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View from the US: Making the most from social connections

Matt Oechsli is the US-based author of The Art of Selling to the Affluent. His work includes training financial planners in the US and he hopes he can offer some useful insights to advisers on this side of the pond.

Matt Oechsli MM blog

“I’ve got a wealth of social connections, but have been reluctant to go after the business. I just don’t feel comfortable putting these people in an awkward position”, said Fred, an adviser who recently called our office.

Fred is one of many advisers who struggle with the idea of putting social contacts into their pipelines. You may be asking, if this makes people uncomfortable, why don’t they focus their efforts elsewhere? Well, because social connections often represent an enormous (and fairly quick) prospecting opportunity – low-hanging fruit, if you will. 

People that like you, trust you and respect you professionally are one step away from being clients. You are likely the person they trust most to handle their family’s financial affairs. The key is introducing your services properly; in a non-threatening, non-salesy, “doing a favour” kind of way.

In our training, we see several core mindset issues that hold people back from mastering social prospecting:

  • Social Self Consciousness – Being intimidated by approaching people of wealth.

  • Poor Sales Skills – Not being sure how to approach social contacts the right way.

  • Fear of Being Salesy – Not wanting to appear like a pushy salesperson.

  • Low Confidence – This is often conveyed as “Not wanting to put your relationship in jeopardy if something goes wrong”. Many advisors don’t feel confident enough in their service offering.

From Fred’s perspective, the issue was part sales skills and part confidence. With serious self-awareness (recognition of strengths and weaknesses), Fred went through a metamorphosis. He rededicated himself to stepping outside his comfort zone and deliberately practiced his affluent sales skills in two core areas:

  • Verbiage: Fred was intent on mastering the language he would use in approaching his social contacts. We scripted some basic bullet points and he practiced until he “owned it”.

  • Timing: Fred was having frequent conversations with his social contacts regarding their family and their business. Each of these conversations had one or two natural points for him to introduce his professional services.

Here’s where opportunity meets preparation. Within one week, he was speaking with a doctor friend of his who started complaining about upcoming tax changes. So he offered to meet and share some thoughts on what his team is doing for some of their current physician clients. 

Then he found out that a small business owner at his golf club was preparing to sell some real estate, so he mentioned the work he’d done with other business owners and suggested they meet to ensure that their family was on the right track. 

These are two of countless opportunities that heretofore Fred, like so many advisers, let slide.  However, the new and improved Fred – self-aware –deliberately practicing his affluent sales skills –allowing himself to go far outside his comfort zone has offered his services to eight different social contacts, four of which became clients in a relatively short period of time.  And he did all this without being perceived as a salesperson.  

Matt Oechsli is the US-based author of The Art of Selling to the Affluent

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