New Business Development

Breaking the social dance

"Breaking the social dance" program overview

You likely know someone that you run into regularly at social events who you believe would be a great client. But you’ve never "found the right opportunity" to broach the subject or you’re waiting for that person to approach you (since he/ she obviously knows what you do and would say something if he/she had an interest). Your reluctance is based on fear: your fear of coming across like a "pushy salesperson" and his/her fear of being rejected by you. I know what you are thinking: "Wait a minute, I understand the first one, but the second one ... no way!" (More on that later.) The next time you run into your "social relationship," find the appropriate time to say the following:

"Mary, you know we run into each other all the time at these social events, and I just want you to know something: If you ever have any financial or investment questions, or need a second opinion, I would be happy to make myself and my team available to you. However, our friendship is far more important to me than any business relationship we might ever develop, so I will rely on you to reach out to me, if and when that need arises. I just want you to know that the door is always open to you. So, with that in mind, 'How 'bout them Cowboys?'"

Again, feel free to play around with the language. However, just be sure to maintain the two key concepts of "second opinion" and "the door is always open to you." Now, back to the fear of being rejected by you. You must understand how you are perceived in your community. Many of you have been extraordinarily successful in an industry that is both fascinating and mysterious to those on the outside looking in. People often see you (contrary to the characterization in the popular press) as a hybrid of Milton Friedman and Warren Buffett and assume you are given a stable of well-heeled, white-gloved clients to work with.

Consider this true story from a financial professional who learned the hard way:

A number of years ago, we were speaking on this very issue to a group of around 150 financial professionals. When we concluded, an individual in the back of the room yelled out, "Where were you six months ago?" To which we responded, "We don't remember what we had for lunch yesterday, so where we were six months ago is a long-lost memory. Why?" He then went on to tell the following story:

"Six months ago, I was playing golf with one of my best friends from childhood, who was both my college roommate and the best man at my wedding. As we approached the first tee, he said, 'Since I'm now contributing to the financial health of your firm, this round's on you.' I, of course, asked what he was talking about. He said that he became a client of my firm a couple of weeks ago. I said, 'What?' He said there was a financial professional with whom he was impressed that worked for my firm and had been talking to him on and off for the last couple of years; and that heck, if the firm was good enough for me to work with over the last 15 years, it should be good enough for him to help with his investments. After I recovered from that punch in the gut, I asked him, 'Why hadn't you approached me?' He said that he assumed I was 'full' and not taking on any new clients. If I had this script six months ago, I would more than likely have my best friend (who was quite wealthy, I might add) as a client. I just didn't know how to frame the message in such a way that it didn't look totally self-serving and as though I was trading on our friendship. I will never allow that to happen again!"

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