Don’t you love living in the age of technology? E.O. Wilson said “We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom.” Thanks to the Internet and social media, it’s easy to identify HNW individuals in your local market. The big questions advisors ask is “How do I get in front of them?”
A lot depends on the approach you choose to take. If it’s strictly “Lets get down to business” the easiest approach is to be cheaper than all your competitors. It works for Walmart. Another method might be to have learned they have a very specific, unique problem beforehand that you and only you can solve. Your reputation needs to precede you and you need to be connected by a trusted intermediary. A good example is heart surgery. If you need a heart transplant, you want the best doctor in the country. Your family doctor makes the connection.
I’ve been a proponent of a different strategy associated with the expression “playing the long game.” You need to develop social relationships with HNW individuals first. Become part of their world, or at least their universe of acquaintances. Deepen the relationship by identifying and cultivating shared common interests. It takes time, but you are taking a sincere interest in building a social relationship first. People do business with people they like.
Lets get back to the question “How do I get in front of them?” Here’s how to do it.
Strategy #1: The magic of little lists.
You’ve put plenty of work intro identifying HNW individuals in your area. You’ve got contact information, like addresses, phone numbers, where they work and maybe an e-mail address.
- Break your very big list into smaller lists. Examples are people who live in the same development, belong to the same profession, work at the same company or graduated from the same local college as you.
- These lists have 10-15 names. Why? Because people can focus on a small list, but glaze over with bigger lists. Think about those crime dramas where the police have the victim looking at hundreds of mug shots.
- Over time, sit down individually with a series of friends and clients. The person is aligned to a list, meaning they work at the same firm or live on the same street.
- Ask them to look over those 10-15 names on one list. Ask who they know. How well do they know them?
- Ask if they would introduce you? Tactful wording might be: “This is the kind of person I would like to meet” or “I may be able to help.”
- An introduction might be you joining them for coffee or a drink after work. Showing up at your gym at the same time as them. You are now meeting for the first time.
Strategy #2: Attending the right events.
Your friend might say: “They are going to the museum exhibition opening on Saturday. Fortunately you’ve splurged that 75 bucks and joined months ago. You show up. Your entire prospecting strategy might be based on this one organization. You know all those HNW individuals are involved. You are meeting them over time.
- You ask your friend if you would walk you over and make the introduction. If this sounds awkward, think about it in another context. You attend events where you see a single friend and say hello. They mention they brought a date and perform introductions. It’s normal for a stranger to be introduced. Your friend should say a few words to break the ice like: “He’s a tennis fan too.”
- If your friend isn’t there, play the “friends in common” card. Walk up to the person and say: “You don’t know me, but I believe we have a friend in common.” They should ask who. You mention their name. They acknowledge knowing them and ask how you know them. You’ve gotten the ball rolling.
- It seems the entire strategy is based on a local friend having a close relationship with both parties. You can stretch that a bit. If you research a local person on LinkedIn, you may find they are a second level connection. You know some of the same people. Why? Because it’s a small world. Check them out. Identify those common connections. Call up those friends and see if they know them well or they just accepted an invitation to connect. (It happens!) Now you know a good name or two. Hopefully they won’t mind you bringing it up.
Strategy #3: The fundraising approach.
You are affiliated with a local charity. Why? Because you give back to the community. It’s the right thing to do. This presents an opportunity.
- Help them identify prospects for the next capital campaign or other fundraising effort.
- Volunteer to call on these folks, getting a face to face meeting. You might get a member of the professional staff to come along.
- Make your contribution first.
- Meet with them. Ask them to “join you in supporting (X).” Get to know them through some polite conversation.
- Send them a thank you note
- If there is an event or recognition party, make it a point to attend. Call up your new “donor friends” and encourage them to attend. Get the higher ups to make a fuss over them. Get to know them better.
You are cultivating social relationships that might turn into business relationships. They will ask questions to get to know you better. Some of them (maybe all) will like you. People do business with people they like. You might be cultivating 100 people over the course of a year. Don’t you think some will become clients?