Motivating Advisors to Sell

October 7, 2014

by Beverly Flaxington

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Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.

Dear Bev,

I am frustrated by one of our advisors. He brought a relatively small amount of business with him (around $25 million) when he joined the first last year and promoted himself as having a number of connections in the community. Since that time, he has not brought in one additional dollar of new assets. How do I motivate him to sell? He doesn’t make a ton of money on the assets he has, so I would hope he is self-motivated, but I’m not seeing it.

Tom N.
Dear Tom,

There are a number of things you can do to motivate him, but keep in mind that ultimately, we are all self-motivated. Incentives work for a reason, but people have to decide they want to make a change before you will see any progress.

That said, there are a few steps you could take. Many times I see that advisors want to grow and contribute, but they don’t have the tools or knowledge. It might be that he needs coaching or mentoring from you, someone on your team or an outside third party. Many advisors are not wired to sell and need some guidance.

You probably want to look at his incentives. He will become self-motivated faster if there is an attractive carrot at the end. I find that often advisors are compensated well for managing existing clients, and any new business is treated as a bonus. If possible, tie his overall compensation to a mixture of client retention, new business development, referrals and other factors. If you can measure where he is now and put quantitative goals in place, you can track progress each month or each quarter. I hear from some advisors that while their firm expects them to grow, no one really inquires about what’s working and what’s not. Make sure to set clear expectations and have ongoing dialogue with him to show you are interested in his activities and want to support him.

Please do remember that most advisors have never been taught how to sell. They usually learn by watching someone else, attend training or coaching or learning from their mistakes! It’s a difficult process for many. Find ways to both support and encourage him while measuring the progress he makes.

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