Sales is a long business. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. There are ‘sprint moments’ on the journey (deadlines, targets), but what you’ve signed up for is not a short-term gig. As long as you’re in business, you’ll be in sales. Take a moment to really internalize that: As long as I’m in business, I’ll be in sales.
Now how do you feel? Peaceful? Exhausted?
Your response to this statement is of no small consequence, because your ability to build and maintain a successful business is dependent upon all the many habits, activities and mental attitudes you hold in relation to sales.
The more you can accept the fact that owning a business means being in sales as well as getting to do the thing you’re passionate about, the more you’ll free up the energy and creativity you need to sustain it long-term.
Here are several tips to set you up for genuine success:
Get to acceptance. Resisting the role of sales in business is a recipe for failure. Look yourself dead in the eye. You are in sales. Once you’ve come to acceptance of that fact, you can relax into it, get a clear view of the lay of the land, and make a plan that actually works for you.
Know thyself. Maybe you’re a numbers guy/gal. You love higher level financial planning and analysis, but can’t stand anything to do with sales. You feel like an awkward phony trying to talk to people about what you do, all while getting supremely frustrated with the fact that prospects don’t realize what a difference this could make in their lives. To be successful, you must deal with this inner conflict. You can either partner with someone who loves all the client-facing responsibilities, or work with a coach to find a way to talk to prospects that is truly authentic to who you are.
Alternatively, you may be one of many advisors who is more of a people person than a numbers person. You sweat through every minute of your exams. You believe in what you do, but walk around every day with the anxiety that someone will ask you a question you don’t have the answer to and you’ll be ‘found out’ as a fraud. This self-doubt is costing you energy and focus, and must be looked at honestly in order for you to succeed in the long term. Choose one area of financial planning that you are truly excited by. Get committed, go deep and become an expert in that one area. For everything else, partner with specialists who are at the top of their game in their area – and treat those specialists like true partners.
Delegate. Most business owners fall somewhere in between these two examples. They’re great at a few things, lousy at a few others and so-so at everything else. The tasks you hate drain your energy. Some of those tasks cannot be off-loaded, but some can. Make a list of all the time-consuming administrative or lead-generating tasks on your plate and create a plan – and a budget – to delegate them to someone you trust.
Find joy. Some of us are motivated by deadlines, targets and competition. These are ‘sprint mentality’ motivations and they have their uses. Nothing wrong with the short-term juice you’ll get from external targets to help you reach a goal.
But for a long-lasting, truly rewarding career, go deeper. Spend some time asking yourself what elements of having a financial planning practice honestly feed your soul.
Ask yourself: What brings me joy?
Is it the joy of working with colleagues – of being part of a team? Is it that feeling of purpose and meaning you have when a client tells you what a difference you’ve made in their lives? Pride in your commitment to knowledge and excellence – knowing that you are providing your clients with the absolute best advice? Is it the excitement that comes from problem-solving?
Get clear, and then begin to orient your business – your day-to-day tasks, your client interactions, your prospecting – around what truly brings you joy.
You are allowed to have a practice that works for you. The more you honour your nature instead of resisting it, the more effectively you can capitalize on your strengths and work with others where you need support. This will give you the staying power you need to build a thriving business over the long term.