One aspect of growing a practice and attracting affluent clients that is often overlooked is maximizing the connection between your referral source and the new prospect. Unfortunately, too many advisors settle for what we call suggestions. With a suggestion, your referral source (client or center of influence) has given a referral (hopefully more than one), contact information, and some information about your new prospect. But with a suggestion, your referral source makes no effort to communicate with the prospect before you do. Some call this a "referred lead."
While there is nothing wrong with a referred lead when trying to reach affluent clients, it's usually not enough. You often need to get introduced. I teach two levels of introductions.
Level one introduction
Level one introduction is where your client makes some contact with the prospect, to either let them know that you'll be calling, or to get permission from them for you to call.
This type of introduction is usually the minimum of what it takes to catch the attention of the affluent. Of course, the strength of the relationship between the referral source and the prospect is also a key component here. The stronger the relationship, the easier it will be to gain your new prospect's attention.
Level two introduction
A level two introduction is a face-to-face introduction. Nothing can beat the power of being introduced to a new prospect over lunch, a round of golf, or in some other social setting. In this case, you build rapport (and maybe even a bit of trust) with the new prospect and you earn the right to call them later and ask for an appointment. If you have a client and prospect who plays golf, pick up the greens fees and they'll follow you anywhere. If you want more time with them, play a public course (golf humor).
So, how do you get an introduction? Simple. Just ask. Seriously, whether you ask a client for a referral or it's volunteered to you, you want to learn as much as you can about the prospect. Then, ask your client, "How would you like to introduce me to George? What's the best way for us to get connected?" When a client thinks of someone you might be able to help, you want to get their collaboration in making sure you get connected.
Of course, you can always suggest a method of connection: "Bob, why don't I take you and George to lunch at the club and you can introduce us in person?" or "Bob, why don't I take you and George out for a round of golf? What do you think?" Since your client has already thought of someone they want to help with the work you do, suggesting this kind of introduction is a logical next step. The worse thing they can say is, "That's okay. Just call him. Mention my name and he'll take your call."
Get introduced via e-mail
Many financial professionals are getting introduced to affluent prospects via e-mail. It's a very efficient way to get introduced. It's simple for your client to do, and effective for you. Your client sends the e-mail to their friend and copies you. You know the e-mail has been sent and you follow up with your own e-mail requesting a quick phone call in the coming days.
What would such an e-mail sound like? Here's an example: "George, I wanted you to know about this financial guy I've been working with recently. His name is Bill Cates. He's a really sharp financial advisor. He's shown me stuff my last guy didn't even know about. I've taken the liberty of giving him your contact information. Do yourself a favor, spend five minutes with him on the phone. He's very low-key, so if you're not interested, he won't pester you. If you're looking for a fresh look at your investments and other financial planning stuff, he's the guy. By the way, when are we going to have that lunch you owe me? "
Of course, your clients will write their e-mail introductions in their own style. Some reps I work with have created two or three templates they e-mail to their clients to help them formulate their own. Not a bad idea.
If you want to meet more affluent clients, you have to be introduced. Make the commitment to building a referral-based business and then get introduced to your new prospects.
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