It is clear in today’s debt centered economy that the role of a financial advisor is an essential one. Helping people become more aware of their habits in the area of finance is truly a worthy profession; however, giving financial advice is not just about being an expert in the money market. When you are dealing with people and the tool (money) that defines their livelihood, it is essential that you have the right skillset in place to really help your clients, which in turn helps you.
I work with financial advisors and often get to see first-hand how many of them interact with clients. I have been able to observe what works and what doesn’t work, quite regularly. My observations have given me a perspective that has allowed me to pick up on some essential skills that can positively impact sales. I had an opportunity to share these observations during a recent visit with a financial advisor who was having problems closing sales. After following the simple steps listed below, he was able to close more business in December than he had all year. If you find yourself struggling to close sales, I invite you to check out these simple yet effective steps.
Financial advising is not just about giving people your expert advice. It is often about building trust and helping people feel secure. To do this, one of your first considerations has to be keeping the client top of mind and setting expectations for how you interact with them. You are in business because of your clients – it’s that simple. So how you treat those clients will directly impact your success or lack of it.
You need to understand how to manage your clients by learning how to set proper expectations for their interaction with you. For example, if you set a standard of a 24 hour follow-up for every client, then you need to make sure you have the system in place to meet that standard.
If you find that 24 hours becomes unmanageable, you have to strategically develop a message that will help your clients understand the change. Clients are really very reasonable people, however, if you don’t set standards for interacting with and servicing them, you can quickly become overwhelmed and that can stunt the growth of your business or become a recipe for burnout.
Listening is another skill critical to being effective as a financial advisor. There is a saying that people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. No one likes being “sold.” People want to know that their needs and interests are being taken into consideration. To provide individualized recommendations to a client, you must first understand their situation. There is almost never a one size fits all solution, so you must listen to your clients to understand their primary concerns.
An understanding of the situation can then help you properly diagnose the situation. Likewise, listening can also help you “read between the lines” in many cases and pick up things that the client is not saying directly.
Listening is critical to building trust. Clients want to feel that you are interested in them as a person and not just pushing a product. If you can master the art of listening, you can become much more effective in helping your clients which can naturally result in increased sales.
Listening skills go hand-in-hand with questioning skills. As you listen, you will often pick up on areas that need further exploration. Questioning is a process of discovery that often helps clients think through their situation. It is here that clients begin to see that there is a problem and that there are implications for not addressing the problem. It is here that clients begin to see their need for the service and no longer have to be “sold” on it. Developing questions to address your recommendations is a great way to help your clients come to the place where they see their need and once they see their need, giving them their options is the next logical step.
Along with these key client relation skills, you have to have systems in place in your business to help the overall business run well.
A clear vision is essential to running a successful business. You must know what you do, why you do it, and who you do it for to stay on track with your business. This type of clear vision along with the corresponding action steps will direct your focus and keep you moving toward your end goal.
For example, you may identify a minimum account size and a certain demographic as your target. Once you have set your boundaries, you won’t be easily distracted by opportunities that fall outside of those boundaries. This level of focus will help you to achieve your goals in a way that winging it and trying to be “everything to all men” never can. You also need to learn the power of delegation. There is only so much time in a day and you need to focus your efforts on what you are brilliant at. Delegation frees you up to place more focus on the priority of your business – your clients. As always, “Start with Why?” and you’ll establish focus from the start.
Investment Advisory services are offered through Alphastar Capital Management LLC, a SEC Registered Investment Advisor.