The Pathway To Professional Greatness
Sales & Marketing for Professional Services & Strategic Issues

The Pathway To Professional Greatness

December 5, 2014

by Tony Vidler

In nearly a quarter of a century of selling and marketing professional services I have continually seen particular strategies consistently produce top quartile business results for advisers.

It is apparent that there is a “pathway to greatness”…it’s an evolutionary journey.

The professionals who consistently achieve exponential growth and performance results do at least one of the following:

  1. know their clients personal lives incredibly well and are completely attuned to helping achieve client goals;
  2. specialise in either an area of expertise, a particular demographic/market segment, or as a holistic planner in a tight geographical area;
  3. network and work collaboratively with other professionals to get better quality, higher value, and more frequent new business opportunities;
  4. are excellent at cross-selling services.  Not selling more products per customer, but introducing packaged services which clients value and will pay for.

Often the very best advisers are doing more than 1 of these simultaneously.  In fact, the very elite usually develop all four strategies sequentially.  They begin by knowing their clients better than anyone else, and being able to proactively manage life changes with great advice.

Typically the elite advisers move into some form of specialisation, and it worth stressing that “specialisation” sometimes means being an excellent “general practitioner” who dominates a local area.  The best example I have ever seen was an adviser in a town of 4,000 who was consistently the number 1 or 2 producer for an institution for 20 years consecutively.  The institution he was aligned to judged his performance in terms of product sales…but his clients judged his performance in terms of the value he created by understanding them an their world.  Product sales were reasonably incidental to the adviser and his clients, and he was so thoroughly embedded in the fabric of the community that he really was the financial adviser to the town.

That type of positioning and presence in a niche, or target market segment, creates the opportunity to network collaboratively with other key influencers.  To capitalise upon that opportunity does require an attitude of helping the other professionals build their presence and influence, rather than merely expecting them to support your business.

With professional networking and centre-of-influence marketing firmly embedded as a primary business driver of new client engagements it is virtually inevitable that the elite adviser can no longer provide significant amounts of personal time to simple transactional work at that point in their career.  They develop packaged services at this point to handle simple transactional work, which leverage the advisers time and efficiency, without creating the impression that they are not giving clients the full attention their issues deserve.

It is the typical pathway to greatness as a professional, and maximum practice value incidentally.

The thing which made me begin thinking about this pathway was that I tripped across a piece of research done by LIMRA in conjunction with McKinsey in 2012, on the topic of the 4 key drivers for financial adviser productivity gains.  The summary of their findings were:

Each of these “methods” is a proven contributor to achieving above average production gains, and it totally reinforces my own observations from working with many hundreds of advisers over the years.

Anyone aspiring to build a great practice, where they are valued highly, and rewarded well, would do to plan and then execute these 4 steps:

1.  Know your clients better than anyone else, and maintain close contact.  Be there.

2. Carve out your niche.  Whether that is demographical or geographical doesn’t matter.  Own it.

3. Collaborate with other professionals whom your market needs. Refer others, then be referred.

4.  Develop systems and services to handle simple transactions and client needs, and introduce leverage into your practice. Free yourself up to concentrate on high value work.

Becoming great doesn’t happen overnight of course, but it certainly can happen if you do the things which will take you there.

© 2014 Tony Vidler.  All rights reserved.
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