Rick was overwhelmed. He felt as if the whole weight of his practice was on his shoulders. Dealing with compliance issues, staffing, client service and case preparation was wearing him down. His revenue had fallen year-over-year, and he wanted to get back on a growth trajectory. He just wasn’t sure what to do.
The challenge in coaching Ric was that he had built a very successful practice through hard work and talent. His normal tendency in growing his business was to play to his strengths. He was a natural salesman who understood the art of the deal. Put him in front of a prospect and it was game over. The problem was that he didn’t have enough qualified prospects. When I asked Ric how many prospects he had in the pipeline, he sheepishly answered, “About 10 to 15.” When I asked him when he expected to close them, he said it would happen in the next six to 12 weeks. Those responses are fairly typical. Most advisors have five to 40 prospects in their pipeline and expect to close them in the next three months.
The number of prospects and the timeframe for closing the sales are symptoms of a pattern in Ric’s business that limited his success. Like a gifted athlete who gets by on natural ability, he was able to perform at a fairly high level. He had mastered the art of selling and dealing with people, but the lack of a more scientific approach to his business left him feeling overwhelmed and out of control. Nothing about his practice seemed as simple or predictable as it once did. He was losing his zest and passion for the business.
In contrast, top performing advisors take what can best be described as a scientific approach to building their practice. This approach puts systems in place to manage each aspect of the business. Rather than relying on gut feel and natural talent, they plan their work and use analytical tools and processes to organize each aspect of their work and that of their staff and associates to enhance effectiveness and productivity. The very best advisors combine art and science. They leverage their talent as rainmakers and salespeople with clients and prospects by combining their unique ability with a scientific approach to organizing and running a business.
In coaching Ric, the first step was to get him to slow down and think about his business and where he was going. Like many advisors, he confused activity with progress. By always being busy, he kept his anxiety at bay. Unfortunately, he sometimes seemed like a car with the engine redlining and the transmission in neutral. All that energy wasn’t getting him where he wanted to be.
It took patience and perseverance to put together his business plan, which clarified his vision for the business and crystallized who he wanted as clients and how he wanted to serve them. This became his flight plan and his business took off. He broadened his product mix and began to work with clients and prospects that fit his ideal client profile. Utilizing processes and systems enhanced his marketing, sales and service effectiveness and led to dramatic increases in revenue. Implementing a performance management system increased the productivity of his staff and their level of satisfaction. He learned to enjoy managing staff and associate advisors.
Applying the science of practice development magnified his unique ability as a rainmaker and salesperson. His business doubled over the first 12 months and continues to grow at a significant and predictable rate. The best part is that he is once again passionate about what he does and loves his job.