At a time when the stock market is experiencing all time highs, investors have their antennas up given the Madoff and American Greed crimes, and compliance and legal factors like endorsements, social media limitations, gifts, solicitor rules, and Do-Not-Call lists, make reaching out to prospects more complicated than ever before, it seems obvious that the number one pain point for advisors is their lackluster growth.
I hear this pain every day. An advisor who feels that his team is not as enthusiastic around getting new business as he was when he founded the firm 40 years ago. Advisors who go on several prospect meetings a week, but nothing seems to close. Wealth managers who truly feel that what they offer is the best solution for investors, but no one knows about their practice.
So what have advisors resorted to? Many times, expensive methods in an attempt logically solve this growth challenge. Using their left brain, which has helped them build analytical models and solve financial problems, they start building out processes to conquer sales. They hire costly business development professionals, integrate CRM systems they don’t fully understand, invest in online lead generation systems, spend thousands on marketing and public relations, only to continue back where they started: Little, to no growth.
Why is that? Because sales is not logical. It is not analytical. It is not process driven. It is messy. Conversations and sales are creative exercises, which therefore require skills and habits of the creative brain, not the logical brain (this is why many CFA's and portfolio managers tend to hate sales — they’re always being too logical!)
And like anything else — learning to play the piano or singing — social interactions and sales are something that must be practiced and improved.
And that’s why a sales coach can be the most powerful tool you can invest in as an advisor to help your practice grow.
Research by the Sales Executive Council shows that no other productivity or marketing investment comes even close to sales coaching in improving a professional's performance pertaining to growth.
A sales coach brings in an outsider's perspective inside your practice, providing a third party, unbiased viewpoint of your team and how you operate as sales professionals. He or she also compares you to the industry benchmark of growth, which is comprised of years of research and observation of best practices in sales strategies within your particular industry.
With a full understanding of what you're doing right and where the potential weaknesses are, a good sales coach will be able to work with you and your firm to bridge the gap and help you become extremely competitive to win and maintain more business.
Networking, prospecting, and inspiring action — with charisma, charm, passion and endless curiosity — is possibly the most important skill a wealth manager who is looking to grow his or her practice can have. And if we can’t communicate to others effectively how our practice is different, how business development is important to us, or how unique our personal story is....well, we just get left behind and let the other power advisors dominate.
It doesn't matter how great your platform is or how good you are at building portfolios if you cannot converse effectively and convert a conversation into a business development conversation.
A sales coach is only, repeat only, as good as the coach behind it. If you have respect for the person coaching you, and want to emulate his/her style and approach to growth, you should hire that coach. If the coach irks you, or their style is unrealistic, trust your personal judgment.At the same time, a sales coach should differ in their strategy from yours. Otherwise, you would be repeating the same pattern of growth, which is most probably not as ideal as you'd like.
As a financial advisor, just like a lawyer, you are primarily selling you and your expertise. So if you can learn to sell you, to just about anyone who is qualified, then you can grow you practice in any market environment.