Sales & Sales Management Expertise

How Do Extraordinary Financial Planners Close the #Salesgrowthopportunity Gap?

Tags: consultative selling, how to improve sales, building sales team

What prompted this article was a post from Jeff Ferraris, a program manager for CUSO Financial Services in Austin,Texas. The article – "Leading With Planning: Master Financial Planning With These 6 Steps" – takes investment advisors through a best practices process to have success implementing financial plans for high net worth clients. Aside from the ‘know how’ and the licensing required, what else do your advisors need in order to be successful in their role? 

There are many answers to that question but generally speaking they need to have these sales capabilities:

  • Hunting
  • Qualifying
  • Being a Consultative Seller
  • Presenting
  • Closing
  • Farming or account managing

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I’m going to focus on the skills required for success when qualifying and selling consultatively. Below are two charts of the competencies necessary to be successful in these two capabilities.

The Qualifier Skill Set

qualifier skills

 

The Consultative Seller Skill Set

consultative skills

As you can see there are multiple skills that make up the competencies for Qualifying and Consultative skill sets. In this scenario, and not unusual in general, of the 55 salespeople evaluated, 22% of the group had enough consultative skills to be effective and only 30% had enough qualifier skills to be effective.

What impact does this lack of skill in these two areas have on investment advisors and the ability to successfully execute a strategy of using financial plans? Broker dealers that are attempting to help clients improve both the quantity and quality of their plans must get to the root cause of the problem.

Here are the 3 BIG weaknesses in the Qualifier Competency:

  1. Talking to the decision maker: if your investment advisor fails to meet with the decision maker– UP FRONT– then it will impact the sales cycle duration and the closing ratio.
  2. Uncomfortable talking about money: Investment advisors often don't have to worry about discussing money. If you think about the challenges your advisors face when presenting a financial solution, many don’t close opportunities for risk products because they encounter a money objection and aren’t comfortable talking through price.
  3. Self–limiting beliefs: If your advisors don’t have a financial plan, if they don’t own individual disability or long-term care insurance, if they are way under insured for life insurance, how committed do you think they will be recommending it to a client?

And here are the 3 BIG weaknesses in the Consultative Seller Competency:

  1. Ask enough questions– Executing the financial plan process is more than asking how much. The effective IA must ask a ton of “why” questions.
  2. Demonstrates patience– The very nature of most advisors is to close the sale they have in front of them– the transaction for the IRA roll-over. How does that support the 90-day process of financial planning? It doesn’t.
  3. Maintain healthy skepticism– If your IA believes everything the client is telling them then they will never ask about other advisors, the other assets, the real decision-making process, etc. So instead of a 6x multiple from doing plans they will pick up the easy money from the next maturing CD.

To find out more about how to effectively identify those advisors ‘wired’ for fee-based sales and financial planning, email alex@anthonycoletraining.com, subject line "tailored fit", to create your own case study by evaluating your top advisors.

The Whack-A-Mole Approach to Sales Management

Tags: Effort in Sales, effective sales management, building sales team

Before reading this article, please download our free e-book "Why is Selling so #%&@ Hard" to better understand the effort required to guide and lead your sales team to extraordinary results.

It’s been a few years since I’ve been in a Dave and Busters establishment. There was a time when I would go at least once a year. When I was younger, my source of entertainment was hanging out at sports bars with pool tables, shuffleboards and basketball games. About 25 years ago, that entertainment became watching my kids enjoy the arcade games Dave and Busters offered.

It was there that I learned about Whack–A–Mole and sales management. I really didn’t tie the game to sales management immediately. That is a more recent realization I have come to over the last 10 years as I’ve visited with executives who are trying to figure out sales growth (SGO) within their company. 

What I learned about Whack–A–Mole is that it did not require any specific talent. It did require effort – which requires no skill. And, it did require a couple of strands of specific athletic DNA:

  1. Hand/eye coordination
  2. Fast twitch muscle fibers

The same holds true for managing salespeople relative to effort. Putting forth the effort to coach and motivate people, as well as hold them accountable to performance, requires no skill. Let me repeat – THE EFFORT requires no skill. Therein lies part of the problem with growing your sales team.

With Whack-A-Mole, I never got a sense there was a systematic way to approach the game. The moles did not appear to be popping their little heads up in a particular sequence. They appeared randomly much like they used to in my back yard when I lived in Blue Ash, Ohio.

