Given the work I do with folks in career transition, I tend to receive a dozen or so calls each year from members of the financial planning profession, seeking to address my clients or to build a referral partnership of some kind. They realize correctly, of course, that when people go through layoffs or leave their jobs, they often face the need to roll over their 401k funds or tweak their investment portfolio.
In general, however, I tend to defer these requests, since in actual practice it’s extremely rare that one of my clients asks me for advice on their finances or to refer them to somebody for investment help. And every time I’ve tried hosting networking sessions related to the financial planning topic, the turnout has been abysmal. Not sure if I’m just not marketing such events correctly or people already have their own trusted advisors in place, but either way, that’s the reality.
So anyway, when I received a call earlier today from a financial advisor who was referred to me by somebody in my network, I’ll admit I tried to politely blow the person off, several times. And guess what? He didn’t let me. Which I thought, weird as it might sound, was really, really cool. Here’s roughly how the conversation went:
Him: “So, Matt, I’d love to get together and talk about how I could be a resource to your clients in terms of their financial situation and the decisions they’re facing.”
Me: “That sounds great, but to be perfectly up front with you, I’m not sure how useful I can be in this regard, since I almost never get asked for those kinds of referrals and… (blah blah blah – I uttered all the excuses I wrote about, above).”
Him: “Thanks for your candor and that totally makes sense, but I think you’ll find my approach to this material is totally different, and much more geared towards the specific needs of people in career transition than other programs you may have seen out there.”
Me: “That’s good to know, and I’m sure you’re right, but again, I’m just not sure how helpful I can be.”
Him: “You know, Matt, I hear what you’re saying, but I just have this gut feeling that we’d hit it off and that some pretty great things might come out of a conversation together, especially based on what our mutual friend had to say about you and your client base. So I’d still love to give it a shot and see what happens. Are you up for it?”
Me: “Boy, my schedule is just packed these next few weeks so I’m not sure when we could find the time to get together.”
Him: “No worries. My schedule tends to be pretty crazy, as well, so waiting a few weeks isn’t a problem at all. In fact, I think we’d only need 15 minutes or so to get acquainted and kick some ideas around. Any chance you happen to have a 15-minute window in early December when I might swing by your office? Would Wednesday the 7th work?”
Me: “Umm, geez, I suppose so.”
Him: “Fantastic. Got it booked and I look forward to meeting you. Have a great Thanksgiving, in the meantime, and I’ll drop you a line a day before the appointment just to confirm!”
Check. And mate. Like a karate master, he countered every one of my expert blow-off moves to the point that, short of abruptly hanging up the phone, there was simply no way I could get out of giving him what he wanted — a meeting and a chance to prove himself.
Looking back on the call, I can’t help but be impressed at how perfectly he executed numerous tactics right out of the “sales pro” playbook. He outfoxed me at every turn, ranging from referring to me by name (sweet music to anyone’s ears) to making a meeting ridiculously convenient for me (a mere 15 minutes, at my office, on a date of my choosing) to embracing each of my objections (versus arguing with me) and always leading us back to common ground. Plus, he threw in a hard-to-resist “trial close” at the very end and immediately got off the phone when he had attained his goal — a short appointment.
So we’ll see how it goes, come Pearl Harbor Day, and as a student of such things I can simply say that my hat is off to this guy for his performance today. Just goes to show you that when you fearlessly go after what you want, don’t easily take no for an answer, and gracefully counter the objections you might face — versus getting angry or defensive — you can land a lot more meetings with people than you might think!
Seemed like this might be useful information for those of you out there trying earnestly to land interviews and networking conversations with people around town who might initially try to blow YOU off! While you won’t win ’em all, borrow a few pages from the above script and who knows? You might be more successful than you think…