In his best-selling book, Built to Sell, John Warrillow writes what appears at first glance to be a guidebook for creating a solid sales platform. In actuality, the tips outlined help solve one of the biggest challenges of running a sustainable financial advisory business: The art of creating value in your business that is separate from you as the founder or owner. While geared to benefit any business, many of these tips can be applied directly to our industry to help advisors prepare for the eventual succession of their business.
According to Fidelity research, 75% of financial advisors have no succession plan for their businesses. Many advisors ignore the importance of succession planning because, at their most successful, they feel invincible. This is an understandable and powerful feeling that leads 43% of advisors to believe they’ll work "forever". They don't consider succession planning a “top of the list” necessity.
If you're part of the 57% of advisors who are starting to think about retirement, or even if you’re simply seeking greater flexibility or increased work-life balance, this is a great read. Warrillow’s tips will help you build a practice that not only runs without you, but is also more attractive to potential team members and future leaders. Focus on your succession planning by implementing these ideas as soon as possible.
Specialize, don't generalize: Your target market, and therefore everyone with whom you need to partner to reach that target market, becomes crystal clear when you hone in, as much as possible, on one type of ideal client. Pass this clarity and expertise onto your successors by figuring out your niche early on.
Create a process around your sales & development: The more you create structure around your sales process, with targeted goals and a clear beginning, middle and end, the easier time you'll have pitching that process and training successive team members and leaders around it.
Don't become synonymous with your business: As owners and founders it’s very easy, even at points, reassuring, to see your success as synonymous with the success of the business. But don’t get so caught up in this that you make your presence a necessity. The best leaders learn to develop a collaborative process in which all team members contribute to the business and can ensure its success even in the event that the owner or leader isn’t there to make it happen.
Don't be afraid to say no to clients: Avoid the challenge of fitting a square peg into a round hole as much as possible. Depending on your practice and your specialization you might run into more clients who aren't a fit for your business than clients who are. Don’t force it. You'll spend twice as much time making it work with the “almost-rights” when you could be doubling your money with the “exactly-rights.”
Two sales reps are better than one: Even companies that are small enough to service existing and potential clients with one rep might find greater success in hiring two. You’ll bring greater diversity in your sales style—which will appeal to potential clients and future team members and leaders—and you’ll benefit from the effects of a little healthy competition between the two.
These are also great learnings for financial advisors looking to increase their enterprise value in the event that they’re selling to someone else rather than creating a structure for their business to continue through succession after their retirement.
@JohnWarrilow, author of Built to Sell, speaks to audiences made up of business owners who would like to create a business they could sell.
Coaching Questions from This Article:
1. How clear are you on the demographic of clients you serve?
2. What processes do you have in place for acquiring, engaging, and serving these clients?
3. Could your business run successfully if you failed to show up for the next day, week, or even year?