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Marketing Vs. Selling

How the Big Producers Make Their Money

Selling is the act of “pushing” your product or service at the client. Marketing is the science of “pulling” your clients to you. Would you rather spend your days pushing yourself on prospects or having them contact you?

Most highly successful financial professionals are marketers first and salesmen second. In fact, they are such good marketers, that the sales are almost the “of course’ in the relationship. The following models apply whether you are a life agent, a CPA, stockbroker, financial planner or deliver any type of financial product or service.

Here are some examples:

The Marketing Stockbroker   

A stockbroker grossing nearly $2 million annually contacts executives of high tech companies that own stock options. He gets their email addresses from sources on the web. The prospects first receive an email offering information on services for people with stock options. They get some follow up emails with stories or analyst reports on their own companies or closest competitors. A phone call is then placed to set up a meeting. The phone call is made by the brokers assistant—an MBA from a top school.

Before this stockbroker ever makes contact with the prospect, he has set himself up as an expert in dealing with stock option issues. He has also set himself up as a big fish by having his MBA assistant do all the leg work. When he does meet the prospect, he does not sell anything. He simply suggests that the executive park the illiquid options at his firm as collateral. That way, if the executive wants to buy a new Ferrari or house or other toy, they are happy to lend to him.

Such a transaction makes this broker nothing. But he does what we all talk about—he gathers assets. He knows eventually, these options will be exercised and stock sold and these clients will have a lot of cash to invest.

The Seminar Giver

A recent example from my own practice was a seminar I gave. As usual, we sent a well-crafted invitation to a targeted audience. In the audience was an attorney.

He responded to a mail invitation as did the other attendees. No one called him—he called us to attend the seminar. We “pulled” him in. We presented a unique idea for taking funds from retirement plans tax free.

At the end of the talk he says to me “I have a client that must do this. I will get you their information.” We have since met with the attorney and he gave us the financial information for his first referral. He revealed that he has several clients that would benefit greatly from the strategy. We have done no selling, only marketing to attract this excellent referral source.

The Internet Researcher

Another financial professional at the top of his game (grossing over $3 million annually) calls people he finds on the Internet. Let’s take the example of his researching the wireless industry. As he finds experts and executives names mentioned on the Internet, he calls them up, explains that he is researching the industry and asks them an intelligent question. The caller is first flattered that he has been called as an expert. The caller is also impressed because the questions show that this broker really understands the important factors in the industry.

A few days later, the expert receives a thank you note and a business card from the broker. The broker also attends the trade meetings in that industry (maybe 3 to 5 days a year this takes him out of the office) at which he meets the people he has called and is introduced to yet more big wigs in the industry. When it comes time to invest their money, who do you think they employ? The broker who cold calls them at dinner or this broker who shows up at their trade shows and really understands their business?

The Country Club Marketer

Last, I recall the story of Richard Heckman. Richard entered the stock brokerage business after selling a technology company. He had no contacts for his new career and was starting from scratch. He did 3 things:

He moved to Palm Springs, CA (a resort area for the rich)

He joined the best country club in town

He bough a Maserati

(Your first thought might be that he had the cash for this strategy—that he had an uncommon advantage. I would argue that he has the cash because of the way he approaches life. Cash flows to people who make big commitments and take right action.)

Richard shows up at the club 3 days a week and befriends the top golf caddy. He tells the caddy to assign him to the foursomes with three rich guys.

So here’s Richard, in the middle of a work day, driving up in his Maserati, in his mid-30s to play golf. It did not take long for the others in the foursome to ask what he did. He said, “I am a stock broker.” As they inquired further he invited each to his office to explain what he did.

Because of the caliber of the people he met and opened accounts for, he quickly became one of the largest producers in his well-known international securities firm.

Here’s the point, these success stories are all about marketing. There’s no cold calling, face calling, begging for referrals or similar outdated tiring tactics involved. These professionals have learned how to stand out and become magnets for business. There is no inherent talent required to do this, only a commitment to take 1 to 2 hours a day of those unproductive tasks and replace them with marketing activities. Below are some tactics you can implement immediately:

Instant Marketing Tactics

  • Once a week call a CPA in the phone book and explain that you have clients who always ask you for CPA referrals. Ask to meet with him and see if some of your clients might be a good fit for him.
  • Do the same with estate attorneys and explain that you have older clients that will be in need of estate planning and probate services

Note in the two instance above, you are not meeting to ask them for business. Rather you have business for them. Could there be a better way to market yourself?

Of course, then follow up with a thank you letter and a copy of your newsletter. Send the newsletter each month (which they will now read because they know you rather than the newsletters they receive from strangers). Most importantly, send them a client! You meet more people than they do. Help them build their business and they will reciprocate.

  • Form a group of professionals with similar interests backgrounds. The attorney we met at our seminar formed the Jewish Businessmen’s Association that meets for lunch once a month. What a way to meet other successful professionals! You can start a local chapter of an existing group (do a web search on “business network” and you’ll find plenty). This gets you known and gives you “celebrity” status. People start asking to do business with you.
  • Participation in art non-profits (the board of the local symphony, ballet, opera) is a place to meet lots of people with money. When you show up in the middle of the day for meetings, they will quickly assume that you have a lucrative business that must be successful to give you time for non-profit activities mid-day. Maybe that should be doing business with you.

Get the picture? Position yourself as a magnet and draw lucrative clients to you rather than chasing them.



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© 2008 Financial keynote speaker—Larry Klein