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Advisers perform best when they align their sales personalities with colleagues within their firm

Apr 18, 2017 @ 2:51 pm

By Amy Parvaneh

Jenny, an adviser at a $350 million financial planning firm in Southern California is a highly prolific networker in her community. She attends charity events, belongs to multiple boards, is heavily involved at her church, has recently been asked to present in front of an affluent study group and knows most of the professional centers of influence in her community. On Linkedin, she has close to 4,000 connections.

When I met her a few years ago to help her as a sales coach, I was expecting she could teach me more than I could teach her, given her successful networking skills and deep connections.

To my surprise, Jenny was not adding any new assets. In fact, given the aging demographic of her client base, her firm was losing close to 20% in assets annually.

Jenny's experience is not uncommon. There are many financial advisers who are highly connected and visible, but who can't add new prospects to their pipeline.

Similarly, there are many advisers who have a performance track record that far surpasses their industry peers, yet they can't close business even when sitting in front of qualified prospective clients.

(More: RIAs take a soft approach to cross-selling)

The core problem limiting the growth of advisers in such situations is that they are not efficiently aligning their sales personalities with colleagues within their firm.

Too often, advisers attend prospect meetings either alone, or bring a colleague who can complement their technical, not sales, skills. Thus, although the information flow and knowledge base at the meetings can be robust and diverse, the ability to convert the prospect into a new client doesn't typically occur.

At other times, advisers bring colleagues they assume will complements their sales personalities; yet without a detailed analysis of people's innate sales expertise, the combination falls short.

To be clear, sales can certainly occur with a team collaboration that is not focused around sales personalities. It can also occur when advisers attend prospect meetings alone. But to effectively boost sales efforts, and get to sales goals at a faster trajectory, advisory firms need to design and hire more effective sales teams around complementary sales personalities. This minor reorganization within firms can significantly expedite business development efforts and results.

At our sales coaching and consulting institution, we have spent hundreds of hours researching and observing sales personalities of different advisers. This process requires intensive interviews, personality tests, one-on-one and group discussions and motivational analysis.

We categorize sales personalities into four key buckets:

The charmer: This person has the charisma, passion and energy to redirect a prospect's mindset, connecting with him or her on an emotional level.

The analytical: This person typically has the ability to impress a prospect with his or her technical knowledge, putting the prospect's mind at ease.

The harmonic: This person has the ability to talk with just about anyone, lowering their guards and striking up conversations about just any topic.

The rhythmic: This person loves a regular process, and he will contact prospects at least seven times before giving up.

(More: Advisers underwhelmed by LinkedIn's prospecting tool)

Jenny, for example, falls into what we call the harmonic sales personality. She can start conversations with anyone, be the easiest person to sit next to at dinner party, be approachable and funny, but is missing the key element of asking for a real meeting at the office to discuss finances. Even when the person she is speaking to asks her what she does, Jenny misses the hint, answers quickly and continues talking about the weather or recent movies.

To effectively redirect her skills as a harmonic adviser, we asked Jenny to bring Joe, the junior portfolio analyst within her firm, who falls in the charmer category, to her business development opportunities. Joe had a humble background and no qualms asking for the order. Whenever Jenny would start a conversation with small talk, Joe would follow them up with a request for a lunch date.

This sales personality duo ended up closing close to $20 million within the first six months of working together.

(More: RIAs zero in on golden goose of client prospecting)

Sales teams methodically centered around sales personalities, we have found, result in higher and more immediate sales results, including receiving client referrals, than teams centered around technical skills, or those who go it alone with a rainmaker concept.

Amy Parvaneh is the founder and CEO of Select Advisors Institute, a sales coaching and consulting firm.

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