By Matt Oechsli | @mattoechsli
Every financial advisor who has successfully made a career for him or herself understands what is required to both set sales goals (or have them set for you) and achieve sales goals. Alas, the hard reality is that those who are unable to set and achieve sales goals, no matter how well intentioned or educated, fall short of their true potential.
There are many reasons for those who fail, but one of them is the stress associated with sales goals. Unlike the stress of passing a test, sales-related stress can be omnipresent. It can sometimes be a positive; helping to fuel performance. It can sometimes be very negative; leading to inaction and poor performance.
There are many hardworking, intelligent people working on wealth management teams who don’t really want to be part of the sales process, yet are critical to financial advisors being able to achieve their sales goals.
Elite financial advisors have succeeded in doing something that most others find very challenging; motivating non-sales team members to help in achieving the team’s sales goals (without stressing them out). When team members sense there’s too much stress associated with sales goals they often start cutting corners, making mistakes, or in many cases shut down in a form of passive resistance.
The following 5 Steps have been gleaned from the best practices of elite advisors, albeit not totally fool-proof (nothing is), have had a significant impact in getting non-sales team members pulling together towards a common sales goal.
1. Establish a clear sales goal
This goes beyond simply having a production goal that can be impacted by market fluctuations. This sales goal is usually focused on acquiring new clients and assets. And critically important, these elite advisors don’t shy away from the word “sales.” In other words, “sales” is not a bad word in their environment and the sales goals are a point of focus.
2. Connect every role to the sales process
Managing client relationships, being able to solve client problems, developing a financial plan, helping create a proposal, uncovering the name of a client’s associate…the list goes on. Everyone can contribute to the team’s sales goals if the connection is clearly communicated and there is a specific metric associated with the activity. For example, you might set a goal of 5 proactive relationship management calls a day.
3. Lead by example
Non-sales team members often feel as though they have no control as to whether or not the team achieves its sales goals. There’s an inherent disconnect, because after all, they’re not usually face-to-face with a prospect. Another factor, and a key factor at that, is when the financial advisor, who is mission critical in the sales process, is not executing his or her end of the sales process (not actively prospecting). The motivation wheels fall off quickly when this happens.
4. Host regular meetings and offer praise
Assuming you’re actively prospecting, an agenda item at each weekly team meeting should be a sales process update. This should involve everyone reporting the status/outcome of their role relative to the sales process. Whenever there is an activity that is beyond the call of duty, or everyone is hitting their metrics, recognition and reward is in order. Praise is a tonic, public praise is the most invigorating tonic, and rewards can be as simple as a Starbucks gift card or having lunch delivered to the office. All of which is connected to the sales process and strengthens motivation.
5. Recognizing & rewarding sales performance
Elite advisors don’t wait until year-end to celebrate with their team the results of their sales goals. Elite advisors celebrate the sales performance of each new onboarded affluent client with the entire team. Everyone is included and motivation is strengthened.
All of the above requires sales leadership by example, skill development of some kind for all team members (often it’s affluent sales coaching for advisors), and a commitment to exceptional relationship management of clients that is coupled with seamless first-class sales skills. Done properly, all of the above is counterintuitive. The more exceptional the overall client experience, the stronger the motivation of non-sales personnel regarding sales goals. Why? Because they are true believers – they know a prospect turned client is going to be better served.
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