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Category Archives for "Financial Advisors"

Jan 14

Capitalizing on the Female Market

By Dr. Jack Singer | Financial Advisors

It’s clear that the underserved female market represents a remarkable opportunity. But how can advisors reach out to this market and speak more effectively to female clients and prospects?

Financial professionals need to understand that women need to feel genuinely cared about and valued in any relationship. They want their advisor to listen to their needs and fears. Married women want to build a genuine relationship with their advisor, feel like they are treated as an equal partner to their spouse, attend all meetings that their spouse attends, and focus on investments that address her needs, as well as her partner’s.

Women in general, married or not, must be genuinely listened to, if you plan to solicit them as clients or retain them. I teach all of my advisor clients the skill of “Active Listening” to effectively communicate your genuine concerns to women (and also men, for that matter).

Prior to the meeting, tell your secretary to be sure to hold all calls, etc. and turn off your cell phone. Come out from behind your desk. Make sure you make and maintain good eye contact with her throughout the visit.

The key to active listening is not concerning yourself with what you will say next or how to respond to the speaker’s point or question. Instead, you pay particular attention to what she says and her nonverbal communication (facial gestures, body language, eye contact, etc.) so you can understand the essence of her concerns. You then paraphrase what she said, by mirroring it back to her and empathizing with her concerns (even if you think they are irrational), because you must be on the same page with her to truly understand her concerns. You never give your opinion or your thoughts about what she is saying until you are certain that you understand where she is coming from, she confirms that you have it right, and is asking for an opinion. Often the first visit is just you listening and understanding…not giving advice.

There are many “Active Listening” models out there, but I particularly like the ideas below that Kathleen Burns Kingsbury describes in her wonderful book, “How to Give Financial Advice to Women.”

Step 1: Lead with an open-ended question to begin the dialogue. For example, you might ask your widowed client, “What is your biggest concern right now?” Even if her response has nothing to do with finances, go there with her. Your job is to understand the emotional space she is in now, not necessarily to direct her into the financial arena.

Step 2: Ask clarifying questions to get an in depth understanding of her concerns and needs. For example, “What are your greatest fears about will happen over the next five years or so?”

Step 3: This is the key to active listening. Reflect back (paraphrase) what you just heard in your own words. For example, if she said, “I don’t know how to raise my children without their father in the picture and I’m feeling overwhelmed,” you could paraphrase, “What I’m hearing you say is that you’re worried that without your husband, you may have difficulties raising your children and it will be very stressful. Is that how you feel?”

Step 4: Ask for more clarification. For example, “What are you afraid that you won’t be able to handle with the children?”

Step 5: Summarize both the content and emotion of the client’s conversation. For example, “It sounds like you are feeling overwhelmed at the moment, not knowing how you are going to handle the children and all of the responsibility by yourself and you are afraid of failing in that regard.”

Notice that the conversation may not go anywhere. Your job is to listen and understand your client’s concerns. The conversation this time may never come to financial issues. It doesn’t matter. Your client needs to know you are concerned, you understand her and you will help her. Once she understands that you care about her and are a support system for her, helping her to make sound financial decisions will be much easier in future conversations. It all starts with trust and communicating genuine concern for her welfare and that of her family and their future. This is the process of developing trust in you as an advisor…it’s never about the outcome (what products she agrees to purchase from you).

Nov 24

The Manager’s Success Toolbox

By Dr. Jack Singer | Advising the Advisors , Financial Advisors , Stress Management

Managing Interpersonal Conflict in the Workplace

Managing interpersonal conflict in organizations is among the most critical and important skills that employees on all levels of the organization can possess.

Job insecurity, fueled by fears of downsizing, mergers, the unstable economy and an unknown organizational future, produces fertile ground for the development of conflict. Moreover, advances in technology, which often are viewed as threatening, magnify the potential for anger and frustration in the workplace.

Unresolved or insensitively managed conflict negatively impacts productivity and morale. Ultimately, the bottom line is affected. On the other hand, allowing conflict to surface and skillfully resolving it can be a platform for enhancing employee trust, team building and creativity.

The good news is that managers, trainers and human resources directors can easily learn conflict resolution strategies, put them into practice, and teach them to their employees.

The following three-step program for assessing and implementing a conflict resolution program is a proven, successful plan of attack:

STEP 1. EVALUATING CONFLICT MANAGEMENT STYLE

Several self-assessment questionnaires have been developed over the years giving people insight into how they react in typical conflict situations. The insight derived from scoring these questionnaires provides an understanding of what “buttons” get pushed when a person is provoked.

STEP 2. IDENTIFYING CONFLICT MANAGEMENT BEHAVIORS

People resort to their own, idiosyncratic behavioral habits when experiencing conflict with others.

These reactions include:

  • Non-productive behaviors, such as: confronting, dominating, defending, using sarcasm, hostile humor, repressing emotions, insisting on being right, stonewalling, and blaming; .
  • Neutral behaviors, such as: avoiding, cooling off, apologizing, and giving in or backing off to avoid confrontation;
  • Positive behaviors, such as: active listening, empathizing, disarming, inquiring, using “I feel” statements, and recognizing how your internal dialogue impacts your emotional reactions.

The goal is to eliminate negative and neutral behaviors and practice positive confrontation reduction skills until they become new habits. On the average, these skills can be learned in only 21 days of concentrated practice!

STEP 3. LEARNING POWERFUL CONFRONTATION REDUCTION SKILLS

Active Listening. The key to all interpersonal communications is genuine listening, as opposed to defensive listening, where you think about your retort while the other person is talking to you, thus not really listening.

In order to begin to really listen, start by paraphrasing what the other person says in your own words, without judging, agreeing or disagreeing. Listen to and reflect the content, needs and feelings of the other person. For example, if someone is telling you about what he thinks is unfair in the way he is overlooked for a raise, the listener might reply: “It sounds like you believe that we don’t really care about you enough to consider what you have done this year in determining whether to give you a raise.”

Notice that the listener is not agreeing, nor disagreeing with the complainer, simply paraphrasing the words and emotions he believes the complainer is expressing.

Next, ask for feedback to determine whether you interpreted correctly. If you have not, ask for clarification. Continue this process until you are sure that you have heard what the other person is saying and how he or she really feels emotionally. Simply getting clarification in order to be sure you have heard what the complainer is talking about will go a long way toward defusing the negative emotions he is feeling, because he is now feeling respected and listened to.

Once you are certain that you understand the message and feelings expressed by the other person, respond. The other person then listens and paraphrases for you. This process continues until you have both clarified your positions and are certain that the other person also really heard you and understands.

Empathizing. This involves putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and trying to see the world through his or her eyes, taking into account cultural, racial, gender and experiential differences. Remember, empathizing with the complainer is understanding her/his position from their perspective and with the information they have…it is not necessarily agreeing with them.

Example: “I understand that you believe your work product has been as good as Joe Smith’s and he did receive a raise. So you view this as unfair and personal.”

Disarming. The fastest way to defuse an argument is to find some truth in what the other person is saying, even if you do not agree with the basic criticism or complaint. For example, saying “I can understand how you’d feel angry with me since you believe that Joe’s work is no better than yours and I did give him a raise,” acknowledges and validates the angry person’s feelings without actually agreeing with what was said. This opens the door to clarification, feedback and reconciliation.

