What’s your goal? That’s the question you have to ask yourself.
If your goal is just to make a ton of money, regardless of how, walk away. That’s right, this business probably isn’t for you. Because potential clients will see the dollar signs in your eyes and they’ll run in the other direction. If, on the other hand, you are here to help protect families and incomes and know the value of your services, you’ll do well.
Start with figuring out who you are, and who your ideal client may be. If your family came over on the Mayflower and you went to prep school and then an Ivy League university, you may have a particular “natural market.” On the other hand, if you’re the first college grad in your family and your family immigrated here a bit more recently, you may have a different market. The key is to be comfortable with the people you speak with.
Next, put together a personal “Board of Directors.” This is especially effective if you are new in the business. These folks may be family, former professors, your clergy, an established agent–anyone whom you respect and is willing to help you succeed. That doesn’t mean it is someone who will buy from you.
You approach each person and say, “I know I used to mow your lawn/be in your class/etc. and you have seen me grow up. I am now in financial services and would like you to join my personal Board of Directors – you are one of my most trusted advisors and I respect your opinion. You may be asked how you think I need to improve and what steps I can take to accomplish that. I may ask your advice on how to handle a particular situation. My Board will meet once a year. Are you willing to help?” These people may not be your clients, but they will be invested in your success and will refer you to those whom they think you can properly serve. You should develop a survey with a handful of questions about what they think of your qualities and of your industry and of your “referability.” Those answers will be insightful and could help you mold your future.
Next, start doing what you love. So if you love golf, go play. But not with your friends. Go to the course and join a threesome who is looking for a fourth. Or if you are interested in religious education, find a lunch and learn class. Spending hours together in a nonthreatening environment does wonders for business. Clearly, at some point, people will ask what you do. And when you tell them, make sure you know what you do in 30 seconds or less. And you don’t sell anything. You provide solutions. You deliver checks. You send kids to college. You pay estate taxes.
If they ask further, tell them you’d be happy to explain over a cup of coffee at a coffee shop, when they have 20 minutes to spare. If they can’t commit to that, that’s okay; they aren’t ready for your help.
When you meet, be prepared with a list of challenges they may have/problems you can solve. Hand them that single sheet questionnaire and let them mark their areas of concern. And then you talk. Ask them if they discovered, through their answers, any potential concerns about their current situation. Do they think there is any action to be taken in any area? If so, are they interested in getting together again to discuss their concerns? And in preparation for that next get-together, you’ll need to get some information to review some options. Tell them, “And so I can be better prepared, could you please complete this confidential questionnaire and bring it with you? Our scheduled 20 minutes together is at its end.”
If they aren’t interested in assistance in financial/retirement/estate planning and are perfectly comfortable with their assets and protection or lack of same, they aren’t your clients today. Wish them the best and move on.
You’ll need two more meetings. Yep, I said it. Three meetings.
- Coffee for 20 minutes.
- Review of their confidential questionnaire. That’s where the gold is buried. They are telling you what they have, where it is and what they care about. And you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. If you listen twice as much as you speak, your clients will tell you everything. And your speaking role is to ask questions so they can consider some unintended consequences of their (in)action, e.g., “So if your spouse passed last week, does that mean you would now be partners with your step-daughter?”
- The Presentation: You show them the solutions to the problems they told you they wanted to solve.
Why does this work so well? First, they took action to meet with you. And they told you what they wanted. And you gave it to them. Their problems are solved and they are happy. And whenever they call, you will help, whether they want to know your opinion about a car or they need an address change. And you will contact them at least twice a year because these are clients, not one-time transactions. And because you are always helping, they will refer you to like-minded people. And then you start the cycle again.
Clients are happy. You earn a wonderful living. The end!