GENERATING BUSINESS AT THE GYM WITHOUT BEING ‘THE CREEP’ Street Journal while on the Stairmaster gets the message across. What to do: Get them asking questions. Mention that you like working out because you work in an intense business and this helps you relax. Stop talking. It’s likely they will ask: “What do you do?” If not, move onto the next exercise machine. What not to do: Don’t say, “Working out excessively can be bad for you. You’re lucky I’m in the insurance business…”
Learn About What They Do
Understand the rhythm of exercise. You use a machine for a set, rest for a few moments and do the same for another two sets. Then you move to another machine. This provides plenty of intervals for short conversations. Start by reading their t-shirts. They often promote an event, resort, store, product or company name. If the shirt features multiple logos, ask about the event. Which company is theirs? If you know something about the company, be complimentary. What to do: Ask about vacation, holiday plans. Transition into the best time in your own business to get away. Does their business have busy and slow periods, too? What not to do: Ask probing questions, interrogate. “Do you have a 401K plan at work? Who chooses the plan administrator?”
Establish Your Competency
Most gyms have several flatscreen TVs tuned to sports, financial and local news stations. You work in the financial services business. Demonstrate a good grasp of the financial news. During those down times or cooling-off periods, often a few people are watching the financial news and talking among themselves. Often, the gym has at least one gloom and doom pessimist sharing his or her views and depressing everyone. Bring up one or two positive points they may not have considered. Mention America has been through very difficult economic times before and things have worked out. People like optimists. What to do: Mention articles you’ve read in The Economist, WSJ or other serious financial publications. It shows you read serious news and take your role of advising clients seriously.
DO THIS: Take the long term view – Finding clients at the gym is an added benefit. Wear loose, comfortable clothing – you’ll blend in. Have short conversations while prospects are between sets or resting. Smile and have a positive attitude.
NOT THIS: Stare – Look people in the eye instead. If that’s tough, focus on their nose. Interrupt when they are using a trainer – they are paying for time. Appear to be “coming on” or be too curious. Alarm bells go off.
What not to do: “Forget the financial news. Who watched Dancing With the Stars last night?”
Explore and Deepen Relationships
Gather small bits and pieces of information over time. You know where they work and what they do. You know their industry. When at home or back in the office, stay on top of news and economic developments in their industry. You don’t need to know a lot. Stories about government regulation or health care costs are applicable to many fields. When their company has a positive news story or reports good earnings, mention it to them in a complimentary tone. If you’ve gotten to know them well ask about challenges their industry or firm face going forward. Give information to get information. “Rising health care costs are an issue for our industry. How are they being addressed in yours…?” My gym does regular “parents’ nights out.” The gym serves as babysitter while parents enjoy date night. This brings gym buddies and spouses together. It’s an opportunity for you to introduce your spouse or partner to those people you’ve told him or her about. Now the spouses know each other, too. What to say: “Heard your firm is sponsoring the 4th of July fireworks in the park. You give a lot back to the community…”
What not to say: “Just heard you were indicted in that bribery scandal. Glad I’m not in your shoes…”
Let Opportunities Come to You
In many cases, the business will come to you. If people know what you do and you come across as successful and competent, you will probably be approached from time to time. Because this works on its own timetable you need a wide universe of people to get the numbers working in your favor. Is your firm doing an event open to clients and guests? Many firms sponsor concerts, sporting events and museum receptions. Consider public service seminars like “Identity Theft” and “Understanding Social Security.” Invite a few gym buddies along. They now see you in business attire in a professional setting. They hear the message from the podium like the rest of the audience. Layoffs are still taking place across the country. “Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act” notices (known as WARN) often appear in the local business journal announcing upcoming layoffs at specific firms. Keep on top of this news. When you hear about layoffs at a gym buddy’s firm, mention it and ask if they were affected. Hopefully, the answer is no. Ask, “Were any of your friends affected? When you leave a company there’s lots you need to know about moving retirement assets. I’ve helped other people…” You friend is now your person on the inside dropping your name. What to do: Wait for it. Tell short anonymous stories about how you’ve helped other people. It positions you as a problem-solver. They start to think about who they know in the same situation. What not to do: Push for business. “We’ve known each other for months. You’ve never asked what I do…” Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. His book Captivating the Wealthy Investor is available on Amazon.com. Bryce can be contacted at Bryce.Sanders@ innfeedback.com.
November 2012 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine