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How to Maximize the Power of Peer-to-Peer Discussions

They require an open mind, an honest discussion and a sincere, action-oriented motivation to improve.

OTTAWA — “I love that you not only allowed us to have peer-to-peer discussions, but that you also provided additional topics to discuss throughout the rest of the conference,” Rebecca whispered to me with a smile, and then added, “I think the instructions you gave regarding what you referred to as the ‘critical path’ makes all the difference.”

I thanked Rebecca and told her, “You just made my day.” She went on to explain that although she always enjoyed peer-to-peer discussions, they often got off topic.

The instructions Rebecca was alluding to were quite simple: keep all your discussions framed around a “critical path” of acquiring affluent clients and strengthening your relationship with current affluent clients. Essentially, this is the crux of what we refer to as the Management-Relationship Marketing Nexus. 

It’s well known that financial advisors can learn from each other. For years, firms have paraded their big producers in front of their advisors at conferences to share their success stories. These messages are usually quite motivating, however the gap between the audience and speaker is often so large that there’s a tendency for the “that won’t work for me” mindset. 

On the other hand, peer-to-peer discussions are usually more reality-based, but the challenge always revolves around the outcome. Essentially, Rebecca was inquiring “What’s the takeaway? We had a good chat, but what’s the result?”

So, let’s focus on maximizing peer-to-peer discussions. After all, they only require an open mind, an honest discussion and a sincere, action-oriented motivation to improve.  

  1. Share the profile of your top clients and ideal prospects. 
    It makes little sense to share ideas when comparing apples to oranges — which is often the case when this talking point is omitted. You need to be talking about “like-to-like.” Not every advisor has the same definition of “affluent.”
  2. Select a specific topic to discuss. 
    For instance, one of the topics I suggested that Rebecca and her peers discuss at some point during their three-day conference was “how to get more personal with their referral alliance partners.” Without specificity, these peer-to-peer discussions can easily veer off your critical path of “acquiring and developing loyal affluent clients.”
  3. Determine a specific action step. 
    Discussions are wonderful, but they’re nothing more than interesting conversation. It is critical to determine specific action steps that are within your control and can be taken immediately. Talk without action is just that — talk. You want your peer-to-peer conversations to be stimulators of growth-oriented action.
  4. Agree and commit to peer accountability. 
    As we so often say in performance coaching, the key to instilling discipline is helping an advisor create focus on setting goals and executing specific activities linked to those goals. You are helping the advisor to become and remain goal-focused. Quite frankly, it’s been my experience that few advisors engage in this step for any length of time.  However, those who do are the ones who usually experience serious growth.

Few things are more powerful than peer-to-peer accountability. Set a dedicated time for peer-to-peer discussions and follow-through on all commitments. Executing steps one through three require thought, but step four is where the rubber meets the road. 

My challenge to Rebecca was to fully commit to the 4th step. I could tell that she was already engaged in the process, but as I explained to her, the key is selecting the right peer — an advisor who is committed to growth.

Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clientswww.oechsli.com

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