How to Maximize Your Chances When Talking Business With HNW Friends

You have that very wealthy friend who could be a very good client.  You are waiting for the right moment to bring up business.  Don’t forget to consider the bigger picture.

Years ago, I met a bank president who remarked: “When I attend a social event, I realize I am probably everyone’s favorite prospect.”  He then mentioned his likes and dislikes in people’s approaches.  What did he mean by everyone’s favorite prospect?  Was that vanity?  No.People in the community know who has money.  Are influencers.  Who would make good clients.  Donors.  Business partners.  If you are successful, you probably tick all the boxes.

You are about to approach your HNW friend to become a client.  The hospital is approaching her for their capital campaign.  Their other HNW friend wants a gift to their charity.  They suggest matching each other’s gifts.  The car dealer has been allocated one hard to get exotic car.  The realtor wants them to buy a grander home.  The local property developer wants them investing alongside them.  Did I forget the jeweler and insurance agent?

Many people use a “let’s be direct” approach.  Wealthy people develop an early warning system.  The shields go up.  It’s easy to get a no answer when you approach them without putting in thought, waiting for the right moment.

While writing my book “Captivating the Wealthy Investor” I interviewed HNW individuals, people hit upon all the time.  I asked how they preferred to be approached by people they know.  I got seven answers.  You’ll like the first six.

1. Gently persistent.  They want you to be patient.  Don’t press for business.  Don’t continually ask.  Wealthy people like to be cultivated.

2. Willingness to be thoughtful.  They want you to form a genuine relationship, not consider them just another prospect.  The bank president remarked when he moved business away from a firm, he never heard from them.  He assumed he was just another number.  In Asia, people want to get to know you as a person, before doing business.  They want you to take a personal interest in them.  They should reciprocate.

3. The peer introduction.  Sounds like a referral, doesn’t it?  It’s broader.  A peer might say “I do business with (your name).  She is great.  You should do business with her too.”   It doesn’t need to be a client relationship.  If someone they trust says you are honest and ethical, that can be enough.  Think about them asking a friend: “I’m thinking of doing business with (your name).  What do you know about them?”

4. Established trust.  They’ve known you for years.  You married their daughter.  She is happy.  You are a good husband.  You are obviously honest and ethical.  They have likely already decided if they would invest with you.  Ask.

5. Satisfying a need.  Back to the bank president.  He doesn’t like it when someone he just met wants to take him to lunch and discuss his needs.  “What do you know about my needs?  We just met!”  If a person takes time to identify a need, them suggests getting together to talk about that need, he is interested.  He sees the person put in effort.  He wonders “What can they do to address my need?”

6. What do you do?  How can you help?  They might want to do business for a long time, but don’t know how you can help.  Imagine you run a hardware store.  For some reason, your wealthy friend thinks you only carry Phillips head screws.  They do plenty of projects.  They buy lots of screws elsewhere, because they use different screws.  It’s an extreme example, but you clearly need to let them know you can do more than one narrow thing.  Some anonymous success stories worked into the conversation might help.  Maybe you just sit down and talk about what you do.

The Seventh Point

7. Reactive.  Guess what?  HNW people don’t want to be prospected constantly.  They like the “don’t call us, we’ll call you” approach. This point we need to work around.  You want to be proactive, not reactive.  You want to actively implement the six points above, getting yourself on the radar screen and staying top of mind.  Tactfully, of course.

Related: Transitioning from Acquaintance to Friend with HNW Individuals