take full advantage of all social opportunities this holiday season.
Here are a handful of simple rainmaker tactics that were successful last holiday season — our research tells us that they will be successful again this season.
- Schedule individual holiday lunches, dinner, or drinks with your top 25 clients. Make certain you emphasize this is purely social. Not only does this help strengthen the relationship, it's during these social encounters where defenses are down that the discussion is easily steered toward who they will see over the holidays. In addition to strengthening the relationship, your objective is to uncover names of close friends, colleagues, and family members.
- Schedule a series of intimate social events; invite three to five clients, asking each to bring a guest (someone you have personally sourced by asking the who question). You should also invite strategic referral alliance partners to each event.
- RSVP “Yes, I will attend” to every social invitation you receive. You will want to focus on events where affluent prospects will be in attendance. If you discover such an event where you've yet to be invited, don't be shy — get yourself invited. Rainmakers do this whenever necessary.
- Approach every event with strategic intent. In other words, you have an objective. For instance, if you're attending a client's holiday party, you will want to call your client, ask if there is anything you can bring, and then ask, “Who will be attending that I should meet?” This will usually lead to your client mentioning a couple of names, and you responding with, “Great. Will you be able to make an introduction?” They always will.
- If your social calendar is looking pretty lean, you might consider hosting a holiday party at your home. But this needs to be viewed as an office party: top clients, strategic referral alliances, prospects and team members.
It's easier to develop rapport in social settings as defenses tend to be lowered. The same holds true for strengthening relationships with clients.
This is all about relationship management and relationship marketing. Let this holiday season work for you — you will build your confidence as you work to build relationships.
is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients.oechsli.com