Face it: financial advisors have issues — often with themselves. In fact, sometimes they can be their own worst enemy.
ThinkAdvisor asked Darci Hemsley Brown, senior managing partner of the management, sales and psychological training firm Aaron Hemsley & Associates, to identify the 10 worst sales mistakes that advisors make.
Since 2001, Brown has worked with hundreds of financial advisors in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Australia and Asia. The financial author-speaker Nick Murray calls Brown’s 10-week coaching program “the single best investment you can make in your career.”
Brown’s father, Aaron Hemsley, is a pioneering performance-psychology researcher and sales-process coach whose philosophy is: “Top producers are not born – they are made.”
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Darci joined the company after years as a psychology professor and psychotherapist. She specializes in coaching advisors one-on-one to help overcome sales-related fears and self-sabotaging behaviors. Once completing the “Psychology of Maximum Sales Performance” program, advisors are ready to use the techniques on their own.
Speaking from company headquarters in Las Vegas, Brown revealed financial advisors’ biggest sales mistakes and ways to overcome them. Here is what she said, starting with No. 10 on her list:
10. Rationalizing, Justifying, Minimizing, Making Excuses for Behavior
If you stay up till midnight drinking with your buddies on a Monday night and your head feels like a bowling ball on Tuesday, how can that not affect your performance, sales and prospecting? Thinking that it’s “no big deal” is making an excuse. Mood, energy, productivity, performance are directly affected daily by everything you do. You’re 100% responsible for the things in your life that you have 100% control over. No one would consider putting anything other than premium fuel in a Bugatti. Likewise, if you’re not taking care of yourself, you aren’t able to effectively help people that need your help – who are negatively affected by your bad personal choices too. When you don’t get enough sleep, you might think, “No big thing.” But feeling tired and sluggish the next day will affect your performance and productivity. The human body is so much more valuable than a sports car.
9. Not Having a Daily Accountability Tracking System
You can use a yellow pad to track performance. I don’t care if you use a Post-it! A tracking system is a way to slow down the action so that you can see your reality and fix problems quickly. That allows you to do better in sales and every other area of your business. When you track your performance, you’re able to evaluate it rationally instead of emotionally. Any time you’re trying to improve, grow or overcome a negative habit, or create a new positive one, you need to be accountable and carefully monitor everything you do all day long. If you’re unwilling to do this, you’re putting your head in the sand: “Oh, I’ll just do the same ol’- same ol’.” You don’t need to be held accountable to a branch manager or regional manager; but if you’re serious about growth and change, you must be held accountable to yourself.
8. Living Life in Your Comfort Zone
You feel you’re making enough money; you don’t need a nicer house or car. So you get complacent and stop pushing. Or you’re simply settling for mediocrity. That good-enough attitude, “I’m doing well enough,” or living in your comfort zone are lazy approaches. If you’re grossing $1 million a year but capable of doing four times that and not using all your talents and skills, or if you’re sitting in your office reading the sports page online and not working seven to eight hours a day, you’re choosing to act irresponsibly.
Maybe you have a fear of success because you think that you’re undeserving: “Good grief, I can’t make more than my brother, the doctor. He saves lives. What do I do?” Fear of success usually is quite hidden. When I see advisors clearly sabotaging themselves, I typically spot a red flag: a record of roller-coaster productivity, with their best month frequently followed by two or three bad months. But then they get nervous again: “Oh, I’d better kick it up a notch and have another great month.” Then: “Whoa, I’m getting too big!” This is always absolutely subconscious. If you bring up a fear of success, they’ll immediately be in denial: “That can’t be me!”
This is a self-defeating behavior that affects financial advisors by sucking all the joy, happiness and peace right out of them. Perfectionism is typically motivated by a fear of failure or a sense of duty. But if you pursue excellence in a healthy, rational way, you find joy in the journey. Perfectionists are so terrified of failure that they try to do everything perfectly. This leads to procrastination because you’re worried that you can’t do it perfectly. Or when you do start a project, you spend way too much time on it. That creates anxiety, making you and everybody around you uncomfortable. The perfectionist is waiting to be happy.
But no matter how great their accomplishments, they’re never really satisfied: “I sure will be happy once I become a million-dollar producer.” But when you get to the million dollar mark, you’re still not happy: “Maybe $2 million is the happy gross-production point.” Perfectionists are striving to accept themselves: If I’m perfect enough, then I’ll be worthy of love. Perfectionism is tied into loving yourself unconditionally and allowing others to love you unconditionally.
6. Refusing to Create a Daily Plan of Attack