The Power of a Personal Introduction
by Matt Oechsli | @mattoechsli
Atlanta: “If you were to select one marketing activity for bringing in more affluent clients, what would you recommend?” Marvin asked, then added “We keep hearing a lot of advice from many so called experts, but nobody seems to be having much success.”
The irony was that Marvin’s question followed a keynote where I shared our research on how today’s affluent initially discovered their financial advisor. As I re-explained the data I’d just presented, an embarrassed Marvin exclaimed, “Yeah, I heard you – but it just sounded too simple.”
Maybe in theory affluent marketing is considered to be a complex mosaic of activities carefully blended into a perfect campaign, but the reality is much different. Our research on today’s affluent has provided us with a very clear understanding of how decisions are made and how a financial advisor is selected. It begins and ends with word-of-mouth influence.
As I reinforced to Marvin, it’s critical that financial advisors never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth influence within affluent spheres-of-influence. They talk to people who they trust and respect. This transference of opinions is having a tremendous impact on advisors attempting to market their services to the affluent. And it plays a major role in how they discover and select their financial advisor.
How the Affluent Discovered their Advisor
Our affluent research tells us how todays affluent initially discovered their current financial advisor. In other words, how today’s affluent initially met their advisor.
- Introduction from another professional
- Introduction from a family member
- I approached him/her directly
- Introduction from a friend
This tells a powerful story. Not only does it demonstrate word-of-mouth influence at work within affluent circles, it highlights the power of the personal introduction. It is the premier affluent marketing activity. So the real issue for Marvin and other advisors interested in acquiring more affluent clients is orchestrating targeted personal introductions. What do I mean by targeted? Advisors must determine who they want to meet.
For all practical purposes, this is how the affluent first came into contact with their advisor, not how they made their final decision to become a client.
How the Affluent Selected their Advisor
Word-of-mouth-influence was also at the core of how todays affluent made their final decision in selecting a financial advisor. Two key word-of-mouth-influence factors are involved, which I listed below in order of importance:
- Recommendation from someone they trust
- Reputation of the advisor
It was obvious that Marvin was slightly intimidated by the fact that “word-of-mouth influence” is woven throughout the initial discovery and final selection process. Every advisor must understand this basic fact. It’s a signal of the distrust today’s affluent hold toward the world of financial services.
However, the good news is that when an affluent client personally introduces their financial advisor to someone, even in a social setting, the unsaid message is “This is a trustworthy person.” Essentially it serves as a tacit recommendation.
Of course it’s incumbent upon the advisor to make a good first impression. This requires seamless sales skills that involve developing rapport. Elite Advisors accomplish this by getting this new acquaintance (prospect) to talk about his or herself, with little or no discussion of business. They recognize that by being personally introduced they’re also being silently vetted – they’re credible. The same holds true when you’re personally introduced.
Rainmakers get it. Which is why for them, all of this is really quite simple. They uncover names of people they want to meet, wait for a couple of weeks so they don’t appear too aggressive, call their affluent client, and ask to be personally introduced.
Referrals vs. Introductions
Asking to be introduced to someone you discovered that’s connected to one of your affluent clients is the polar opposite of asking your affluent client for a referral. Marvin, like many advisors who’d been taught to ask for referrals, thought of referrals and introductions as being one-in-the same. They are not!
In our workshops, whenever we ask advisors how their affluent clients feel when asked for a referral, the responses are always similar: awkward, used, uncomfortable, put upon, etc. When asked how they feel when they ask for a referral, advisors’ answers are virtually the same: they don’t like asking for referrals. Unfortunately, “asking for referrals” is still promoted as an effective sales tactic. Here is the truth – straight from our affluent research:
- 83 percent of today’s affluent clients feel uncomfortable when asked for a referral
Whereas with a personal introduction, the data points work in your favor:
- 86.3 percent will introduce you to a specific person if asked (if you have a business and social relationship)
- 73.3 percent will introduce you to a specific individual if asked (if you have a purely business relationship)
An important point to remember is that by asking for an introduction, you are helping your client help you by identifying a specific person you’d like to meet. Think in terms of arranging personal introductions from your affluent clients, professional alliance partners and community spheres-of-influence.
This is at the core of every Rainmaker’s marketing campaign. They uncover connections and then orchestrate a personal introduction. This should be at the core of every advisor’s marketing efforts if they’re serious about acquiring more affluent clients. The power of the personal introduction in today’s affluent circles is boundless.
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