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3 Steps to Turn Busyness into Business

Have you ever wondered why some advisers seem to be busy all the time but haven’t actually filled their pipeline or secured business closings? Maybe you are one of them. Having a constant list of tasks to accomplish doesn’t always equate to having a successful revenue stream. You need to ensure that your busyness translates into business. Here is the 411 on how to do just that:

1.) Be Honest with Yourself
If you find yourself constantly busy and yet not being productive it’s probably because you are avoiding something that you feel is, or could be, painful. An example would be when an adviser says, “I don’t have time to prospect because I’m too busy.” In reality most are choosing to accomplish activities that they deem pleasurable in order to avoid feeling the pain of rejection. In other words, they take on additional tasks to feel or be busy which enables them to say to others that they have a lot to do although in reality it really is only giving them an excuse to avoid painful activities—in this case prospecting.

2.) Face Your Fears
Recently, I asked a financial adviser client of mine, who owns an independent firm that he wants to grow by recruiting wire house reps, “Why aren’t you setting appointments with them and telling them about your firm?”

He quickly replied, “I’d like to but I don’t have time because I’m dealing with staffing issues and compliance all day.” By probing a bit, I found out that his past recruiting efforts consistently resulted in the advisers wanting to wait. Once I learned this, I explained, “Your challenge isn’t time management, the challenge is sales and being able to overcome objections and the feeling of rejection when you don’t close.” Once we talked about his fears, we began to focus on what actions could strengthen his sales skills. He’s still busy but now he is delegating many of his previous tasks because he feels more confident to be recruiting.

Successful advisers know that there are only three possible outcomes to any task; you can do it, delegate it or delete it which is rarely an option unless it is an unimportant and not urgent task.

3.) Understand the Art and Science of Task Management
Successful advisers also know that understanding what tasks to accomplish first is one part art and one part science. The art is in being flexible enough to know when it’s time to drop everything and “put out a fire”. The science is in having a process to determine which fire is the most important to put out first.

When Busyness Equates to Business
The best barometer to know if all of the busyness that you are experiencing is translating into business is to check your score card—your revenue. Is your business growing? If so, you’re moving in the right direction, but if you aren’t seeing an increase, then it’s time to go back through this article to determine what changes still need to be made.

If you read this blog and need help defining busyness versus business for yourself, email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing at melissa@advisorsolutionsinc.com to schedule a complimentary consultation with Dan Finley.

Dan FinleyDaniel C. Finley
Advisor Solutions
St. Paul, Minn.

Editor’s Note: Learn more about successful time management in an FPA webinar titled, “RPI Time Management Study: How to do More with Less,” by Valerie Porter, CFP®. 

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The Flip Side of Foolish: Reverse the Dialogue

In a recent coaching session, I gave Sammy, a financial adviser with more than 30 years of experience, a little homework to do before our next session. She had been concerned about prospects not seeing the value in getting her opinion on their portfolios and she wanted to know how to convince them that they should.

We had just mapped out a process that I refer to as Reversing the Dialogue, which works back from the conclusion you’d ultimately like your prospect to come to and the questions to ask to most get them to realize that conclusion most effectively. In Sammy’s situation the desired conclusion was that getting an opinion from her was in their best interest.

“I will work on it and let you know how it goes,” she said with excitement in her voice.

“Actually, why don’t you type it out and email it to me then in our next session we can role play with it,” I replied.

One of two things typically happen when I mention role play to a coaching client: either they look forward to practicing and can’t wait to start, or they have anxiety and can’t wait to explain why they don’t want to do it.

“I hate role play,” she admitted. “I’d rather just go out and practice this on prospects and tell you how it went.”

“Why?” I inquired, curiously.

“Well, it’s because I don’t want to sound foolish in front of you,” she replied cautiously.

“Ah-ha, you need to understand the flip side of foolish then,” I responded with a laugh.

After a significant pause on her end, I continued on with my explanation. Feeling foolish is like looking at only one side of the proverbial coin, I told her. There is the negative side, which for her was feeling embarrassed or inadequate; however on the flip side there are multiple positive reasons why role playing was a smart best practice.

