Before the internet, smartphones, and the social media worlds of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, the world of advising was a much different place. Product pitching, uncompromising work ethic, hard sales and then even harder sales served as the pillars of prospecting, and building a business required a success-minded advisor to use each of those pillars in equal parts.
“Today, however, advisors in general are resigned to the fact that a lot of old school prospecting strategies just don’t do it anymore,” says Dave Timmons, a Registered Corporate CoachTM and sales trainer with Raymond James Financial. “And they’re right – making 300 cold calls a week by going name-by-name on a random page of the phone book (if you can still find one) is no longer practical, or efficient, in today’s highly electronic, social media world.”
So the question begs: What can older advisors teach new, younger advisors to help them become successful? The answer is, thankfully, a lot. While the tools and media to connect with prospects have changed, the driving forces behind prospecting – connecting with people, understanding their needs and wants, creating solutions and delivering them with superior customer service – are still very much a part of today’s business. But instead of cold-calling and selling products, today’s advisor must focus on relationship building and using available technology to make deeply personal and emotional connections with their clients and prospects.
Pitching products vs. offering advice
On the surface, old school practices that built the successful businesses we see today contrast with today’s best practices: pitching product to gain interest versus taking a sincere interest in the prospect and focusing on his or her needs. The skills needed for both are the same: the ability to listen, garner trust and demonstrate expertise. But, instead of being able to talk your way around a product to make the sale, today’s advisors have to use their communication skills to sell a strategy.
Work ethic vs. work efficiency
Nothing replaces hard work, but today’s work ethic is less about putting in a certain number of hours per week and more about making sure you are doing the right things right. Instead of making 300 phone calls a week, have 30 meaningful meetings a month. Use social media to reach large numbers of prospects and get facetime with them. And devise some qualitative measures to make sure your efforts are effective.
Solution-based vs. relationship-based
Building relationships has always been a part of the business, but in the new school it is the most vital aspect. Investors and prospects have more information at their fingertips than ever before, so advisors must find ways to demonstrate their value and what they have to offer. Still, the old school approach of asking questions, listening to answers and finding effective solutions can turn a financial advisor into a trusted member of the family.
Hard sell vs. soft skills
“Building trust with a client is a lot easier when you are not pushing a product because it’s the hot new thing,” says Alyse Chatelain, sales trainer and Registered Corporate CoachTM with Raymond James. “Instead, use that old school tenacity in a softer way: Help your clients become buyers by pushing their benefit first. Rather than forcing a solution on them, find gaps in their portfolio to fill.”
Today’s financial world is certainly more sophisticated and complex, and yet more accessible to any investor. That’s why advisors today must use available technology to focus on what no website or robo-advisor can: connecting personally with clients and prospects, listening to and understanding them, offering customized solutions and building stronger relationships.