Most advisors have heard the same marketing mantras: Look for opportunities to talk about business, deliver that value proposition that positions you as the most interesting person in the room, ask for the order, always ask for referrals, don’t mix business with pleasure, and the list goes on.
But there’s been a paradigm shift in marketing to today’s affluent. It’s almost as though everything has been turned upside down. The less you talk business, the more business you get. The less you talk about yourself, the more interesting you become. The less you ask for referrals, the more likely your affluent clients are to introduce you to their friends. The more you socialize with clients, the less likely they are to question you about fees.
But it’s not that easy to change tack. We’re creatures of habit, both in what we do and how we think. What we learn and act upon over time shapes our belief system. Absent irrefutable evidence, unlearning is hard. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Identify what you need to unlearn. As you can imagine, this is quite personal. We are each at a different place in our professional beliefs. Each of us has developed habits as a result of these beliefs. For instance, remember when advisors used to say, “If they can fog a mirror, they qualify,” and successful advisors had thousands of clients? It took years, changes in compensation, lawsuits and the like, but most advisors have unlearned this behavior and have culled their book to a level of clients they’re able to service.
Now the “unlearning” is more nuanced. For instance, how you approach a prospect, knowing when to discuss business, how to showcase your professionalism without showing off, how much time to spend in the office versus socializing, how to sell in social circles without coming across as salesy.
Our approach is to take baby steps in the unlearning process, as one step leads to another, like a domino effect. Identify up to three habits that need to be unlearned.
Step 2: Find a role model to help you learn the new habit. This can be challenging. You could read our Elite Advisor research reports or you could work with a coach who understands the Elite Advisor model you need to follow. Regardless of what you choose, you will need a guide and feedback mechanism.
Step 3: Allow yourself to be uncomfortable. Mental habits are the most difficult to change because they impact our belief system. If you believe that you have to be in the office to be productive, you’re going to feel uncomfortable having a two-hour non-business lunch with one of your affluent clients. It’s also likely, with this lunch scenario, that your assistant thinks you’re slacking off taking these long lunches.
All of this changes over time. It took only 30 days for an advisor I know to recognize the importance of having one non-business lunch per week with a top client. He quickly realized his clients liked these social lunches, but it wasn’t until they started consolidating their other accounts (that he previously didn’t know about) and suggesting people they could introduce, that his unlearning was complete.
Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients. www.oechsli.com