Top down prospecting makes sense. If you hang out with the WOOFs (Well Off Older Folks) and they like you, you gradually become part of their circle of friends. People do business with people they like. If they start talking business, you know they are a qualified prospect. But do it wrong and you can become ostracized and avoided, the social equivalent of roadkill.
Eight Major Mistakes to Avoid
With few exceptions, the comfortably wealthy can be easy to get to know and find shared interests. Let’s assume they know who you are, where you work and what you do. They know when someone is being sincere and they know when they are being prospected. Here’s what to avoid.
1. Confidentiality Test #1.
They tell you a juicy bit of private information. Nothing finance related, just a hint they are thinking of buying a new house in a certain town or a certain piece of jewelry at auction as a present for their spouse. You feel they have accepted you to the point where they share personal news.
The Blowup. You are the only person who has been given this tidbit. If any of their friends approach them and ask about it, they are certain where the information leak originated.
2. Confidentiality Test #2.
In the financial services industry, you are absolutely prohibited from talking about your clients. They express an interest in doing business, but ask if they can talk with someone they know who is a current client to get feedback. They are asking for references.
The Blowup. They know all about confidentiality among bankers, attorneys, accountants, physicians and financial advisors. They know it’s an absolute. If you suggest a name or two, they know you have crossed a red line.
3. Not following through.
You talked about wine shopping. You know some good stores. You suggest hitting a couple on Saturday. They agree. You don’t show up or call. Ditto Sunday. On Monday, they call your office and ask what happened. You apologize and declare it will never happen again.
The Blowup: Wealthy people have lots of choice when it comes to service providers. They assume the follow-up in your personal life is an indicator of the follow-up in your business life. You’re done.
4. Criticizing family members.
It’s a double standard. They are allowed to say their brother is a lush, but you can’t.
The Blowup: Even if it’s just a 1:1 conversation, if you bring up the brother’s drinking problem as a negative, ranks close around the family. He may be a lush, but he’s our lush.
5. Moving too fast.
They know what you do. They need to get comfortable with you, make judgments about you and “try you on for size” in their minds. They often drop hints when they think the time is right. You can’t push it.
The Blowup: “I would love to have the opportunity to look over your finances sometime” feels like you’ve just discovered someone’s hand is in your pants pocket looking for your wallet.
6. Exaggerating or lying.
Many wealthy people travel. They’ve been everywhere. In your desire to fit in, you might play the “Me too” card. They rave about staying at a certain hotel in the Caribbean a few years ago. You explain you liked it too. You were there this past January. You are unaware the hotel and the island were severely damaged during Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 and hasn’t reopened. You couldn’t have stayed in January 2018.
The Blowup: Who wants an advisor who tries lying and hopes they can get away with it?
7. Name dropping.
In your quest to become part of the in crowd, you want to establish you know the same people. They might bring up names of people they saw last weekend. You might mention you are acquainted with them from the country club. That’s fine. It’s when you rattle off names, claiming close association that alarm bells start ringing. It raises questions about confidentiality, even if those named aren’t clients.
The Blowup: “You must know the Gotrocks. Made his fortune in diamond mining. We’re great friends. Then there’s the Stallions. She’s big on the horseracing circuit. We see them every time we go to the track.”
The moderately wealthy often split dinner checks or alternate who pays. If you cast yourself in the role of perpetual guest and don’t offer to pick up or split the check, it creates a negative image.
The Blowup: Incredible silence when the bill comes. The sudden urge to visit the rest room.
The wealthy are very often surprisingly easy people to get to know. However, they have unspoken rules in their circle. Cross the line and you are out of the group.
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