Sales advice for advisors from a beer scientist
By Emily Hutto
I hope you're reading this blog because you thought to yourself, What in the world can a beer scientist contribute to my practice? Read on. You might be surprised.
Photo by Jeff Elkins
Lauren Salazar is a sensory specialist and beer blender at New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins, Colorado. What does that mean exactly? She ensures the quality of the scent, flavor and texture of each and every beer that comes out of the brewery. That's why every bottle of Fat Tire Amber Ale you sip tastes exactly the same as the last one did.
Salazar started at the brewery in 1998. A few years into the job, she became passionate about the chemical analysis of beer, and decided she would go back to school for statistics, chemistry, and of course, brewing. Today she's not only a graduate of the Siebel Institute of Brewing in Chicago, Illinois, but she's also one of their faculty members. New Belgium supported her in every step of the way. She returned from her education to create the sensory evaluation program at the brewery, not to mention a brand new position for herself. She's been working there since.
You're probably still asking yourself what advice Salazar could possibly have for someone in the financial services industry. Quite a bit, actually.
I saw Salazar speak at a sour beer symposium earlier this year, and before she dove into chemical processes, she told her story about creating her own position at New Belgium and completely restructuring the way the company and employees evaluate their products. Here are five pieces of advice she gave us, and my translation of her advice to relate to financial advisors:
Salazar says you need to listen to the beer you're tasting, and it will tell you what it needs to be perfect. I say financial advisors should "listen" to their products, too. Read industry news and studies on what products clients prefer, and you'll be able to perfect your own products.
Another key to listening is really hearing your clients. Problem solve with them so that the products they buy truly meet their needs.
2. Geek out
Salazar went to great lengths to understand the scientific processes that go into beer making. She constantly continues her education, too, by practicing these processes in her lab, as well as working with other similar professionals (yes, other professional beer tasters and scientists do exist) to absorb their expertise. She drinks a lot of beer, too. She calls herself "beery."
I'm not saying you should start calling yourself, "insurance-y," but I do think as a financial advisor you should find your niche, read up on it and collaborate with as many experts in your field as you can. Geek out on your practice, and prove to your clients that you've taken the time to educate yourself about the industry.
3. Have a keepsake
"I've been using the same notebook since 1992," Salazar said at the symposium as she held up a frayed, stained spiral notebook for us all to see. It keeps her thoughts all in one place, she says, and helps her track her personal progress since she started her work. Advisors should do this too, perhaps with a notebook or even a blog that they keep. Maybe there is a framed certification on your wall that you look at to remind you of where you came from. Whatever the keepsake is, having one will remind you why you do what you do.
4. Put in your time
Salazar didn't learn her craft overnight. She studied her field for more than a decade and continues to do so every day. She put in the blood, sweat and tears (which can now be seen on her trusty notebook) to learn her craft. She's had her job for 15 years.
Having endurance in your industry, or current job, is a constant educational experience. Clients respect advisors who have put in their time.
5. Be yourself
Salazar was so successful at New Belgium that they allowed her to stay on staff during her time in brewing school, and they even created a new position for her.
Advisors might not have the option to create new jobs for themselves, but they do have the ability to show their personalities to their peers and clients. Customers want to buy products, especially investment products, from genuine human beings. Being yourself, respectfully of course, will earn you a lot of respect in return.
Still think you can't take advice from a beer scientist about sales?