Storytelling


Selling a business is an emotional decision that takes a great deal of preparation. For Greg Seal of Seal Financial Services, closing the door on being a business owner was only the beginning. Greg recently celebrated his one-year anniversary since selling his firm in February of 2015. In the last 12 months, he has learned a thing or two. His decision to sell the 31-year old firm was an emotional one that involved giving up his authoritative position as president of the company. For Greg, transitioning from owning and operating a successful firm for more than 30 years to becoming an employee required a great deal of time to comprehend. His first reality check came when he was asked to write a personal performance review. “This was the first review I ever had to compose,” stated Greg. “All of a sudden, your employees no longer look at you as the decision maker, which can be challenging when you are used to having the final say.” In addition, Greg realized the importance of smart negotiating during the sales process. Sellers should have an idea of what they expect to achieve and what is most important to them prior to selling their business. Part of the negotiating process involves having flexibility and the ability to collaborate and park your ego at the door. Identifying Your Market After making the decision to sell his firm, Greg was faced with another challenge. He had to determine whether he was going to internally sell the firm or seek a buyer from outside the practice. In order to maximize the value of his company, he had to line up his business for sale, which meant assessing and organizing financials. This included completing a U4 (a government document that informs clients of advisor backgrounds, work history and any legal actions or lawsuit against them (fortunately there were none), ensuring discretion on assets (advisors have sole rights to make changes on their clients’ behalf), and consolidating investments into manageable groups. Greg started out with 400 mutual funds and 50 ETFs, all of which needed to be condensed into models and manageable assets. When Greg decided to put Seal Financial Services up for sale in 2013, revenue for the business was over $1 million. To prepare the company for the purchase, Greg and his business partner, Janet McCoy connected with FP Transitions, a firm that specializes in helping financial advisors sell their business. Although the company was helpful in evaluating the firm over several years, Greg and Janet instead chose David Grow JR at Succession Resource Group (SRG), as the firm had a more concrete understanding of the compensation...

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To influence change is the edict of any financial advisor … or at least it should be. As advisors, our objective is to guide clients and create value for them. In other words, we want to sell to them. However, when it comes to selling, we often fall into the habit of trying to instruct our client on what to do. Now is the time to think about that approach — how often have you changed what you were doing simply because someone else TOLD you what to do instead? In the World Presidents Organization (WPO), Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), there is a language protocol called Gestalt. This protocol provides a framework wherein members discuss their experiences rather than give advice to one another. Essentially, members share stories based on their own account of something. These stories help make the topics more relatable to others and opens up communication for all members which aids in allowing change to occur. In a previous article, From High to Goodbye: Are You and Your Clients’ Finances in Line?, I reviewed the power of storytelling through the eyes of Chanel Reynolds. She was happily married until her husband, who was out for a bike ride in July of 2009, was killed after being struck by a vehicle. The event sent her into a state of panic and prompted her to organize her financial situation. Chanel’s story — including the actions she took and the tools that helped her – is featured on her site, http://getyourshittogether.org/. The most valuable aspect of her site; however, is not the insight into financial planning she shares, but rather the STORY she provides about how she got to her end result (finding financial stability and managing a successful website). We all can think of similar stories, either our own or from someone we know, that link us to Chanel’s story—a once-removed subject that evokes emotion and personal interest. Success in Storytelling Storytelling is a terrific art form, but what does it have to do with your financial advising business? The takeaway is simple: stories sell. In the book Influencer: The Power to Change Anything, authors Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler describe how changing behavior is really about creating a vicarious experience. As advisors, we do not necessarily have the time to take clients or prospects through an experience. However, telling a story like Chanel Reynolds has done enables us to provide our customers with a tangible concept they can make their own. Storytelling does not come naturally for everyone though. If you’re unsure how to lead your clients on an experience through the use of words and feelings, don’t fret....

