Three Tips for Landing Your Next Big Referral
March 1, 2016
by John Ruhlin
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Attracting high-net-worth clients is not a matter of luck or personal style. Line 100 financial advisors against a wall, and even their mothers would have a hard time telling them apart. Those standards make advisors trustworthy, but they do little to distinguish them from one another.
The trick to distinguishing yourself is to build real connections with potential clients. That is something that no brochure has the power to do – no matter how many flashy buzzwords it contains.
For example, I once learned that a new client of mine was getting ready to leave on a fishing trip to Alaska with his brothers, father and grandfather. It was a bucket-list trip they’d always dreamed of taking. The next day, we overnighted beautifully engraved fishing knives to all three generations – father, son and grandson – to create an “artifact” and commemorate the trip in a lasting way. The cost was significant, but as a result of the gesture, we now count them all as clients – among our 40 largest, in fact.
It’s not the details of your suit or your car that capture the attention and excitement of potential clients. That is done through interactions that show real interest in them and not their pocketbooks.
How do you make those meaningful connections? From giving the right gifts to crafting pleasant surprises, there are many ways to do it. Here are some of the tricks that I’ve learned along the way.
- Get them something they can’t buy
As I’ve learned in my corporate gifting business, the importance of unique experiences can never be undersold.
One of my clients was a top financial advisor with Northwestern Mutual who was trying to break in with some of the business owners in his area. It’s difficult to impress company founders; they’re a wealthy and catered-to bunch, not easily dazzled by a designer suit. So what did we do?
We hosted an event for founders and their friends and hired America’s first master sommelier, Eddie Osterland, to speak on the topic of high-level “power entertaining.” There are approximately 180 master sommeliers in the world, making this a truly one-of-a-kind experience. The impact of the event was huge, elevating my client in business owners’ eyes and opening the door to real conversations.
The key ingredient of this event? We didn’t talk about business. We just had an entertaining and enlightening evening. Friends don’t bring friends to 401(k) seminars, no matter how much wine and cheese will be served. If you want to court your target client and his or her friends, keep it social and create an environment they can’t find elsewhere.
- Pay attention to the spouse
A classic mistake too many advisors make is to focus all of their attention on the high earners, ignoring prospects’ and clients’ spouses and children. Not only is this poor service, but it will also cost you in the long run; it’s a major reason upwards of 70% of widows switch financial advisors. Don’t become a statistic.
Attention to detail with a spouse will distinguish you from the rest and position you for long-term success. If you’ve convinced just one of the partners in the relationship, you’ve only done half your job. There will always be tension in the business relationship if both partners aren’t on board.
I often look for opportunities when I might normally send gifts to my clients and direct the gift to their spouses instead. The same gesture will mean more to the underappreciated half of the equation and net you more appreciation in the long run.