Habits play an important role as we go about our business as advisers. Creating excellent and productive habits is a combination of being able to recognize and eliminate any poor practices while implementing a series of positive and effective behaviors. This ability allows us to most efficiently complete our most complex and oftentimes repetitive tasks (i.e. cold calling, handling objections and closing a sale). Being aware of and consistent with what we do and accountable for our daily actions contributes to cultivating habits that can help put you into success mode.
Aristotle is widely cited as saying, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.”
Let’s take a look at a step-by-step approach successful advisers can use to create and maintain excellent habits:
Step 1: Create Conscious Activities
Oftentimes, rookies and veterans alike find themselves reactive all day long. The reason that this is so prevalent is because they are not consciously aware of how they are going about their daily activities. Instead they simply show up to the office and put out fires which can lead to neglecting several other vital facets of their business.
Here is a real-world example of how one financial adviser client of mine experienced this challenge:
Bill C. is a 20-year veteran financial adviser who explained to me in our first coaching session that his business was stagnant because he didn’t have time to prospect. Instead, most of his time was spent servicing his client base. Later, he admitted that his prospecting skill sets were rusty and that at his age he didn’t like getting rejected.
The first step for Bill was to help him understand what he was doing. He was not delegating tasks to his assistant that he easily could have. As a result, he was doing many unproductive activities and his business suffered. So, we mapped out structure to his day and a way for him to handle—and prioritize—interruptions and tasks.
Step 2: Create Consistent Activities
The next step after knowing what activities will help move business into and through your pipelines is to focus on doing them consistently at the same time each day so that good habits are formed.
In Bill’s case he needed to prospect first thing in the morning instead of putting it off until he had time, which was nearly always limited. His first time block at 8:00 a.m. was to make outgoing prospecting calls to his natural market. After helping him script the proper dialogue it didn’t take him long to start to enjoy prospecting again. However, in order to ensure that prospecting would become a habit he needed to take the next step.
Step 3: Create Accountability for Activities
You MUST have someone that you can be accountable to everyday. The best way to do this is to assign yourself to send an “accountability email” that is sent to an accountability partner (mentor, colleague, trusted individual) for at least 30 days.
Bill began sending me daily accountability emails and we had actually attached a reward or punishment system to his activity level. This created an additional level of accountability because he was trying to reach reward status while attempting to avoid any punishment.
So, what happened to Bill?
His level of productive activities increased exponentially, his pipeline filled, he closed additional business and formed excellent habits while truly enjoying what he did for a living again!
Why Practice Makes Permanent
It’s been said that practice makes perfect however, part of my coaching philosophy is that “practice makes permanent.” Perfection can be elusive, so a focus on streamlining your habits with an eye to constantly evaluating them offers a more realistic process.
Now, the question you need to ask yourself is, “Am I tackling activities in a way that is producing positive habits with desired outcomes?” If not, it’s time to take some dedicated time to review the aforementioned steps and get yourself a plan for creating your own set of excellent habits.
If you would like a free coaching session, email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing.
Daniel C. Finley is the president and co-founder of Advisor Solutions, a business consulting and coaching service dedicated to helping advisers build a better business.