You’re rolling up your driveway after a long day and wave to a neighbor. Why isn’t she a client?
You know each other well; she trusts you to watch her home when she’s on vacation. People prefer doing business with known quantities.
Cultivation will take time. Start by creating the right climate.
#1. Always dress well
This includes Saturday morning chores.
Why: It suggests prosperity, order and structure.
Everyone should know Who you are, What you do and Why you’re good at it.
Why: She may assume you work on a trading desk.
#3. Learn about her
Show curiosity about her work. Ask for clarification if she gets too technical.
Why: She loves her career and is gratified when others take a genuine interest in what she does.
#4. Remember details
She’s told you about her aging parents or university-aged children. Ask about them every once in a while.
Why: You care about her as a person. Show it.
#5. Display a great work ethic
Casually tell her when you’re working on weekends or absorbed with a thorny problem a client’s facing.
Why: You want her to conclude you’re very good at what you do and put your client’s interests ahead of your own.
#6. Demonstrate exclusivity
Carefully bring up the fact your clients are upscale.
Why: She wants to take a step up when choosing an advisor.
Here are a few conversation starters:
#1. Draw her out
Ask questions about her career. It will likely lead her to ask about yours.
How: “I help people manage their money and help them solve problems. If you ever want to talk, let me know.”
#2. Risk to Friendship
Use this risk as the reason for the conversation. The high value you place on the friendship has prevented you from discussing business. See 3 Approaches to Advising Friends.
How: Ask permission in a non-threatening way to explain what you do.
She may worry you’ll discuss her finances with mutual friends.
How: “In our business we don’t talk about clients. We’ve known each other for five years. We know many of the same people, and some do business with me. You’ve never heard me mention a client’s name before.”
#4. How to unwind the relationship
What happens if it doesn’t work out? Ease her concerns.
How: “With new clients I explain if they take my advice they should get a report card on my performance. If I’m doing a lousy job they should be able to fire me. Periodic portfolio reviews are the report card. Very few clients leave.”
#5. Success stories
She often asks how business is going. It’s an opportunity to share short, anonymous success stories.
How: “I had a great day. A new client was having difficulty living within his means. After we made some changes to the portfolio he’s back on track.”