It was 5 p.m. and Amy, a financial advisor producing about $1.4 million, was heading to her sixth appointment of the day.
She had closed four out of her first five and was confident in another win. As she drove to the appointment, she mentally prepared for how the meeting would be conducted. She is a competitive and confident individual and seldom leaves anything to chance. Amy would never suggest or even ask a client to take her advice—she expects it. Of course, she was never rude to clients, but rather assertive and confident.
Since she was an expert at financial planning and product knowledge, she felt strongly that her clients needed her advice. Her job, as she saw it, was to get the client to understand and buy into the plan she was about to lay out for them.
As she walked into her appointment, she warmly and confidently greeted the husband-and-wife prospects. Amy, who was an expert at building rapport, won them over with her charisma and charm. Right away the clients felt like Amy was part of the family. She seemed to really care about them, their family and their unique circumstances. She opened up and gave a little bit of herself as well. These prospects quickly felt she understood and could relate to them.
When it came time to discuss business, Amy asked more than 20 questions and listened attentively to the answers. She quickly knew what they needed and informed them of the solution to their financial needs.
It was soon 7 p.m. and she had just secured her fifth new client of the day and was finally heading home.
Amy’s way of conducting business is just one example of a typical big producer. But let’s be honest. Most advisors will never get to her level.
It’s sad, because with a few changes many of them could. The difference between the large and small producer is not a huge ravine, but rather a small divide. Becoming a big producer requires a few specific characteristics, most of which can be learned. This does not mean all big producers are exactly alike, but they are all very similar in a few big ways.
As regular readers know, I am a student of psychology and personality types. Here at the Rummage Group, we work with all types of financial advisors and they all have different personality types. And they, in turn, must deal with different personality types in their clients.
Granted, some people are just born with certain energy levels and demeanors which gives them a leg up in sales. However, anyone can become a great salesperson. For some it will just require a little more work and concentration.
So how does a financial advisor become a top producer? As with any problem in life, one must first admit there is a problem. Second, they must learn what the best solution is. The easiest way to learn this is from those who have had the most success. And lastly, they must be strong enough to follow through and do what the successful advisors do.
This is usually where the ball gets dropped. Most small and medium producers are good at admitting there is a problem. They sometimes even know what they need to do in order to improve their performance. It is the follow-through and execution that stops them from becoming a big producer. It’s really sad that so many people know what they need to do, but don’t follow through.
So let’s consider the traits and behaviors of a big producer. As with most lists this one is not entirely exclusive. Every individual is unique and each one has certain traits that shine more than others. However, I am confident you will find 80% of top producers possess the following traits and behaviors.
The most important thing in many aspects of life is confidence. Very few people are truly confident individuals. This is one of the hardest to change, but can definitely be improved with work and time. A top producer walks into a meeting and knows the client should, and will, take their advice. They are confident that they know more about financial issues that the client, and are able to help—because they are experts at financial planning and product knowledge. They are confident their plan is the only (or at least the best) option for the client. Lastly they are confident the client will open an account.
Top producers are very driven. They wake up in the morning and can’t wait to get to the office and close another prospect. They are almost addicted to closing. They have lofty goals and will do what it takes to achieve them. They might like or even love being a financial advisor, but even if they were selling cars they would try to become the best. They strive vigorously toward their goals, wholeheartedly and determined.
Big producers have always been competitive. Whether they are playing kickball or trying to close a new prospect, they are going to do everything possible to win. They are constantly competing with themselves and others, even if the others don’t know it. Many will admit they get even more driven when a competitor has more success than them. Some of the top producers don’t even realize they are being competitive. Often they will say they don’t compete with anyone but themselves, but you will notice a ramp- up in activity when a competitor has more success.
WORK ETHIC/TIME MANAGEMENT
Most very successful advisors have a strong work ethic and time management skills. The average top producer works 50-70 hours per week. Usually the ones who work at the lower end of the scale have learned to become very efficient with their time. In other words, they might only work 50 hours per week, but it’s all work and no “goofing off” – they are task masters. The advisors who have families will sometimes have even better time management skills. This is because they want to get home at a reasonable hour to spend time with their families. A lot can be accomplished in a 50 hour work week if you stay on task and focused.
Finally, at least 70% to 80% of successful advisors have charisma, or at least the ability to turn it on when it’s needed. They can usually walk into a room and own it. Whether it’s a cocktail party or a client meeting, they have the ability to win over a person with charm, character and rapport building skills. I would estimate that 10% to 15% of top producers would be described as “jerks” or “cocky,” however when they meet with prospects or clients they change their stripes. They have learned to turn on the charm and rapport building when it’s needed.
There are many advisors who can become big producers with just a few minor changes. However, there are also those who frankly should find a different profession.
Being a financial advisor is not for everyone; that’s why there’s a 90% failure rate. If you have been struggling for years with slow growth and low production, it’s time to change something.
If you want to be a top producer, just replicate what they do. Don’t hate them; join them.
Rick Rummage is the founder and CEO of the Rummage Group, a consulting firm for advisors. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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