You made it into MDRT because you are successful. You’ve cultivated your natural market. Your clients become your friends and their friends become your clients. But you might be missing a pipeline filled with an ever-changing population of prosperous people — the fellow travelers you meet while on vacation.
Avoid the stereotype
Thinking of fellow travelers as potential clients makes you uncomfortable. You’ve see the pushy salesman type on TV, running after people waving papers and a pen. People avoid that person.
That’s not you. You are a financial services professional. You help people, earning a good living in the process. You take an interest in people, finding something to like in almost every person you meet.
While on vacation, you are making friends, hoping to stay connected long after the vacation is over. Even if they don’t do business, they have the potential to be great friends. Who knows, maybe their friends will need help someday.
So where does business come from? People may avoid the stereotypical salesperson pushing business, but when they have a need, the scenario changes. People prefer to buy from someone they know, like and trust.
Plus, if one of their friends has a need, they can say: “I’ve got a guy.” In Asia, many people have personal networks called a Guanxi. If you have a need and know an expert in that field, it’s considered an insult if you don’t go to them for advice.
You work hard. It’s natural to want to switch off and recharge your batteries. But you aren’t a robot that gets unplugged. You are a gregarious person who finds making friends second nature.
If you book a holiday at a nice resort or aboard an ocean liner, chances are you will be surrounded by people in a similar economic bracket. When people are on vacation, everyone is having a good time. They have swapped the stresses of daily life for a deck chair and a tropical cocktail. They are ready to make new friends, having left the familiar faces back home.
Lots of opportunities to develop a friendship will present themselves:
- Shared interests. You work out, they work out. You enjoy cooking. They do too. One of my favorite venues is a pub quiz aboard a cruise ship. You spontaneously divide into teams. Everyone knows something, but no one knows everything. It’s easy to transition to drinks or coffee afterward.
- Sports. A common hobby of playing a sport like tennis or golf is a great way to connect. You meet up while playing, then transition the conversation to famous matches you’ve seen or courses you have played. You express an interest in their experiences.
- Drinks. On safari, it’s said the watering hole is a gathering place for all species of animals. The same logic holds true in resorts and cruise ships. Events like a tutored scotch tasting will put you together with like-minded people. Simply stopping for a drink and admiring the scenery might be all you need for starting a conversation.
When meeting people, the two standard icebreaker questions are “What do you do?” and “Where do you live?” Through casual conversation over a few days, you’ve introduced who you are, what you do and, if appropriate, why you are good. You have learned who they are, where they work and what they do.
Here’s how you take it to the next level.
- Shared interest. You are both wine fans. You don’t live that far away. Fellow fans often share knowledge and go shopping together.
- Their job. Their company has been in the news. Either your firm or a research service you used recently put out a report on them. You say you will get it to them.
- Social media. You are both on LinkedIn. Now you are connected. You learn a lot about them.
- Their problem. They have a family member with a serious illness. It’s looming large on their mind. You’ve been a good listener. You feel invested in the story. You want to know how it turns out.
- Their question. They asked about insurance! It was a technical question. You might need to see their policy or do some research.
- Their expertise. They are an expert in something. You want their advice. It’s a reason to get connected.
- Holiday cards. You send them. It’s how you keep in touch. You will need their address.
You are keeping in touch without pushing business. You learn more and more about them. Perhaps you visit each other’s homes. You are a friend with specific professional expertise.
They might have a life-changing event. Money comes their way. They need help and advice investing it. They might have a friend or family member who needs advice. They feel you are successful because you haven’t pushed for business.
As your friendship deepens, you realize they have a problem. Addressing it is within your skill set. They might not realize they have a problem. You bring it up in the context of helping them.
They might become your biggest client. It all started with a casual conversation while on vacation.