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Practice Management > Building Your Business

Are You a Salesperson or an Advisor?

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At the heart of every business, regardless of industry or geographic location, is the concept of understanding the needs of its customers. To the extent a business can accomplish this, its chances of success increase. The financial services industry is no exception. We understand that our clients need a professional who can make good investment decisions. We also know that many people need someone who can advise them on issues pertaining to their estate, taxes, planning for retirement, insurance and risk management, etc. In short, they are looking for prudent advice. 

Many advisors have been taught to create an elevator speech (i.e., 30 seconds to pique a prospect’s interest). Many have also been taught to communicate with the wealthy to gain their trust. These are tactics designed to increase sales. Clearly, if an advisor fails to sell, they cease to exist. Is this the right approach? Should sales tactics be the primary focus? Let’s explore this issue. 

Sales training teaches advisors how to sell. Moreover, it fosters an environment that teaches the advisor how to use various tactics to sell product to the unsuspecting prospect. Thus, it is not the most adept who successfully build a book of business, rather it is often the best communicator.

Is this what the client is seeking? Aren’t clients looking for someone they can trust who will take the time to learn about their situation and properly advise them on the myriad of decisions they will encounter? Will sales training accomplish this? Absolutely not!

Sales tactics place the focus on the advisor, teaching them to succeed at selling. The advisor, on the other hand, needs to become proficient with the issues affecting the client. In addition to the financial markets, an advisor should be conversant on estate and tax law, retirement strategies and RMD rules. So an advisor who is trustworthy and highly proficient in the requisite areas—and one who can amass a satisfied core clientele—should succeed.

In this sense, the better we serve our clients, the more referrals we will receive, which leads to longevity (as a business enterprise), to stability and, ultimately, to success. 

Here are two ways to view our business.

1) Try to sell as much product as possible to every client (i.e., be the salesperson).

2) Place the client’s interests ahead of our own (i.e., be the advisor).

With the second approach, the client can refer more people to you, and you will earn more than by following the first approach. The second approach also offers the best chance for a good reputation. Which approach do you prefer? Which would your client prefer?

Res ipsa loquitur: the thing speaks for itself.

Until next time, thanks for reading and have a great week!


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