Why you need a coach
By Katherine Vessenes
As many of my readers know, last year I started taking my own advice, became my own number-one client, and opened up a financial planning practice in the Twin Cities. Future articles will review some of the many things I have learned during the roughest market in my career. This one will focus on the thing that helped the most: hiring a coach.
Some of you are probably wondering why I, who have trained thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of advisors, would need to hire a coach. After all, this is what I do for a living. I coach other advisors. The answer is simple: You can always get better at what you do.
Case in point: I recently attended a one-day seminar given by Patrick Kelly, an expert in tax-free income during retirement. It was probably the best training day I've had in 20 years. In fact, I was so impressed, I sent him a handwritten thank you note (surprised?) to tell him how powerful it was, and called him up to thank him. He had never heard of me (which just goes to show, you can never believe your own PR). However, he was very kind and offered to coach me in person. I said yes, and hopped on the next plane to Seattle.
Patrick and I spent an entire day reviewing a 20-minute first meeting with clients that focuses on the importance of providing dependable tax-free income in retirement. Yes, an entire day to master 20 minutes.
The day felt like I was a contestant on one of my favorite TV shows: Dancing with the Stars. On that show, a semi-famous person (for example, George Hamilton, a former Olympic medalist, or a member of the Pussy Cat Dolls) is paired up with a professional ballroom dancer. It is painful to watch the stars work for weeks just to do a 60-second routine. That was me. Put your foot there, tuck in your bum; shoulders up, eyes ahead.
Here is what I learned by spending an entire day with the master, and learning to dance with the stars:
1. When you think you have it all figured out, you need to go back to school. Yes, I teach about how to do an opening meeting with a client. In fact, thousands of advisors are using my techniques to help them close a lot more business. However, I learned there were many areas in which I could improve. Every little nuance of improvement means weeding out unsuitable prospects earlier and saving time. It also means closing more business. It all adds to improving your bottom line.
2. Being coached is not for sissies. If you have trouble with your self-esteem, don't even bother working with a coach. They are not there to tell you what you are doing right. In order to be help you, they need to tell you what you are doing wrong. If you can't take feedback, don't bother to apply.
3. This is all in the nuances, just the way dancing is in the details. It's not enough to put your foot on the floor; it must be pointed a certain way, your weight must be on the other foot, the toe and not the heel must touch. It quickly became apparent to me that I could watch Patrick's tapes over and over (which I did) and still miss the details, the nuances. This is where you need help, because it is almost impossible to pick these up yourself. Yet it is mastering the nuances that make us great.
4. We are blind to certain parts of ourselves. This is important because certain communication traits or personalities are not going to gel with all clients. The two big things I learned about myself: I move way too fast for most clients, and I try to give them too much information. The attorney/teacher in me wants them to know everything! In fact, this can confuse clients, making it hard for them to make a decision. The reason they hire us is because even though we may not know everything, we have sifted through a lot of information to come up with a good recommendation for the client. They don't need to know about everything we have eliminated and why we eliminated it. This explains why I lost a big case recently: The client said I gave him too much information! He just wanted the high spots.
5. This time was well worth the investment. Some people don't want to spend the money or the time to hire a coach. I say, you can't afford not to! If this will help you close more business and make more money, isn't it worth it? Of course it is.