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5 Steps to ‘Connecting the Room’

One of life’s simple pleasures for me is something that others might dread: public speaking. For more than 20 years I’ve had the honor and privilege to speak in front of a wide range of audiences—investors, financial advisers, insurance agents and wholesalers.

A rookie financial adviser client of mine explained that he had held his first seminar and it had resulted in setting several appointments with qualified prospects. However, he was disappointed overall because he said that the audience barely said a word during his entire presentation. Even when he would ask them a question or attempt to interact with them, the room was silent.

If this has ever happened to you, please know that it happens to most speakers at some point in their careers. To combat that challenge, I’ve developed a solution that I refer to as “connecting the room.” If you apply this technique, I’m pretty sure you will never just hear crickets during your presentation again.

The following is a step-by-step process for connecting the room.

Step 1: Ask Strategic Questions

It’s no secret that the audience tends to be more engaged at listening when you ask them questions. That’s why it’s important to map out your questions prior to your presentation so that you have a strategy ahead of time.

Typically, I tend to start off a new subject with a question. An example of this was years ago when I prepared one set of questions for each section of my presentation. Instead of reading the Power Point slide titled “Inflation Eats up Your Purchasing Power,” I simply asked a strategic question to the group of retirees, which was, “How many people here paid more for their last car then they did their first house?”

Step 2: Get the Audience to Take Action

Another great way to help the audience connect with one another is to collectively ask them to take action by raising their hand. After I asked the earlier question, I paused and said, “Let’s see a show of hands of who can relate to that. Please raise your hand if you can.”

Immediately, several hands went up.

Step 3: Make a Connection

Next, pick out one person who seems to be paying attention or actively listening so that you can ask them to tell their story to the crowd. Ask, “What is your name?” then simply turn the dialogue over to them by saying something like, “Joe, when did you buy your first house? What type of home was it (ex: rambler, townhouse, split-level, etc.)? Was it here in town or somewhere else?” Let this individual share the limelight for a moment then continue asking a few more questions. Examples might be, “What was the biggest purchase item aside from your home that you bought?” and “Do you think you the prices for items like that will continue to rise?” Your final question should be a closed-ended question which elicits a “yes” or a “no” so you can emphasize your point. Finish the interaction by thanking the person, “Joe, thanks for sharing! Who here can relate to Joe’s story? Let’s see a show of hands.”

Step 4: Connect the Room

Usually a group tends to listen more intently when a speaker is dynamic and uses dialogue, versus a speaker who is static and utilizes a monologue. If you sprinkle in interactions throughout your presentation, your audience will be waiting for them. Use as many as you can—as time permits—to solidify your messaging and to strengthen your connection with those in the room.

Step 5: Make Your Point

Before moving on from one topic to another be sure to ask a summarizing question. Here is an example, “Does anyone know why things are more expensive today than they were when you bought your first house?” Let someone offer an answer and then explain your point of view. You could say something like, “The reason things are more expensive is because inflation eats up your purchasing power!”

Transitioning from one topic to another is often the best time to engage with the audience and have the group collectively relate to each other. Be sure your questions are catered to the demographic to which you are speaking and that the questions support your point of view.

Why Connecting the Room Works

When you use this technique, watch what happens to the people in the room, they speak more freely and are more apt to want to speak with you afterwards and hopefully they are on their way to becoming one of your clients. If they feel comfortable then they feel connected!

To schedule a complimentary 30-minute coaching session with me at, email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing at Advisor Solutions.

Dan Finley

 

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

 

 


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Building Growth Through Succession Planning

Succession planning isn’t just an “end-game strategy”; it is the key to growth and sustainability.

The specific goals of the succession planning process depend on the founder and his or her circumstance—including age, health and family demands—and they vary case by case. The point, though, is to take a methodical and practical approach to building a business that will endure beyond the builder. Four key areas to concentrate on are:

  1. Building strong, sustainable growth;
  2. Creating a focus on the bottom-line;
  3. Implementing a practical and reliable continuity plan; and
  4. Designing an income perpetuation strategy for the founding owner

The first is perhaps the most important. Building strong, sustainable growth for the business is supported by a clear succession plan in two ways. First, by incorporating next generation advisers who will be investing financially and physically as they buy in. One of the most effective ways to grow a business is to help the next generation build on the foundation the founder has already created and gradually transition ownership—and leadership. The next generation will learn not only how to “think like an owner,” but to be an owner. They will connect the daily goal of revenue production with the long-term goal of producing sustainable revenue in an efficient and scalable manner. They will make decisions that benefit the whole, not just themselves.

