Almost exactly 25 years ago, I had an epiphany: “No one makes it to high six or seven figures without a team.” And further: “An advisor and one assistant don’t make a team. The minimum team size is advisor, assistant and part-time computer operator.”
In 1989, I was the first to come out and say: “Partnerships are a good thing. They benefit both client and advisors.” Both of those insights were true way back then. They are true today with this exception: The original 2½ person team will take you to about a million and a half today. Over the years since, I have been involved in least 5,000 teams.
The 10 mistakes cited here are, in my experience, the most common and deadly. I have created several resources for you cited below. You will find them at www.billgood.com/surefire.
1. No Team
Hopefully, you have full knowledge that prosperity, or even survival, in financial services today requires you create or join a team. If you do not have a team, the question is obviously: When do I start?
Answer: Before you can comfortably afford it.
If you think for one second today that you can build a business of several hundred thousand dollars in gross revenue, and then build your team, you dream. Next time you go to a conference with other advisors, just ask the top producers this question: At what point in your career did you hire your first team member?
You will find in the overwhelming number of cases, it was very early. Often they borrowed money to do it. Most likely, they couldn’t afford it. Neither can you. But if you don’t get started sooner rather than later, you are forever condemned to low production.
2. No Job Descriptions
There is a huge difference between a bunch of people doing stuff, and a team.
Think about a baseball team. When it’s time to pitch the ball, the team members know to throw it to the pitcher. The catcher does not even think for a second of throwing it to the shortstop who will then pitch to the batter.
Every one of the nine positions has a precisely defined role.
Imagine a baseball team with no job descriptions. Nine people go on the field. The umpire throws out a ball. What do they do? Most likely bicker and argue over who is going to do what.
Ditto for a financial services team with no job descriptions.
Each team role is created in a document called a job description. I found a job description template out on the Microsoft template library. I made a few modifications to it and posted it on our “Surefire Team Development” page. There you will also find other team building resources, all free for the taking.
Before defining your own job descriptions for your team, I strongly recommend you download and study my white paper, “Surefire Team Development.” There you will find several job descriptions you can adapt.
3. No Formal Coordination
Any coach, even of a bottom-ranked high school team, knows that a team has to have team training and team coordination.
You see it in sports. You see it in the military. And you see it in great financial services teams.
A principal forum for this coordination is the weekly team meeting.
I’m familiar with one $4 million team that has two meetings a week. They have a partner’s meeting, and they have a meeting for the entire team. Each has its own agenda.
I have also posted a generic agenda for you at our team development site. Obviously, you will add your own items to the agenda, but I have primed the pump for you.
A note of warning: Don’t let your team meeting turn into a complaint session. Its purpose is to solve problems, make sure business in process gets completed and plan for new business next week.
4. Top Heavy
I’ve come across several teams lately with three partners, and one undoubtedly overworked assistant.
This is a case of the dog-cat-bird phenomenon.
You can call each of the partners a financial advisor. You can be sitting on your couch with a critter that barks. You can say to your friend, “This is my dog-cat.” Calling it something doesn’t make it so. Calling a person a financial advisor in a top heavy partnership does not make it so.
In a top heavy scenario, at least one of the two partners is primarily functioning as a service assistant.
You cannot have three partners doing $1.6 million with one assistant, and assume the three partners are, in fact, three advisors. Calling it that won’t make it so.
A top heavy partnership will most certainly plateau, and then break up. If you are top heavy, you need to urgently figure out how to get additional support so that the advisors can be advisors.
5. Thinking Sales Support and Service Support Are the Same Position
This is the original cat-bird. In building a team, remember, you have to have sharp delineation between the roles.
The first job to establish is your client service associate. Key word: Service.
As part of the service associate’s job description, it should specify: Will not be asked to perform sales duties, except in an emergency.