After working with financial professionals since 2001, we’ve learned a thing or two about what it takes to be successful in this industry. We feel strongly about being partnered with the right kinds of financial professionals who share the same values and objectives as we do.
1. If you want to be different, you have to be different. Stop doing what doesn’t work. To differentiate yourself as a professional, you have to quit doing all the things that make you seem like everyone else. Stand out. Be unique. Just don’t blend in.
2. You can’t be all things to all people. Niche marketing allows you to be laser focused and be exceptional at what you do. It sounds counter-intuitive, but you really can do more with less. By definition, a niche market is a big group of people with the same big problem. When you focus your efforts in a niche, you’re able to anticipate planning challenges and develop solutions quickly. Just remember, if it was easy, everyone would do it.
3. It is good to learn from your own mistakes, but it’s cheaper to learn from other people’s mistakes. There is no need to be on the “bleeding edge” of innovation and progress. Following proven best practices allows you to replicate what others before you had to learn the hard (and often expensive) way.
4. When all you have is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail. Every product has its place, but too many financial professionals get lazy and stop objectively looking at various products available. They repeatedly recommend one product and believe that everyone needs it regardless of the circumstances. If you’re not solely doing what is right for your client, you are wrong. Period.
5. Start with why. Getting to the root of the reason WHY your client feels the way they do will help you to have a more meaningful and productive conversation. And then something very important has to happen: You actually have to listen to their answers.
6. Believe that everyone deserves financial freedom, and serve others to help them unlock their greatest potential. Challenge the status quo in a way that is uniquely relevant to your client’s needs, and in a way that inspires them to grow to reach their goals. Ask meaningful, important, significant and compelling questions to give greater understanding and ultimately inspire change.
7. The hard conversations are always the most important. Clients don’t hire you to be their cheerleader, they hire you to be their financial coach and to push them to do what they should be doing. You have to be willing to have the hard conversations with clients that they are unable or unwilling to have with themselves.
8. Confused clients do nothing. Although you may deal with complex strategies and product illustrations daily, if you don’t find a way to explain them in easy terms, your client will become overwhelmed and shut down. Einstein had it right: If you can’t explain something simply, then you don’t know it well enough.
9. Processes and checklists work – ask any pilot. The concept is that if you do the same thing the same way every time, then you can quickly isolate what isn’t working and adjust your course. If you shoot from the hip each time, you will never know what’s working and what’s not. Follow proven processes without being someone’s sacrificial guinea pig.
10. Don’t test your E&O insurance to see if it works. Salesman often get a bad rap for a good reason – they often make recommendations on scenarios they do not fully comprehend. Ask clients full disclosure questions, and surround yourself with competent support to make sure your recommendations are in line. Listen to your gut. If it doesn’t feel right – don’t do it.
11. Relationships always trump marketing. Spending time to develop your connections with your clients (and your centers of influence within your niche) will take you far. The “know you, like you, trust you” factor rings true. When your ties are strong and they value the service you provide, the referrals and introductions come easy.
12. Hope is not a strategy. Chances are you’re not in the business of “retirement hoping,” you’re in the business of “retirement planning.” We must help clients understand how to articulate their goals in actionable ways, and put a plan in place to get there. While you’re at it, be sure to remember that hope is not a strategy when it comes to your business either.