The owner-advisor of one of my client firms is a great salesman. He loves public speaking, which he does every chance he gets, and he’s a master networker, always hosting charity galas for the many causes he’s involved with, and inviting groups of people to watch football games from his skybox at his city’s stadium.
The advisor at his firm whom he’s designated to succeed him is not so outgoing. He’s bright and personable and good with people one-on-one (especially prospective clients), but not so much in large groups. Through the owner’s connections, he was asked to give a talk about his firm at a local Better Business Bureau event, and he wanted his heir apparent to do it, as a way of getting more comfortable with public speaking. He significantly resisted, but my client owner/advisor insisted, so he did. I just so happened to be in the area so I dropped by for the event to see how it went. Let’s just say the associate embarrassed himself and the firm, and badly damaged his confidence. Now my client is not sure that he’s the right person to take over his firm.
Rainmaking is essential to the growth of every advisory firm, and finding successor advisors who can fill the owner-advisor’s role of bringing in new clients is a primary challenge of many firms these days. To be successful, however, it’s important that owner-advisors keep in mind that not everyone has their particular skills, abilities, and preferences. Finding a new rainmaker is essential to the future of most firms: Finding a rainmaker just like the current owner, is going to make that task much more difficult, if not impossible.
One of the things I teach my owner-advisor clients is that they will be happier and their firms will be more successful if they can learn to let their employees do their jobs their way. We all have different skillsets and experience; to succeed at our jobs, we each need to figure out how to use our talents to get the job done. I can’t tell you how many employees I’ve seen ruined by bosses who try to get them to do their jobs the way the boss would have done it. They were essentially set up to fail.
This is especially true in sales, and even more so with something as personal as attracting clients to an advisory firm.