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Explain What You Do So People Will Immediately Want to Work With You

When you meet a prospective client, are you able to introduce yourself so that they immediately want to work with you? If you know how to speak their language, you’ll be able to clearly communicate what you do so that they can understand.

When I say “language,” I’m not talking about their native tongue—I mean the language of results.

If you can craft an introduction that’s focused on the results that your prospects are looking for, you’ll be able to get people interested in what you do.

When I first started as an adviser, I’d usually just tell people that I’m a financial planner. I quickly found out that it wasn’t the best way to introduce myself if I wanted to get people interested in what I do. The reason why this didn’t work was because so many people hear the term financial planner and their guard immediately goes up.

As I figured this out I’d then try to explain in more detail and ended up just getting confused looks. But once I learned how to speak the language of results, I was able to become more compelling and get more people interested in how I help people.

When you’re able to do this you’ll be able to introduce yourself in a way that’s compelling and People will begin to become very interested in what you have to offer. Remember these two things:

1.) Be Specific. Don’t worry about excluding people. If you have multiple “types” of people that you help, you have the advantage of tailoring your answer to the person you’re talking to. You’ll see what I mean in a minute.

2.) Focus on Results. When you meet someone for the first time, they don’t really care about your services, your process or your credentials. If you want to hook people and get them interested in you, you have to focus on how you help people. What are the problems you solve for people?

Ways to Introduce Yourself

There are two great ways to explain what you do. Both are non-salesy and will clearly communicate how you help people.

Way No. 1. This is where you give a two-sentence answer that communicates the problem, the solution and the reward.

Communicate the problem first. You don’t want to start the conversation with what you do. You want to start it by focusing on them and the thing they are thinking most about. What problem does your ideal prospect have? What pain is causing them to seek out an adviser?

Then communicate the solution. Ask yourself, “What do you do that solves that problem?” and “How do you make the pain go away?”

Finally, communicate the reward. Ask yourself, “What’s their life like after your solution?” and “What are the good feelings they’ll experience after working with you?”

Here are some examples of things to say:

“Most people don’t feel 100 percent confident about their financial future. We give them a road map so they know exactly where they’re going and so they can make the right decisions along the way.”

“As a lot of people get close to retirement they’re not sure if they’re making the right decisions. We take them through a three-step process to help them get clear on their financial future.”

Way No. 2. This is a one-sentence introduction that takes fewer than 10 seconds and will communicate three things: what you do, who you help and how you help them.

Here’s the script: “I’m a financial planner and I help (specific person) (with a problem) by (solution). Here are a few more specific examples:

“I’m a financial planner and I help people who are five years out from retirement create a plan they can feel good about.”

“I’m a financial planner and I help retirees who want to leave a legacy create a plan to efficiently pass on not only their assets and their wisdom to future generations.”

“I’m a financial planner and I help busy professionals who want to make good financial decisions by giving them a one-page financial plan.”

What’s Next?

Write down your own version of how you would introduce yourself to the next prospective client you meet.

To learn more about how to explain what you do so people will immediately want to work with you, sign up for this online mini-course.

dave-zoller
Dave Zoller, CFP®, is a financial planner who teaches other financial planners how to grow their practice so that they can help more clients. He runs Streamline My Practice, a consulting company for advisers.


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7 Steps to Building a Business Breakthrough

Have you ever been stuck atop a production plateau or seen your business head in a steady decline and wondered what it would take to turn your business around? Most advisers and agents go through peaks, valleys and crossroads at some point in their careers. There are many ways to pivot and change your trajectory if you find yourself in need of a re-route. Here are a few of my suggested steps to help you.

Step 1: Choose to Succeed
It may sound simplistic but success is a choice, either you desire to succeed or you don’t. To take the first step toward positive outcomes you have to want to move in the right direction. So, if you are tired of being where you are you must make a conscious decision to do want it takes to ensure change actually happens or the status quo will continue.

Step 2: Adopt a Great Attitude
It’s been said that, “Life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it.” Adopting a great attitude starts by understanding that nobody is responsible for your success but you. How you look at your circumstances is a choice that you must make every day. You will always be faced with obstacles but if you view them as an opportunity to grow you can turn them into triumphs. Start each day with an attitude of gratitude for all that you have and watch how quickly other aspects of your business and your life start to fall into place.

Step 3: Create Systems to get Results
No one ever built a great business by winging it. When you are truly honest with yourself you will realize that creating processes and systems for every aspect of your business, time management, prospecting, sales, client servicing and so on is the best way to get results. The secret to creating systems is to duplicate other’s successes by learning and implementing their systems. So ask someone you look up to in your business, what is working for them? Why re-invent the wheel?

Step 4: Take Massive Action
It has also been said that, “The distance between dreams and reality is action.” And, the more action you take the higher the likelihood that you’ll succeed. Let’s face it, you can have a fantastic system but if you don’t actually implement or integrate it then it is merely a wasted resource. Conversely, taking massive action ultimately generates both motivation and momentum.

