The most successful advisors in this business have two common traits: high activity and high-quality relationships. This industry teaches us that success is a numbers game of finding enough people to talk to and work with.
When I came into the business, I was taught Al Granum’s One Card System. My mentor taught me that for every 10 names you get, three will meet with you and one will buy. While it was a solid approach for the first year or two, it was also incomplete. There was more to the story.
Many advisors still operate on the high-activity model and mindset. While these advisors have continued to have success meeting industry benchmarks, winning trips and awards, most will quietly admit they’re exhausted. They often have little to no control over their time, and the business is running them rather than them running their business.
The continuous focus on the numbers game throughout an advisor’s career path is an industry error. Let me be clear: I am not saying you don’t need activity; you do — it’s critical for your continued success. But there is a threshold where more activity won’t allow you, or your business, to evolve. You must shift from high activity to high quality, and the need for your qualitative skills surpasses the need for your quantitative skills.
There are three things that are critical for advisors to have the business, the clients and the life they want. These disciplines will allow you to make the shift to a business that balances the qualitative with the quantitative and become an evolutionary advisor.
Start relationships right
The way you open new meetings sets the entire context for your client relationship and is critical to winning or losing an important engagement. One of the most common mistakes advisors make when attempting to engage a prospect is taking a defensive posture when attempting to explain what they do or the value they bring.
When a prospect asks, “I already have people helping me, why would you be different?” most advisors jump into explaining why they’re different, better or smarter than the competition. Some even start pitching an idea or a strategy to demonstrate their difference. It’s what the industry has taught us to do.
But I want you to recognize the high self-orientation of this approach. Quite simply, responding by defending puts the attention on you, not them. At the beginning of the relationship, it’s too early to challenge the strategies of your prospects, or the working relationship or value with their current advisors, when you simply know very little about it.
What if, instead of starting on the defensive, you started by putting the attention on them? What if you talked about the difference your clients experience rather than how you’re different?
It can give your prospects insight into what it would be like to work with you, and you won’t be trying to sell or tell them what to do. It will also lead to them asking questions and ultimately sharing their situation or what they are not getting from their current advisors. Make this one shift, and you can change your first impressions forever.
Embrace the “F” word: fiduciary
There has never been a time when the need for quality advice and high-trust relationships have been so important. We’ve seen regulatory changes across the industry with a primary focus on the imperative for advisors to act in the best interest of clients and to be prepared to defend their actions.
What it means to be a fiduciary, and how you operate in that context, is under a magnifying glass, and this is a tremendous opportunity for the best and brightest advisors to step forward.
The leading advisors of the future will embrace this change toward client outcomes as their focus. In fact, they will take an advocate’s stance on behalf of what is important to their clients and serve that above all else. Thinking, and more importantly operating, in this way will set advisors apart from their competition and set them up for success beyond their expectations. Run toward this change, and take a leadership role in its purpose.
Define your niche and market to it
Sticking to a niche can seem risky, but it is critical to attaining that next level of success. To clarify, there’s an important difference between sales and marketing. For sales, it’s appropriate to work with anyone where you can provide good value and be compensated accordingly. But when you are marketing, you are the one spending the money, and it needs to be done accurately and powerfully.
For example, if you are marketing to a niche of family-owned businesses but a nonfamily-operated business is interested in engaging, you have the freedom to engage or not. In sales, you can decide to do business outside of your defined niche. You are not limited; you’re empowered. Choosing a niche allows you to become known as the go-to expert for that group, concentrate your efforts and deliver meaningful messages.
The faster you implement these three approaches, the closer you will be to having the clients, the business and the life you want.