How do prospects know that you are one of the top advisors in their region?
Well, you have the designations, right? Do the fancy initials at the end of your name command respect? Maybe, but in a class of 400 doctors, the No. 1 graduate and the No. 399 graduate both get to say that they are accredited physicians. Trust for doctors these days isn’t high despite their credentials, and I think most people would agree that trust for advisors also is experiencing its share of growing pains.
You might have a fancy office, but the advisor down the street has a fancy office, too. You both also have a website and business cards. At a certain point, the markers that used to represent success become the norm, and these items — like a nice office — aren’t what will set you apart.
All of the “stuff” that can define you as an advisor may not convince prospects that you are an elite resource amid the sea of competition. That “stuff” includes:
» Clean, professional space.
» Pleasant and helpful staff.
» Timeliness of the advisor and staff.
» Tech-savvy with processes (virtual signatures, virtual whiteboard, etc.).
» Great presentation and product knowledge.
» Awesome service model.
Welcome to the baseline, the basic standard for what it means to be professional. To be the advisor on stage rather than the advisor in the crowd takes more than paying an admission fee. Your approach to your business must be elite in order to forge an elite reputation.
Be the Standard Other Advisors Chase
Flip the script for a moment. What do you do when you need a high-level resource in your personal life or in your business? You don’t plug a search term into Google and pick the top result. You talk to your network. You look at reviews. You visit the expert for a consultation. Whether we’re talking about the specialist looking at your kidney or the advisor who is going to manage your company’s 401(k), you don’t settle for the baseline.
Your top prospects won’t either.
In our work with top advisors from around the nation, and we have identified seven key behaviors that set them apart.
1. Specialize. A jack of all trades and a master of none is not compelling to prospects, and that generalist approach will disqualify you from the high-value prospects who need a certain kind of expert. Specializing means turning away some business that doesn’t fit your focus in the short term, but in the long term it allows you to carve out and conquer a clearly defined niche. I get it, seeing revenue walk out the door is hard, but it sets you up for that game-changing mega-client who needs a specialist.
2. Tell the right story. Your ideal prospects already work with an advisor, and they regularly field pitches from your competitors (your current clients are doing the same, by the way). To unseat the incumbent and stand out from the crowd, the way you communicate with prospects at all levels of your sales and marketing must have a distinct voice and speak to those prospects on an emotionally compelling level.
3. Be consistently deliberate. When an advisor says, “This year is flying!” it can mean the advisor is getting washed away in the flow rather than making each day its own specific opportunity for growth. Set a plan, set a schedule for new business activity, and stick to it even if it means hiring a business coach to hold your feet to the fire month after month.
4. Go beyond referrals. Referrals are excellent sales opportunities, but when they are your sole source of sales opportunities, your insights will not travel far beyond your bubble year over year. Your sales pipeline needs prospects from outbound activity like appointment setting, seminars, advertising and events so you can get your message in front of truly new audiences.
5. Build your platform. Thought leadership is not merely a buzzword. Your public-facing insights can be a powerful way for you to demonstrate what makes you elite. Sharing those insights via email (to prospects and clients) and via social media primes your audience to re-share content and refer business to you. This platform can mean being an expert to your prospects as well as your peers.
6. Embrace experiments. Trying something new is uncomfortable, but your most powerful opportunity to grow is often hidden in the unknown. Once a year, take a bizarre or off-the-wall idea and give it an honest effort, which means giving it the attention and time it would need to truly succeed or truly fail. You may even need to hire help to execute an idea such as a video blog or a podcast or your own industry conference, but if that’s what it takes to get you to do something new, do it.
7. Surround yourself with elite people. The saying “show me your friends, I will show you your future” rings true. Your peers and partners should be challenging you with new ideas. Your coach should be giving you feedback and criticism. This means being bold enough to stand with giants and also humble enough to admit when you are wrong and can improve.
An elite advisor doesn’t rise to prominence in an instant. But pushing yourself to adopt the behaviors and drive the activity of an elite advisor — month after month, year after year — gives you the ability to forge the kind of reputation that warms a room for you, the kind of reputation where audiences are happy that you’re the one on stage talking because they know that when you talk, they should listen.
Returning to Your Roots
When many of us first started in this business, we had the experience of running into an old friend and having them ask, “So what are you doing now?” When we replied that we are a financial advisor or an insurance agent, the response ranged from a chuckle to a look of pity. We took a risk getting into the business, and after a great deal of hard work, that risk paid off.
The risk you took then helped you to find the growth you’ve experienced up until now. Don’t lose that mentality that you had in those early days. Stay hungry. Stay willing to try new things. Continue capturing new opportunities. That’s how elite advisors think, and that mentality will help to drive everything we’ve suggested you do.