Second, growth through succession is about even more than just improving numbers. Strong, sustainable growth demands that the business owner increase their own capabilities as a leader—not just as a producer. As an executive of a multi-generational business, building the strength and depth of the entire team fuels continuous growth.

Cultivating ongoing growth in this way allows a founder to realize exponential value in the business they’ve built, while allowing them to plan for life after advising without worrying about the future of the business or the clients.

Unless the world of professional financial advisers discovers immortality or the fountain of youth, 100 percent of today’s advisers will see their careers come to an end, one way or the other. The only question is how you’ll help your clients transition from your advice and care to someone else’s. Will it be through a professional and carefully crafted succession plan; a last-minute sale to a friend or colleague; or will the clients be left to fend for themselves?

Building a business is about building for the future—your future and your clients’ futures. With a solid succession plan you not only promote growth—you build a legacy, and most importantly, you provide for your clients’ needs beyond the length of your individual career.

david_grau_sr

 

David Grau Sr., J.D.
President and Founder
FP Transitions
Lake Oswego, Ore.


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Pushing Past the Upper Limit Problem

Have you ever wondered why you are not consistently having record-setting years? Oftentimes while coaching financial advisers and insurance agents, I have noticed specific behavioral patterns that kick in soon after individuals have experienced success.

the-big-leapGay Hendricks, the author of the book The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level has coined a term for this that he refers to as “the upper limit problem”—which he defines as the amount of success that you are willing to allow yourself to have.

Here is how it works: We all have an “inner thermostat” that is set on just how much success we are willing to allow ourselves to have before we do something to self-sabotage and get back to our comfort zone. Unfortunately, most people don’t know their thermostat’s setting, much less a process for inching to a higher setting.

How to Reset Your Inner Thermostat and Resolve Your Upper Limit Problem
Hendricks said that in order to get to the next level, you cannot solve the problem that is holding you back; rather you need to resolve the problem by gaining a new level of awareness about it. Let’s take a look at the four main zones that he refers to that explains where people get stuck.

The Zone of Incompetence. One of the most common zones that I’ve seen advisers and agents revert to when they start to experience success is The Zone of Incompetence, which refers to spending time doing activities we are clearly not good at. Take for instance the last time you were having a record month: as the days went on did you find yourself doing activities that your assistant could be doing? If so, it was most likely because you were self-sabotaging your time by not doing activities that could have contributed to your continued level of success.

The Zone of Competence. Let’s say that you are great at doing what should be your assistant’s activities, you’ve done them for years and you find yourself saying things like, “Well, she’s got plenty to do so it’s just easier if I do this one thing for my client instead.” The challenge with this is that it’s never just one thing. If you are finding yourself doing these tasks, you are in The Zone of Competence. You both could be doing these activities but the truth is that if you are already having a successful month you essentially are now giving yourself permission to stop doing your job and tackling items that your assistant really should be completing.

The Zone of Excellence. Successful advisers and agents find themselves in The Zone of Excellence when they are accomplishing activities that they do well and are getting compensated. Unfortunately, this can create a comfort zone which in the long term will hold one back from reaching their peak potential. In addition, you may find yourself falling into a rut doing what you do well but not liking what you are doing. In other words, if you are great at public speaking but are sick of doing seminars you may not be happy and thus need to find things you are good at and like doing. You will burnout otherwise.

The Zone of Genius. At some point, you need to ask yourself the tough question, If you couldn’t fail at your business, what is it that you really would love to be doing differently?” The answer to that question will lead you to The Zone of Genius, in which you are doing what you love to do. As a result, work won’t feel like work. In this zone time doesn’t fly but instead it flows; you are not exhausted, you feel fulfilled. Granted you will still have to work to make a great living but you would also be happy and passionate about your professional life.

Taking the Big Leap
Take a moment to determine what zone you are currently in. If you want to live your life’s purpose, then you must take a big leap of faith and commit to becoming the person you are meant to be by finding the work you love to do. Then express to your target market your unique abilities and genuine willingness to help them so that one day they too could be in a position to afford to do what they love to do. If you can take this leap, you will have done what Hendricks meant by conquering your hidden (or unknown) fear and taking yourself to the next level of work and life.

If you are ready to take your big leap, schedule a complimentary 30-minute coaching session with me by emailing Melissa Denham, director of client servicing at Advisor Solutions.

Dan FinleyDaniel C. Finley
President
Advisor Solutions
St. Paul, Minn.


