Practice & Preparation: Their Impact on your Practice 

This is one of my favorite times of year for sports.  Major league baseball is just underway and both the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association are in the middle of playoffs.  It’s just a great time to witness some of our best athletes at various stages of performance − some just getting back into the swing of things and others driving for a championship. 

Excellence in professional sports reminds me of excellence in our business.  What you do every day in helping your clients mitigate important financial risks in their lives is way more important than what athletes are trying to accomplish, of course.  But I find it interesting to observe how the best professionals in our business possess many of the same characteristics as top athletes – drive, stamina, clear focus, intensity, competitive spirit, and purpose are just a few examples. 

One area of similarity that’s too often neglected by advisors in this business, though, is practice.  By practice, I’m really referring to preparation of all sorts, whether it be practicing your presentation so that it comes across as natural and comfortable, reviewing your numbers before each and every meeting so that you’re fully prepared for any questions, or building in the time in your professional life to continue to educate yourself about the business.  All these things and more fall in to the area of practice and preparation, and all too often advisors fail to give these items the time and attention they deserve. 

Here are few areas of practice and preparation that some of the top advisors I know use on a regular basis: 

  • Develop and practice scripts for specific situations: Face it, even though you have lots of clients with lots of different needs, there are certain similarities among clients and prospects.  Work on scripts that are common to specific kinds of clients, and you’ll be prepared to start a conversation with whomever you meet. 

  • Pay attention to the fundamentals:  No matter how long you’ve been in the business and how successful you are, pay attention to the fundamentals of our business.   By fundamentals, I am talking about basics such as asking the right questions of your prospects so you really understand their problems; showing them that you really care about their situation, not just their business; and speaking in the language they understand.  There are entire books written on the fundamentals of our business, and in this day and age of too much product focus, the wise advisor would do well to revisit them. 

  • Keep track of what works so you can repeat it:  There’s an old saying in this business that refers to somehow losing track of a good idea – “That idea worked so well we stopped using it!”  Unfortunately, that’s an old repetitive saying because too often it’s applicable.  To keep that from happening to you, keep records of what works and what doesn’t.  Try different email and direct-mail programs and compare results.  Measure the various ways you’re communicating and repeat whatever it is that captures your prospects’ attention. 

  • Continue to learn:  Get involved in advisor associations and mastermind groups.  There are many advisors associations that provide, among other valuable resources, a great opportunity for independent advisors to share ideas with other pros.  Take advantage of that.  Tap into the expertise of your brokerage general agent and your home office marketing specialists.  And by all means consider the value of obtaining industry designations that both further your professional education and your credibility. 

  • Consider hiring a personal coach:  Sales and life coaches have been around for years, but right now they seem to be gaining significant momentum.  To get real value from a coach, you have to be at that point in your career where you really want to invest the time and resources; it’s a commitment of both.  But I know many, many Million Dollar Round Table and Top of the Table members who use coaches on an ongoing basis, and I don’t think the correlation between high-level production and use of a coach is mere coincidence. 

Speaking of coaches, I’ll let one of the world’s finest have the last word on the importance of preparation and practice to your personal practice.  Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski regularly encourages his players by reminding them, “Play and practice like you’re trying to make the team.” 

I encourage advisors to take the same approach. 

Charles Hirsch

Charles K. Hirsch, CLU
Hirsch Communications Consulting, LLC.