Inquiring. By asking for clarification of ideas, needs and feelings you signal a feeling of respect and can then work toward mutual understanding and compromise.

“I Feel” Statements. This is a primary skill in interpersonal communications. Expressing yourself with such statements as, “I’m feeling sad and hurt because you believe I am being unfair to you” is much more productive than the accusatory, “Now you’re making me sad and hurt and I don’t like feeling that way.” In the first scenario, you take responsibility for your own feelings and share them; in the second, you escalate the confrontation by blaming and putting the person on the defensive.

In addition, you tell the other person specifically what you need that will make you feel good or what can be done to improve the relationship and avoid further misunderstandings and confrontations.

Example: “I have a list of criteria that are involved in determining when someone is entitled to a raise. You are only looking at one of them when you decide I am being unfair. Let’s discuss how you can improve in the other areas so that you can earn a raise next time.”

Internal Dialogue. The key to analyzing your vulnerability to being provoked into confrontations is to understand how your automatic thoughts, including your assumptions and conclusions, cause every emotional reaction.

Examples of these distortions are: “He shouldn’t keep bugging me about a raise” (using should, must, and have to in judging someone’s actions); “My employees don’t really care about how difficult my job is” (reading your employees’ minds about what they must be thinking and feeling); “Maybe I wasn’t cut out for this job…it’s constant pressure” (catastrophising or fortune telling about what your incompetence or the future; and “I’m must have been stupid for taking this job” (negatively labeling yourself instead of describing your behavior as unfortunate or unproductive).

Once you learn about the distortion habits in your automatic thinking, you can learn how to challenge them and develop more rational, alternative thoughts. The end result is actually dissolving negative emotions and a healthy, more reasonable outlook on every situation in which you find yourself.

Interpersonal conflict is healthy when it brings a rich sharing of ideas, mutual respect and an understanding and appreciation of diverse opinions, needs, and values. Teaching your employees to understand how they traditionally react in conflict situations and how to use confrontation reduction skills leads to greater trust, less stress, more creativity, and can ignite the team. The ultimate benefits are enhanced quantity and quality of products and services!

Oct 15

Become an Inner Winner and Skyrocket Your Sales Performance

By Dr. Jack Singer | Advising the Advisors , Financial Advisors , Sales Professionals

Matt is a sales manager in a large insurance company. Besides making sure that his salespeople can answer questions about their products, Matt trains them to communicate with potential clients, how to get them to realize how his company’s products will be great investments, and how to close a deal. But Matt is befuddled at the poor sales success rates of his sales professionals. Traditional sales training techniques ignore the biggest obstacle to sales success: Not recognizing and taking control of the Internal Critic (the habitual pattern of negative thoughts) that lingers within every salesperson.

Here are four tips that you can use:

1) Understand the warning signs of your Internal Critic at work.

Self-limiting, negative and pessimistic thoughts (self-talk) inhibit your success. Examples are: “What if . . .,” “I hope I don’t . . .” “I should have said . . .” “The client won’t like me if . . .” “I always have problems with . . .” “I probably won’t be able to close this sale,” or “I can’t believe how stupid I was to say that . . .” Negative, messages that pass through your mind immediately lead to muscle tightening, rapid breathing, and perspiring. These physiological responses are perceived as “stress.”

When negative thoughts go through your mind, make a fist (out of view of the prospective customer) to remind you to stop thinking that way. Take a few breaths, relax, and think positively and optimistically. What you believe, you can achieve. Internal self-talk leads to beliefs (positive or negative), and beliefs lead to reactions. You need to believe in your products and in your ability to show customers why they need to purchase that product today. Once you believe in yourself and your products, you are in a much better position to achieve sales success.

2) Give yourself positive affirmations

Start thinking optimistic thoughts about your sales success, as if it’s happening today. When you give yourself positive affirmations and imagine that these things are happening right now, your subconscious mind buys into it.

Here are examples: “I know my products and I will show my customers how these products are perfect for their situation,” I know how to treat people so they will be open to my suggestions,” My self- confidence as a sales person grows each day,” I see myself breaking sales records each month.” List 10 positive affirmations and say each one 10 times in the morning and 10 times in the evening, breathing slowly and visualizing the each affirmation happening now.

3) Visualize sales success before you approach potential customers.

Visualize yourself preparing for the sales call and feeling confident as you enter the room. Visualize the sights and sounds around you as you begin. See the client smiling and nodding in agreement as you show them how your product will serve her insurance and investment needs. Visualize yourself shaking hands with the client, closing the deal, and writing up the order.

4)Show them the power of goal setting.

You are 11 times more likely to reach a goal when you write it down. Write down short and long-term goals that are specific and action-oriented. En- sure the goals are realistic. Next, visualize yourself feeling wonderful once you achieve that goal. Imagine it as if you’ve already achieved the goal. List ways in which you tend to sabotage yourself, and how you’ll stop that behavior.

Becoming an Inner Winner leads to sales success every time!

Jan 23

Is Your Retirement Plan in Place? A Retirement Fire Drill Might Be in Order

By Dr. Jack Singer | Financial Advisors

If your retirement isn’t as far off as it used to be, it may be time to do a retirement fire drill. Most people get to choose when they retire, but you don’t want to be caught in a situation where you HAVE to retire and can’t.

So how do you have a retirement fire drill? Easy enough – pretend you are now ready to begin the retirement phase of your life. Here are few areas to use when you conduct your fire drill:

  • Your budget: Have you made a retirement budget? Of course you have – but is it going to work? Have you addressed what your source of income will be once your paycheck isn’t coming in anymore? Have you eliminated unnecessary expenses? Finance professionals say you should be able to retire on 70% of your income – is this accurate for your needs?
  • Do you have enough medical coverage? If you are retiring before the age of 65, keep in mind that you won’t be eligible for Medicare until you hit that magical number. How do you plan to bridge the gap between coverage times? Did you work insurance premiums into that retirement budget?
  • What is your income strategy when you are no longer working? Even if you retire at 65, there is a very high chance that you and/or your spouse will live to at least the age of 85 and a 45% percent chance that at least one of you will make it to the age of 90. Is your income gong to last?

If you’ve uncovered a few problems doing this little fire drill no worries – you still have time. Use the information you’ve uncovered in this practice drill to get your retirement finances in order.

Until next time, this is Dr. Jack Singer.

Dec 30

Critical Mass Radio Show Interview

By Dr. Jack Singer | Financial Advisors

Critical Mass Radio Show December 18, 2013 Brad Leggett and Dr. Jack Singer

Brad Leggett, a founder and CEO of The Leggett Group Inc., joins us in the studio to talk about how mid-sized companies can take their firms to the next level with just one key component: Sales.

Dr. Jack Singer, a professional public speaker, sports psychologist and clinical psychologist, joins the program to talk about how he has implemented his experiences and skills as a sports psychologist into effect business strategies.

Listen Now:

Jul 22

Advising the Advisors – Part V

By Dr. Jack Singer | Advising the Advisors , Financial Advisors , Stress

By Dr. Jack Singer
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Financial Advisor Trainer and Coach

Additional Distorted Thinking Habits for Which Advisors Should Be on the Lookout

Recall that in my last segment, I discussed the thinking patterns in which we frequently engage whenever we encounter difficult or challenging events. And, if our “Internal Critics” are allowed to run rampant, those thinking patterns tend to be self-defeating, negative and pessimistic. Often, these patterns of thinking are irrational expectations and beliefs about ourselves, how others view us, the situation and/or pessimistic predictions about how the situation will turn out. Such habitual thinking patterns exacerbates our stress dramatically and can lead to feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and even worthlessness!

