In the financial services industry, we as advisors hear excuses from prospects and clients on a daily basis. "I'm busy. I didn't get the information in the mail, can you send it again? I received your information, but haven't had time to read it." And why is that? Why do prospect and clients seem to have an endless supply of excuses not to do business with you?
Using excuses to mask fear is not exclusive to your clients. You may have already been creating a number of reasons (or excuses) half way through the year as to why you are not implementing activities or steps to reach your own 2011 goals. "I'm too busy to prospect. My clients are demanding all of my attention. It takes too long to set up seminars" are all common examples of what many advisors say to avoid engaging in and completing activities that they perceive to be difficult, painful or time consuming.
Most advisors at some point in their careers are faced with the reality that they are not satisfied with their level of success. If this sounds familiar, rest assured you are not alone. However, the truth is that you are probably, in part, where you are (if you are not where you want to be with your business) because of excuses—the market is too high, the market is too low, cold calling doesn't work, prospects aren't interested in a second opinion—and whatever the excuses are, you simply must stop making them.
The keys to reaching the next level of success in your business are to admit, acknowledge and understand that there is no time for excuses. Admit that if you do specific activities you get specific results. Acknowledge that you must stop making excuses and start learning better ways to utilize your time doing more effective and efficient activities. And understand that excuses are merely your minds way of defending your inaction to help you avoid responsibilities or tasks that are challenging, stressful or time depleting.
I can't tell you the number of times that my financial advisor clients have said to me during coaching sessions, "I know what I need to do, but I just need to do it." Does that sound familiar to you? If you said yes, you need to address the real question which obviously is"Why aren't you doing it!" In order to stop excuses, you need a strategy for getting out of your own way!
Are you finding that regardless of the best intentions it is still difficult to get to the next level? You want to be more successful, but there is always something that seems to be holding you back from the next level of success.
Oftentimes, advisors seem to get in their own way; the ability to self-sabotage due to fear of failure. Whatever your reason is, it is time to eliminate excuses and move forward.
In order to stop excuses, you need a strategy for getting out of your own way. Use the following strategies to eliminate excuses:
Acknowledge & Understand the Excuse
Eliminating any type of procrastination and avoidant behavior can only begin once you are fully aware that it is really just an excuse. You may try and justify inaction by convincing yourself that what was occupying your time was more important or urgent. But the interesting thing is, when you are truly fearful of taking action, you can always find another activity to take its place.
The secret to acknowledging excuses is to ask yourself this question: "What concerns me most about doing this and why?"
Getting in the habit of asking this question is never easy, but it will help you understand the feelings that are holding you back from taking action.
If you find that the first answer which comes to mind is vague such as, "I just don't want to do it," or "I'm just too busy," you need to continue asking more questions to get through your own smoke screen objection—the initial objection which is covering for the real or core objection—and get to the heart of the negative belief systems that you have. Use questions such as "Is there anything else that is holding me back? Or, why do I feel this way?"
Typically, you may need to clear your own smoke screen objections more than once, but you will eventually reach your core objection once you have that "a-ha" moment.
Test the Excuse
Negative belief systems can fuel the fire of excuses. One example would be if you recently had low attendance to your previous seminars. You may begin to create a negative belief system that seminars don't work anymore. Now, if you walk around the office and announce this new negative belief system to colleagues, eventually you will find someone who will reinforce this belief with their own negative experiences. And, before you know it, you stop doing seminars all together because of your excuse—or fear—that seminars don't work.
The interesting thing is that negative belief systems are merely learned; and, can be substituted by a new positive belief system. To do this you must first question the validity of the negative belief system, (or excuse) by asking yourself questions such as these: "What is the evidence that this is always true? Have I ever had success with this before? Has anyone that I know ever had success at this before? What would I need to do to have that level of success?"
By asking these types of questions, you are forcing yourself to come up with positive counter statements to back up a positive belief system.
Use Education to Go Beyond the Excuse
The best way to go beyond using excuses is to become a student of building a better business by educating yourself and understanding everything you can about how to be effective at each of the following facets of your business: time management, prospecting, selling, relationship building, marketing, client servicing, product/market knowledge and portfolio management.
Take Action to Eliminate the Excuse
Remember, the secret to taking action is to do it immediately! Once you are armed with new knowledge about how to be effective with any facet of your business, go out and take action. The time for thinking about taking action is done!
Your new action will create new reference points. If you are not getting the results you want, simply refine the process until it works better and soon you will eliminate doubt in your own abilities.
Go Beyond Excuses
Continue this process every time you find yourself coming up with excuses. Know that it is fear-based, test the excuse with great questions, learn a better way to do the activity and take action!
Daniel C. Finley is the president of Advisor Solutions Inc., a business development consulting and coaching service for financial advisers. You may contact Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 715-262-2040.