Everyone should have theopportunity to say “No.” If you ask politely and they turn youdown, that's fine — just don't make the decision for them withoutconsulting them. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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Here's an urban legend worth repeating: It's been said John D.Rockefeller, America's first billionaire, mentioned to his friendshe had just bought some insurance. One of his friends said: “Youknow I sell insurance! Why didn't you buy it fromme?” Rockefeller's reply was:  “The other guyasked.”

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The story may or may not be true, but the message is important:You have to ask.

Don't decide for others

Over the years, my wife and I have been involved as volunteersraising money for local non-profits. We would get together acommittee, build a list of prospects and discuss strategy. Here's an FYI: As an agent oradvisor, you have a skill few others possess – you havethe ability to look people in the eyes and ask them for money.

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It's a great skill. Most people would do anything to get out oflooking at someone and asking for money.

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At these committee meetings people would say: “We can't ask him.His wife just died.” “We can't ask her, she just lost her job.” Thepool of prospects got smaller and smaller.

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Here's the lesson: When you don't ask, you are taking thedecision out of the other person's hands and making ityourself.  Everyone should have the opportunity to say“No.” If you ask politely and they turn you down, that's fine. Justdon't make the decision for them, without consulting them.

You know what they say about the word “assume”

Recently, an insurance industry professional explained: “We tellpeople to go after their natural market. Often they just don't askpeople they know because they assume they are taken care of bysomeone else.”

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This might be true. They might have mentioned they have aninsurance agent or financial advisor. But you don't know the wholestory. Are they happy with their advisor? Are they doing a goodjob? Are they with the same advisor they started with or have theybeen reassigned? Have fees gone up?

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Inertia is powerful. It keeps people in unsatisfactoryrelationships because it takes effort to make a change.

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When you approach them, you are establishing yourself as thealternative. They often keep your card.

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Here's a big motivator for making a change: Previously, they sawit as moving their money out of someplace and finding another placeto put it. They were leaving the known, heading into theunknown.

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Now the alternative has a face: They aren't taking their moneyout without knowing where it's going. They are bringing their moneyto you at your firm. The alternative has a face!

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They feel that paperwork will be involved to disentanglethemselves from the old firm and set themselves up at the new firm.That's an obstacle to making a change. Now, they assume you willhandle all these details.

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Their job is to say “Do it.” It involves more than that, but itworks in your favor.

How might the conversation go?

Yet you don't want to come across as greedy, callous orself-interested.

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You might start a conversation with a friend this way: “Irealize you have a lot going on right now, but I wanted to talk toyou about something and at least give you the opportunity to sayno.”

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Here's what you might hear:

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Between jobs. “Thanks for asking.Right now, the biggest thing on my mind is finding a new job. OnceI'm safely settled, then we should talk.”

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Lost their spouse. “You're right.I'm still grieving. I appreciate your sensitivity. Actually, mybiggest challenge is getting the finances sorted out and gettingbills paid. I wish I had something like a reliable paycheck comingin each month.”

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On a fixed income. “Money is tight,but I'm flattered you asked. Actually, my big problem is trying toplug the gap between my income and expenses with interest I earn onmy savings. But rates are so low, yet the bills keep gettingbigger.”

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Health issues. “Things don't lookgood for my spouse. That's where my attention needs to be. Hissudden illness has been a wakeup call for me. I just wish there wassomething I could do if I found myself in his position and hadthese big medical bills coming in.”

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These are circumstances that might lead to a different type ofbusiness than you were proposing.

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Even if this doesn't happen, you have let your friend make thedecision by approaching them and asking politely.

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Everyone should have the opportunity to say no.

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Bryce Sanders is president of PerceptiveBusiness Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition trainingfor the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor” can be foundon Amazon.

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READ MORE:

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For your next prospecting meeting, forget thebinder

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10 commandments of prospecting for insuranceagents

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5 steps to holiday prospecting

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Bryce Sanders

Bryce Sanders, president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc., has provided training for the financial services industry on high-net-worth client acquisition since 2001. He trains financial professionals on how to identify prospects within the wealthiest 2%-5% of their market, where to meet and socialize with them, how to talk with wealthy people and develop personal relationships, and how to transform wealthy friends into clients. Bryce spent 14 years with a major financial services firm as a successful financial advisor, two years as a district sales manager and four years as a home office manager. He developed personal relationships within the HNW community through his past involvement as a Trustee of the James A. Michener Art Museum, Board of Associates for the Bucks County Chapter of the Fox Chase Cancer Center, Board of Trustees for Stevens Institute of Technology and as a church lector. Bryce has been published in American City Business Journals, Barrons, InsuranceNewsNet, BenefitsPro, The Register, MDRT Round the Table, MDRT Blog, accountingweb.com, Advisorpedia and Horsesmouth.com. In Canada, his articles have appeared in Wealth Professional. He is the author of the book “Captivating the Wealthy Investor.”