I discussed All or Nothing, Mind-Reading, Mental Filter, Magnification and Catastrophising. In this segment I will discuss Having to be Right, Should Statements, Overgeneralization, Blaming and Emotional Reasoning.

Having to be Right

“ I certainly know much more than my clients do about investing and wealth management. Therefore, if I make a recommendation, it had better be right.”

This form of distorted thinking develops out of insecurity. You are worried about what it says about you if you are ever wrong. Unpredictable downturns in the market can lead to losses for your clients, yet you feel so strongly that you have to be right in your predictions, that you don’t provide the inevitable market fluctuation caveat to them when making recommendations.

You rarely consult with colleagues before making recommendations to clients, believing that shows a weakness about you to both your clients and your colleagues. Consequently, you tend to ignore or discount others’ (especially clients’) opinions, if they disagree with yours. Your mind is closed to other possibilities because you are very threatened by the idea that you could be wrong.

Should Statements

“I never should have made that recommendation. Look how it turned out! I’d better be more careful the next time I make a recommendation or I will surely lose this client.”

If you look carefully, you will also see Catastrophising (Fortune Telling) in this distortion.

People whose thoughts frequently include “ I should…,” “I must…,” or “I’d better…” are making an unconscious assumption that there is a universal list of iron clad “rules” (in addition to the laws of the land and your particular religious commandments) to which we must all adhere, or we will be judged in a negative way. If you break the “rule” (e.g., “I never should have…”), it leads to you having feelings of guilt and incompetence. If someone else breaks the “rule” (e.g., “He never should have…”) it leads to you feeling angry or frustrated.

Although we often regret actions that had unfortunate outcomes and we may occasionally use a phrase such as “I should have,” the continual use of such words leaves no room for innocent mistakes. It smacks of having to be perfect in order to feel good about yourself.

Overgeneralization

“Since I lost money for my client thinking I made a good investment decision, I will probably continue to do so. It seems like every time he asks my advice, I make suggestions that are awful. He’ll probably fire me”

If you look carefully at this string of thoughts, it also involves Catastrophizing (Fortune Telling).

Overgeneralization involves an incident or situation in which you fail to achieve what you desire and you generalize from that situation to an overwhelming series of negative ideas about yourself. You believe that because of this unfortunate incident, it is inevitable that it will be followed by a never-ending pattern of similar unfortunate events.

A tip-off to this kind of thinking pattern is the frequent use of words such as never, always, all, every and none. These absolutes are exaggerations of reality and they are extremely self-defeating.

Blaming

“I’m struggling in my business because I have a bunch of clients who expect me to accurately predict the market. Who do they think I am, anyway, a psychic?”

This is an interesting example of distorted thinking because it is common to find someone or something to blame when you fail to accomplish something important to you. In fact, there may be an advantage to finding an excuse to explain failure, rather than blaming yourself, as if you are hopelessly incompetent. The real problem with the Blaming distortion is when you rarely take responsibility for events that befall you and continuously blame others. Obviously, when this happens you don’t learn from your mistakes.

Emotional Reasoning

“I feel so stupid because I couldn’t answer my client’s complicated question. Since I feel stupid, I’ll probably always struggle with these kinds of questions.”

This example of distorted thinking involves drawing the wrong conclusion, based strictly on your emotions at the time. Because you feel an emotion or have a negative thought, you conclude it must be true. So, if if you make a mistake and describe it as stupid, then you conclude that you are stupid.

If you feel anger after speaking on the phone with a client, you conclude that the client must have done something wrong to you, rather than realizing that your angry emotions may be based on faulty thinking or not having all of the information (such as believing that your client will always be angry at you for not having the answer right away).

Jul 15

Advising the Advisors – Part IV

By Dr. Jack Singer | Advising the Advisors , Financial Advisors , Stress

By Dr. Jack Singer
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Financial Advisor Trainer and Coach

Recognizing Your Distorted Thinking Habits

Recall that in my last segment, I discussed the foundation of all stress, mood and attitude issues is your “Internal Critic,” that little voice in your head that you listen to hundreds of times each day. Sadly, most of us allow negative, self-defeating, distorted thoughts to interfere with our work every day—unless we become aware of our thinking habits and take charge them.

As Dr. David Burns, a pioneer in the field of Cognitive Therapy, puts it: “If you want to break out of a bad mood, you must first understand that every type of negative feeling results from a specific kind of negative thought.” Left unchallenged, the “Internal Critic” and its distorted thought patterns can quickly lead to feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness.

These five examples of distorted thinking habits are very commonly used by advisors.

Five Common Distorted Thinking Habits. Learning about the thinking patterns that you employ whenever you encounter difficult or challenging events is the first step in making life-altering changes in your thinking. This is a critical first step in changing the thinking habits that lead to depression, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. There are basically ten categories of distorted thinking patterns. Here are examples of the first five:

All or Nothing. “If I can’t make money for all of my clients, all of the time, despite market fluctuations, I feel like a failure.” These thoughts are distorted because you look at your world as strictly black or white, good or bad. Such thinking often involves attempting to be perfect, which is obviously impossible.

Mind Reading. “My manager has probably lost faith in me because I haven’t landed the number of new clients that he expected this month.” Mind Reading is a very common thinking habit. You conclude that somehow you have an ESP-like understanding of what people are feeling and thinking about you. Even though you have no real evidence or proof that these people are having these thoughts or feelings about you, you just “feel” it, so you conclude it must be true.

Mental Filter. “Even though my performance review was positive across the board, my manager said I do need to improve my customer service skills when I am on the phone with clients. He must be disappointed in me.” This form of distorted thinking involves having tunnel vision when it comes to positives in your life. You can have ten positive things said about you or your performance, but you dwell only on the single negative comment, as if the positives count for nothing. (The example above also involves the mind reading distortion.)

Magnification. “ I must be a terrible advisor because the product I recommended for my client lost seven per cent of its value in a week. I made a huge mistake, I feel awful and I wouldn’t blame the client if he is disgusted. I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes his business elsewhere.” In this kind of distorted thinking habit, you blow things out of perspective and dramatically intensify what is actually happening. You use dramatic descriptions, such as terrible, awful, huge and disgusted to describe situations and outcomes that are rarely that critical.

Catastrophising or Fortune-Telling.
“What if I continue to get turned down in my cold calling? I will fail as an advisor, and since I don’t have another career I’d like to pursue, I’ll become a failure as a husband and provider for my family.” Fortune-telling is predicting dramatically negative things happening, as if you have absolutely no control over them and your fate is sealed. A clue to this habit is the use of “what ifs” You take a situation, such as a week full of rejections from your cold calls, and blow this out of proportion by assuming that a disastrous outcome is on its way. You come to expect a catastrophic outcome, as if you have a crystal ball to look into the future and you usually expect that the outcome will be negative.

