Don’t Waste Your Training Budget – How To Ensure Financial Advisor Training and Development Success

Pulling the trigger on sales training can be nerve-wracking, especially with the culture of austerity we all face today.  Your butt is on the line for the investment and, for most, training has historically produced only marginal results (assuming you can even measure the results!).  Nevertheless, you need a solution to meet next year’s goals and prove to those you report to that you’re doing all you can to maximize sales capacity and the revenue generation potential of your sales force.  Want some confidence?  Want to implement a training initiative that clearly moves the dial in rapid and lasting fashion and fully justifies the money you are spending?

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There are five key tenets that, if adhered to, will ensure the success of your Financial Advisor training initiative, the sustainability of the improvements that come from it, and in the end, high-fives and fist-bumps from Advisors and Executives alike for the Sales Leader who initiates the training.

THE 5 CRITICAL (and often overlooked) COMPONENTS TO EFFECTIVE SALES TRAINING

Whether you have internal training resources with a depth of wealth management experience to deliver your training or you turn to an outside firm, your training and development endeavor will fall short of its potential if you do not incorporate these five components:

  1. Focus on competencies, not content
    Too often, sales training is focused on content, with the assumption that if your Advisors gain the knowledge, they will be able to effectively apply it.  While such knowledge is certainly required for sales effectiveness, sustainable sales force development is best achieved via a focus on sales competencies aligned with your desired outcomes.  Effective competency development comes from (1) defining the core competencies based on client need and buying behavior (2) an understanding of the relevance of those competencies to your clients (3) a clear understanding as to HOW to employ the competency and (4) ample practice time (repetitions done right!) to ensure the competency becomes habit.
  2. Appropriately align teaching time vs. “application time” 
    I heard a great interview the other morning with Salman Kahn, Founder of the Kahn Academy.  Salman’s approach to education well-aligns with our view on training.  He suggests that schools should “flip” the application of lecturing versus practice time (homework), whereby the lecturing and self-study takes place on your own (textbook, online, YouTube, etc.), leaving class time to practice the application of the knowledge and leverage the expertise of the teacher and other students in the class.      The same should apply for Financial Advisor training.  The content can be delivered using technology, thereby avoiding the loss of critical sales time.  The more impactful learning and development should be delivered both in the live, in-person training “event,” and even more importantly amidst an ongoing, disciplined sales management process (see #3 below).  This way, Advisors practice the application of the content together with their trainer/coach and leverage the insight, ideas, and best practices of those around them.  Time out of market should be minimized, but when needed, focused on the concrete development (i.e. practice) of the skills and competencies that lead to success.
  3. A development “sustainability process” vs. a training event
    Event-based training alone is ineffective; yet so many continue to do it!  If the training is “good,” you may see some short-term impact.  But within 30-90 days, all that is left is one or two good ideas retained by one or two Advisors.The key here is to employ a Sustainability Process that has proven successful in so many of our engagements.  Such a process should deliver clarity of focus and purpose, leverage the engagement of Executive and Sales Leadership, and be repeated over an extended period of time.
  4. Leadership Engagement
    Executive Leaders must be actively engaged throughout the process – from initial Alignment, to communication of the vision and expectations, to participation in the Accountability and Sustainability portion of the initiative.  Without such engagement, the conclusion of your Advisors relative to yet another “initiative” is, ”this too shall pass.”  Sales Leaders play an equally crucial role in coaching relative to competency development – they must be fully engaged to lead the ongoing development process.
  5. Measurement
    Finally, it is important to measure results to validate success or failure.  Specific metrics by which you will measure results should be established on the front end, as well as the methodology you will use to track them.Measurement leads to the “culture of accountability” needed to ensure success.  Without it, you are leaving your results to chance.  With it, you not only have the ability to hold your Training Partner, Sales Leaders, and Advisors accountable for their defined responsibilities and commitments, but you also mitigate your personal risk as the sponsor/driver of the training.  You will now be able to report concretely the results of the initiative, where it went well, where not so well, and the return on investment from your brilliant decision!

For additional insight on this topic, or any other relating to Sales, Sales Leadership, Relationship Management, or the Client Experience, visit our website at www.greeneconsults.com, or contact me directly at rickswygman@greeneconsults.com or 404-324-4600.