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Financial advisors are in a commoditized business.  Investment products and insurance can be purchased just about anywhere.  That is why financial planners need to become the Xerox machine in their towns. I was asked to elaborate and continue the series “ARE YOU THE XEROX MACHINE IN YOUR TOWN?” Because I have been thinking about my own “WHY,” the idea and words came quickly. In “ARE YOU THE XEROX MACHINE IN YOUR TOWN?” we discussed that the brand a financial advisor creates needs one of the four qualities: simpler, faster, cheaper, better. But how do you get a prospect to recognize these attributes and buy? In “DON’T TELL TO SELL: SHARE A STORY,” I discussed the power of sharing a story.  This is a powerful tool in enabling others to feel your conviction.  But it is not all. As a sales trainer to financial advisors, I ask my clients to take a step further. You need to share with individuals your WHY.  Your WHY is the passion that creates the conviction for you to work hard, long hours toward an end goal. Your WHY makes your services tangible and rational. 22 Years to Why Chester Carlson needed to have his WHY. Carlson was the inventor of the Xerox machine and patented the idea in 1937.  But it was not until 22 years later that his invention became an overnight success. As a patent clerk for AT&T Bell Labs in New York City, he constantly had to make copies of patent descriptions and sketches. His WHY was a purpose: devise a way to make copies. Investors were skeptical; companies thought they did not need to make copies.  Even Carlson believed that someone had to make at least a hundred copies a day for the machine to be commercially viable. It took 22 years from patent to the launch of the “914” — the fist Xerox machine — but by that time, the first users were making more than 2,000 copies a day. What’s the key here? Carlson persevered because he wanted to accomplish his WHY a reality and reduce the time he spent making copies in AT&T’s patent office. This uncompromising passion is what led Xerox to become a great company. This is the same WHY financial planners need to bring to your business relationships.  Otherwise you face the wrath of commoditization. How Do You Find Your Why? So how to you determine your WHY? Start by asking yourself three questions: What is your Purpose (the outcome or end you wish to attain)? What is the Cause that you are passionate about (the reason you act)? What is the Belief that...

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Sales Secrets To affect change is the edict of any financial advisor … or at least it should be.  We want to guide clients and create value for them. We want to sell to them. However, when it comes to selling, we often get in the habit of trying to tell the person what to do.  Now let’s think about that approach. How often did you change what you were doing because someone else TOLD you what to do? In the “O” organizations—World Presidents Organization (WPO), Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and Entrepreneurs Organization (EO)—there is a language protocol called Gestalt. The protocol provides a framework wherein members share their experiences rather than give advice. Essentially, members share stories based on their own account of something. The stories help make the topic more relatable to other members, allowing others to conjure up stories similar to the sharer. This process of making the story personal is much more powerful in affecting change than being told what to do. In a recent AUM in a Box blog, From High to Goodbye: Are Your and Your Clients’ Finances in Line?, I reviewed the power of storytelling through the eyes of Chanel Reynolds. She was happily married until her husband, who was out for a bike ride in July of 2009, was killed by a collision with an automobile.  The event threw her into a state of panic and prompted her to get her financial house in order. Chanel’s story, the actions she took and the tools that helped her are on her site, http://getyourshittogether.org/. However, the most valuable aspect of her site is not the insight into financial planning she shares, but rather it is the STORY she provides about how she got to her end result (financial order and a successful website). We all can think of similar stories, either of our own or of someone we know, that connect us to Chanel’s story—a once-removed subject becomes of personal interest. Success in Storytelling But what does this have to do with your financial advising business? The takeaway is simple: stories sell. In the book Influencer: The Power to Change Anything, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler, we begin to understand how changing behavior is about creating a vicarious experience. As advisors, we do not necessarily have the time to take clients or prospects through an experience. However, telling a story like Chanel Reynolds has done enables us to provide clients/prospects with something tangible that they can make their own. Storytelling is not natural for everyone though. After all, you opted for a financial advising career instead of...

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