By Matt Pais
Qualifying for MDRT is a huge accomplishment for a financial advisor, and a big part of making it the first time is looking ahead toward requalifying the second year. It’s certainly not a given, as many members struggle to repeat what is typically a career-best performance. Some even fall short the following year, only to make it back the year after. To help first-timers in this effort, some of these “in, then out, then back in” members offer tips on how they made it back.
Who: Lesley Paul Harleaux, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Target market: A broad spectrum from blue-collar workers to white-collar professionals, as well as small-business owners. Harleaux aims for clients who are married, ages 25 to 55, own a home, are employed and have kids.
What happened to not requalify: “I was right there; I would like to say my level of production was about the same, but obviously I didn’t get enough numbers in,” he said. “Sometimes you end up needing to get in front of more clients. I really made a push the last two months, but it just wasn’t enough. Sometimes you can be getting in front of the wrong people too. If you’re not getting in front of qualified prospects, you can be wasting a lot of time. So when I did a review of the year, I identified some appointments I shouldn’t have even gone on.”
Advice: Focus every day, and make every week strong. “Don’t let up at any time during the year. That was part of it; maybe I let up a little bit,” he said. “The presentation is still the same, the phone calls were still the same. Sometimes you get a lot of cancellations, sometimes you run into some bigger leads that can run into more production and sometimes there’s just some average sales. The only thing you really can control is your attitude and your activity. If you can get in front of more people and stay consistent, that’s how you qualify for MDRT.”
Who: Miles Douglas Pruner, LUTCF, Anchorage, Alaska
Target market: Business owners, families and pre-retirees.
What happened to not requalify: He took a month off in the summer to travel to Italy. “When you disappear from this business for a while, you don’t perform as well,” he said. He says he doesn’t regret the trip, but he nonetheless told his wife, “I’m never taking a month off again,” making future trips shorter to keep business moving forward.
Advice: Develop business (he’s learned to work more with the retirement income market as he and his clients get older), increase referrals (“Sometimes you forget to ask, so I’ve been better at making sure I’m getting those”) and get a stand-up desk. “I know that when I sat I would get complacent about whatever’s on the computer,” he said. “When I’m on my feet, I’m always moving. It seems to incite you to be productive.”
Who: Alexa D. Sider, MS, Orlando, Florida
Target market: Physicians, a change after moving from Virginia, where she worked with fire and rescue employees.
What happened to not requalify: Though she was doing everything she normally does for her business, Sider noted that she was less focused professionally when her fiancé (now husband) moved to New York and the relationship became long-distance, necessitating increased traveling.
Advice: “I went back to the basics. I went back to setting two appointments every single day,” she said. “Some things you can’t really predict in this business. The only thing you can really predict is your activity. Your activity leads to success — never stop learning and never stop educating yourself.”
Who: Joel Wymer, Kent, Ohio
Target market: Retirement planning, college planning
What happened to not requalify: Wymer expanded into the college planning market, but it may have been a distraction. “I think I took my focus off of what I was doing well previously, which was working one-on-one with families or individuals on their retirement picture,” he said. “So production was lower that year because I just hadn’t figured out how to balance both of those parts of the business.”
Advice: Consistency. “Really stay with what you’re good at,” Wymer said, adding that he’s brought in an assistant to help with administrative duties. “You’re bombarded with people telling you they have a magic bullet to figure out prospecting, and double and triple your business. Stick with what you’re good at, refine that and don’t spread yourself out too much. For me, that was the key. I overextended myself and tried to be too good at too many things. Once I honed in and really determined what I was good at and focused on my clients, that’s when I was able to help more people and do more business.”