1 Comment

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.


Leave a comment

3 Choices in Business that Lead to Success or Failure

Success or failure is a choice—whether conscious or unconscious—a choice nonetheless. The thing about success and failure in your business is that you are constantly stepping toward one or the other.

Abraham Maslow, renowned psychologist, echoed this belief when he said, You will either step forward into growth or you will step back into safety.”

Watching which direction you step is to choose each step wisely. Choosing to step forward toward pursuing your goals could bring with it the fear of the unknown. Choosing to step backward toward complacency could bring with it the comfort of familiarity. But you must ask yourself this, is it better to boldly succeed or is it better to safely fail?

Understanding Your Daily Direction

Most advisers start each day without any thought of what direction their business is going. Granted, some may have what I refer to as proactive activities scheduled—such as prospecting appointments; but many advisers spend their day on reactive activities—such as putting out client fires and other interruptions to their schedule.

At the end of the day, many may feel like it was productive or unproductive based on their perception of the amount of proactive or reactive tasks they accomplished.

One example of this is an adviser who would be feeling accomplished because they opened a new account, thus, growing their business. On the other side would be an adviser who felt they were productive returning/taking calls, thus keeping clients satisfied.

The real question is which adviser moved toward accomplishing their goals? Let’s explore the answer below by looking at three choices and how each pertains to business.

Choice No. 1: Stepping Backwards

Stepping backwards in your business is a slippery slope that seems to be paved with good intentions. While putting out fires is important, your client base will never consistently grow unless you incorporate daily prospecting. An adviser who only works with their current client base is, in fact, taking a step backwards by doing so because over time the client base decreases due to client attrition. The solution is to schedule time to prospect daily so you can fill up the pipeline and grow your business.

Choice No. 2: Staying Stationary

Staying stationary in your business is a misnomer because a business is either growing or shrinking. However, many advisers who are on a production plateau feel comfortable because their business is not trending downward—that is until they experience a bad market and quickly realize that their assets under management are spiraling south. It is oftentimes at this crossroad where any unhappy clients leave as well.

Again, the solution here is to prospect daily. The reason why growing a client base is more important than just the returns on investment growth is because the more qualified clients you have, the less dependency you have on any one client.

Choice No. 3: Stepping Forward

Stepping forward with your business takes dedication and discipline to integrate the activities that are needed to grow and to maintain and service your existing client base. It’s done by ensuring structure to the day and having a method to prioritize and/or delegate interruptions. In also requires that you work smarter by getting more effective at everything you do and not just by working harder doing more of what you have already been doing. Look for areas of your business that you believe need improvement and find ways to make those areas stronger.

Finding Your Path

Before we explored these three choices, I asked you the question regarding which adviser took a step forward toward accomplishing their goals? The answer is neither, because each adviser focused on only one aspect of the business. To find your path to success you need to create a balance between all facets of running a business by evaluating and implementing best practices.

If you are ready to take your business to the next level, schedule a complimentary 30-minute coaching session with me by emailing Melissa Denham, Advisor Solutions’ 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.


Leave a comment

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.