Can Any Advisor be a Salesperson?
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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Do you believe any advisor can become a strong salesperson? Our team has been through training; we have set goals; as the lead advisor, I have joined new business development meetings; we have even cut back pay on two of our advisors because they are not participating in growth. I read everything that says any advisor can do it – use these magic words, ask your clients for referrals, get to know COIs and so on.
At a certain point, should I give up and say it isn’t worth the time and energy it takes to put the focus on helping advisors to get there? If they don’t care about the additional income, why should I care so much about it? I have eight other advisors who are on board and are doing well.
Do I pull the plug and say, “Stay where you are and don’t try and improve?” I hate to give up, but I hate to keep losing.
Let’s reframe “losing.” You have eight out of 10 advisors who you have trained, coached and are doing great with new business development. Isn’t this much, much better than the typical 80/20 rule whereby 20% of a team or clients are responsible for 80% of the income? You have found a way to flip this and have 80% of your team (and you, too I assume) finding and generating new business. This is remarkable!
Revise your views. I get the desire for everyone to participate and be on board, but I’m not sure this is reasonable.
That takes me to your question. Every single advisor has the capability to be good at selling, if they are taught to do it in their style and in a manner that is comfortable. However, many advisors are content with their current income, enjoy the servicing aspect of advising (and/or the investment piece) and are not motivated for whatever reason to be good at selling. It’s like anything in life; if you have an audience who isn’t motivated, doesn’t want to do it and isn’t in pain from not doing it, they aren’t likely to change.
This is not a bad thing in your case. It would be troubling if you had invested the time and money and most of your team was still sitting on the sidelines. But this isn’t the case. You should be celebrating your wins. You are doing better than many similar-sized firms.
There are no magic potions or simple words to increase sales. There are strategies, processes, techniques and approaches that are proven to work. When those are put together, and the person’s behavioral and communication style is taken into account, the chances for consistently finding and closing new business increase exponentially.
Before you give up on these two advisors, have a conversation with them. Do they want to do better but they can’t figure out how? Do they believe this isn’t their job, so they resist making the change? Are they happy with what they are making and so have no incentive to change or move? It could be there is a missing piece you haven’t uncovered with these couple of advisors. If you learn more from their seat, there could be other avenues to pursue. You might even have one of the eight who are doing so well be a mentor or sounding board.
Don’t give up, but don’t fight it. You are doing well from what you have written. Keep doing what you are doing!
I have an advisor who is a naysayer. If I have a new idea, he can’t wait to tell me all the reasons why it won’t work. If I try and implement changes, he tells me why what we are already doing is working so well.
I’m a female in charge and he is a male advisor about 20 years my senior. I try not to take it personally and make it about age and gender, but I don’t know how else to interpret it. He is generally a negative guy with everyone. Perhaps I am more vocal than most around here, but how do I get him to listen to me differently? Sometimes I want to submit anonymous ideas just to see what he says in response.
It is human nature, when someone resists you, to want to push harder or resist back. It is also natural, when you can’t see a reason why someone is difficult, to take it personally or assume there is something you are doing wrong. However, there are people who look for what’s wrong in order to fix it. They see what’s missing, not what is there. These people are often tagged as “negative” and “critical.” But they are wired to figure out what’s wrong. They are great at quality control and at ensuring things are done correctly.
There are certainly people who have inherent biases toward others, whether it is age-, gender-, ethnicity-, background-, or education- related, or due to anything that makes them different from the other person. Many people will say they don’t operate this way, but they can’t help it, based upon their background, upbringing, learned behavior or what I call “filters” on the world.
Put these two things together and you likely have the outcome you are describing with your colleague. What do you do?
It isn’t fair to call him out for his ability to find what’s wrong and want to fix it – there are places where this is a good thing. And you can never call someone out on their biases, because most people won’t admit to them or don’t realize they are there.
Get inquisitive and understand what he sees that maybe you are missing. It’s possible your excellent ideas do have a flaw or two in them that need to be addressed. This doesn’t mean they are bad; it means they need to be considered through a different lens. Instead of making this colleague an adversary, make him a partner in trying to uncover what you are missing and how you could make the idea better and more workable. I know this might go against what you believe is “right” and you might think you are being nefarious. But you are speaking more of his language if you approach it this way. He may perceive you as unrealistic or overly optimistic in your thinking. Partnership together would bring the best of both of your styles to the forefront. With your difference in ages and lenses on the world, you could find the collaboration yields much better overall results.
Stop resisting and accusing. Instead, encourage, collaborate and see where it goes.
Beverly Flaxington co-founded The Collaborative, a consulting firm devoted to business building for the financial services industry in 1995. The firm also founded and manages the Advisors Sales Academy. She is currently an adjunct professor at Suffolk University teaching undergraduate and graduate students Entrepreneurship and Leading Teams. 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, MSNBC.com, Investment News and Solutions Magazine for the FPA. She speaks frequently at investment industry conferences and is a speaker for the CFA Institute.