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This is exactly what I observe and hear when talking to executives about identifying the sales growth opportunity within their sales team. Specifically:

  • What is the ideal model being used to eliminate hiring mistakes?
  • What is the coaching routine and methodology?
  • What is the culture that helps foster motivation?
  • When performance management discussions take place are they; consistent, punitive, additive and predictable based on exact metrics and standards?

The answers to these questions are what reminds me of Whack-A-Mole. There isn’t a consistency within the organization let alone consistency between one organization and another. To be clear, we do NOT work with broken companies. We work with companies that recognize there is greater potential within the organization and they realize that they need to figure out:

  • What is our sales growth opportunity?
  • What would it take go from where we are now to where we could be?
  • How does our current team, systems and processes help or hurt our ability to close the gap?
  • How long will/would it take?
  • What would need to be invested to close our sales growth opportunity gap?

The problem of not realizing full sales growth potential exists for many reasons. Too many to cover in one article so I will go about the process by writing a series specifically dedicated to help you identify what it would take to close the sales growth opportunity gap.

If you haven't already done so, please download our free e-book "Why is Selling so #%&@ Hard" to better understand the effort required to guide and lead your sales team to extraordinary results.

Click HERE to download  our free e-book!

Beware Sales Team!

Tags: hiring sales people, building sales teams, building sales team

Despite how good a high powered team looks on paper, there are always “skeletons in the closet”.

This post was prompted by an article from Bank Investment Consultant: Why Advisors Will Feel Freer To Make Career Moves in 2018 by Mark Elzweig.

It's not that I'm against sales teams leaving one company for another. But over the past 25+ years, I've seen too many of these moves fail-- Fail to work out for the hiring firm and fail to work out for the team.

sales growth team.jpg

Here is what you should be cautious about if your company is considering this tactic:

  • The book of business the team says they control is never really under their control. Just like your company’s business belongs to the company, the revenue the team plans to bring actually belongs to their current employer company.

So ask yourself:  What would you do in this situation? Of course, you would fight your *ss off to keep the clients and the revenue and chances are, you would keep at least some.

You would probably involve lawyers, an expense in time and money. This means delays in the high powered team’s production. In the meantime, clients are being contacted by the employer company and they are being seduced into staying where they are.

  • These people come from a culture with systems, processes, and procedures that are different than yours, perhaps considerably different. Often this is not an easy fit and in some cases, it is quite difficult. If this team is truly high-powered, these people probably got away with some things that you wouldn’t tolerate. You may not tolerate certain behaviors to which they have become accustomed.
  • At some point in the future, the acquired team inevitably forgets that they said “Yes”. “Yes” to how they would be managed, “Yes” to the goals set, “Yes” to the business processes and “Yes” to the compensation package. They will have selective memory and problems will arise when they remember promises they thought they heard/wanted to hear.
  • You may discover that they really aren't as good as they indicated. Unless you do a deep dive into how they actually generated all the revenue they boasted about, you might find out that some of the revenue was inherited, or that their former company had certain products and services that gave them an unfair advantage which you don't have. Maybe the production came from a couple of major accounts that grew on their own and these individuals were more account managers/ farmers and not the hunters you needed and thought you were getting.
  • If they came from a 'brand' organization and you are a solid, but second tier organization (not a well known brand), you may discover that this team succeeded because of the logo, name and reputation of the brand.
  • If your company is like most, it may oversell the team. Pride in one’s organization is common and is positive, except when hiring. Selling the positives and minimizing the negatives will come back to haunt you when the new talent recognizes they traded one unsatisfactory situation for another.

Recruiting talent, poaching teams, and growing your organization by increasing talent numbers is difficult. Despite the method you choose, there are always risks.

Below are the keys to minimize the risks of bringing in a team from a competitor:

  • Develop your own team to be high performing. Make sure you have a Sales Managed Environment that has a keen focus on performance management, intentional coaching, and recruiting.
  • Recruit the best talent for the specific role. Everyone is competing for "A" players, but you don't need "A" players to grow your business. What you need is...
  • Recruit people who are better than those you have today!
  • Don't be desperate. Have a process to grow sales. Follow the process. Hold people accountable to behaviors and numbers. Be proactive in recruiting.

Should you decide to risk acquiring a high-performance team from a competitor, make sure that they are clear on all aspects to which they are agreeing prior to hiring.

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