Selling to millionaires and other affluent people
I’ve been around rich and wealthy people most of my life, even though I was brought up as a pauper.
The reason, not surprisingly, is that I’ve targeted high net worth individuals, when trying to sell my services as a bodyguard. Not corporations, not production companies as many of my colleagues, but simply rich persons or families, who could be in danger of crime.
Regardless whether I’ve been selling ordinary guard services, chauffeur services, event- or static guarding, my primary approach has always been that we are educated professional bodyguards.
Obviously, the title varies from country to country. In the US ‘Personal Protection Specialist’ or ‘Executive Protection Specialist’ are popular terms. In the UK, ‘Close Protection Officer’ is still a valid title. In reality the old term ‘Bodyguard’ still goes in many countries and there’s only a difference in the minds of professional geeks and a few select clients.
However, from a selling point of view, it’s important to know, which title is commonly used in your area.
You’ll also need to know the segment of your targeted client. The more you know, especially about the prospective clients’ lifestyle, the bigger your chance of landing the client.
Many clients rely on referrals, whilst other clients (often new buyers, who’ve never hired a bodyguard) rely on impressions. First and foremost your sales letter, homepage and your personal appearance.
A few tips:
If you’ve worked with wealthy people before, don’t fall into the trap of namedropping. Unless it’s an absolute must and a former client has given his/her OK, then refrain from mentioning names to a prospective client.
Never overdress compared to the prospective client. If you know the client is wearing a Rolex watch, you don’t wear yours. You can wear a Tag Heuer or Perrelet (both priced a little below Rolex) but not anything more expensive or equal to the client. The same goes with shoes, shades and suits. Peolpe who've worked with me know, that I personally own Lloyd shoes, Chopard shades and Hugo Boss suits, but am reluctant to wear them at sales meetings, unless I know that my prospective client is wearing bespoke clothes, pricier than mine.
Understand that price matters both ways. If the client is asking about price early on in the process, he probably already has a fairly good idea what he is willing to pay. If price is one of the last questions, price only matters in accordance with the clients’ impression of your presentation. So, in the first case, you can’t be too expensive and in the latter, you can’t be too cheap.
Never be afraid to ask for the order. If you feel there’s good rapport between you and the prospective client and the meeting is about to end without any conclusion, simply ask “When do we start?” with a polite smile on your face. You’ll be surprised how many will answer “Can you start Monday?” or “We can do the paperwork tomorrow and if you can start on the first, that’ll be great”.
If a client is trying to bail out, help him do so. Simply say something down the lines of “I understand that you probably have to interview others, so I’ll call you next week and we can discuss the rest of the details there” This way, you get out of his hair, but still let him understand that you haven’t given up on your future business relationship with him.
REMEMBER to call back, when you say you will! – NOT before, not after, but the very day and time you’ve promised!
Expect several turn-downs and set-backs. Rich people are busy people. You are not yet in their center of focus and maybe you just don’t fit the profile of what they expect a bodyguard to look, sound or smell like. It’s not personal – it’s business. Even though you are a person and they are turning you down – or more likely, avoiding your callback, it’s really the defined service you try to sell, they don’t approve of. If there’s a miss-match between their understanding of the service and what they see/hear/smell/interpret in your presentation, then you will have a hard time selling. So try early on to ask “What exactly are you looking for?” and further “What do you expect me/us to do on a daily basis”. When you have their answers, you can modulate your sales pitch to the new knowledge you’ve received.
All in all, selling personal protection is like selling ANY OTHER service. The more you know about selling and your client, the easier the sale will be.