How Advisors Become Great Influencers
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My nine-year-old daughter, McKenna, has been playing travel soccer for a few years. Like her mom and dad, she’s always the smallest one on the field. That’s a nice way of saying her size isn’t one of her strengths. However (like all of us), she has many strengths. Luckily for her, she’s naturally coordinated and has strong foot skills.
Over the winter, her coaches held a contest to encourage the girls to practice more at home. An interesting but unsurprising thing happened. The more she practiced the better she got. On average, she touched the ball about 30 minutes a day. On the field, that translated to more confidence, ability and creativity. There was a noticeable shift in her play.
After one game where she had a number of great runs, my husband asked her, “What’s going on in your head?”
She said, “I don’t know! I don’t remember thinking about the moves, it’s like I black out.” She was in a state of flow – in “the zone.”
In her research, Angela Duckworth, psychologist and author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, discovered that gritty people do more deliberate practice and experience more “flow.” As she stated, “deliberate practice is a behavior and flow is an experience.”
McKenna was able to reach a state of flow because of her practice. She ended up coming in first place in the practice competition (she practiced over 2,500 minutes at home over three months).
Once the competition was over, she practiced a lot less at home. Her confidence, skills and creativity in games waned. Her play was noticeably different.
I share this story as a tangible reminder of the important of practice.
If you’re a parent, you’ve spent hours driving your kids to and from practice. If you don’t have kids, you likely can recall your youth, largely filled with some type of practice. We teach our kids to practice in all areas of their life to learn and improve.
However, as adults, we do little deliberate practicing.
We strategize, plan and research, but rarely practice. Yet, practice is how we experiment and get the feedback we need to learn and grow.
To get better at something, build in time to practice.
Sales is a skill that improves with practice. There are two groups of people: those who view themselves as salespeople and those who view themselves in non-sales roles.
This is a mindset I’m on a mission to debunk – we are all capable of sales, influencing, or whatever you want to call it. Guess what, you define what sales is (and isn’t). Whether you’re a novice or pro largely depends on how much you have practiced.
When was the last time you practiced your elevator pitch? Or tested out your messaging in a conversation, not just on your website? Practiced asking effective questions? Role played a difficult conversation?
Do you feel like you’re just not that good at sales? Presenting isn’t your thing? You just haven’t nailed your messaging yet?
Stop thinking and refining and start acting in the areas where you feel stuck – amazing things will happen. Perfection is the enemy of progress. Don’t wait for perfection.
Shifting from thinking to doing will have a dramatic impact on your outcomes.
How does this apply to your advisory business?
Practice to develop a specific skill or habit is most effective when:
- There is a clear and measurable desired outcome;
- You make a commitment and structure to practice (aka a plan); and
- You act consistently over a short period of time.
Let’s use messaging as an example. I haven’t met a financial advisor or team that feels like they have nailed their messaging. Messaging is something that evolves as you and your business evolve, that’s natural. However, if you’re only experimenting with words on a page or a website it’s time to apply them in all aspects of your business – practice them in conversation, at a networking event, and when you are introducing yourself before a meeting or presentation.
When I work on developing or updating value messaging, once I get a first draft, I always give homework to try it out in conversations.
Ideally, record yourself in a live conversation. If that’s not an option, record in a “role play? either by yourself of with someone.
Pay attention to how you feel in the moment. Does it flow, feel natural, are you proud and aligned with what you’re saying? What’s the interaction like, do they get it?
Go back and listen or watch yourself. As an observer, what do you notice? What’s your body language? Tone? Are you using filler words? How’s your energy? What one or few messages stand out – is that what you want people to hear? What part of the messaging needs work? What do you want to say instead?
When you’re learning or honing a new skill, it can feel frustrating and overwhelming. That’s normal. Your job is to not give up when that happens, but to keep going by setting a reasonable interim goals and rewards.
When my daughter was learning how to juggle a soccer ball, her initial goal was three, then four, and eventually 10 and more. With every small win she got a burst of motivation and energy, the feedback she needed to keep going.
Use this momentum goal worksheet to help you break down a big goal into small actionable goals to act in small but meaningful ways.
I may not be popular for saying this, but to get better at sales, you need to practice. Education and a great plan can only take you so far.
When it’s game time, you don’t want to have to be thinking about the skills or words (ditch the script). Overthinking kills your ability to be fully present and connect, which is what matters the most!
To grow, you will need to develop new skills and competencies that you don’t have. Identify those things, commit to practicing one (overcommitting is a quick path to overwhelm) and carve out the time to practice towards a specific reach goal.
Have an accountability plan in place. That may be a person, reward system or commitment you make that increases your chances of showing up and practicing.
Use me as an accountability partner. Connect and send me a note on LinkedIn. Even better, share with your network what you’re up to and the goal you’re working towards. The more public, the better.
And most importantly, when you do achieve your small and big goals, take a moment to acknowledge your accomplishment and celebrate.
To improve your sales skills, gain confidence, and act with intention and consistency and the ability to influence, consider participating in my next Convert Workshop. Convert is a group workshop for non-salespeople to learn the basics of growth through sales.
Shauna Mace is the founder of Inspire Growth, a consulting and coaching firm that helps non-sales people gain the confidence, systems and skills to grow. Through sales consulting, high-performance coaching and workshops Inspire Growth helps its clients take inspired actions that produce concrete and sustainable results. For more growth tips connect with Shauna on LinkedIn @shaunamace or at [email protected].