Getting Advisors to Adopt a Sales Mindset

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,

It’s a bit embarrassing to write about a firm (ours) that has been in business for 17 years, has grown significantly year in and year out, has met its goals each and every year but has a contingent of advisors who are loathe to sell anything to anyone. Our advisors (seven of them) are perfectly content to work with existing clients and not worry about what’s coming next. I’m one of the younger partners in the firm and am motivated to put a true sales system in place. I need advisors who will sell within that system. How do I get them motivated and on board?


Dear W.W.,

Quite an interesting quandary in this industry – growth comes on a regular basis to most every advisory firm I work with, no matter large or small. Investors need help – they are accumulating wealth and want to retire, leave a legacy or maximize their investments. As a result, it has been reasonably easy to grow (not to underestimate how hard it is to work with clients well and keep them happy), so becoming a salesperson is not only distasteful, but doesn’t seem “necessary.”

That said, times will change and the market will turn at some point or will reach saturation or shift to a robo-approach or something else we can’t even consider or know at this point will disrupt the economic balance. Implementing a systematic approach to business building is an imperative.

I work with advisors who don’t want to sell. Why? They see it as cheesy, or beneath them, or they liken selling to the “used car” industry. They went to school and received credentials, which are difficult to obtain, because they like financial planning and investing, not because they wanted to sell for a living.

Compensation usually isn’t the driver. In your case you talk about them being “content” where they are. This is common. Advisors are paid well, so the additional few thousand dollars that could come from a new sale is rarely a strong driver. It should be discussed and included, but it isn’t the full answer.