Step Four: How Do You Do What You Do?

In my last column [November 2002], we discussed the third step on the Value Ladder, "Why Do You Do What You Do." The article outlined how to build the foundation for the compelling story of your business and included the art of articulating your business beliefs. This month, we'll talk about step four, " How do you do what you do?" and help you develop and articulate your Unique Process.

Your Unique Process

Now that we've answered the first three Value Ladder questions, "Who are you?" "What do you do?" and "Why do you do what you do?" it's time to put what you've learned so far into practice. But, first, let's create a scenario: You're in a meeting with a prospect, you've just answered questions from the first three steps, and your prospect says, "Everything sounds great. Where do we go from here?" Or it might go something like this, "I was speaking to a competitor of yours last week, and he said he had a methodology for managing our overall wealth. What's yours?

These are the types of questions that come up when you're on the fourth rung of the Value Ladder, and you'll need world-class answers for them. So, let's get started.

Your unique process is a key element of your differentiation. Both you and your prospects have a process: Your prospects use one to make a buying decision; you use one to develop new business relationships and to retain and grow your asset base. When you make a personal buying decision, i.e., a new house, car or a family vacation, you have a particular thought process to help you make those decisions.

We all have a pattern to our thinking and responding. Sometimes we are impulsive, but most times, we stop and think of the ramifications of our actions before we spend or invest. Prospective clients use the same process. They usually will ask Value Ladder-type questions, just as we do.

Simply put, a process is a system of operations or creating something, a series of actions, changes or functions that achieve an end or result. You differentiate your client-relationship process and your business-retention and growth processes by how well you and your team make them come alive. The business idea that "it's not what you do, but how you do it" holds especially true here.

Michael Gerber says it best in his book, The E Myth Re-Visited, that systems are the key. He discusses taking everything you do and developing a system, or process, around it.

Most successful advisors already have a process; however, I know many high-level advisors who do not. They just wing their presentations and their process.

It is important to illustrate your process to clients and prospects-not just describe it-and go through each step to bring it to life. Graphically, walk a prospect through your process. Go to your flip chart and start drawing, using your creativity and your imagination. Illustrating your process through visuals and storytelling helps solidify its value. Your process should show a prospect how your unique value proposition (UVP, step 2, September 2002 issue) and business beliefs (step 3, November issue) are put into practice. The better you can illustrate a path forward, the more you reduce a prospect's sense of risk and vulnerability, two emotions that stand in the way of building trust. Simply said, your process can reduce uncertainty and vulnerability-two emotions that investors have in spades now-that can prevent a prospect from forging a relationship.

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