We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” – Anais Nin
We are quite skilled at noticing and assessing traits in others, but when it comes to looking at ourselves, most of us would rather take a “pass”.
Your job as a wholesaler requires you to have a multitude of skills: product knowledge, territory management, ability to listen, influencing others, physical stamina, resilience, self-discipline, confidence, public speaking, trustworthiness, and effective communicator.
The challenge is that we cannot possibly be a “10” in all skills. Honestly assessing your strengths and struggles will help keep you on track for your own best success.
It is interesting that we talk of customizing the experience for our advisors but rarely talk about customizing our own work and life experiences.
Here are seven behavioral insights to start you on your path to becoming a behaviorally smart wholesaler.
1. You have an intellectual honesty about who you are and how you perform on the job.
In his first few years as a wholesaler, Paul exceeded his sales goals and was ranked in the top 5 in the firm. Lately, his numbers had dropped and he had fallen to the bottom quartile of sales goals. In addition to the pressure Paul put on himself for improving his performance, his manager started adding on pressure in every weekly call. “You need to make more appointments, more calls, you are not telling the product story in a compelling manner, you need higher quality advisors”, said his results-focused manager. Instead of being motivated, Paul felt overwhelmed and was actually de-motivated.
Paul decided to take an honest inventory of himself by writing down his strengths and struggles. Then he could take a more behaviorally focused approach to improving his performance.
His strengths? He easily connects with people, has a great deal of empathy, listens intently, is spontaneous with a high level approach, operates instinctively, and enjoys new ideas.
His struggles? He can become easily overwhelmed by wanting to “do it all”, and can become bored with routine and details and has a high need for approval.
Armed with this new awareness, let’s see how Paul fine-tuned his business plan.
2. You design your business plan based on your self-awareness.
The first reality Paul had to recognize is that with his sales down, he was not getting the approval and recognition from management and co-workers as a top producer. This is one of his biggest struggles. Approval is the motivator that keeps him engaged with his goals. Now he had to give approval to himself for accomplishing some of the smaller steps along his path.
While sales numbers are a big part of his goals, he needs to create other measureable goals to keep his motivation high. He found an app, Goal Meter, that could easily track process goals that he could control, such as positive attitude, exercise, and number of new advisor appointments. This seemingly small step gave him a new perspective and the inner confidence to believe results will follow.
Paul’s greatest strength is meeting new people and building solid relationships. He decided to consistently ask for more referrals from his best advisors and had his inside sales rep do the same. In each of his key cities, he was going to increase the base of advisors that he called on and add four more appointments per week.
Paul also knew that calling on new advisors would help break up his routine. He is easily bored and needs to move outside his comfort zone (and need for approval) of calling on the same advisors.
While Paul likes new sales ideas, his creativity comes from improving proven concepts. He decided to enlist the help of his other wholesaler friends who are always generating new ideas to brainstorm with him. In addition, he was letting himself get “stuck” with details (at least he was doing something, he told himself) so now it was time to delegate some of that to his inside sales rep.
Paul easily relates to his clients and feels each has his/her own unique story so the next revision of his business plan calls for a new approach with his advisors.
3. You ask behavioral questions to understand the intrinsic “why” and “how” behind your advisors.
Paul realized that he asked his advisors a lot of questions because he truly enjoys people and has a natural curiosity about them. But he knew there was much more to ask to get at a deeper level, especially with those advisors with whom he did not naturally connect.
He created a list of questions that, depending on the advisor, he would now begin to ask. Paul decided he would record the information into the firm’s CRM so that every person on his team that spoke with this advisor would have access to the same behavioral insights.
- Tell me about when you have successfully collaborated with others?
- What have you done in the past when you have had a difficult conversation?
- How do you gather new information?
- Help me understand the conversations that you enjoy having.
- What is your need for fast action and results?
- How much detail do you need to make decisions?
- What type of research do you prefer to perform before making a decision?
- Explain about a situation when your expectations were not managed?
