3 Steps to Mastering the Art of Excellence for Financial Planners

Obtaining excellence with any endeavor is rarely an overnight occurrence. It typically takes years of tenacity to master a craft. Many planners let outside influences and short-term setbacks detract them from acquiring excellence in many facets of their business. On the journey to becoming your best, you must simply sometimes take things one step at a time.

The key to mastering the art of excellence is to focus on each of those steps, whether that is defined as learning how to cold call, close a sale or ask for referrals. It is important to concentrate on your ability to be more effective on each particular “step” before moving on to another.

Eventually, those steps string together and form a way forward and you realize that you have traveled farther than you ever thought possible. Aristotle said it best when he said, “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation.”

In other words, we create excellence by continuously learning and honing the activities we do until they become a habit; thus, excellence is merely a by-product of doing such.

Here are some suggested things to consider as you strive for excellence in whatever areas you seek:

Step 1: Commit to a New Level of Greatness

If you want to excel at anything you must commit to a new level of greatness. It doesn’t matter whether you are a financial planner, insurance agent or professional athlete, every successful person knows that the first step is to decide without a shadow of a doubt that they are fully committed to putting in a best effort.

Rob T., a 20-year veteran financial planner was stalemated as his business had reached a production plateau. When I began coaching him he was absolutely committed to learning how to unclog his pipeline. All he needed was to unearth the clogs, implement the right processes and put those into place to take action.

Step 2: Model the Masters

Success doesn’t happen overnight, but it will happen a lot more quickly when you model those who have mastered whatever it is that you would like to succeed at.

In Rob’s case, I had coached many financial planners on a methodology to find specific clogs at every stage of the pipeline, so we quickly found what challenges he actually had. Next, we discussed solutions that have worked for other successful planners/agents. Then he began to apply the activities that were necessary on a daily basis to put those solutions into place. Over time, these activities turned into habits and voilà, his pipeline moved along well and converted for him in many cases.

Step 3: Map out the Milestones

The final step in to track your progress is what I refer to as mapping out the milestones. This helps you see accomplishments (or obstacles) that were made during each leg of the journey. The following is brief description of milestones that Rob experienced.

Initially, I had explained to Rob that my pipeline process had four stages: initial contact, first appointment, second appointment (or closing appointment) and getting referrals.

Rob knew that he had a clog in each stage, but some were bigger than others. So, we began working on stage No. 1, the initial contact, because he was not filling up the pipeline, which was vital. Soon, he was setting more first appointments than he had ever done previously.

Then, we worked on stage No. 3, the first appointment, because he said that many prospects weren’t securing a second appointment with him. I taught him how to help prospects see the value of a second appointment and he was able to make those happen!

Next, we worked on stage No. 3, the closing appointment, because he was not strong at closing prospects. After a number of weeks, he reported that he had closed nine out of 12 prospects!

Lastly, we worked on stage No. 4, getting referrals. Once we role-played what I call “client-centered referral dialogue,” he had a framework for his conversation around getting referrals.

Why Mastering the Art of Excellence Works

The reason why mastering the art of excellence works is because who wants to settle for mediocrity? Being just okay with your business is not okay; finding techniques that work is imperative to getting your business firing on all cylinders.

If you would like a free coaching session with me, email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing at Advisor Solutions.

Daniel C. Finley is the president and co-founder of Advisor Solutions, a business consulting and coaching service dedicated to helping advisers build a better business.

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