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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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The Three-Step Formula for Business Fearlessness

In the financial services industry, advisers are surrounded by clients’ fears—fear of the market going down, fear of the economy not recovering and/or fear of making the right investment decisions, just to name a few. For some advisers, handling clients’ fears can feel like a daunting task while for others it’s all in a day’s work. For the latter, the formula for managing fear is increasing knowledge.

If this has happened to you, take comfort in knowing that your clients hired you because they like you, trust you and believe that you have their best interests at heart. Prove your clients right by believing in yourself, in your integrity, your honesty and your commitment to helping them. When you focus on things that you can control, you harness the power of belief.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best when he said, “Knowledge is the antidote to fear.”

So how can you face your fears, increase your knowledge and be the adviser that your clients want you to be?

Let’s take a look at a step-by-step approach for building up your “business fearlessness.”

Step 1: Acknowledge Your Current Business Concerns

The first step is to get completely honest with yourself by asking, “What am I most concerned about in this business?” Sit with the question for as long as it takes until you find a truthful answer. Next, ask, “What do I need to know in order to overcome this concern?” and “Who has the information that can help me?”

Take Michael S., a veteran financial adviser with five years of experience who had noticed he was holding himself back from working with higher net-worth clients. After he asked himself these types of questions he realized that he didn’t feel qualified to help them because he hadn’t done enough research on what product and services this niche demographic would be interested in much less had done some inquiry to confirm what issues/concerns they might have. Thus, he had spent five years building a business of hundreds of clients with very little in investable assets.

Step 2: Become the Expert

The next step is to do the research and make some calls to find out who could assist you in your desire to work with a new demographic. I have found that the best way to become an expert is to find a mentor in the office who has accomplished what you would like to accomplish.

I recommended to Michael that he make a list of the most successful advisers that he knew (in his office or elsewhere) that work with high net-worth clients. Then, approach the one person who he felt closest to and ask if he could take that person to lunch or for coffee to understand more about how he/she had grown their business. Take notes about their process and research all the types of products and services they mention. Michael did this and was ready for the next step. 

Step 3: Be the Message

The final step is get your message heard! It’s one thing to know what to do but it’s another to be doing it. That’s why you need to take deliberate action steps.

Once Michael got direction from a mentor in the office, we mapped out what to say to potential clients, how to frame it, how to handle objections, what the first appointment process as well as the second appointment process. We did all of this before he ever picked up the phone to make his first prospecting call. As a result of his due diligence and efforts, within weeks he had built a huge pipeline of qualified prospects and now has a thriving practice.

Why Being a Wealth of Knowledge Works

The foundation for making any sound recommendation is based in the amount of information or knowledge that you have for your clients. The more informed you are, the more confident you will be when sharing those recommendations. Clients need, want and deserve a well-informed financial adviser. So the next time you find yourself with fearful clients or faced with fears yourself, take the time to query the reasons for your decisions, support them with facts then share this insight with your clients and watch their fears (and subsequently yours) subside.

If this blog resonates with you and you would like to have a free consultation with me to see if professional coaching is a fit for you, email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing for Advisor Solutions at melissa@advisersolutionsinc.com.

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 and Delivering the Ultimate Team Experience

Client and employee retention are both vital to business longevity and are completely tied together. To retain clients, we must consistently deliver the ultimate client experience; but to achieve that end, planning firms must first be delivering the ultimate team experience. Employers who demonstrate a remarkable team experience tend to retain more engaged, loyal and productive associates who deliver phenomenal service to clients. Let’s review the key ingredients of the Team Experience.

1) Communication. Every financial planning practice should have a formalized team communication plan. This plan should include in-person team meetings (both tactical and strategic); and electronic communication, such as standards for how you use email, your CRM and team calendar. Team members need to have a voice in the practice and that they can approach any co-worker with ideas and feedback. When internal communication falters, errors increase, as does employee stress and dissatisfaction. Both the people and the business experience a negative impact. Fundamentally team members need to:

  • Proactively receive information in the business and feel in-the-loop
  • Freely deliver communication and know their voice is heard

2) Appreciation. Relationships, whether personal or professional, are a two-way street; gratitude needs to be prevalent for both parties to feel they are valued. Appreciation goes well beyond paychecks. Many studies have shown that workers are more likely to stay with a company if they feel a sense of purpose and are recognize for their contributions.

Similar to client appreciation, we recommend customizing your associate rewards and recognition. For instance, giving a gift certificate is nice but giving one to their favorite restaurant or store is much more appreciated. Getting to know your team members personally will be critical to customization. Understanding public or private acknowledgement preferences are vital to making an impact.

3) Environment. The surroundings you provide are essential to your employees’ experience. Designated parking spaces, decorating a cubicle/office, breakroom amenities, themed lunches, incorporating family members in events and simply celebrating life successes can all affect the team morale. Likewise, the culture of your practice can positively or negatively impact the environment. Hostility is often bred when problems aren’t appropriately addressed or good times recognized. When walking around your office, consider what you see and hear—do you sense tension and resentment or comradery and respect? A professional but fun and flexible work environment where growth, learning and productivity can be all in balance and will lead to employee retention.

Why not begin by evaluating the entirety of your current team experience. What are you offering your employees now in communication, appreciation and environment? How would you AND your associates score each element? With that information, begin to brainstorm ideas to further enhance your firm’s team experience. Remember, delivering client service with a smile can’t be faked. Commit to your team and the returns will be immense to you and your clients.

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Sarah E. Dale and Krista S. Sheets are partners at Performance Insights (performanceinsights.com), where they focus on helping financial professionals increase results through wiser practice management and people decisions.

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