People like getting respect. It was the basis of Rodney Dangerfield’s standup comedy routines. If you have friends in the military, you’ve heard how they speak with civilians. If you’ve been pulled over for speeding, you’ve heard “May I see your license and registration please?” This helps in business situations too.
The opposite is being treated “like a number.” Just one of many customers. You can get away with it, but your product has to be the cheapest. In financial services, that’s unlikely.
Two Examples How Respect Leads to Business
You know plenty of people. They are friends and acquaintances, They have the potential to be clients. They see you in certain ways. Their drinking buddy. On the basketball court. Cheering on your favorite team at the stadium. Now you want to handle their money.
Example 1: Approach them as an institutional investor.
If you were approaching a foundation for business, you would be very professional. You would dress well. You would have a proper appointment. You would learn about their needs. You would sell the firm and yourself as the right folks to help find solutions. You would explain how you do business and next steps.
You would not throw your leg over a chair or sit backwards. You would not say: “I know you buy stock. I’ve got this great idea. Don’t worry about the details, just trust me on this one…”
Why? Because you would be relying on the strength of your friendship as the sole reason for doing business. You might as well have said “Trust me” and stopped talking. Would they trust you with their Porsche? Probably not. Why would they trust you with their money? They would buy time and find a polite way to say no.
Respect works. You are treating them as an individual. You are selling the firm. You are positioning yourself as their friend inside the firm who will bring the resources of the firm into their living room. It’s obvious you care about them.
Example 2: They do business elsewhere.
Your aim is to convert this into a competitive situation. You are bidding for some business. You want to earn it. Treat your friend with the same respect you would give a good prospect currently doing business elsewhere. Be respectful of their current relationship. Ask when they review the relationship they have with their current advisor. If they look perplexed, ask about their next scheduled performance or financial plan review. Ask to see them a day or so beforehand. That’s when you compete for a portion of the business.
You would not be disrespectful of the other firm saying “Are they still in business?” Nor would you say: “I want it all.” You would determine how much is needed to show what you can do without making them feel they are abandoning their current advisor. You would the case successful people often work with multiple advisors.
Why? You have established yourself as the alternative. When their advisor reviews performance, there is often money in motion. They might use the advisor’s sell recommendations as a way to raise money to send to you.
Respect works: Many of your clients are middle managers, business owners or professionals. They often review contracts with suppliers and put out Request for Proposals (RFPs). You are suggesting something that makes sense, yet they never thought of before! You are subtly suggesting they bring the structured process they have for awarding business at work into their own personal life.
You might think being respectful; with your friends when talking business is like a wet blanket. “These are my friends! We don’t talk like that!” They should love it!