- What motivates you?
- How would you define success?
- Tell me about how you approached a new opportunity that was presented?
- What are you passionate about?
- In what situations do you feel overwhelmed?
- What will you value from our relationship?
- How will you measure our relationship?
In making this list of questions, Paul realized it was not just about asking better questions but that he also needed to adjust the way he communicated with each advisor.
4. You tailor your communication style to accommodate the style of your advisors.
In reflecting on the advisors in his territory, Paul felt he connected very well with most of them. However, there were certainly different levels of relationships so he decided to change his style based on the information he gathered in Insight #4.
For example, his high goal focused advisors did not need to hear all the stories that Paul thought were interesting and amusing. Paul decided to ask these advisors for their agenda first and be sure to address each point clearly and concisely. No need to elaborate unless the advisor asked him.
Now Paul needed to focus on improving his relationship with his inside sales rep.
5. You know your inside sales rep’s strengths and struggles and engage him/her accordingly.
Paul understood that his inside sales rep, Kelly, had a high desire to take charge and so did Paul. While Kelly was sociable, she got straight to the bottom line with advisors and enjoyed researching and sharing all the product details. Kelly’s motivation was completely monetary and numbers driven.
Given the number of clashes they were having during this stressful time, Paul decided to discuss his updated business plan with Kelly.
They openly discussed their behavioral differences. Each has a high need for control so they decided that Kelly could discover and develop her “own” group of advisors. Paul told Kelly how much he appreciated her attention to the product details and he would match Kelly to the advisors who needed that amount of information.
Paul shared his need for recognition and that he would give himself more credit for the process goals and asked Kelly to contribute in this strategy.
Weekly calls would discuss more behavioral insights and strategies but Paul and Kelly felt this was a good start.
Paul’s conversation with Kelly got him thinking about improving his relationship with his manager.
6. You understand your manager’s strengths and struggles and openly discuss how you can build a stronger relationship.
Paul’s manager, Matt, spent a few days travelling with him to help him improve his performance. Initially Paul felt this was a micro-management technique because he didn’t really trust Matt.
But using his new behavioral business model as a guide, he requested that some of the time spent with Matt be focused on discussing each of their strengths and struggles.
During their discussion, one of the strengths that Matt shared was his ability to stay detached from rejection. He was much more task oriented than Paul so while Matt was sociable, he did not take it personally when sales numbers were down. This strength allowed him to call on even more advisors and keep his motivation high.
Matt helped Paul “reframe” his thoughts and offered valuable techniques that he could use to not let rejection drain his energy.
Paul felt their relationship was on a better track now that each understood the “why” and “how” behind their actions. But Paul felt he needed some additional assistance and decided to hire a coach.
7. You work with a coach who objectively helps you capitalize on your uniqueness to break through your own barriers.
Paul began his search for a coach by determining what was most important to him. He knew that wholesaling was a unique business so he wanted someone who had the actual experience as a wholesaler. He also wanted a coach who worked with a person from the “inside out” (using behavioral profiles) as Paul was confident of “what” to do.
What Paul found with his coach was that the objectivity of the relationship propelled him to his next level of success. His coach worked with him to build a “better Paul” by focusing on his natural strengths and creating an awareness of his struggles.
Take a lesson from any professional sports player. There is very little skill difference when you are ranked in the “Top 10” in the world. What sets you apart is “winning from within”.
Visit the Financial DNA website to learn more about our solutions for financial services and get started on your path to becoming a behaviorally smart advisor.
Peggy Mengel is Vice President, Customer Experience Advisor for DNA Behavior International. DNA Behavior International has been leading the behavior awareness revolution for over ten years by helping financial services firms navigate human differences. The firm helps grow behaviorally smart advisors by matching diverse advisors, clients and solutions. Prior to joining DNA Behavior, Peggy spent her career in the financial services industry as a sales trainer, account manager and a wholesaler who “carried the bag” for eight years.