While I was on a recent cruise to Cozumel, the crew shared with me that there are always a few guests who miss the boat after stopping at port. I didn't believe that could be possible, but they assured me that it was the truth. It dawned on me that the same thing happens with advisors who work with affluent women. As hard as that is to believe, some advisors just don't realize that they need to approach affluent women differently if they want to get results.
A dramatic illustration of this is the statistic that, within a year after the death of their spouse, 70 percent of widowed affluent women will fire their advisor. Amazing -- 70 percent! Affluent women need different things from advisors than affluent men. So, if you take the time to learn a few simple techniques to better serve your female clients, you can be rewarded with entrée into an extremely lucrative niche market.
Ask-learn vs. tell-respond
Early in my career, I was fortunate to learn about one of the most important traits a successful producer can possess. Top producers take the time to listen and ask questions, understanding that it's the best way to improve their skills and grow their practices.
Top producers listen to their clients (not the chronic complainers who should be terminated or referred elsewhere) in order to really understand what they need. Top producers also ask questions -- in a non-intimidating way -- of people who fit their profile of an "ideal" client, centers of influence (COI) who service their niche market, and other successful people they want to emulate.
When we're just starting out, it's easy to ask questions because there's so much we don't know. But once we learn a few things, it becomes tempting to think we know it all.
Stephen Covey, in The 7 Principles of Highly Effective People, explains that listening to other points of view requires emotional maturity. Having an open mind also allows us to understand that "our way" is simply "a way," and not necessarily "the way."
When I started working with affluent women, I developed a 13-page questionnaire I call the AskLearnRiches.(TM) I designed this comprehensive document to help me learn everything I could about my ideal clients and prospects -- from what kept them up at night and how they liked to be contacted, to what their hobbies were and the top three problems I could solve for them. It worked: My business quadrupled when I started asking the right questions.
I regularly talk to clients, prospects, and COIs in my niche market. I talk with CPAs, pastors, and association leaders to get their ideas for working with affluent women, and ask these COIs for referrals from within the niche. I'm always careful to explain that I just want to ask their referrals more questions for market research purposes, and that I won't solicit their business unless they ask me about my services.
When I first started this process, I took all my data and compiled a spreadsheet. I discovered many things about my market that I would otherwise never have known. For example, I noticed that many of the people in my niche were members of the Methodist Church. This led me to establish contacts within the church and offer free workshops for church members.
When you know as much as you can about your clients and prospects -- and really understand what they need from you and how you can best provide it for them -- you're poised to have clients for life who love to do business with you. As the saying goes, "God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we talk." That should be simple enough to understand and apply!
Listen with your eyes, too
We also have two eyes, which can provide additional insights into the world of affluent women. Members of this particular group of clients may say one thing but mean something completely different, so you have to learn to pick up on visual cues. Look at body language, clothing, jewelry, and the books your affluent women clients are reading to gain valuable information about their values, desires, motivations, and how they feel at any given time.
This type of thing baffles many of my male colleagues: "Why would someone say something such as "everything is fine" when it isn't?" I don't have time or the qualifications to go into the psychology of it all, but if an affluent woman prospect in your office tells you that things are good but crosses her arms or looks down on the floor, you need to gently ask more questions to find out what's wrong.
A great book that I strongly recommend is The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I know it sounds nothing like a business book, and I'm certainly not suggesting anything inappropriate here, but this wonderful work is a treasure chest of information about how to better communicate with and understand your affluent women prospects and clients.
Next month, in Pt. 2 of this series, we will continue to review what you need to do to ensure you are not left at the port, including fatal mistakes and the secret to working with affluent women.
If you want information about our webinars including : "Marketing to Affluent Women" or to learn about our book The Affluent Women's Marketing Guide, What You Need to Know about Marketing to and Working with Affluent Women, please leave a comment and your e-mail address in the forum below.