Step 5: Track Your Progress
Measuring your milestones is a terrific way to enjoy the journey. In order to know if you are on the right path you must consistently track and evaluate your progress. It can be as simple as adding people to your pipeline daily or as complex as recording dials, contacts, new prospects, appointments and accounts. Knowing where you were and where you are now will help keep you moving toward where you want to be.

Step 6: Reward Yourself
As you accomplish your goals, it’s important to reward yourself along the way. Rewards act as a motivator to continue taking daily action because it provides an added incentive to push a little harder towards your end goal. Some successful advisers and agents use a simple reward system like allowing themselves to get a cup of coffee only after having contacted five new prospects. When you use this type of reward system consistently you form great habits to continue building your business.

Step 7: Make Course Corrections
To reach your peak potential, it’s important to make course corrections from time to time. Take for instance having a proven cold calling prospecting system that a successful colleague used to build his or her business. He or she was kind enough to map out their system for you, you took action, recorded milestones and rewarded yourself but success seems to be happening at a slower pace for you than you had expected. Chances are that you may need to make a slight course correction around who your target market is, tweaking what you say or how you are handling objections to duplicate their success.

Why Building a Business Breakthrough System Works
Business breakthroughs don’t happen overnight. It takes time to implement each step until you find the pace and formula that works for you. Now that you understand a bit more about what is involved to get going, all you need to do next is to take that first step towards your destination.

Are you using some or all these steps to have your own business breakthrough? To learn more, schedule a 30-minute coaching session with me by emailing Melissa Denham, director of client servicing.

Dan Finley

 

Daniel C. Finley
President
Advisor Solutions
St. Paul, Minn.


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Developing Real Relationships with COIs

Financial planners often ask about how to build better relationships with centers of influence (COIs). By “better,” they generally mean “more productive,” and by “more productive,” they are usually referring to reciprocity. Their most common complaint is that, while they have sent X number of their own clients to a certain COI, they have never received a referral in return.

Let’s first examine why and how professionals provide referrals.

A referral occurs (or should occur) when one professional believes that his or her client’s needs can best be met by the specific expertise of another professional. So, for example, if your physician referred you to a specialist, you would reasonably expect to be referred to the one that your doctor considers the very best for your situation—in other words, the one with the best knowledge and most experience in treating your illness or injury.

Likewise, your clients should reasonably expect that you would refer them to the CPA or attorney with the best knowledge and most experience in addressing what they need, correct?

If you agree, wouldn’t you also have to acknowledge that a CPA or attorney who wanted to refer one of their clients to a financial planner would choose someone they believe had the best knowledge and most experience?

And so the question becomes, how can you best develop a relationship with a CPA, an attorney or any COI, such that they really know you, having had the opportunity to gain a clear understanding of and appreciation for your knowledge and experience?

Put more simply, how can you develop real relationships with centers of influence?

The answer is quite simple, but it takes an investment of time and effort. Just as any relationship, they must be developed over time and start with becoming acquainted, sharing some basic information about yourselves and your background and getting to know each other.

As you begin to recognize what you have in common (a personal connection, such as shared interests and personal rapport; and a professional connection, such as perspective and philosophy), you can build on that base by orchestrating purposeful opportunities to get together and—even better—to work together.

In other words, look for opportunities to collaborate on client situations. Don’t simply tell COIs how you work with clients; show them. Don’t simply send over a client; set up a joint meeting along with the client and the COI.

And most of all, don’t assume reciprocity. Build the kind of professional relationships that will lead to opportunities to work together for the recognized value each of you brings to serving your clients.

susan-kornegaySusan Kornegay, CFP®
Consultant/Coach
Pathfinder Strategic Solutions 
Knoxville, Tenn.

 

Editor’s Note: Read more of Kornegay’s blog posts at the Pathfinder Strategic Solutions “Perspectives” blog. 


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The 3Cs to Enhance Your Negotiation Skills

A new calendar year represents a fresh beginning and an opportunity to think anew about the adviser-client relationship. Financial advisers know that their annual planning conversations with clients may need to address sensitive topics related to the changing regulatory environment, particularly as we near the proposed timing for implementation of the Department of Labor’s Final Rule. These issues will certainly be on the agenda if you are transitioning to a fee-for-service model.

But the ability to engage clients in potentially difficult discussions is always key to building a successful business.

Central to these discussions is the ability to negotiate—a skill I have spent years cultivating through personal successes and failures, and through teaching thousands of business leaders and professionals at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. I consulted on a Janus Labs program, titled the Science of Negotiations, to prepare advisers to have better planning meetings. The core tenets of the program, and negotiating generally, are what we call the three Cs: commitment, candor and credibility.

Commitment: We know that as a financial adviser, your commitment is to serve as a trusted counselor to your clients. Working in a client’s best interest isn’t something new that rules require—it’s what you’ve always done. You need to convey this commitment clearly and consistently in order to build and maintain the kind of trust that allows for open dialogue. By reminding clients of your commitment to them, and connecting your actions to that commitment, the value of your relationship and services should always be top of mind for them. This way you can raise sensitive issues when the client can hear and process them fully, not simply because a deadline requires it of you.

