Matt has been a successful financial advisor for 16 years. Although he has maintained a good book of business, he has not grown that book for several years. Because many of his clients are frightened about their investments, Matt is gun-shy about approaching them. Moreover, he finds himself avoiding calling prospective clients. With all the time he puts in, he is no longer seeing the results.
Like so many underachievers, Matt has not developed the mindset of a champion, and he is inconsistent when his performance really counts. Here are are six ways proven tips to help you consistently perform your advisor’s role to the utmost when it matters most:
1. Develop and stick with a winning game plan.
In order to consistently convince your clients and prospective clients that you are the perfect fit for their needs, you must have a game plan, including how many calls you will make each day, detailing the knowledge and experience you bring to the table.
Procrastination is tempting when you aren’t confident in your ability to convince a client that you can really help him and his family. Moreover, “impostor fears,” where in your heart of hearts you don’t believe you really have the skills, can tempt you to avoid making those calls.
“Someone I may be competing against one day is sticking with his plan right now, so I need to break through this resistance right now, and I’ll be so happy once I accomplish this today.” It is also motivating to keep a written record or journal of exactly what you do each time you work on your winning game plan.
During actual calls and meetings, be sure to focus on the process of your performance. Focusing on the outcome (e.g., “what if he rejects my pitch”) or what has happened to you earlier (“I haven’t been able to even get a meeting set up with any-one in several days”) will prevent you from concentrating.
2. Take charge of your “self-talk” and heed the warning signs of your “internal critic” at work.
There is an old saying that “What you conceive, you can believe, and what you can believe, you will achieve.” A game plan for performing your best leads to positive self-talk, which leads to beliefs (either positive or negative) and beliefs lead to the enthusiasm or lack of it that comes across in your voice and body language.
Self-talk alone is a main contributor to a successful or disappointing performance. So often people have self-limiting thoughts, which prevent them from being successful on a consistent basis. Examples of negative, self-limiting phrases are: “What if…,” “I hope I don’t…,” “I should have …,” “I always have problems with…” “I probably won’t be able to…,” “I can’t believe how stupid I was to do that…” and “Maybe I’m not as good an advisor as everyone says I am.”
Negative messages that you allow to pass through your mind immediately leads to muscle tightening throughout the body. This tightening is accompanied by more rapid breathing and often perspiring. Consequently, these physiological responses of “feeling tight” begin to lead to fatigue and looking for a way to escape from making the next call or postponing the meeting.
Advisors can practice catching themselves when these types of negative thoughts go through their minds. First, once you recognize a negative thought, make a fist as a reminder to STOP thinking that way, then take a few relaxing breaths, release the fist, relax and proceed to think positively and optimistically. This only takes seconds, but it works instantly! Here’s an example: “What if the client doesn’t commit to working with me after I discuss his situation with him?” Make a fist.
“STOP this foolish thinking right now.” Take a few relaxing breaths, release the fist and say to yourself: “Just relax, you don’t have to have 100 percent success in order to feel good about your skills. It’s a numbers game. If this one doesn’t pan out, you will have another opportunity. Just keep plugging away; you will get clients.”
3. Maintain an optimistic orientation in life and business.
This means remaining upbeat and positive about your performance regardless of what happens during any given day. Look at unfortunate errors you make as temporary and not reflective of your overall skill and knowledge. Use self-talk that will help you bounce back after setbacks, rather than focusing on the setback itself. “That conference is over. It’s time to focus on my next opportunity to succeed.”
An optimistic orientation also means knowing that you can control only what you do, not what the client does. He has much more going on in his life that can affect his decisions about buying what you are pitching him. “I can control my emotions, my self-talk, my anxiety level, my breathing and my focus.” All of my energy will go into this control and I’ll let all other thoughts, including worries about failure to get the business, just fade away.”
An optimistic orientation also includes maintaining positive expectations of future outcomes. Successful advisors fully expect to do well regardless of the economy, governmental restrictions, etc. Advisors who worry about failing, develop negative self-fulfilling prophesies, and therefore, they do fail, which reinforces that prophesy. Advisors with positive expectations develop positive self-fulfilling prophesies and succeed most of the time.
4. Visualize your sales success before approaching each potential client.
Your subconscious mind takes orders from you without judging success or failure. As noted above, internal dialogue and beliefs are one means of directing your subconscious mind. Another powerful technique for directing the subconscious mind is actually visualizing success. Professional golfers, for example, who visualize each shot before they make it, find a tremendous similarity between their vision of that shot and the subsequent shot that they make.
So visualize yourself preparing for the sales call, gathering your materials and feeling really encouraged because you know your products and feel confident as you enter the room where the pitch will take place. Visualize the sights and sounds around you as you begin the perfect sales presentation. Then visualize the client smiling and nodding in agreement as you show him/her how much your services will help. Finally, visualize yourself shaking hands with the client and filling out the paperwork.
5. Practice powerful goal setting strategies.
People are 11 times more likely to reach a goal when they write it down, as opposed to simply thinking about the goal. Write down short- and long-term goals that are specific and action-oriented. For example, “For this month, I will arrange for 12 meetings with prospective clients.” Notice that the goal is not how much you will sell, or how much you will accumulate in fees, but simply how many meetings you will have.
Next, visualize yourself feeling wonderful once you have accomplished that goal. Imagine it as if you have already accomplished the goal. Finally, perhaps most importantly, write down ways in which you can sabotage yourself so that you will not accomplish that goal. This is a critical way of recognizing ways you perhaps did not realize you were undermining your success and how you will now stop that self-defeating behavior.
6. Keep anxiety at the optimal level.
Successful advisors recognize that some degree of anxiety at crunch time is not only normal but necessary to perform at peak levels. If their anxiety level raises too high, they recognize warning signs, such as rapid breathing, feeling increasingly tight and tense sensations throughout their bodies.
Since too much anxiety follows negative self-talk, the first step is to use the techniques listed here to stop that talk and replace it instantly. Next, take a series of slow, deep breaths and stretch your leg muscles out, which calms the whole body. Finally, visualize success in your next series of contacts or meetings.