New Orleans – “What sets top performers apart from average advisors?” long-time trainer and author Norm Trainor (photo, below, right) asked attendees Wednesday morning at MDRT’s annual meeting. Over the next hour, he shared the eight best practices of top-performing advisors and detailed exactly what make them so successful.
The best way to emulate the success of top-performing advisors is to watch them in action, Trainor said. They tend to focus on face-to-face interaction with prospects and clients, where personal charisma and sales skills shine. But while important that’s not what separates them, Trainor said. What differentiates them from other advisors is what they do before, during and after the sale.
The single biggest differentiator, according to Trainor, is the timeframe within which top advisors think and work. Typically, an advisor may have between five and 40 prospects in their pipeline at any given time and expect to close with them within the next week, month, or quarter. But high-performing advisors answer do things differently, Trainor noted. They will have 200 to 300 prospective buyers in their pipeline at any given time, and they expect to close them over the next one to three years.
While most advisors run their businesses cash on cash, meaning they’re focused on making the next sale this week or this month, top-performing advisors build an inventory of prospective buyers who will become clients over the next one to three years.
To do so, Trainor said, they focus on these eight best practices:
Best Practice 1: Develop and utilize a planning process
“High performing advisors recognize that the highest value work is that which relates to strategy,” Trainor noted. By taking the time to develop a strategy for their business, they are able to make their income predictable over time.
Trainor defined strategy as a clear plan of action to achieve your objectives, which requires the alignment of three elements:
What are the objectives or outcomes you want to achieve?
What are the capabilities and resources you have to realize it?
What are challenges and opportunities the environment provides?
To develop a strategy, you must first have a vision of what you want your business to become, according to Trainor. Your vision answers three questions:
1.What role do I want to play?
Most top performers want to be the key strategist and the rainmaker in their business.
2. How big do you want to become?
Most top advisors want to earn at least $1 million in income and envision a seven- or eight-figure business.
3. What is the requisite organization?
Your answer to number two will determine the complexity of your business, Trainor explained. Once you have decided the size you’re aiming for, you can figure out what you will require in terms of capabilities and resources to achieve your objectives.
Trainor gave the example of one young advisor he works with who has successfully grown his business and income in recent years. To do so, he developed a business plan and built a team so that he can focus on two tasks to grow his practice.
He devotes two to three hours a week to his planning process and the strategy required to build his business. He then commits the majority of his time to activities that generate revenue.
Specifically, he prioritizes the following three activities:
Eight face-to-face meetings per week to advance the sale with a profile client or prospects, which translates into 320 meeting per year
Two meetings per week with clients or centers of influence to obtain introductions, recommendations and referrals
Obtain five personal recommendations per week from clients or centers of influence
If he hits these three goals consistently, his business will grow over time, Trainor said.
Best Practice 2: Know your client
There are three things every business must get right, according to Trainor:
1. Who is the right client?
2. What is the right value proposition?
3. What is the right price (fair exchange in value)?
High performers put a lot of thought into defining their ideal client by considering demographics (statistical analysis based on age, income, marital status, geography) and qualities and attributes (trustworthiness, family values, generosity, open mindedness).
Best Practice 3: Understand how people make decisions
To catch the right fish, you have to use the right bait, Trainor explained, which is why top advisors put so much thought into their value proposition.