Jun 30

Advising the Advisors – Part 2

By Dr. Jack Singer | Advising the Advisors , Financial Advisors , Stress

Buffer Yourself Against The Real Cause of All of Your Stress

By Dr. Jack Singer
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Financial Advisor Trainer and Coach

In my initial article Advising the Advisors – Part 1, I talked about the surveys done with financial advisors right after the 2008 financial crisis and the alarming percentage of advisors who actually suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result. We don’t know how many advisors actually retired or tried to change their careers in response to the stress they endured, but in an effort to avoid or escape stress many people (not only advisors, of course) change careers. That certainly introduces new stressors, and so the cycle continues.

The good news is that anyone can learn how to buffer themselves against any stressor, and thus avoid making dramatic, and sometimes disastrous, career decisions as a result.

First, recognize the real source of your stress. “Stress” is an overused term, yet in our competitive and impatient culture, and with chaos rampant around the globe, examples of stress are with us constantly. Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent annually for stress-related medical insurance claims, workers’ compensation benefits, reduced productivity, poor product quality, absenteeism, spillover into marital and family problems, and even drug and alcohol abuse, which is often a desperate attempt to cope with the stress. Stress symptoms may include, anxiety, fear, depression, burnout, and a whole host of possible physical symptoms. Stress has even surpassed the common cold as the most prevalent health problem in America!

For most of us, work challenges, managing our teens, and pleasing our spouses represent daily stressors. But these potentially negative events, do not cause stress! It is our perception of the events—our thoughts about those events—that determines whether or not we will experience stress as a result.

Negative events do not cause stress. Most people assume that specific events—particularly negative ones– that they are faced with “cause” their stress. For example, the economic disaster of 2008 was a series of “events,” none of which directly caused stress for advisors. It was not the events, per se, but each advisor’s perception of those events and the simultaneous the“self-talk” that the advisor engaged in during and following those events that determined whether or not the advisor experienced stress, and how much.

Your feelings of stress, including all of the symptoms mentioned above, are not directly caused by the necessity to make cold calls, generate referrals, market fluctuations, disgruntled clients, fiduciary and compliance hassles, etc. These events may invite you to feel stressed, but they do not cause stress. Specifically, your perception of these situations and what you say to yourself about them determines whether or not you will suffer from stress symptoms. If you perceive potentially stress-causing events in a negative, self-defeating, pessimistic, or overwhelming sense, you will certainly become stressed.
However, if you perceive those same events as challenges which you will be able to master and give yourself positive, empowering, optimistic thoughts about them, your stress will be markedly reduced.

Here is an example of an event that actually took place in my life. I was booked to be the opening general session speaker for an important financial advisor’s conference. Attendees had flown in from all over the country for this conference. Soon after I landed at the first airport where I was to transfer for my final flight, a major storm moved into the area, grounding all flights for the remainder of the day and night. It became clear that I would be able to get to the conference in time to open it the next morning.

While one might consider this situation to be extremely “stressful,” the situation, per se, would not be the source of my stress. What I said to myself about the situation would determine how stressed I would feel.

For example, if I was worried about upsetting the meeting planner and leaving the audience hanging, that would cause me to feel symptoms of stress.

To continue my example, when I learned that the flight was cancelled (the negative event), I had a choice regarding what I could say to myself. One option is: “Oh, that’s just great…now I won’t make the meeting, everyone is there expecting a rousing keynote, they’ll be disappointed and the meeting planner for the conference will be so angry at me that she’ll never book me to conduct a program again.”

Such a negative, self-defeating statement would immediately activate the nervous system necessary to deal with life-threatening situations, my brain would conclude that I was in an emergency and my body would react accordingly. My blood pressure would rise, my anxiety spike, and my behavior might become irrational…all resulting from my worried perception of a situation over which I had no control.

You do have control over your self-talk. This is really important to remember. Although we are creatures of habit, we can learn to change any habit that causes stress for us. In fact, in her wonderful little book, Change Almost Anything in 21 Days, Ruth Fishel describes research that shows how quickly people can change their stress producing self-talk.

Back to my example, suppose that when I learned that the flight was cancelled, I said to myself the following: “It is what it is! This is really unfortunate and I feel badly that I will not be there on time, but it is absolutely beyond my control. I will phone the meeting planner right away and see if she would like me to find a substitute speaker who is based in the city where the conference is being held.”

Also, I could have suggested, “Perhaps we can postpone my keynote until the last day of the Conference, when I will definitely be able to get there.”

If these possibilities were not acceptable, I could have even suggested that, “I can do the keynote through a tele-conference via Skype, for example. That way, with the audience all situated in the meeting room, I can arrange to do the keynote by interactive television and have a dialogue, etc..” I could even have used this example with them when I discussed how their self-talk always determines their emotional, attitudinal and behavioral responses to dramatic events, over which they have no control!

Bringing this example into the everyday realm of the financial advisor, consider getting a message from your assistant that your least favorite client is angry about how poorly the last product/equity you recommended is doing in the current, downward market and he wants you to call him as soon as possible.

Again, this potentially negative event does not have to be stressful, depending on the self-talk in which you engage. For example, you could say to yourself: “I hate it when this client gets angry whenever the market dips and he blames me. I would like to dump him and suggest he find another advisor.” Just imagine how your stress and anxiety will spike if you give yourself that message.

But, remember, you have choices. You could tell yourself that you will use the active listening skills you have learned (as detailed in an upcoming Advising the Advisors segment) to allow the client to vent, empathize with his frustration, and once he is calm, remind him how you went over the risks with him when he purchased the product/equity and that this dip in the market is like all past dips—temporary. Explain to him that your overall strategy in helping him manage and expand his wealth takes these unpredictable market dips into account and the strategy is still viable. Gently point out to him that patience will prove to be his most valuable learned skill, etc.

Using this technique you can convince yourself that, although you still wish that you didn’t have to deal with this client, you have dealt successfully with him before and you will so once again.

To conclude, the amount of stress you feel is ultimately up to you, isn’t it? Will you listen to the rational, positive voice in your head, or will you fall prey to the irrational, negative, “Internal Critic”? The choice determines your stress level and the choice is always yours!

 

Apr 29

Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports Coach – Part 3

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Financial Advisors , Sales Professionals

GAME PLAN FOR SALES SUCCESS: Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports Coach

Today is “Wednesday Workshop!”

By Dr. Jack Singer
Licensed Sport Psychologist
Professional Sales Team Speaker/Trainer

This is part 3 of a 5 part series.

sales, sales success, insurance sales, sales coaching, role playing, game plan

In my first two articles about a week long Game Plan for Sales Success, I discussed kicking the week off with “Magic Monday,” involving strategies to develop group cohesion among your sales team. The second training day, which I referred to as “Triumphant Tales Tuesday,” has the goal of successful team members sharing the elements of their successes with their colleagues, in the form of case studies.  This day includes role playing exercises, so that team members can practice the skills that have already been shown by their peers to be successful.

Now, we are at mid week, where I suggest a workshop format, Workshop Wednesday.

Recall that this training week mirrors that of a sports team. Wednesday is typically the day for the team’s game plan for their next opponent is introduced. In this case, sales managers can introduce specifics about a new sales push, new products, services, sales strategies etc. Workshop Wednesday is more of a didactic format, so that attendees can be exposed to power-point, video programs, handouts, etc., teaching them all they need to know about these products and services.

As on Tuesday, role playing exercises can be very helpful in practicing these new strategies.

