Integrating a Salesperson into Your Practice

Beverly Flaxington

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues.  To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

My practice should be growing at a much faster rate. I’ve been depending on my financial advisors to bring in new business. I’ve offered incentives and perks of all kinds, but the new business has been dreadful. I’m about to hire a salesperson for the first time. We need a go-getter who will beat the bushes and find us new business. My question is this: How do I avoid conflict between this new person and my advisors? I want everyone to work together. Do I wait for tensions to dissipate or are there things I can do to set up for success?

Frank A., Indianapolis, IN

Dear Frank,

I think there is more to your question. For example, are your FAs resistant to the idea of bringing in a salesperson? Were they consulted at all or is this your idea and they’ve been told to “make it work”? Have you identified a hire or is this future-looking and anticipating a problem? Do you have a clear job description that outlines the role and how the person should interact with the FAs and others in your organization? If you have hired someone already, what is the salesperson’s background and expertise? Have they worked in a financial advisory firm?

All too often people buy (they think) a rolodex/PDA of names when they hire a salesperson. But you want to be sure your salesperson has a solid history working within a firm like yours. Bringing in someone who has succeeded in other direct-sales venues may not be the answer you want. You need a salesperson who can assist with client referrals and cultivate center-of-influence relationships, not just prospect for new leads.

As part of the process, bring your FAs in for a discussion about what you are doing and why. Ask them what they need to have in place to help this person be successful. Separately, ask the new salesperson what he or she needs in place to be successful. Put the two requirements together and then facilitate discussions with everyone to set each person up for success. Don’t just hire and let it sit – be proactive to ensure success.

Dear Bev,

My partner and I have run our business together for 17 years. It’s time to think about succession planning. What do you do when two partners don’t want the same things? He told me that he wants out of the business entirely. I was hoping we would sell the business to another firm and be able to stay on in a part-time or reduced capacity for as long as we want. I don’t see myself on the golf course for the next 25 years. The discussions have been frustrating and now it’s affecting our day-to-day dealings with each other. At first we could joke about it, but it no longer is funny. How do I get him to understand my perspective and realize we’d be better off staying in for the long haul?

Kevin K., Boston MA

Dear Kevin,

I need to rephrase your question. Is this really about your partner understanding your perspective and learning that you are “right” or is this about reaching a common ground that you can both live with and that meets most of your respective needs?

Your question implies that your way is the right way. This could be what your partner is reacting to and why it is getting a bit chilly in the office working together right now! He knows what he wants, and you know what you want but the two don’t connect.

This is like a typical negotiation, however. You are in a shared situation with two different desired outcomes. It’s best to assume neither is “right” or “wrong;” it just is what it is! As a first step, get in a room together and list out why you want what you want. What’s underneath your desired outcomes? Why does he want to sell and get out? Why do you want to keep working and stay involved? We have criteria for anything we choose, but we don’t often take the time to articulate the criteria to figure out what we really desire. Once you’ve done this, look at the list and see if your criteria overlap anywhere. There is typically some common ground so try and find it. This will give you a good starting place to think about how you can structure a next step that works for both of you. Stick to where you do agree, and refuse to keep coming back to where you don’t. If you both stay open and understand common criteria, you will be in a better place to make a plan that meets more of both of your needs.

Beverly Flaxington co-founded The Collaborative, a consulting firm devoted to business building for the financial services industry in 1995; in 2008 she co-founded Advisors Trusted Advisor to offer dedicated practice management resources to advisors, planners and wealth managers.  She is currently an adjunct professor at Suffolk University teaching undergraduate students Leadership & Social Responsibility. Beverly is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst (CPBA) and Certified Professional Values Analyst (CPVA).

She has spent over 25 years in the investment industry and has been featured in Selling Power Magazine and quoted in hundreds of media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal,, Investment News and Solutions Magazine for the FPA. She speaks frequently at investment industry conferences and is a speaker for the CFA Institute.

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