Straightforward and accessible, Beverly D. Flaxington’s new book, The Pocket Guide to Sales for Financial Advisors is a concise exploration of how to improve sales and increase referrals.
In her 30 years in the investment business, Flaxington has operated a $2.5 billion advisory firm, where she developed sales and marketing programs.
Interestingly, she is also a certified hypnotherapist, and is a coach in behavioral change. She exhorts readers to “Sell on!’’ and her writing has the persuasive energy of a gifted salesperson. Flaxington admits that her program requires hard work and commitment, but also, she promises that it works.
In her Foreword, she raises a basic dilemma: “As a financial advisor, does it feel uncomfortable to think of yourself as a salesperson? If so, you are not alone. Most CFPs, CFAs, and financial advisors feel this way.
“However, if you want to effectively grow your business and help more people, sharing who you are and how you can help is critical. That skill is called selling.’’
Her book is divided into two sections: “Improving Your Practice From a Sales Perspective,’’ and “You as Sales Guru.’’
Within each of these sections, Flaxington asks a question -- for example, “What’s not working and why isn’t effective selling as easy as it could be?’’ and then presents a program for resolving the question. Not all readers will have problems in each area that Flaxington addresses, but they can pick and choose where help is needed.
The Sales Effective Model was developed by her advisory firm, and is “a method used to help uncover any weaknesses that might be hindering sales. Eight factors are the basic keys to sales success.’’
The factors are markets and offerings, sales strategy, sales talent, sales skills, sales support, sales compensation, technology and communication.
Filled with common sense, her pointers also make critical connections that come from experience: “Marketing communications must align with your sales process. Most firms waste time and money on materials that are never used, or are used ineffectively.’’ That observation is followed by a six-page list of penetrating questions that should help an advisor define what needs improvement: questions range from “Do you have a way to use the information that is gathered during the sales process in the client service process?’’ to “Are you clear about the steps from first contact to close for most prospects?’’
Flaxington is an advocate of “branding’’ a firm or practice, but it must be done with precision. An oft-used statement such as “We have longevity and tenure’’ is imprecise, she says, because “Over 40% of financial advisors (are) over 55 years old!’’
So, in order to create a “brand’’ that stands out and defines a firm accurately, Flaxington recommends creating “a list of what you do well and differently -- get team members involved in this process,’’ and “See your firm through their (clients’) eyes and force your team to choose the three themes or differentiators that your competitors are not using.’’
Throughout the book, Flaxington cites case histories to support her advice. In one “case story,’’ an advisory firm branded itself as “The Accessible Retirement Experts’’ to promote its “depth of knowledge, willingness to customize and legal expertise.’’