In the pursuit of unlocking high-net worth prospects, Stan Summers found himself in the aftermath of two unsuccessful business cases, sparking concerns about potential missteps with his affluent clientele.

Stan’s Professional Evolution:

Having served as an advisor for three years after a successful stint as a consultant at a large firm, Stan’s ambition led him to be his own boss with no income ceiling. His extensive network of business contacts was a valuable asset that, with dedication, grew into a substantial clientele over two years. However, Stan sensed untapped potential and knew he needed to broaden his horizons.

Missed Opportunities and Reflection:

Despite knowing he could access extremely affluent individuals through his network, Stan hesitated until he felt adequately prepared. An attempt to secure a prospect worth over $30 million resulted in a $5 million insurance package that unraveled due to objections he couldn’t handle. The subsequent loss was disheartening, and a second large case also fell through.

Strategic Dialogue and Expertise Acquisition:

In an honest conversation, Stan admitted feeling out of his depth, lacking response strategies for objections, and overall expertise.

“What’s your strategy for getting that expertise?” I asked.

“That’s why I called you.”

“Okay, with our help then, when do you think you could expect to develop the expertise you’ll need to close big cases?”

“Months, maybe years,” he answered.

“Can you afford to go years without approaching big clients?”

“No, but I can’t afford to go on blowing my chances. You only get one chance with these prospects.”

“You spent your first couple of years ignoring large prospects because you weren’t ready,” I said. “In that time, some of those prospects were picked up as clients by other advisors. Prospects that are on your radar screen today might not be there tomorrow. You have a window of opportunity with some of these prospects, but you don’t know how large that window is.”

“So it’s a catch-22,” Stan said, “What do you recommend?”

“I recommend you get the expertise to go on those big cases.”

“But when would I be ready?”

“Today, if you’re willing.”

“Willing to do what?”

“Play the Infinite Game.”

He looked perplexed.

The Infinite Game Paradigm:

“Most advisors play the Finite Game,” I said, “they work by themselves, serving their clients as solitary advisors.”

Stan said he didn’t like the idea of working with other advisors and sharing commissions. Since he had the connections, he felt the prospects were his alone.

“You’ve just expressed the mindset of the Finite Game player. People who play the Finite Game think that the opportunity with certain markets or prospects is limited, and that their best strategy is to ensure they get the ‘whole pie’.

However, the reality is far different – the limits advisors perceive are often based on their own limitations, not the limitations of the market or the client. To get beyond your limitations, you need to play the Infinite Game — you need to expand what you bring to your clients by working with others.

Case Study: Eric J. Miller’s Influence:

In this illustrative scenario featuring Eric J. Miller from the Miller Consulting Group, Henry, another agent, sought Eric’s help with a complex case. Henry had sold a $3-million insurance policy with a $33,000 premium to Victor Winters, a wealthy entrepreneur.

When Victor expressed concerns about the premium, Henry proposed lowering it to $18,000, hoping to salvage the deal.

During a meeting with Victor, Eric stepped in, emphasizing the coverage’s value and suggesting a $60,000 premium, later adjusted to $100,000. Eric pointed out the advantages of having the insurance company cover the tax liability instead of selling assets, addressing Victor’s tax concerns.

The key takeaway is clear: Henry’s attempt to lower the premium based on a perceived objection was not in the client’s best interest. Less experienced advisors, like Henry, might let personal biases interfere with serving clients in large and complex cases. Eric’s expertise and objectivity played a crucial role, demonstrating the value of adopting the “Infinite Game” approach. The case eventually exceeded the $100,000-premium mark, and Henry shared half the case, highlighting the positive outcomes of collaborative strategies and expert guidance.

Unlocking High-Net Worth Prospects: Stan’s Strategic Evolution

Stan was blown away by the story. I could see his mind shift from a Finite-Game to an Infinite-Game mentality.

I suggested Stan put together a plan for how he would approach his business from this point forward. A week later we reviewed Stan’s plan in which he mapped out a strategy for approaching his big-case prospects, but this time jointly with a business-case expert from his firm.

At the time of writing, Stan and his partner have already closed one significant case, and are working on others.

Lessons Learned

Stan learned that his best strategy for unlocking high-net worth prospects was to play the Infinite Game — to team up with other professionals.

He learned that in the big-case market it’s difficult for one advisor to have all the necessary ingredients for serving the client. While he had access to big prospects through his network, he lacked expertise. And it works the other way around. There are many advisors with expertise who lack access, so it’s essential for them to team with advisors who have valuable networks.

Even though pooling resources means sharing commissions, each advisor benefits, because it’s better to have a smaller piece of a larger pie than a larger piece of a smaller pie — or, as is more often the case, no piece at all. And it’s infinitely better for your client if you bring in the needed expertise, otherwise you risk leaving your client exposed to the risks you were intending to minimize.

Most advisors have heard the advice about sharing the pie, but few heed it. Perhaps the largest barrier to adopting the practice of playing the Infinite Game, as Stan learned, is the perception of the size of the pie.

For many advisors, their perceived limitations of a case are based on their own feelings, and not on reality.

As Eric’s story above has shown, the limits of the Victor deal far exceeded what Henry had ever entertained. And as Stan learned, the best way to push through your own limits is to start playing the Infinite Game.

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