Because many sales professionals internally resist change, the introduction of new or different products, services or sales strategies may raise this resistance.  Consequently, this is a wonderful opportunity to discuss methods of overcoming resistance to change.  In such a discussion, I include such topics as “Overcoming Imposter Fear,” “Taking Charge of Your Internal Critic,” and “Taking Charge of Your Attitudes and Emotions.”  All of these topics (addressed in other articles I have written) address the issue of resistance to change.

Like all training days, I recommend ending with a fun exercise.  There are many manuals offering team building closing exercises and some are directed specifically for sales professionals.  An example is “Superspy.” In this sales training game, attendees pair up in teams to discover the most critical information they need about a fictitious company that is a prospective buyer of your product or service. The team with the most creative ideas for uncovering critical information about the prospective buyer wins a fun prize.  All of these exercises serve multiple purposes:  having fun together, developing a competitive spirit between small teams, and brainstorming to develop creative ideas to sell your products.

Stay tuned for the next installment:  (Mental) Toughness Thursday.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years. Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada. He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit DrJackSinger.com and FunSpeaker.com or call him in the U.S. at (800) 497-9880.

Apr 12

Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports Coach – Part 2

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Financial Advisors , Sales Professionals

GAME PLAN FOR SALES SUCCESS: Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports Coach

By Dr. Jack Singer
Licensed Sport Psychologist
Professional Sales Team Speaker/Trainer

This is part 2 of a 5 part series.

Today is Triumphant Tales Tuesday!

Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports Coach

In my first article about a week long Game Plan for Sales Success, I discussed kicking the week off with Magic Monday, involving strategies to develop group cohesion among your sales team. Using a nautical analogy, no matter how many different “boats” your individual team members arrived on when they joined your sales organization, they are now all on the same “ship,” with each crew member working toward the goal of bringing the ship into port successfully.

Now, it’s Tuesday and time for team members to share success stories with their colleagues. Modeling success strategies from colleagues helps all team members achieve their individual goals, with the combined team goals obviously being accomplished as well.  Again, as in sports, focusing on team goals, rather than individual ones, creates cohesion and the desire for colleagues to help each other.

Triumphant Tales Tuesday actually serves three purposes:

  • First, colleagues share case examples of sales successes they have accomplished, a form of “best practices” sharing.  The more detail included in the stories, the better, with all of the elements that ultimately led to the sale, including listening to and assessing the prospective client’s needs, asking the right questions and closing techniques.
  • Secondly, sharing case examples of success stories that the sales professionals shared with some prospective clients, in order to convince them to purchase products or services, is a valuable sales tool, from which to learn.  For example, an insurance sales professional can share a story that she told a prospective client about how happy another client was that he purchased that insurance product, because shortly afterward, there was an accident or family tragedy, which was fully covered by the product they had purchased.  Showing prospective clients how current ones are thrilled with the product or service they purchased from you is a powerful selling tool.  It is like a testimonial, but telling it in story form is much more impactful than simply quoting a comment from a satisfied customer.  Of course, if the current client is willing to be contacted by your prospective client, that is even more powerful. Your current client will be helping to close the deal for you!
  • Third, these tales of success can easily lead to role playing scenarios, where team members can practice story-telling skills with each other, as if they were telling them to prospective clients.

Role playing, with the task simulating as closely as possible an actual sales scenario, is a powerful learning technique.  Football teams, for example, in preparing for bowl games, will simulate crowd noise and other distractions during their practice and they practice in the same facility in which the big game will be held. Simulating what they will face during the game conditions the players’ mental and physical “muscle memories” so that the actual game will be much less stressful and they will be focused on the goal of winning.

So, too, in sales training, the closer the training simulates the exact situation in which the sales professional finds himself, the less mental and emotional distractions will hamper the ultimate sales approach.

There are many forms of role-playing used in training.  Like all training, I make it fun by having colleagues cheering for each other, giving out prizes for the best “acting,” and concluding the day with another fun activity.

Stay tuned for my discussion of the third day of the Game Plan for Sales Success, Workshop Wednesday.

Listen to Dr. Jack and Jon Hansen discuss this topic on BlogTalkRadio.

Listen to internet radio with Jon Hansen on BlogTalkRadio

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years. Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada. He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit DrJackSinger.com and FunSpeaker.com or call him in the U.S. at (800) 497-9880.

Apr 08

Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports Coach – Part 1

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Financial Advisors

GAME PLAN FOR SALES SUCCESS: Coach Your Sales Team Like a Pro Sports Coach

By Dr. Jack Singer
Licensed Sport Psychologist
Professional Sales Team Speaker/Trainer

This is part 1 of a 5 part series.

Game plan for sales success by Dr. Jack Singer

Successful college and professional coaches have certainly perfected a game plan for practicing and finely tuning their team members’ skills, so that when game day comes, they are prepared to perform at a consistently high rate, regardless of unforeseen obstacles and challenges.

The exact same skills can be taught to sales teams, in order to maximize their ability to perform when it counts the most, rebound quickly from setbacks, and stay focused on maintaining their edge.  This series of articles delineates five days of training, with each day representing a different theme, leading up to Friday’s final day of sales training. 

Magic Monday

Many sales managers put their team members into competition with each other, with fancy charts and graphs, showing who is winning for the month, etc.  But, rather than putting team members into individual competition with each other, it is critical to form a foundation of team cohesion, with incentives for accomplishing team goals, so members push each other to achieve.

When I consult with sales teams, I always begin the training by developing cohesiveness with fun (yet powerful) team-building exercises. First, we engage in a warm-up exercise. This may involve attendees pairing up and each interviewing their partner to learn about a success “secret” that no one else in the room knows about. For example, someone may have been a science fair winner, a spelling champ, or a varsity athlete or cheerleader.  The interviewers then share these “secrets” in front of the group so that something special is learned about each member of the group.

Another powerful exercise is “brag bags.” This is a wonderful exercise, for smaller teams, where everyone on the team knows all the other members. Each member has her/his name written on a paper bag, and all the bags are taped to the wall.  The task is for each team member to anonymously slip a separate piece of paper all the other bags, listing something positive about every other team member. Team members then seal the bags, which are not to be opened until the days’ activities are concluded and the team members leave the office or workshop site.  Imagine the boost you would feel when you get into your car and start opening your bag. You will get positive feedback from each of your colleagues about things they recognize, but probably never related to you.

Once everyone is warmed up they are ready for a fun, yet empowering teambuilding exercise, where attendees are divided into teams and given a task to complete.  The first team to complete the task wins prizes, such as gift certificates, movie passes, etc.

There are a myriad of books on training games, team-building exercises, etc. The task may involve puzzle solving, a treasure hunt, or an outdoor challenge.  They must cooperate and work together to achieve success.

Notice that on Monday nothing related to sales has transpired.  But the foundation for the coming days of training has been established, with the entire sales team knowing much more about their colleagues than before and a cohesive team is forming.

Stay tuned for my discussion of the second day of the Game Plan, Triumphant Tales Tuesday.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years. Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada. He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit DrJackSinger.com and FunSpeaker.com or call him in the U.S. at (800) 497-9880.

Oct 01

How to Turbo-Charge Your Advising Skills

By Dr. Jack Singer | Financial Advisors

Become an Powerful “Active Listener” by Adding this P.R.O.P.O.S.A.L. to Your Skill Set

By Jack Singer, Ph.D.

Matt is a financial advisor.  He understands how to make cold calls, how to follow up on leads and referrals and how to offer excellent client service.  Yet, he’s amazed at how much more successful his colleague, Paul, is, since Matt puts much more time and sweat into his work than Paul seems to do.  He wonders what is missing in his approach.

