In this very competitive world of sales, there is often reference given to becoming the "value added" salesperson. In our industry, which is marketing investment products to financial advisers, we refer to this as becoming the "value added wholesaler."
Nick Murray, the well-known author, has written a book on the subject called, The Value Added Wholesaler in the Twenty-First Century. In the book he writes, "A value added wholesaler isn't great because of his/her product's features, pricing or 'performance.' They are great in spite of them. Outstanding wholesalers are great because they're always creating more business for the financial advisors in their region."
But, what exactly does the term "value added wholesaler" mean and how can we aspire to become one? Are we simply referring to speaking and making ourselves available for client events? Are we offering to purchase investor leads so the advisor can cold call them in the hope of opening new accounts? Or does it refer to something beyond just doing those things? I would suggest it means doing those things, but also rising above the obvious and "thinking outside the box." Let me explain...
A number of years ago, I was working with a fairly successful financial advisor named Jack. He commented that he was having a difficult time attracting new clients. In his mind, he had a vision of the type of people he wanted to work with, but was at a loss for how to approach them. He wanted to work with professionals, doctors, and business owners who he felt might benefit from the advice, planning, and alternative products his firm offered.
I discussed making myself available as a speaker for an event we might plan together, but he was reluctant because "it was what every other financial planner did," he said. It was now time for me to move into "value added wholesaler" mode...
I asked Jack about the most affluent neighborhoods in town. He suggested a few - River Oaks, Piney Point Village, Bunker Hill, and a few other known high net worth (HNW) zip codes. I suggested that since the clients weren't coming to him, why don't we go to them. At that point, he looked puzzled. I explained that later in the week, I wanted to meet him for coffee at Starbucks at 8:00 am in the heart of Piney Point Village (a HNW neighborhood in the Houston area where we both lived).
A few days later, we both arrived just before 8:00 am, dressed in suits and ties. Jack had brought a stack of business cards (as I suggested), but was clueless about what was to come. The Starbucks location was in a high traffic area with luxury cars everywhere. People coming in were obviously professionals - doctors, business owners, and the like.
I ordered our drinks and pastries and informed the staff that all orders for the next 30 minutes would be billed to my account. After our drinks were made, we sat down, and I explained our plan. As each customer ordered, the staff would tell them their order was compliments of us. I gestured for them to come over. I explained that Jack was a successful financial advisor who wanted to introduce himself in a non-invasive way. Most felt obliged to give their contact details after the gesture.
Over the next few weeks, Jack had a great response in opening new accounts and setting meetings. All he had to mention was the Starbucks gesture to jog their memories.
In terms of helping advisors in the twenty-first century, I don't know if this was what Nick Murray had in mind, but it was certainly "adding value." As Nick Murray states, "outstanding wholesalers are great because they're always creating more business for the financial advisors in their region." Jack opened many new accounts due to that memorable morning.
Starbucks has now become his preferred way of meeting new clients and prospects.