You encourage friends, clients, neighbors and family to send you clients. What do you do in return? Sometimes business leads fall on your lap. When considering friends you could tell, how do you choose, and what can you learn from it?
Early one morning I was at the barber shop waiting to get my haircut. The barber was discussing real estate with his customer, who’s a real estate agent. The barber mentioned two neighbors on his street: one was downsizing after the death of a spouse, the other has plans to move away for business reasons. Neither had spoken with an agent yet.
Opportunity: Two potential listings. The barber’s customer is an agent, but how fast would he move?
Challenge: I know many real estate agents. Whom do I choose to relay the information to?
First Step: Write down all the specifics. Street, description of houses, scenario. If I’m giving a referral, the person needs enough information to act immediately.
Whom to choose: I make a list of agents I know. Who’s a hard worker? Who has a record of success? Who has a good reputation? Who would act on the information? Who will be up at 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday?
Outcome: I chose someone I know from the historical society. After telling the story she proposed two courses of action. She would visit the barbershop, say hello, relate our conversation and ask the barber for more details. Her other strategy was to drive up and down the street I mentioned, identify the houses and meet the owners.
Takeaway: Suppose an alternate scenario: the barber mentions someone’s inheritance. Your friend overheard the conversation and knows you’re an advisor. But he knows other advisors. Do you come across as someone who takes his job seriously? Do people in the community speak well of you professionally? These traits increase your chances of getting the nod.
LinkedIn Alumni Inquiry
One day a LinkedIn email arrived from a contact, a fellow college alum I haven’t seen since graduation. He’s middle management at a drug company and has a question about stock options and taxes. Do I know anyone who could give him advice?
Opportunity: This is the type of prospect most advisors seek. If he has an issue with stock options, he’s doing well.
Challenge: I’m in the business of training advisors, so I know many. Whom do I choose? My name is on the line with my alum friend, so I need to be careful.
Outcome: I suggest two advisors. One heads a RIA/financial planning firm specializing in senior executives from pharmaceutical companies. The second is my own advisor, who’s handled my family’s accounts for twenty years. I gave their names, titles, firms and contact info along with a two-line description of why each would be qualified. I contacted each to confirm they were interested and shared the prospect’s name, etc.
Takeaway: Picture your attorney or accountant in the same situation. Would they volunteer your name? Do they understand your specialties? Do they have confidence in your abilities? Do you have a long-standing relationship? Are they confident you won’t embarrass them?
Friend of Many Real Estate Agents
A couple I know decided to sell their home and move to a nearby city. I asked: “How did you choose an agent? You know so many.”
Opportunity: They could send their business anywhere. Which friend do they choose?
Challenge: They explained: “No matter which friend we choose, we’ll alienate the rest.”
Outcome: They chose one who specializes in the development where they lived. He had a record of successfully closing sales. He understood how to price properties and how amenities added value relative to competing houses. Shortly afterwards they contracted on a price.
Takeaway: When many people are perceived as performing similar jobs, specialization sets you apart. What specific problems are you best at addressing? Are you a retirement specialist? Do you understand tax-advantaged investing better than others? Do people know why you are good?