The key difference between Matt and Paul’s approaches is the fact that Paul has trained himself to be an “active listener.” He uses my Active Listening P.R.O.P.O.S.A.L.  not only to help him maximize his client relationships, but it is a powerful technique that helps him communicate effectively with his wife and teenagers as well.

First, whenever you communicate with a prospective client, or, for that matter, with anyone, place yourself at eye level with that person.  If they are sitting, you sit, etc.  Never place yourself above or below the eye level of the speaker.

 Here are the components of my P.R.O.P.O.S.A.L:

P   Probe for understanding.  Your job is to try to understand what your prospective client needs and how you can accommodate those needs.  The only way to show the client that you have exactly the product  and knowledge to satisfy those needs is to ask gentle questions about their goals and hopes. An example is, “If you could picture the ideal financial situation for your family when you are no longer around, please describe what you’d like to see happen.” 

R   Reflect.  The best way to understand your prospective client is to make sure you are listening carefully and the best way to do that is to paraphrase what you heard him say before commenting on it.  An example is, “What I’m hearing is that you want to make sure that your children are well taken care of if you pass on within the next 15 years.”

O   One thing at a time. When you get onto a subject with your prospective client, stick to that.  If she tells you something that sparks an idea for a different product, keep a notebook handy and jot down some notes.  Just listen and comprehend what the prospective client is saying, don’t shuffle papers or start thinking about your response.  Just listen to her.

   Pause.  Regardless of what the person asks, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to answer immediately.  Listen and reflect.  It’s ok to say, “That’s a great question.  Give me a day or so to research several products to find the one that precisely addresses your question.”

  Observe nonverbal behavior.  Many studies point out that only a small percentage of what is “heard” by a listener are the words of the speaker.  Most of what is “heard” by the listener is tone of voice, smiling, facial expressions, vocal inflections, etc. Watch for all of these indices of your client’s mood and attitude.  You might even wait for a pause and make an interpretation of what you are sensing.  An example is, “It feels to me that you are assuming that I am trying to force you to purchase this product.  Is that what’s going on in your head?”

S    Summarize.  You’d be amazed at how much you show the client how much you are listening by simply summarizing what you just heard.  If you have hit the key points in your summary, the client will feel validated and closer to you.  If you missed key points that he is trying to convey, he can feel comfortable correcting you about those points at this time.

A    Acknowledge the message.  By understanding what the listener is saying, doesn’t mean necessarily agreeing with her.  You are simply showing that you hear her concerns.  Example, “Alice, I hear your concerns because of your last experience with a stockbroker. Let me get the information you will need to make you feel good about this.” Always acknowledge the speaker and her position before voicing your opinion.

L   Let the speaker finish.  I, myself, am often in a hurry to address an issue before I forget what I want to say.  Cutting off a speaker will lose you their trust immediately.  Always give them the courtesy of letting them finish a point before you interject yours.  Again, take notes so you won’t forget what you wanted to say.

Advising is all about trust and communications.  If you are genuine and offer products to people that will truly satisfy their needs and desires, they will trust you.  That includes not recommending the most expensive product if you believe it is not right for them.  Nothing gains their trust more than you being an excellent listener.  Using this Active Listening P.R.O.P.O.S.A.L .can dramatically increase your success rate.  Practice this with friends and family.  It’s easy to get the hang of it and it really works!

About the Author:

Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and practicing psychologist. Dr. Jack has been designing re-TREATS, speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s, financial advisors, sales staffs and elite athletes for 34 years.  He is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada.  He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and others for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence, esteem and master their anger.

Dr. Jack’s newest program for financial advisors is entitled, “DEVELOPING THE MINDSET OF A CHAMPION ADVISOR DURING UNCERTAIN TIMES:  How to Empower Yourself to Perform Your Best When it Matters the Most!”

To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit www.funspeaker.com or call (800) 497-9880.

 

 

Sep 24

Financial Advisors: Building Client Trust

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Financial Advisors

Building Client Trust: The Key to the Financial Advisor’s Success Over the Competition

Building Client Trust: The Key to the Financial Advisor's Success Over the CompetitionAs many of you know, much of my professional speaking focus over the past few years has been on financial advisors, planners and insurance producers.  Accordingly, here are my ideas for how you can skyrocket yourself over the competition.

According to a survey of financial advisors and clients, conducted by the State Street Global Advisors of the Wharton Business School, “trust is the foundation of the advisor-client relationship.” With the prospect of a fee-based system for financial advice looming on the horizon, building this trust is more important than ever if the advisor plans to successfully attract and keep clients. This article is intended to show you exactly how such trust is developed and maintained.

Trust That You Have the Required Knowledge & Ethics

Before a client can have faith that you possess the knowledge and skills that can help him to accomplish his financial goals, you must have faith in yourself.  That may sound odd, but many professionals—including advisors, physicians, attorneys, psychologists and professionals in virtually all professions, suffer from “imposter fear.”  This involves a lack of confidence in your ability to have all of the answers.  Your self-talk may include something akin to,  “if my clients ever knew how much I really don’t know, I’d lose my credibility with them.”

If you have this fear, you need to work through that and be comfortable within your own skin, before you can expect to portray the confidence that will engender client trust.  Becoming comfortable involves realizing that you do not have to have all of the answers immediately when a client asks a question.  It’s fine to tell him you will research the issue and get back with the him.

Sharing with the client about situations, for example, where you steered other clients away from big commission products because they did not suit the client’s needs will show them that above all, you are ethical.  Clients need to feel safe in your care.

Trust That You Really Care About the Client

There is an old saying that “no one cares how much you know until he knows how much you care.”  Think about your relationship with your physician.  Most people feel much more comfortable with a physician who seems to genuinely care about them, versus the obviously brilliant physician who acts cold and impersonal and with whom they feel like just a number.  So, the key goal for raising the trust that clients and potential clients will feel for you is to treat them as you would a member of your family or a friend with whom you are close.  This includes discarding distracting thoughts (such as, “How will I close the deal?”) when you sit down for a meeting.  Focus on truly helping the client to feel comfortable. As the State Street Global Advisors stated in their article, “…the advisor adds real value by focusing not only on a client’s financial well-being, but on the underlying personal and familial issues that could further promote or cripple the client’s financial health.”

For the prospective client, the key is “What’s in it for me if I hire you.”  Always keep the benefits for the client in the forefront.  It’s all about him, not about how great an advisor you believe you are.  Of course, testimonials from some of your clients will help him feel optimistic about what you will accomplish for him, but that information should always follow gaining a clear understanding of what the client needs.

There are six key elements for building this kind of trust:

1) Establish Rapport

Prospective clients will often enter into the initial meeting with you in a negative mood.  This may be based on previous experiences with other advisors or the timing may be wrong and the client is in the middle of other projects and feels pressured.  Watch for body language and tone of voice. Often you can learn more from those two elements of conversation than from the actual words.  If the client seems uneasy, smile and use humor to put him at ease. If he still seems unhappy, put it right on the table.  “You seem distracted (or uncomfortable).  Is this the best time to meet or would you like to reschedule our meeting?”

