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Do These 4 Simple Things to Enjoy More Business Success in the New Year

Endings and beginnings serve as natural signals for us to stop and reflect, and the fading of one year into a new one is no exception. If you haven’t yet, block off a few days (or better yet, a full week) on your calendar and devote that time to some strategic business planning now in the new year.

You’ll want to look back at the previous year and honestly evaluate what worked, what didn’t, what moved the needle toward success and what you may need to change going forward. Hopefully, going through this process will allow you to identify some actions to take in this new year.

Just in case you need a little help, allow me to suggest a few very simple things to try that could create some massive shifts toward success for you and your business. Some of these tweaks are changes in mindset, others are more tangible to-dos you can implement. But they’ll all help contribute to a more productive, creative and, hopefully, profitable 2019.

1.) Get Crystal Clear on Who You Want to Reach

If your answer to the “Who do you work with?” question is, “Individuals and families,” it’s time to do a little market research. Understanding the specific people you serve is critical to a number of functions in your business, from business development to marketing to customer service to client success and more.

After all, the clients in your book of business are real people who are just as complex, nuanced and complicated as you are. To reduce them to a general, bland group like “individuals” is disrespectful—and it also puts you at a massive disadvantage.

Why? Because it’s hard to effectively communicate in a way that persuades, delights and influences your target audience if you have absolutely no clue what makes them tick, what matters to them, what keeps them up at night and what worldview they operate with.

Be able to list off not only your ideal clients’ demographic information (age, location, earnings, ethnicity, gender, job sector, etc.) but more importantly, know their psychographic information: their fears, beliefs, values, desires, needs, dislikes and more.

2.) Eliminate What’s Not Essential

At a conference I spoke at recently, an audience member asked a great question that was about content marketing but could apply to just about any aspect of your business. This attendee asked how he could avoid becoming “the dancing bear.”

In other words, how could he avoid getting caught in the trap of producing content for the sake of throwing something out there to entertain followers day after day after day?

The answer is that you don’t have to hit publish all the time. You just don’t. Sometimes, it’s not essential—and if you come across a non-essential task, it’s a good candidate to cut from your to-do list entirely. There will be times when you don’t have anything to say. So don’t say anything. Make the choice between adding to the noise or waiting to be the sign.

Whether it’s content marketing or any other aspect of your business, quality likely matters more than quantity. Look at what you’re currently doing and ask, “What’s essential here? What’s serving a function that moves the needle—and what’s just noise, busywork, clutter or being done for the sake of quantity rather than quality?”

3.) Understand What Really Fuels Creativity

How many projects for your business have you put off because you weren’t feeling creative or inspired? It’s natural to feel like you’ll do your best work when you feel particularly compelled to act, but there’s a problem with that: creativity is not fueled by inspiration. It’s fueled by work.

Here’s an example of what I mean. I get some version of the question, “You write so much—how do you stay so inspired?” all the time. I understand why. I do write so much. (I once tried to estimate just how many words I manage to write in a month and the total easily topped a couple hundred thousand written words—every month!)

Many people assume I must be extremely creative, highly gifted or constantly inspired (or some combination of all three). The truth is, I have a system and I stick to it. If I only created content when I felt inspired, I wouldn’t write a thing. I’m able to create so much because I take the work of creating very seriously and I sit down to do that work regardless of whether I’m feeling particularly creative or inspired.

If you can make this shift for yourself and understand that putting off important projects until inspiration strikes is a sure way they’ll never get done, you may find yourself a little more productive—maybe even prolific—in the new year.

 4.) Invest in Personal, Not Just Professional, Development

Stick with me here, because it’s going to get a little woo-woo. Most of us are perfectly comfortable with spending money on professional development; we’re happy to fly to conferences, gather up CE opportunities or invest in specific training courses.

Too few of us, however, are willing to make the same investment into our personal development. That’s problematic because by skipping over the personal aspect of developing yourself, you’re missing out on huge opportunities to run a better business.

Personal development can help you improve your decision-making skills thanks to the understanding it can give you of your own thought processes. Self-awareness is critical for anyone in a high-powered position, from lead adviser to firm owner, because it allows you to better spot potential flaws in your own thinking.

Similarly, personal development work can help you uncover blind spots that you didn’t even know you had. The more things you didn’t know that you can discover, the better you’ll be at shoring up weaknesses or gaps in knowledge, skills or abilities.

And finally, I’d argue that investing in your personal development simply makes you a more engaging, interesting, thoughtful person that others tend to gravitate toward. You’ll likely improve your communication skills, boost your emotional intelligence and radiate confidence and a sense of groundedness in who you are and what you want to accomplish in your business and your life.

KaliHawlk
 Kali Roberge is the founder of Creative Advisor Marketing, an inbound marketing firm that helps financial advisers grow their businesses by creating compelling content to attract prospects and convert leads. She started CAM to give financial pros the right tools to build trust and connections with their audiences, and loves helping advisers find authentic ways to communicate in a way that resonates with the right people.


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3 Steps to Open the Door to Opportunity

 In the financial services industry, advisers need to find all possible opportunities in order to take their business to its next level. I believe that opportunity can find you while you are busy working harder and smarter. In other words, your productive activities attract opportunities that can ultimately result in future successes. Conversely, hoping that an opportunity will fall from the sky is wishful thinking.