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The Fulfillment Formula: Increase Return on Effort and Reap Full Benefits of Independence

If you ask independent financial advisers what the most rewarding part of being on their own is, most would answer:

(1) freedom of being an entrepreneur without a boss or a set schedule, where you can do what matters most to you when you choose;

(2) empowerment from creating your own destiny, leading your life, achieving success on your terms; and

(3) deep satisfaction that comes from developing meaningful connection with clients while directly and positively impacting lives.

These three benefits blend together to render a certain level of fulfillment. Whether that fulfillment is slight or maximized depends on how realized each one is in your professional (and daily) life. Essentially your fulfillment becomes a function of your return on your effort.

I don’t like to trivialize the concept of fulfillment as it is one of my driving core values; however, I know that if I keep the notion of fulfillment amorphous you will not make the progress you desire to mold your practice into what you know it can be. Too many advisers linger in a state of mediocre fulfillment, wondering why they aren’t getting more satisfaction from their work or unsure what to do next to leap from their current plateau.

To help you find clarity I have broken down the concept into what I call The Fulfillment Formula.

fulfillment-formula-jpg

Copyright 2016 Broderick Street Partners, LLC. All rights reserved.

The Numerator: Revenue
To increase your return, you can increase your revenue. It may seem obvious why we care about revenue, but for advisers who do not operate with intention to increase revenue, I want to remind you of this: you run a business. You need to make money to continue to have a profitable sustainable business over the long term. Otherwise, you have a hobby, a side gig or a charitable endeavor, and this formula does not apply.

At the very least your revenue needs to cover business expenses and the necessary personal expenses that your income funds. Revenue over that baseline threshold serves luxury personal expenses, savings and retirement, donations, gifts, child or parent support and wherever you choose to direct your cash.

Keeping effort constant, as you increase your revenue, you can achieve a higher return on effort and, thus, greater fulfillment.

The Denominator: Effort
We usually think about effort as the time, energy or money going into your business.

As an entrepreneur, you know it is much more than those resources—it’s also the heart, soul, sweat, blood and tears, too.

With only 24 hours in a day, multiple hats to wear as an entrepreneur, and the pressures of life outside the office, your personal effort can only take you so far before you start to exhaust your resources. You need to shift your support system to your team and technology to gain leverage and lower the effort you exert.

Even if revenue stays the same, as you decrease your effort you increase your return on effort and fulfillment level.

Amplify Your Fulfillment
As you can see, the relationship between revenue and effort renders either positive or negative fulfillment:

  • If your revenue is greater than your effort, you have positive return on effort and therefore a positive level of fulfillment. You may be satisfied with your current position, or you may desire to leap from this plateau to new levels of achievement in your business.
  • If your revenue is less the sum of your effort that you invest, then you will be in a negative state of fulfillment, perhaps questioning why you are continuing on this path or wondering how long it will last.

In either position, your can change your status quo when you increase the dollars coming into your business and/or decrease the effort that you exert in the business.

fulfillment-formula-2-jpg

Copyright 2016 Broderick Street Partners, LLC. All rights reserved.

As you grow the numerator or reduce the denominator, you will improve the return on your effort and experience an upward movement of your fulfillment.

Over time, as you build out client attraction and relationship marketing systems and find support for your operations to maximize return from The Fulfillment Formula, you will be able to amplify your fulfillment and reap the full benefits of independence.

Kristin Harad 2014Kristin C. Harad, CFP®
Marketing Trainer/Coach
KristinHarad.com
San Francisco, Calif. 


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Put Me In, Coach: How to Improve Like An Athlete

Being a financial adviser is a lot like being an athlete. If you have ever played on a team you can probably relate to the feeling of anticipation while waiting to play and all you wanted to say was, “Put me in, coach!” Once you got in the game it was up to you to make the most of the moment and shine.

One example of using this analogy is Amy, a ten-year veteran adviser who wanted to succeed and she needed my help to do it. As her business coach, I helped her determine what her goals were and what actions it would take to work smarter rather than harder. Next, we practiced by role-playing so she could get back to actually prospecting. However, it didn’t take long for her to realize that she was not applying what she had learned because her fears where getting in her way and thus she would rather sit on the sidelines than risk losing the game.

Let’s look at the steps I utilized with Amy to create her amazing comeback:

Step 1: Be All-In
What Amy was experiencing is very common for veteran and rookie advisers alike. It’s easy to want to win but it’s not always easy to risk the possibility of defeat. Many advisers choose not to even try. In other words, it’s like asking the coach to put you into the game but you choosing not to be all-in and not playing the best you could once you were in because you didn’t want to make a mistake and contribute to a loss.