Candor: We’re big proponents of the “radical candor” used at Silicon Valley companies like Facebook and Google. For advisers, this means demonstrating that you care personally about each client, while also directly addressing how DOL-related changes will affect them. Be a straight talker. Don’t beat around the bush: be clear that this is a difficult subject but the new services you offer are commensurate with what the client needs. Telling clients about the products and services you are not recommending is also important. Transparency is key. When you reveal information that’s not necessarily in your best interest, but is clearly in the best interest of the client, you build trust.

Credibility: Openly and willingly revealing information about products and fees increases your credibility, and research shows that credibility is the single most important asset of effective negotiators. Your credibility rests on expertise, competence and trustworthiness. It means that: 1) you bring your clients valuable knowledge and insights; 2) you apply your expertise to their benefit with skill and diligence; and 3) you consistently use your expertise and competence to create long-term value as a trustworthy counselor.

Strong negotiation skills will help you communicate more effectively in all your interactions. Demonstrating that you are credible, candid and committed will put you in a position to better navigate the sensitive topics that are inherent to financial advice, including fees and regulatory concerns. And this is a good time to start strengthening those skills, as you begin scheduling the conversations that will guide your client relationships throughout the new year.

For more information on how to use The Science of Negotiations for meaningful conversations with your clients, please contact your Janus Director or visit www.janus.com.

G. Richard Shell

 

G. Richard Shell
Legal studies and Business Ethics Professor
University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School
Philadelphia, Pa.


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Goal Setting: How to Make 2017 Your Best Business Year Ever

Investing time to strategically plan their goals for the upcoming year is the single greatest return on investment an adviser can make. If you’re looking to create a breakout year and accomplish your most important goals, read the following to make 2017 your best year ever.

STEP ONE: Review Your Year
This step helps you focus on what you should be doing more of and what you should be quitting completely. Identify your successes and where you came up short. Figure out what worked and what didn’t. Which were good decisions and which were bad?

Answer these questions to properly reflect on your year:

  1. What did you accomplish this past year that you’re most proud of?
  2. What did you do to earn this accomplishment?
  3. What disappointments or regrets did you experience this past year?
  4. As you look back, what was missing from last year?
  5. What are three things you want to stop doing next year?
  6. What are three things you want to keep doing next year?

STEP TWO: Define Areas of Attention in Your Business
There are seven main areas of your financial practice that you want to be in optimal shape to see breakthrough success. Rank each area on a scale of 1-10 to see which are the lowest and need your attention.

  1. New business and client acquisition. Are you talking to enough qualified prospects and turning them into clients?
  2. Marketing and branding. When people get introduced to you or your brand, can they quickly identify how you can help and benefit them?
  3. Do you have all-star employees who are easy to manage?
  4. Client service and experience. Are your current clients receiving the right amount of contact and care so there’s no reason they would ever leave you?
  5. Do you have the systems and processes set up so that the office can run if you’re not there?
  6. Time management and productivity. Are you spending time only on $1,000-per-hour tasks rather than $10-per-hour tasks?
  7. Expertise in planning and investment management. Are you continually increasing your knowledge in order to offer the best advice and recommendations to your clients?

STEP THREE: Create Your Future
Here’s the framework to follow when identifying your goals. Use this framework to develop five to seven goals for the next year:

  1. Write it down. Research shows that written goals are much more likely to be achieved.
  2. Suspend reality. Decide later if a goal is realistic.
  3. Think big. Have goals that are challenging enough to demand your full effort
  4. State in the positive. Focus on what you want to move toward.
  5. Have actionable goals. Write your goal as if it is already achieved. For example, say, “I have hired one new all-star employee that handles all paperwork prep and processing by 6/30/2017.”
  6. Time bound. Make sure there is a date of completion.
  7. Be specific. The more specific the goal, the better.

STEP FOUR: Bulletproof Your Goals
Advisers who achieve their goals are the ones who are motivated and who have a compelling reason why their goals must be achieved. So you can create powerful motivators for each of your goals, which will increase the chances that you’ll achieve them.

Take these steps to create motivators for your goals:

  1. (Again) write down each goal.
  2. Connect emotionally and logically with each goal by determining why the goal is important and what is at stake (both the positive and negative).
  3. Write down the top three to five motivators
  4. Review them regularly.

STEP FIVE: Take The Next Step
The last step—the most important step in the process—is where we start to take action to make our goals a reality.

  1. Don’t over plan. We naturally are attracted to planning. But sometimes it turns into a fancy way to procrastinate. We want to make sure we get started on our goals as soon as possible.
  2. Work backward and break up your big goals. Imagine the goal is already complete. What do you need to do each month in order for you to that moment? This will help identify manageable action steps.
  3. Schedule your goals. Set aside time each week to review your goals, motivators and progress. At the end of each session, identify the next step you need to take to reach this goal.
  4. Celebrate the small wins to motivate yourself.
  5. Start now.

Download this step-by-step worksheet to help you with this process.

dave-zoller

 

Dave Zoller
Financial Adviser
Streamline My Practice
Warrenville, IL