The NAIFA Career Conference and Annual Meeting was extra special this year – it kicked off a yearlong celebration of the association’s 125th anniversary and paved the way for a future that is as glorious as its past.
“As we enter our 125th year, let’s celebrate our many accomplishments,” NAIFA chief executive officer Susan Waters told the members who had convened in San Diego for the conference. “But let’s also remember our purpose and the vision of our fathers.” So, as the members celebrated NAIFA’s storied past, they learned from some of the best in the business how to build profitable and sustainable practices – now and in the years ahead.
From Connie Kadansky, they gained some critical insights on how to overcome sales call reluctance, which is the emotional hesitation many advisors have about prospecting and promoting themselves and their businesses. This reluctance, Kadansky said, limits their ability to follow through, ask for referrals, recommend higher-priced products and create relationships with strategic partners.
Kadansky shared three key characteristics of effective self-promoters:
 They make full use of their existing contacts and networks and are always looking for ways to be visible.
 They not only make sure they get noticed, but they also do things that are distinctive so that they will be remembered.
 They never leave self-promotion to chance.
To overcome sales call reluctance, advisors must recognize four things that are blocking their success: limited beliefs, assumptions (experience plus emotion), perceptions/interpretations and inner critic/inner terrorist.
And to feel good about themselves, advisors should start each day thinking about five things they are grateful for. For 60 seconds each day, they should ask themselves: What is it like to be at ease with prospecting? “Some of the simplest things you do can truly transform your business,” Kadansky said.
From industry veteran Greg Gagne, founder of Affinity Investment Group, members heard the story of his rise from “under the table” to Million Dollar Round Table’s Top of the Table. After years of struggling financially, Gagne said he asked himself what it would take to forge a path to success. These are his tips for moving forward:
» Stay organized. Top people keep good records of their records. “If you are not keeping good records, start today,” he said.
» Do what you say you will do. “Be accountable to yourself and success will follow,” he said.
» Create a to-do list every morning and cross off completed tasks throughout the day. This shows that you are making progress, he said, adding that advisors should always remember to say please and thank you.
» Get involved with NAIFA and MDRT. This will help you grow. Find a mentor or be a mentor. “Connect with people who can bring you up,” he said.
These tips are not rocket science, but Gagne has adhered to them over the years and success has followed. “Use them to forge your own path, and make it a great day,” he said.
Selling to Different Generations
From Seth Mattison, an expert on workforce trends and generational dynamics, attendees learned how to work with and sell to people of all ages. As they offer their services to what Mattison called the “empowered consumer,” they should keep in mind certain attributes of this type of consumer:
» Busy. Life is busy for them, so advisors must do anything they can to make things easy for them.
» Informed. Thanks to the Internet, today’s consumers are more informed than any other generation before them; their agent or advisor must be even more informed in order to be of value.
» They have higher expectations of their service providers.
» They have more choices than previous generations, mainly because of their access to the Internet; so advisors must offer them something that the Internet cannot.
» They decide differently. Thanks to market volatility in recent years, they have a different investment mind-set from that of their parents and grandparents. So to help them make decisions, advisors must simplify things for them.
“We live in a world in which old rules still apply, together with the new; so you must learn how to navigate these changes,” Mattison said. “I wish you courage. I wish for you curiosity, and I wish for you commitment. Be willing to invite all voices to the table. Love people, see people, add value and have fun.”