Posts Tagged ‘Natural Ability’
Wednesday, February 9th, 2011
By Norm Trainor, The Covenant Group
Rick was overwhelmed. He felt as if the whole weight of his practice was on his shoulders. Dealing with compliance issues, staffing, client service and case preparation was wearing him down. His revenue was down year-over-year, and he wanted to get back on a growth trajectory. He just wasn’t sure what to do.
The challenge in coaching Rick was that he had built a very successful practice through hard work and talent. His natural tendency in growing his business was to play to his strengths. He was a natural salesman who understood the “art of the deal”. Put him in front of a prospect and it was game over. The problem was that he didn’t have enough qualified prospects. When I asked Rick how many prospects he had in the pipeline, he sheepishly answered “about 10 to 15″. When I asked him when he expected to close them, he said it would happen in the next 6 to 12 weeks.
Those responses are fairly typical. Most advisors have 5 to 40 prospects in their pipeline and expect to close them in the next three months. The number of prospects and the timeframe for closing the sales are symptoms of a pattern in Rick’s business that limited his success. Like a gifted athlete who gets by on natural ability, Rick was able to perform at a fairly high level. He had mastered the art of selling and dealing with people, but the lack of a more scientific approach to his business left him feeling overwhelmed and out of control. Nothing about his practice seemed as simple or predictable as it once did. He was losing his zest and passion for the business.
In contrast, top performing advisors take what can best be described as a scientific approach to building their practice. This approach puts systems in place to manage each aspect of the business. Rather than relying on gut feel and natural talent, they plan their work and use analytical tools and processes to organize each aspect of their work and that of their staff and associates to enhance effectiveness and productivity. The very best advisors combine art and science. They leverage their talent as rainmakers and salespeople with clients and prospects and combine their unique ability with a scientific approach to organizing and running a business.
In coaching Rick, the first step was to get him to slow down and think about his business and where he was going. Like many successful advisors, he confused activity with progress. By always being busy, he kept his anxiety at bay. Unfortunately, he sometimes seemed like a car with the engine redlining and the transmission in neutral. All that energy wasn’t getting him where he wanted to be. It took patience and perseverance to put together his business plan. This became his flight plan and his business took off. The flight plan clarified his vision for the business and crystallized who he wanted as clients and how he wanted to serve them. He broadened his product mix and began to work with clients and prospects that fit his ideal client profile.
Utilizing processes and systems enhanced his marketing, sales and service effectiveness and led to dramatic increases in revenue. Implementing a performance management system increased the productivity of his staff and their level of satisfaction. He learned to enjoy managing staff and associate advisors. Applying the science of practice development magnified his unique ability as a rainmaker and salesperson. His business doubled over the first twelve months and continues to grow at a significant and predictable rate. The best part is that he is passionate about what he does and loves his job.
Norm Trainor is the founder of The Covenant Group, a company specializing in practice development for advisors. For further information, visit his Web site at www.covenantgroup.com.
Tags: Analytical Tools, Art And Science, Case Preparation, Compliance Issues, Control, Covenant Group, Dealing With People, Game, Gifted Athlete, Growth Trajectory, Natural Ability, Natural Tendency, Norm Trainor, Passion, Pipeline, Profitable Practice, Prospects, Shoulders, Three Months, Timeframe, Zest
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Wednesday, January 13th, 2010
It’s common to see people we work with achieve success way beyond ours – often without any apparent reason. The logical response is to wonder what they have that we don’t?.
This was the topic of the recent book Talent is Overrated, by Fortune editor Geoff Colvin – with some important messages for anyone looking to ramp up performance.
Here are three lessons that every advisor can apply:
These were taken from a review of this book by U.S. consultant Matt Anderson that appeared on the U.S. advisor website Horsesmouth.
Focus on deliberate practice
Colvin looked at top performers in a variety of fields – including business, sales, sports and entertainment.
He found super achievers are not differentiated by natural ability, work ethic, experience or intellect. A certain amount of each of these is necessary to excel of course, but in and of themselves they don’t lead to peak achievement.
Among the common traits of superior performers that Colvin did find was that they pursue deliberate practice in areas that address key skills, often taking them around natural limitations.
An example is football hall of famer Jerry Rice, who played with the San Francisco 49ers. He holds all the major records for receivers and played 20 seasons until he was 42 in a position where the average player does not make it to 30.
Yet he was not considered fast by professional standards.
His success came because he worked harder in practice and in the off-season than anyone else – and also because he designed his practice to work on his specific needs .
His training focused on four things to compensate for his average speed:
running precise patterns (strength training)
explosive acceleration (uphill wind sprints)
stamina late in games (endurance training)
and changing directions suddenly without signaling his intent (trail running).
The same principle applies to financial advisors.
The first crucial question to think through is simple: What is the single most important improvement needed for you to achieve better results?
Do you need to practice how you run initial appointments so they lead to further meetings or how you make prospecting calls? Should you focus on getting better results from asking for referrals, your networking activities or coffee with potential centers of influence? Or is motivating your team or time management the area that you need to work on?
Once you identify the activity, you need to put in place a practice plan. One solution might be to find someone you know who’s really good at the area you’ve identified and find a way to learn from them.
And then commit to spending at least five and preferably ten hours a week on it in a systematic, disciplined fashion. It might be improving your investment or insurance knowledge. It might be upgrading your computer skills or public speaking skills. It might be building profile by taking on a leadership role in a local charity.
Whatever the one area you pick, you need to make an unshakeable commitment to working on it.
Operate in the Learning Zone.
Even if you work hard, you won’t make real progress if you just do things that are safe and easy.
University of Michigan’s Noel Tichy is best known for his many years of work with General Electric. He has identified three areas that we all operate in: the comfort zone , the learning zone and, beyond that, the panic zone.
In terms of moving forward, the comfort zone is not helpful and the panic zone is unproductive. To be on top of your game, you must push yourself to be in your learning zone as much as possible.
And as you gain proficiency, you need to continuously push yourself. This is no different than a weight training program – as you gain strength, you have to keep adding weight in order to keep improving.
To do this, most of us need support and feedback. As Colvin puts it: “No one becomes extraordinary on his own.”
Especially at critical times in your development, Colvin recommends an outside eye to see the things you cannot not see about yourself. This can be a colleague, your branch manager, someone at your head office, a close friend or a professional coach that you hire.
In Colvin’s words: “Becoming significantly good at almost anything is extremely difficult without the help of a teacher or coach, at least in the early going”. That’s the reason why the best golfers and tennis players still work with coaches.
Finally, mindset is key
Another key to top performers is that they are never satisfied, always asking themselves how they can do better – in fact, typically they’re their own toughest critics.
Two other key traits when it comes to the mindset of super achievers:
First, they avoid a victim mentality and take responsibility when things fall off the rail.
And second, they are always pushing themselves and striving to get better – good is never good enough.
My thanks to Matt Anderson for permission to extract key points from his article. To subscribe to his free referral newsletter, go to www.thereferralauthority.com.
Tags: Apparent Reason, Average Speed, Changing Directions, Deliberate Practice, Endurance Training, Explosive Acceleration, Football Hall, Hall Of Famer, Impr, Jerry Rice, Key Skills, Logical Response, Matt Anderson, Natural Ability, Peak Achievement, Precise Patterns, San Francisco 49ers, Three Keys, Wind Sprints, Work Ethic
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