by Tony Vidler
Elite financial advisers do things that average advisers won’t do. They practice stuff before going to market with it for instance.
The best in any field practice before trying to win out on the field. In the advisory business that means practicing presentations of course…but it also means embracing roleplay to hone and refine interview management skills and those challenging moments in the engagement process like introducing ourselves to referrals for the first time, or presenting to a potential COI.
My reason for pointing this out is because advisers keep forgetting it. If we turned temporarily from business to the world of sport – where success is often measured primarily by win/loss ratio’s – then it is expressed this way:
Yet I continue to see professional advisers thinking that they will somehow become elite – or champions if you like – without practice.
an experienced and intelligent adviser who I was working with recently has found that even though he has built a good practice and has a good number of long-term and loyal clients, has been struggling to get new clients for a little while. The way prospects are selecting and working with advisers has changed, and he is increasingly finding his offering being “commoditized”. Potential clients are price-shopping on him, and all too often choosing to go with someone (or somewhere) else.
The problem of course is that there is no clear value proposition being put forward to help them realise that his work is not a simple commoditized product solution. So we spent some time figuring out his point of difference and being able to articulate it in a way which would make sense immediately and generate interest straight away. He was enthusiastic about it and couldn’t wait for the opportunity to get out and use it. I told him to practice it. Craft it. Hone it and get sharp and comfortable with it.
A week or so later he had his chance with a new prospect, and things didn’t go so well. When we talked through why that was he said that he had thought about it enormously, and worked through it in his mind, and he was ready – or so he thought. It turns out that when the performance spotlight was turned on he stumbled a bit, tripped up with his messaging, and basically came across as uncertain. That was his description of how it had played out.
You can’t master new skills through visualisation alone. An all time great like Roger Federer doesn’t prepare just by sitting on his bed imagining happy thoughts and visualising lifting trophies. No champion ever does. They figure out what is required, and certainly visualise their future success. But then they back it up with the discipline of practice. And more practice. And more practice……relentless practice and refinement. They practice until the necessary action becomes an instinctive reaction – it does not have to be thought about consciously.
That is what being thoroughly prepared is. That is what separates the truly elite from those who are just good.
Championships are won at practice. Winning in the marketplace requires that you first learn how to win in your own workplace, or work space. Don’t underestimate the importance of scripting, roleplaying, rehearsing and practicing any of the core skills before trying to use them in the marketplace.
I’ll finish by sharing what I said to this experienced adviser after he’d blown a good opportunity with a good prospective client:
“why would you practice for the first time on someone who might be worth tens of thousands of dollars to your business? Surely it makes sense to practice to the point of perfection first on people who will never pay you?”
He didn’t get it immediately. But the point isthis: practice on staff…fellow advisers…your kids…people like me….but not prospects and not clients. They deserve your best, not your first fumbling efforts.