Over the last 15 years of working in the financial services industry, I’ve had the opportunity to interview and study many top producers. This article is devoted to seven strategies that you can employ to get to the top and stay there. The more you can master each strategy, the more likely you will achieve and retain top producer status.
1. Commit to building a referral-based business. Study after study has proven, without a doubt that the primary way your next great client would like to meet you is through a referral. And now, with the popularity of the National Do-Not-Call Registry, referrals (especially introductions) have become more important than ever. Don’t dabble in referrals. Master referrals. Work to become more referable by bringing a valuable process followed up by great service. Network strategically with Centers of Influence. Ask for referrals from satisfied clients. Create a reputation for yourself in a narrow target market.
2. Understand who fits your business and who doesn’t. Of course, as you mature in this business, your ideal client profile will evolve over time. But at every step of the way, you should be crystal clear on who fits your business and who doesn’t. You need to be willing to say “no” to prospects who aren’t a good match – or work with an associate who is better suited to their situation. Make sure your Centers of Influence know your ideal client profile so they only refer prospects who are a good match.
3. Deliver value first, make the sale second. Most companies I work with say they are “process driven” when it comes to bringing value to their prospects and clients. The truth is, however, that most of these companies have a process that’s designed to help convert a prospect into a client – to sell a financial plan or a financial product. If you want to stand out from your competition, have a process that’s designed to deliver a valuable experience to the prospect first. If you provide a valuable experience, they’ll want to become your client and give you referrals.
4. Take a leadership role with your clients. Most people put off making the right financial choices for themselves. Take a leadership role with your clients by using your confidence and conviction in the work you do to make sure your clients are following your advice – now, not later. Sometimes you have to push. Sometimes nudge. Sometimes cajole. Two years ago my financial advisor cornered me on a golf course with an application for LTCI because I had been procrastinating for over 6 months. He could get away with that because we have a good relationship and he knows I sometimes need a push. I appreciate his leadership.
5. Establish credibility with your prospects and clients. Part of any sales relationship is credibility. There are many ways for you to gain credibility. Your professional credentials help some. Working from referrals is a huge advantage. Hosting a radio show is also huge. You can publish a book or booklet that demonstrates your expertise. Hosting seminars where you demonstrate your knowledge and creativity makes a difference. Work on building your “stock pile” of credibility so people trust you more quickly and take your advice more willingly.