I saw a Dennis the Menace cartoon
in the newspaper years ago that I cut out and saved. It shows Dennis
looking under the couch in his living room. His mother walks by and
says, "Dennis what are you looking for?" Dennis responds, "I
don't know but I'll know it when I see it!"
You can wait until you see what you want
and then go for it or decide what you want before you start the
search. There are advocates for both approaches. I think we probably
end up doing some combination of the two. Either way, at some point,
you have to have some idea of what you are looking for, or at least
what you like and don't like.
An observation I made in my career
counseling days was that people often can more easily describe what
they don't want quicker than what they do want. If you are
having trouble setting goals that have meaning, which is common, start
by listing what you don't want. Guess what you have to know in order
to know what you don't want? That's right... what you do want, or at
least something close to it.
What do you really want to create?
Assuming you are a relationship-oriented advisor and not a
client-controller, your relationships with your clients are the key to
a fulfilling practice. Furthermore, the more you limit your practice
to people you have chemistry with, the happier you will be. As you
have most likely already seen, if there is chemistry between you and
the client, they buy faster, they buy more often, and they give you
more quality referrals. You can't do it any better than that!
When you approach potential
clients, are you thinking in terms of how you can help people make
informed decisions that feel right to them, or do you think it is more
important to push for a sale? Personally, I prefer to help
people see the issues they need to address, help them decide what
their priorities are, and then focus on what they want to resolve
first. I like being seen as a trusted advisor, and I don't feel I can
call someone a trusted advisor if their main objective is to sell me
something. I want an advisor who wants to be on my team and help me
get want I really want. I also like having a 90% closing ratio, which
you can only have if you are helping people get what they want. If you
are pushing your ideas or products onto people, you can't above a 30%
closing ratio and keep the business on the books.
I have always had a desire to be as
straight and direct with people as possible. In the old days,
when they taught me to do an "assumed close," in a life insurance
closing interview, I hated it. I did it and it worked and I
still hated it. As I matured in my selling abilities and became a
better interviewer, closing became more of formality. At whatever felt
like the opportune time, I would repeat back all of the things the
client was trying to accomplish and then ask them if what I was
proposing accomplished all of those objectives. If they answer was
yes, I would simply say, "Shall we start the paperwork?" I liked that
a lot better than the assumed close of, "How do you want your name to
read on the contract?"
I also like to promise people that they
never have to do anything that doesn't feel right to them and tell
them up front that I am never going to try to talk them into buying
something. If they don't like my idea or something doesn't feel right
about my idea, no more needs to be said. Of course, I am not saying
that I don't like to promote what I believe in, or what I think is a
great solution for the client's problem. But if I give it my best shot
and the client isn't excited about it, we move on to discussing other
options or change the topic altogether! No wrestling!
If you are a relationship-builder,
I hope you are getting the idea that you have some decisions to make
about what you want to create in your practice. You can be
friends with your clients rather than seeing them as buying units. You
can tell your clients that you have lots of products for sale but that
buying something is not a requirement for you to help them with their
finances. The reality is that when you give people the option to do
nothing, they start looking for things to buy!
Probably the most important question to
ask yourself which will give you the answers about what you really
want to create in your practice is this: Ideally, how would you
want to be treated by a financial advisor? What kind of values would
you want the advisor to bring to the table if they were to help you
with your money?
Have a productive May,
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