If proper rapport is not established at the beginning of the first meeting, the client may never be comfortable with you. Smile, position yourself at the same level (sitting or standing, depending on what the client is doing), and slightly lean toward the client, always maintaining eye contact.  Make sure your cell phone is on silent and you can give undivided attention to the client.

2) Take a Genuine Interest

The key word here is “genuine.” In order to gain the trust in you and faith in your recommendations, a client needs to believe that you are keenly interested in helping him to achieve his financial goals.  This means that you need to display empathy when he talks about concerns within his family situation, for example.  Put yourself in his shoes and try to understand what he is telling you from his perspective.  Use the phrase, “I understand” and mean it.

Practice “Active Listening” Techniques

“Active Listening” is a method of intently focusing on the speaker, rather than focusing on what you are going to say next or how you are going to respond to a question.

The best way to understand your prospective client is to make sure you are listening carefully and the best way to do that is to reflect or paraphrase what you heard her say before you comment on it.  An example is, “It sounds like you don’t trust financial advisors because of your last experience.” Always paraphrase back what the client says beforeyou respond.

Smile, when appropriate, and use “I understand” and “uh huh” frequently, along with nodding.

Once the client agrees that you heard his concern correctly, you can respond.  You can practice using this listening skill with your spouse, colleagues or friends to make sure you are truly focused on what the speaker is saying. By the way, learning this skill will undoubtedly enhance your relationships with everyone else in your life, as well!

Often a speaker will make several points before coming up for air, so keep a notebook handy and jot down some notes, so you don’t have to interrupt her.  Don’t shuffle papers or start thinking about your response.  Just listen to her. Regardless of what she asks, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to answer immediately.  Just listen and reflect.  It’s OK to say, “That’s a great question.  Give me a day or so to research our products to find the one that precisely addresses your question.” Cutting off a speaker may lose you the rapport you need to maintain.  Always give her the courtesy of letting them her complete a point before you interject your response.

3) Be Open With the Client

The client needs to know that discussing personal money issues with you will be not only confidential, but you will handle his family issues with empathy and understanding.

It is also important to encourage feedback from the client and if it’s negative, do not get defensive.  Simply thank him for the feedback and tell him you will learn from it.

The most powerful way of gaining someone’s trust is to be open yourself with the client. “I understand how difficult that must be for your family.  I have had to deal with similar issues within my own family.”

Sharing some of your own family’s financial plan to show that you are following the same advice you are suggesting for the client.  Think about it…when you consider purchasing an expensive product, how much more attractive that product sounds to you if the sales person tells you he owns the same product.

4) Be Flexible

One of the most important traits that will endear clients to you is flexibility.  The last thing you want the client feeling is pressured if he cannot make a decision about a product or a plan.  Accommodating the client’s needs is always paramount.

Do not force the client to accept your ideas, even if you believe he is being foolish or naïve in rejecting them.  Help him see other options and be willing to just go with the flow.  This shows ultimate respect for the client.

5) Carefully Hire and Train Your Staff

Because so much of the client’s contacts will be with your assistant and support staff, the client needs to feel exactly the same trust in them.  Therefore, you must carefully hire people who reflect these same values of trust, confidentiality and empathy.  Research with physicians in the U.S. has shown that by far the number one reason that patients move on to another physician is because of their disappointment in their physician’s staff, not because of the physician.  So, even when patients believe that their doctor has not resolved their medical issues, they usually stay with him if they like and trust the staff.  Conversely, when the physician is wonderful, if the staff is not, they often move on.

Being a financial advisor is an admirable and much needed profession.  Paying attention to the trust issues and communicating that trust in your interactions with the client will put you in a position to be continually successful.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer[linebreak style=”23.png”]

About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years.  Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada.  He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit  DrJackSinger.com and FunSpeaker.com or call him in the U.S. at (949) 497-9880.

 

Mar 07

Communication Skills for Financial Advisors

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Financial Advisors

Article originally published in Advisor Perspectives on February 28, 2012.

Communication Skills for Financial Planners from Dr. Jack SingerTo succeed as an advisor, it’s not good enough to have the right products and the right clients. You need to understand your clients’ underlying goals and constraints and to develop an atmosphere of trust and understanding. In the course of my work with numerous advisors, I have found that the “T.R.I.U.M.P.H.S” model effectively develops those skills.

Here’s the difference that model made for a couple of advisors:

Susan had been doing well in her advising career for many years. She understood how to how follow up on leads and referrals and how to offer excellent service to her clients. Yet she was amazed at how much more successful her colleague, Michael, was. She seemed to put a lot more hours and a lot more sweat into her work than Michael did, but Michael’s accounts and new referrals grew much faster than hers. What was she missing?

The key difference between Michael’s approach and Susan’s was the fact that Michael has trained himself to be an “active listener.” He used the T.R.I.U.M.P.H.S. model not only to help him maximize his client services, but also to communicate effectively with his wife and teenage children.

Here are the components of your sales ”triumphs:”

T – Treat your clients and prospects with respect. Developing rapport with prospective clients is a crucial first step. Smile, position yourself at the same level (sitting or standing, depending on what the client is doing), and slightly lean toward him, maintaining eye contact. Make sure your cell phone is on silent; give undivided attention to the client.

Listen to what the client is saying and don’t shuffle papers or start thinking about your response. Just listen to her. Regardless of what she asks, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to answer immediately. It’s ok to say, “That’s a great question. Give me a day or so to research our products to find the one that precisely addresses your question.”Some clients can be long-winded, nervously asking a lot of questions, especially regarding expensive products but cutting off someone may lose you the rapport you need to develop. Always give the speaker the courtesy of finishing a point before you interject yours. Take notes so you won’t forget what you wanted to say.

RReflect back what your client is telling you before you actually respond. The best way to understand a prospective client is to make sure you are listening carefully. The best way to do that is to reflect or paraphrase what you heard her say before you comment on it. An example is, “What I’m hearing is that you are not certain that this product will serve your needs.”

I – “I statements” are powerful. As you paraphrase and reflect back what the client is saying, you can use “I statements,” which are very effective. For example, “I am getting the feeling that you are uncomfortable with this product and would like some other options.” To start with “You” would be much more instinctively threatening for the buyer. Imagine hearing, “You don’t like this product?”

Realize that understanding what the listener is saying doesn’t mean necessarily agreeing with him. You are simply showing that you are hearing his concerns. For example: “Fred, I hear your concerns because of your last experience with a similar product. Let me get the information you will need to make you feel better about this.”Always acknowledge the speaker and his position before voicing yours.

U – Understand the needs and goals of your client. If you are genuine and sell quality products that will truly satisfy your client’s needs and desires, that person will trust you. That includes not selling him the most expensive product if you believe it is not right for her. Nothing earns trust more than being honest.

M – Monitor the tone and mannerisms of the prospective client. Body language is so important that studies point out that only a small percentage of what is “heard” by a listener are the words of the speaker. Most of what we interpret is tone of voice, facial expressions, inflections, hesitations, etc. Watch for all of these indications of your client’s mood and attitude. You might even wait for a moment to interpret what you sense after a client is done speaking. You might say: “I am feeling as if you believe that I am trying to force you to buy this product, Alice. Is that what’s going on in your head?”

P – Probe gently and with respect. Your job is to try to understand what your prospective client needs and how you can accommodate those needs. The only way to show people that you have exactly the product to satisfy those needs is to ask gentle questions about their goals and hopes, as they relate to your product. An example is, “If you could describe the ideal software to solve your business problems, what would you like it to do for you?”