The first step with Amy was to get her to commit to taking action and being dedicated to being all-in when it came to her own success. So, I had her make a list of reasons why she wanted to get to the next level and what would happen in one, three, five and even ten years from now if she continued not prospecting. After realizing the pleasure she would have by being a top producer and the pain that she could have by being a low level one, she committed to getting back to prospecting!

Step 2: Think on Your Feet
All athletes know that sometimes plays don’t go as planned. You may practice the play over-and-over again but on game day anything can happen. So too is practicing for an appointment and realizing the conversation isn’t going in the direction that you want it to. That’s why you must be able to think on your feet.

Amy realized that setting appointments with new prospects was getting easier but from time to time she was getting caught off guard with specific objections. I assured her that this is natural and all we needed to do was to increase the tools, techniques, strategies and solutions to handle any objection that came her way. It’s not about memorizing what to say but understanding the formula of how to say it. Once we did this, she could easily adapt to any conversation path.

Step 3: Assess Your Actions and Results
All great coaches know that the best way to take their players to a higher level is to help them assess their actions and results. Most teams watch game films so they can duplicate their successes and learn from their errors.

Within weeks, Amy was excited to tell me that her pipeline was full. She had eight appointments set for the week and had already turned a few prospects into clients since our last session.

Wanting to Win
Amy knew that just getting into the game wasn’t enough. Instead, she had to focus on her desire to win. If you take a page out her playbook you too can create this level of success.

If this blog resonates with you and you would like to have a free consultation with Dan Finley, email Melissa Denham director of client servicing for Advisor Solutions at melissa@advisorsolutionsinc.com.

Dan FinleyDaniel C. Finley
President
Advisor Solutions
St. Paul, Minn.


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In Praise of Good Financial Advisers (You Know Who You Are)

Ours is an industry that gets a hefty dose of negative publicity. True, there are scoundrels perpetrating Ponzi schemes and conducting other nefarious activities—and they cast a pall over the public’s perception of the well-meaning and competent financial professionals out there.

The good news is, these bad guys are few and far between. The bad news is, with our heavily regulated industry, sometimes the good guys may feel they are being micromanaged as a result. Still, there are so many financial advisers out there who are doing excellent work for their clients.

The Well-Adjusted Retiree
I recently had the opportunity to see this excellent work firsthand when I attended a client event hosted by an ensemble practice. At the event, a panel of recently retired individuals and couples answered questions from an audience of pre-retirees. The questions varied from cash flow, social security, Medicare and investment performance to how to align a couple’s “vision” of retirement, which included things like whether to downsize their home and how to stay connected and social with friends and family.

I was especially curious how the panel would respond when an audience member asked if the peaks and valleys of the market affected the panel’s daily decisions about drawing down on their nest egg. This question was especially timely, as the market had just dropped more than 870 points in the prior week due to the Brexit vote. The response? Daily markets weren’t a showstopper. In general, the panelists said:

  • They had their goals.
  • They had their nest egg.
  • They didn’t pay much attention to the markets unless their advisers said they should.

One couple talked about how they met with their financial adviser, estate attorney and CPA for an annual meeting. That meeting gave them the confidence that not only were their investments on solid ground despite market volatility, but that tax efficiency and an integrated estate plan were being managed by a team of professionals working together to help them achieve their retirement goals.

Helping Clients Not Sweat the Small Stuff
Financial advisers enjoy deep, meaningful relationships with their clients. Sometimes they garner appreciation and recognition for what they do. But just in case you haven’t gotten a dose of it lately, as one of the good guys in the industry, know that because of your competence and caring, your clients don’t need to sweat the small stuff like daily market volatility. Instead, they can focus on enjoying the retirement lifestyle you helped them achieve.

Thank you for all you do, financial advisers!

Joni Youngwirth_2014 for web

 

Joni Youngwirth
Managing Principal of Practice Management
Commonwealth Financial Network
Waltham, Mass.


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FPA Retreat 2016: Wednesday, April 27

The Wigwam Resort outside Phoenix, Ariz., welcomed Financial Planning Association members this week for FPA Retreat 2016. Below are photos from Wednesday, April 27.

Did you miss Retreat this year, or just want to register for 2017 early? Join us next year at Château Élan in North Atlanta, Georgia April 24-27, 2017. Use the code PARET17 for $100 off if you register before May 31, 2016.