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What You Know Will Open More Doors Than Who You Know

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Written by: Ray Sclafani | ClientWise 

Hopefully this doesn’t come as a tremendous shock, but your clients aren’t just sitting around thinking of friends and associates they could introduce you to. Generating a steady flow of client introductions, however, tends to be a significant challenge for most advisors – constantly concerned about crossing the line between proactive and pushy.

It’s wonderful to have a “who’s who” roster of important and influential clients. And certainly that’s a luxury that can greatly aid in opening doors and facilitating new relationships. But it’s the what you know about your clients that ultimately will be the principal driver of introductions.

Simply put, the better you know your client, the more you know about their hobbies, their profession and place of employment, nearby close friends and relatives, and groups or associations they belong to, the more you’ll be able to strengthen the professional bond, allowing it to cross over to the personal. So start doing a little research on your clients BEFORE you meet with them, and then consider some of the following conversation starters:

Associations/groups:
 

  • Don’t you belong to the _________?
  • Tell me a little more about that? How often and where do you meet?
  • What types of things do you talk about?
  • Is there a core group of people who always attend and call the shots?
  • Tell me a little bit about those people.
     

Profession/employer:
 

  • Tell me a little more about your office.  
  • How many people work at your facility?
  • Do you have a core group of people who you lunch with regularly?
  • What types of community service projects is your company involved in?
  • I was thinking about contacting [NAME]. Would you be comfortable if I mention that we work together?  
     

 Family/friends:
 

  • I noticed on Facebook that your sister and brother-in-law just moved back from ______
  • You live in the same subdivision as Dr. ______, don’t you? Are you two friendly?
  • I know you’re an avid golfer…do you get to play much these days? Do you have a foursome you regularly play with?

Finally, try to also leverage these conversations to gather additional useful client information. Identifying the name of your clients’ attorneys and accountants can be a great method of establishing new professional advocates. “Last week, I had someone refer me to his estate-planning attorney. It’s information I should really have on hand, just in case god forbid anything happened. I’ve also had several clients refer me to their accountants around tax time, so that we can work together to resolve any investment-related tax issues. Who’s your CPA?”

Coaching Questions from this article:
 

  1. Think about your current approach to client meetings. Are you spending more time talking than listening? What are some ways you can more actively engage your clients in conversation?  
  2. How much do you really know about your clients’ lives beyond their financial picture? What sort of approaches might you implement into your process to research and gather more client data and information?
  3. Are you comfortable asking your existing clients for introductions? Choose two or three key pieces of information that would most help, and then strategize a game plan for how to uncover that information.
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