Thomas Edison perhaps said it best when he said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Edison is widely attributed to have said this, and if he did actually say it, it comes from a man who is reported to have unsuccessfully invented the light bulb some 10,000 times. However, most people remember him for his successes, not his failures.

Let’s take a look at a step-by-step approach successful advisers use to continuously generate opportunities:

Step 1: Know What You Want

It may seem evident but in order to get what you want you have to first know what you want. In Edison’s case, he wanted to invent the light bulb and he was willing to keep trying until he did.

Here is a real time example of how one financial adviser client of mine used this type of process:

Tom P. was a newer financial adviser with less than five years in the profession who was struggling to determine how to best build his business practice. Our coaching conversations first began with the end in mind, so we discussed what a successful business would look like to him. By doing this exercise he got clarity about his target market, yearly asset goals and type of investment products he wanted to provide.

Step 2: Know What to Do

The next step is to know what to do to get what you want. The key is to not try and reinvent the wheel. Having coached hundreds of financial advisers, I have a few solutions in my toolbox.

Tom and I mapped out a prospecting process for who to call, what to say and how to handle objections in order to get appointments. We also mapped out an effective referral dialogue. We role-played each of the two campaigns and soon after Tom quickly started setting appointments. Next, we continued honing his first appointment and closing script. He applied these processes and his pipeline started filling up.

Step 3: Know How to Track Progress

The final step is to know how to track your progress. Edison not only did this, but he changed his definition of success every time his experiments didn’t work by stating, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Tom took every “failure” as an opportunity to learn by tracking his activities and results. We would discuss what was working and what was not until we refined his processes. Granted, this takes time and is an ongoing task, however I believe that all advisers with the right attitude can actually uncover their challenges, learn from them and discover and implement solutions.

So, what happened to Tom?

I recently received an email from him in between our bi-weekly coaching sessions that said, “Just wanted to check in and let you know that my pipeline is full. I opened two new accounts this week by both cold calling and asking for referrals. It is working!”

Why a Step-by-Step Approach to Success Works

Too many times, we as financial advisers lose sight of what it takes to get that big break. Instead, we see others landing a huge account or gathering millions in assets and find ourselves asking, “Why didn’t I?” The reality is that those who are successful do the necessary work in order to open doors. Opportunities sometimes walk through those doors unexpectedly and oftentimes don’t “look” the part; the reality is that in order to open the door to opportunity you must put in the effort and energy to approach them when they do show themselves.

If you would like a free coaching session, email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing.

Dan Finley
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.


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Creating the Ultimate Toolbox

How do you know that you are using the wrong tool for a particular challenge? Many financial planners run into similar situations—not knowing what tools they need and when to use them in order to be successful. So why is understanding what tools you need so important? Because financial planners and agents who do not understand the appropriate tools to use, why and when to use them and how to use them effectively are doomed to come up against repetitive obstacles.

Abraham Maslow said it best when he said, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”

Creating the Ultimate Toolbox

Recently, I’ve had a number of my clients request the Advisor Solutions’ “A-to-Z” Assessment Test which is an assessment to help individuals determine which tools they need in order to overcome their particular challenges. It has become abundantly clear that it doesn’t matter if I’m speaking to a first year rookie or a twenty-five year veteran, everyone has challenges but they don’t realize there are solutions.

Let’s take a look at a step-by-step approach to creating the ultimate toolbox.

Step 1: Confronting the Challenge(s)

Few planners want to confront their business challenges head on. The following is an example:

Marie is a rookie planner with less than two years in the industry, who after taking the assessment test admitted that when a prospect tells her that they “already have a planner” she simply asks if she can keep them on her quarterly mailing list. In other words, she is not getting past this objection which makes her sales efforts that much more difficult.

Jayne is a financial planner with 30 years of experience who spends most of her day putting out fires and dealing with client servicing. Whenever a client calls and needs something she stops what she is doing to address the client’s request. In other words, she is not prioritizing her interruptions which make her time management system reactive rather than proactive.

Although each of these clients is very different in terms of experience and client base, they do share a commonality: they have accepted their challenge as “just the way it is” and believe that there is nothing they can do about it.

Step 2: Search for the Solution(s)

Unfortunately, both of these planners would have continued in their limiting belief of accepting their situation had they not yearned for solutions.

After several weeks of coaching, Marie ended up with a system for handling objections using a tool called the Objection Resolution Model, a four-step process for overcoming any objection. Once I explained the model and role played numerous objections for her she realized that this was a much better solution than simply keeping people on her mailing list.

Jayne now has a system for prioritizing interruptions and tasks using a tool called the Adviser Solutions’ Time Matrix To-Do List which labels whether tasks are now, today, this week or whenever items.

It didn’t take long for each of them to realize they could take control of their situation by simply finding the correct tools.

Step 3: Applying the Tools and Evaluating the Results

Knowing what to do and actually doing it can be two very different things. That’s why it is so important to apply the tools that you find right away and to continue to use them until they become a habit.

Next, you must evaluate the process. Both planners did and have now created a new normal.

What’s in Your Toolbox?

The aforementioned tools are just two of 26 I’ve explained in my book 101 Advisor Solutions: A Financial Advisor’s Guide to Strategies that Educate, Motivate and Inspire! Just think what you could do once you mastered all of these tools. So, what’s in your toolbox? If you still have challenges than you need solutions for now is the right time to create your ultimate toolbox.

If you would like any of the tools mentioned in this piece, request them for free from our Melissa Denham, our director of client servicing.

Dan Finley
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.