How to transfer your success to the next generation of advisors
If you’ve been running your advisory firm for more than two or three decades, you’re probably quite comfortable in the role of “rainmaker.” After all, you likely built a successful practice through years of persistence, hard work, and a knack for bringing in new business. You developed confidence and skill during a time when the industry was heavily sales-focused. Now, as you begin to think about succession planning, you may be wondering how to pass your sales acumen to the next generation of advisors so they—and your clients—-can continue to thrive. One effective way to do this is by crafting sales scripts for your team to use in their prospect and client interactions.
Before you starting writing a script, you must first acknowledge that times have changed. The sales-focused approach that worked well for you in the past may not be as effective today. Clients are more sophisticated and informed, and they want to work with advisors who provide value beyond simply selling products. Yet, you can’t overlook the importance of sales skills and being able to convert a prospect into a paying client or encourage a client to introduce you to a friend.
Your desired sales outcome is unchanged
While sales techniques have evolved and softened over the past decades, the desired outcome is the same: generating revenue to sustain a business over the long term by serving clients who are a “good fit.” These are clients who appreciate your value, are enjoyable to work with, and benefit from the work your firm does for them.
Scripts can be an invaluable tool for preparing the next generation of advisors in your firm. By writing down the language, scenarios and stories you’ve shared over the years, you can help your team understand the types of conversations and questions that are most effective in generating new business and retaining clients. Your scripts can serve as a roadmap for your team, providing them with a framework for how to approach client interactions and what to say at key points in a sales conversation.
The pitfalls of sales scripts
You may be skeptical of using scripts for a relationship-based service. There are certain pitfalls to acknowledge ahead of time that are essential to address to make scripts viable for your firm. With scripts, you can run the risk of:
Sales scripts can be inflexible, leaving little room for personalization. Clients have different needs and may require a personalized approach to feel valued and heard. This lack of flexibility can result in a disconnect between the advisor and the client. Clients sense when a person speaks in a scripted manner, and it can damage the trust necessary for a successful relationship.
Missing the human connection
When you’re selling a relationship-oriented service, building rapport is key. If an advisor is too rigid about following a script, they do not engage naturally with the prospect or client. The result can be losing out on opportunities to connect on a personal level or address their pressing issues.
Limited ability to address objections
When questions or obstacles arise, the inability to answer or address them quickly may change your outcome. Sales scripts may not be equipped to handle every objection, leaving an advisor in an uncomfortable situation. If she or he cannot handle the concern, trust diminishes.
While the fear of these pitfalls can steer you away from developing sales script, you must also consider the upside that outweighs the risk. As long as you train your advisors to use the scripts in a way that serves them and your clients, you can overcome the obstacles and reap the benefits of a script strategy.
Benefits of Leveraging Sales Scripts
When you craft scripts using a consultative, relationship-building approach, you help your team appeal to today’s consumer. Rather than simply pitching your services, these scripts should help advisors engage with clients on a deeper level, uncover their needs and goals, and provide solutions that meet those needs. When they do, the benefits are plenty:
Scripts help reinforce the company’s brand by prompting for consistent language across inquiries, consultations and client meetings. When every person in a firm uses similar language, especially to describe the value that your service delivers for clients, you are able to build your brand equity. That may not seem like a big deal; however, over time, this consistency adds up. Consistency builds trust with all stakeholders, from clients to COIs to employees.
Scripts mitigate anxiety. Asking for a sale or a referral can feel awkward to the most personable advisors. By providing scripts, firm leadership can feel confident that advisors have clear talking points to follow. Advisors can frame a conversation, build rapport and access language that allows them to ease into signing up a client or encouraging a referral. When they already know what to say, they feel free to be in the moment since they feel more confident overall.
Better time management
A well-crafted script can help financial advisors save time. They don’t have to invest time to “recreate the wheel” for each new meeting. Rather than worrying about what to cover in a consultation or meeting, scripts help advisors stay on track and touch on all pertinent points without getting sidetracked or bogged down. By keeping the conversation focused, advisors free up more time for listening while feeling confident that the other elements of a conversation will fall into place when the timing is right.
Using scripts can help financial advisors maintain a high level of professionalism during consultations and meetings. Scripts encourage tone and word choice, avoiding any potential misunderstandings or miscommunications. This can be particularly helpful in training more junior members of the team who are less practiced in working directly with prospects and clients. Having a script makes it easier for them to get up to speed and speak the language of the firm. Clients notice this professionalism which contributes to their feeling of trust in your firm.
Scripts can be useful for advisors who work in larger firms with heavier compliance oversight. With a practice of using scripts, firm leaders reduce the risk that advisors and other staff members will communicate in a way that does not comply with industry regulations and company policies. This can help advisors avoid potential legal issues and protect their clients’ best interests.
Writing and training for sales scripts
When crafting scripts for your team, it’s helpful to take a collaborative approach. Involve your team in the process, ask for their input, and consider their feedback as you devise the messaging. This cooperative method will help to ensure that the scripts resonate with your team’s communication style.
Once you develop the scripts, it’s time to train. Make the effort to work with individual advisors, sharing your insights and helping them to develop the skills they need to succeed in today’s environment. For example:
- Conduct role-playing exercises to help your team practice using the scripts in realistic client interactions.
- Provide feedback and coaching to help your team refine their approach and improve their communication skills.
- Encourage them to build relationships with clients and get to know them as humans.
- Reinforce the importance of providing exceptional service and delivering value above all else.
Sales scripts are not static
Finally, it’s essential to review and update scripts regularly to ensure that they remain relevant and effective. As the financial industry evolves, new products and services emerge, and client needs change. Your scripts should reflect these changes. Advisors who are using the language on a regular basis will also be able to give real world feedback about what resonates and what falls flat. Evolve and change the scripts as advisors and team members become more comfortable with the process.
Capture your knowledge now
Don’t wait to capture your knowledge. Even if you do not plan to retire for a while, you can start to educate and prepare the next generation of advisors. Sharing your style, drafting language and working with advisors to edit and evolve the scripts, you can provide the framework for effective client communication and interaction. With this structure in place, you help ensure the firm will continue to thrive for years to come.