Before the internet, smartphones, and the social media worlds of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, the world of advising was a much different place. Product pitching, uncompromising work ethic, hard sales and then even harder sales served as the pillars of prospecting, and building a business required a success-minded advisor to use each of those pillars in equal parts.
“Today, however, advisors in general are resigned to the fact that a lot of old school prospecting strategies just don’t do it anymore,” says Dave Timmons, a Registered Corporate CoachTM and sales trainer with Raymond James Financial. “And they’re right – making 300 cold calls a week by going name-by-name on a random page of the phone book (if you can still find one) is no longer practical, or efficient, in today’s highly electronic, social media world.”
So the question begs: What can older advisors teach new, younger advisors to help them become successful? The answer is, thankfully, a lot. While the tools and media to connect with prospects have changed, the driving forces behind prospecting – connecting with people, understanding their needs and wants, creating solutions and delivering them with superior customer service – are still very much a part of today’s business. But instead of cold-calling and selling products, today’s advisor must focus on relationship building and using available technology to make deeply personal and emotional connections with their clients and prospects.
Pitching products vs. offering advice
On the surface, old school practices that built the successful businesses we see today contrast with today’s best practices: pitching product to gain interest versus taking a sincere interest in the prospect and focusing on his or her needs. The skills needed for both are the same: the ability to listen, garner trust and demonstrate expertise. But, instead of being able to talk your way around a product to make the sale, today’s advisors have to use their communication skills to sell a strategy.
Work ethic vs. work efficiency
Nothing replaces hard work, but today’s work ethic is less about putting in a certain number of hours per week and more about making sure you are doing the right things right. Instead of making 300 phone calls a week, have 30 meaningful meetings a month. Use social media to reach large numbers of prospects and get facetime with them. And devise some qualitative measures to make sure your efforts are effective.