“When it comes to role play, the flip side of feeling foolish is the fact that you WILL learn from practicing with me,” I’d told her confidently. “You WILL get better at asking questions, moving people down the pipeline and accomplishing your goals. Aren’t all of those outcomes worth a few minutes of feeling foolish?”

“When you state it that way, I’d much rather feel foolish and learn how to do it right BEFORE meeting with clients/prospects,” she said sheepishly.

In our next session I reassured her that there were no incorrect questions and that role play was merely a method that she would learn from. After two or three role play conversations she became more comfortable and relaxed with the technique of applying (and adjusting) the questions she had mapped out.

Nice job! You took me down a path of questions to help me understand why I should get an opinion from you. I absolutely felt connected and engaged while you were doing it,” I told her. I could feel her smile over the phone as she replied, “I didn’t feel foolish doing the role play with you at all. I’d like to do it more often!”

Often in order to grow our business, we have to be open to leaving our comfort zone to strengthen our weaknesses. Being willing to stretch beyond what you already know and feel comfortable with allows for you to find what your “flip side of foolish” might be.

If you read this article and find yourself wanting to learn more about how to incorporate role play into your best practices, email me at dan@advisorsolutionsinc.com for a complimentary consultation. I can help you get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Dan FinleyDaniel C. Finley
Advisor Solutions
St. Paul, Minn.

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5 Strategies to Keep Your Fee Conversation Stress-Free

How confident do you feel about your fees? Do you dread the “fee discussion” when you meet someone new? Deciding what to charge or how to increase your fees can be stressful, and the pressure to discount fees can be overwhelming.

You may devalue yourself to sign the client more often than you’d like or do a ton of work free in anticipation of a portfolio to manage that never comes to fruition. Offering discounts can cause mental stress, internal arguments and create resentment, all of which hinders your development of a fulfilling practice.

When it comes to setting your fees, there is no pricing panacea. You have to look at your audience, your service, your value, and what kind of work you want to do to set your fees. If you find there is a market segment you keep attracting where you have to discount or justify the pricing constantly, then take a closer look at why. Is your fee reasonable for the value a client receives? Are you failing to get in front of the right people? It may be time to make some adjustments.

Here are five strategies to keep your pricing consistent and stress-free:

1. Offer Package Deals

Bundle up your services into packages. You may find it mutually beneficial to offer an inexpensive package with your baseline services in addition to a high-end, all-inclusive alternative. Prospects can self-select what fits for them. They choose, not you. (Note: your higher-priced package should come across as a better value).

2. Provide a DIY Option

Do-It-Yourself is a fantastic way to leverage your time and knowledge to serve the segment of your niche that is unwilling to pay your one-on-one fee. Free content or an inexpensive information product allows people to benefit from your expertise but does not tie up your time. You may be surprised how many people try out your content first and then upgrade to personalized service. Deliver this through a customized landing page from www.leadpages.net or ask your webmaster to set up the sign-up.

3. Utilize Promotional Periods

Offer a promotional price for a limited time. For example, email your list in March and offer an incentive (credit toward a plan, a free analysis, or bundled in tax return, for example) if they commit by April 15.

4. Partner Up

Do not try to force fit every prospect’s needs into your service. Yes, you could figure out a way to help almost anyone, but do you want to? Focus on your target. Find other planners in your area who offer models different than your own. These partnerships allow you to provide a solution to a particular group of individuals who don’t fit for you, they help other advisers find qualified leads, and you can keep your eye on the ball.

5. Know Your Model Framework

A trickier situation for pricing occurs when you are confident that an individual prospect could bring a large portfolio for you to manage (where you would receive your fee). You want to provide a complimentary plan or reduced planning fee upfront to show your approach and woo the client. How can you keep from losing your shirt by offering too many free sessions? Create a logical system of what criteria you’re looking for in a client. Know in advance what profile fits the mold and how you will price. Measure against your framework as you talk to either eliminate the upfront fee entirely or determine to what degree you are willing to offer a discount. This puts you in a position of empowerment and not of reacting to whatever is happening at the meeting.

Remember, you offer immense value to the clients you serve. Be sure to give yourself a break and strategically decide pricing in advance of consultations. This way you can relax, be yourself and probably welcome many more clients because you focused on them and not your imminent fee negotiation.

Kristin Harad 2014Kristin Harad, CFP®
Marketing trainer for advisers
San Francisco