H – Help your client feel safe in the conversation. For major purchases, such as insurance policies and annuities, clients need to feel safe discussing their specific money issues. Gently probing about personal and family situations that affect their pocketbook requires them being able to trust you. This entails ensuring confidentiality and showing genuine concern for their needs. If you expect them to share their biggest fears and insecurities, you must focus in on what they’re saying, be sensitive, and assure them that you will help them to meet their goals.

S – Summarize. You’d be amazed at how you can demonstrate your listening skills by frequently summarizing what you just heard. This will also help you to focus and remember what the speaker is telling you. If you hit the key points in your summary, the speaker will feel validated and closer to you. If you missed key points that he is trying to convey, he can inform you. Practice this with friends and family. It’s easy to get the hang of it, and it really works!

Click here to print original article as a PDF.

 Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

 

Feb 07

What Financial Advisors Can Learn from Eli Manning

By Dr. Jack Singer | Financial Advisors

How to Conquer the Real Threat to Your Success

I don’t know Eli Manning personally. But I know a thing or two about what it takes to become a champion, as he did by winning the Super Bowl on Sunday night.

In my 33 years of experience as a professional sports psychologist, I have counseled and trained many professional football players and world champion athletes. They all face challenges, adversities and setbacks during their careers, but a particular problem for many athletes is “imposter fear” – a psychological obstacle advisors may find familiar.

Imposter fear occurs when – no matter how much confidence or even swagger an athlete may display to teammates, opponents, coaches, or his fans – self-doubt nags at him, and he worries that he will be exposed as inadequate to the challenges he faces. In Eli’s case, he was always compared to his older brother and prior to his previous Super Bowl victory, pundits wondered if his performance under pressure would compare to Tom Brady’s. Advisors can also experience “imposter fear” – worrying that their success owes to luck and somehow they’ve fooled others into believing they are skilled advisors. It’s only a matter of time before that luck runs out and they are exposed. This fear causes performance anxiety and constant fear of failure.

I have helped many athletes overcome their impostor fear and consistently perform at their best. The same set of skills I teach them can help advisors, too.

For example, I was recently invited to consult with a wealth management firm whose president was concerned about inconsistent performance from a large percentage of his advisors. Moreover, because of the ailing economy and a roller-coaster stock market, his assets under management were declining sharply.

Following a series of confidential interviews with a broad sample of advisors in the firm, it became clear to me that many suffered from anxiety, because of the harsh market conditions and because of the president’s high performance expectations, but also because they harbored their own internal insecurities. I designed a series of training programs to teach the advisors how to recognize and overcome their fears, maintain an optimistic and proactive approach with their clients, use active listening skills, overcome stress and anxiety related to their job and ultimately lead to their clients directing new referrals to them.

But the most important issue I helped these advisors overcome? You guessed it: impostor fear.

Understand your fear, take charge of your fear

What Advisors Can Learn from Eli Manning  How to Conquer the Real Threat to Your Success by Jack Singer, Ph.D. Most advisors project confidence, but if they are honest with themselves, they will acknowledge having insecurities – reluctance to contact clients during market collapses, for example, or fear they won’t be able to answer a client’s question. Such doubts raise their anxiety level when they come to the office and find that the market is tanking. This is imposter fear.

Like most fears, the “imposter fear” is based on false beliefs; in this case that you are really not as competent as you appear. The most effective way to eradicate any fear is to understand the distorted thinking that causes it in the first place.

It’s not the economy or stock market that determines how confident or insecure you feel in your advisory practice. It is your internal dialogue, or your “self talk” about these issues, that determines whether you will thrive or struggle during difficult times.

That little voice in your head is what I call your “internal critic,” and most of the time it fills you with self-doubt.

Let’s take an example of my work with advisors at the firm I mentioned earlier. Matt (not his real name) worked in the firm for seven years. His performance was inconsistent, and his manager put him on notice that he needed to improve – the roller-coaster stock market notwithstanding. Like many people with “imposter fear,” Matt admitted to me that he frequently told himself: “I’m not as good an advisor as everyone says thinks I am. Now my boss has figured that out.” This is a textbook example of self-limiting thoughts, a crucial mental roadblock that many encounter when they experience stress.

Other examples of negative, self-limiting thoughts we often use are those that begin with…“What if…” “I hope I don’t…” ”I should have …” “I always have problems with…” and “I probably won’t be able to…”

I taught Matt to catch himself thinking such negative thoughts. In response, I had him make a fist as a reminder to “STOP thinking this way,” then take a few, deep, calming breaths, release the fist, relax, and proceed to substitute a more positive and optimistic thought. This technique only takes seconds, and it works instantly!

The key here was Matt’s ability to recognize his negative thinking. That recognition let him consciously substitute a more realistic counter-thought, such as:

“The fact that my manager has put me on notice doesn’t mean I am not cut out for this career. I’ve had many successful years in this business. I can use my creative ability to work with my clients in a proactive way, before the market tanks. I will gain their trust and show them how they can make money by making smart purchases in a down market. As a result, they will continue to do business with me, despite the stock market fluctuations, and my numbers will grow and be much more consistent.”

Kristen, an alias for another advisor in the firm, would think negatively whenever she was prospecting for new clients. She might ask herself, “What if the prospective client doesn’t commit to working with me after I discuss his situation with him?”I taught her to change this negative thinking habit with the following:“STOP this foolish thinking right now.” (Make a fist. Take a few relaxing breaths. Release the fist.) “Just relax. I don’t have to have 100% success in order to feel good about my skills. It’s a numbers game. If this one doesn’t pan out, I will have another opportunity. Just keep plugging away, I know I will get more clients.”

Just like Matt, once Kristen practiced this thought-stopping technique, she found herself much less anxious and much more confidant.

It is also helpful to keep a written record or journal detailing your successes and accomplishments during each workday. This is important because so many people, at the end of a long day, obsess about what they did wrong or what they did not accomplish. After games, successful athletes focus on what they did accomplish and build on that, rather than obsess over mistakes or missed opportunities.

Remaining optimistic after setbacks

Every athlete experiences adversity, as does every advisor. You lose clients; you struggle with a tough question. Successful advisors don’t expect to be perfect, but they fully expect to do well, regardless of the economy, the stock market, new fiduciary regulations – whatever stumbling blocks will inevitably lie in their way. They recognize that losing a client is all part of being in the business. They don’t let setbacks overshadow their accomplishments.

Advisors with positive expectations develop positive self-fulfilling prophecies and succeed most of the time. Reflecting on recent successes and achievements is a much better idea than obsessing over failures or setbacks. With practice, thought-stopping can help you convert negative thought processes into this kind of positive thinking.

Two months after I conducted the training program I describe above, I conducted another round of interviews with the advisors. Most were able to get in touch with the thoughts that were driving their imposter doubts and were using thought-stopping and counter-thought techniques to eradicate their fears. Both their morale and their numbers improved dramatically, even though the stock market remained just as volatile as it had been when they struggled.

As accomplished as he is, even Eli Manning surely had flashes of self-doubt as he prepared to take the field on Sunday night, and likely more in moments when the breaks didn’t seem to be going his way. What makes a successful quarterback is the ability to build off successes and forget about mistakes. Eli Manning became a world champion by learning to banish his doubts. What potential can those same skills help you unlock?