Let’s jump into a growth topic most people avoid—failure. In this case, consider failure as the last time you were rejected. Most people, in an attempt to protect their fragile psyche, attempt to move on from any failure or rejection as fast as possible. It’s too painful, too embarrassing.
But this approach insinuates that whoever experienced the misstep is blameless. People who don’t learn from their mistakes rarely reach their potential.
Not so for rainmakers. They experience failure and rejection far more than the general population of advisors. Why? Because they’re in traffic. For example, whenever a rainmaker loses a prospect, rather than make excuses, they typically regroup and conduct a thorough self-assessment of the entire sales process.
They want answers to a series of tough questions: What went wrong? What could I have done differently? What signals did I miss? What do I need to refine in order to improve? Addressing each of these questions isn’t easy but it’s how rainmakers develop remarkable sales skills that don’t get stale.
Learning from Rejection
This requires revisiting a painful experience where your services were declined and reflecting on the steps that transpired:
1. Prospect’s first awareness of advisor: If it wasn’t through word-of-mouth-influence, it’s unlikely you were recommended by someone, or that your reputation factored into the picture. In this regard, you were already starting from a deficit position.
2. Initial face-to-face: Our research has told us affluent clients first met their financial advisor through a personal introduction. This is word-of-mouth influence in action. When an affluent client introduces their advisor, who they think highly of, they talk favorably about them to the prospect. The odds are in your favor when you have an advocate facilitating your initial face-to-face.
3. First impression: What happened during your first face-to-face? Hopefully, you developed rapport by conversationally asking questions your prospect enjoyed answering, and then asked relevant follow-up questions that signaled you were listening and interested. Yet, a typical mistake is to get into a business conversation too early. Did you talk about what you do, how you do it, hand out your business card and suggest a meeting in your office? This isn’t good.
First impressions are lasting. Rainmakers take time to emotionally connect with a prospect before business is discussed. If presented with an opening, they’ll suggest a meeting, but refrain from much of a business discussion during the initial meet and greet.
4. Pipeline Management: Managing your pipeline properly is one of the keys to being a successful rainmaker. This requires documenting, strategizing, scheduling and executing for each prospect. What happened during that face-to-face? What did you learn? What’s the potential? From there you strategize the next step, whether it’s socializing, meeting at a fundraiser, scheduling a meeting, contacting via social media or sending a text—your strategy will be customized for every prospect.
Pipeline management is attention to detail. When you’re tracking each prospect, nothing is left to chance. Pipeline management should be an agenda item at weekly team meetings, in which each prospect is discussed, next steps are determined and a projected timeline for the prospect becoming a client is established.
5. Getting the Business (Closing): Getting a prospect into your office is a BIG deal. But it’s no guarantee they’re leaving as a client. We’ve found the more you’re able to put a prospect at ease through the art of asking questions and follow-ups about topics they enjoy discussing, often unrelated to finances, you will strengthen your emotional connection. In fact, they’re likely to tell you how to get their business. Before detailing how you can help them, use reverse psychology, such as explaining your two ground rules before taking on a new client: You must be confident you can add value and confident of a good fit. Whenever a prospect qualifies, you simply suggest that you get started (close for their business).
As you review your last failure, try to identify one or two things you could improve in your sales process. Make a habit of fine-tuning your sales skills and you’ll extract nuggets of gold from each rejection. Remember, school’s never out for the pros.
Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing and Retaining Affluent Clients. www.oechsli.com.