Challenging and volatile markets don’t require you to abandon your growth goals and activities they simply call for a different approach.
Financial professionals that do the right things for their clients and teams during times of adversity will find enormous opportunity on the other side.
Market downturns and volatility may be scary, stressful and difficult to stomach (literally) for you, your team and your clients. Fear and uncertainty push us into reactive, survival mode – defend and protect versus expand. Yet, history is a good reminder that this too shall pass. You may not be able to control what happens in the markets but you can control your reaction.
Set yourself up for growth with these key activities during normal markets (and how to adjust during challenging ones)
Invest in growth. Think like a sales organization and consider investing at least 10% of your (and your team’s) time and/or revenue in growth-focused activities and resources.
In challenging markets, actively manage your growth investment.
Identify the areas to save and reprioritize but don’t stop your growth-focused activities. Often, time is your most valuable commodity, especially when markets are challenging, your clients need more of you than normal.
How can you invest extra time with you clients in ways that also support your growth goals?
Have clear short and long-term goals that you communicate and measure. A goal isn't simply an AUM or sales target. You should have those but also need to have a strategy and tactics that will help you reach those targets. Give yourself and your team a clear roadmap, activity and goal expectations daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly that will build towards the right outcomes.
In challenging markets, it's easy to forgo long-term goals and projects, to become reactionary and adopt a survival mentality. Don't, there is often opportunity in chaos. Instead of abandoning the plan, re-evaluate and adjust your priorities appropriately to keep your team engaged on the right activities, and to continue to make progress.
Incorporate growth habits into your business. Good growth habit are very short-term and measurable daily or weekly activities that support your overall strategy. Examples include, a minimum number of meetings or networking activities per day. Or, writing a post or article daily. These activities keep your calendar full, which is crucial because sales is largely a numbers game, the more chances you have (with the right people) the greater your odds of winning new business.
When looking to grow, small wins are so important to create and maintain momentum. As habit expert James Clear explains, "Habits are a dopamine-driven feedback loop. When dopamine rises, so does our motivation to act."
In challenging markets, maintain your growth habits and keep your calendar full but focus more time on supporting your clients and professional partners instead of prospects.
Communicate a mix of what your clients want to hear and what you want them to hear to keep them engaged and to expand your business. Succeeding in sales requires being others focused. You become salesy when you make it all about you -- nobody likes that. The best sales people make it about their clients, prospects and themselves. If you're developing marketing content for email or social media you may schedule your content to be 3:1 or 4:1 about your client then yourself. Or, even better, make it largely about your clients' need until they acknowledge that need. They may acknowledge their need in a conversation, bu clicking on a call to action in an email, on your website or by attending a webinar or event. Make sure you give them a way to acknowledge a need, always offer a next step.
In challenging markets, it's all about your clients. Communication should become focused on their new needs. Adapt what and how you are delivering your communications. More one-on-one communications and accessible content. Think about how you can package (and repackage) what you have to meet your audience where they are (physically and emotionally). Experiment with video, webinars, offer replays, weekly or regular email with everything in one place. You know your audience, do what you can to make it easy for them.
Create and promote relevant content, content that addresses clients’ and prospects’ needs and fears. The best marketers and sales people know their audience, they listen to truly understand their needs and they speak to those things in their conversations and content. Only when the time is right, once your client or prospect has acknowledged their need do they offer them a relevant solution (if they can). This is why having a niche is so helpful. When you have a clearly defined group of people you serve you are able to go deep on their unique needs. You, your content and solutions become much more relevant.
In challenging markets, it's important to tone down or turn off the sales communications. If your clients are afraid or stressed their needs have likely changed. You either have to adjust your communications to address their new needs or put a pause on your normal marketing in order to not come off as insensitive. Let your client and prospects' feedback and questions drive what and how you communicate.
Seek feedback on how you are doing from your clients to build rapport, improve their experience and open yourself to referrals. Receiving honest feedback is invaluable. When you get the chance, ask how it's going. Let them know you valuable their opinion and are looking for ways to improve. Just make sure that you act on what you hear by acknowledging their feedback. If their input leads to a change make sure you circle back and let them know their impact, everyone like to feel like a hero.
In challenging markets, seek feedback on how your clients are doing versus how you are doing, suggests Julie Littlechild, a financial services client feedback and experience expert. It's important to understand how their needs have changed and for them to know you care.
Communicate authentically, in your own way. You know when you're communicating authentically when it feels right, it flows easily and you're proud of what you're putting into the world. You may admire thought leaders or other advisors for their ability to crank out content, speak or show up on social media. What works for them but may not work for you. Seek marketing and sales platforms, and styles that play to your strengths. Are you a great writer, speaker, are very technical, are great at simplifying complex ideas? Do you do best one-on-one, in big groups? There really is no right answer if it works for you and your clients then it works. I'm a largely private person. It doesn't feel natural to put my entire life out there so I've strayed from traditional social media platforms to the world. LinkedIn, which tends to stay in the professional sphere is right for me.
In challenging markets, don't change, keep communicating authentically. Don't let fear push you into doing something that isn't representative of who you are.
Train your team to think and act like salespeople, set clear expectations, provide training, and measure outcomes. Your people are some of your best sales resources, they are often interacting with your clients daily and have a huge impact on their experience. Like you, they should be listening to identify client and prospect needs, bring relevant solutions to the table and be others focused. They should know where to focus their time and energy and what goals they are driving towards short and long-term. They also also likely need clear direction and training on how to engage in a sales capacity. What are your key messages? What are your expectations around experience? What's your sales and onboarding processes? Your team can't read your mind or learn just by watching you, they need support and feedback to evolve in the right ways.
In challenging markets, ramp up leadership and support for your team. They likely need help to understand how they can support clients and the business in a new environment. Start by making sure they are ok, then be clear about new priorities, expectations and messaging so they are empowered to contribute effectively.
Prioritize self-care. Sleep, exercise, eat well, drink plenty of water and make space for fun. To be at the top of your game you need a strong foundation, physical, emotional and mental health are essential to maintaining the energy and mindset needed to endure the ups and downs of the markets and growth.
In challenging markets, double down on self-care. You may feel like there aren't enough hours in the day but it's better to do less well. Prioritize self-care so you can make high-quality decisions, have the energy to show up for your team, clients and family, and to manage the extra stress.
One of the most important things you can do is to commit to your growth strategy, measure and adjust intentionally. Many advisors sporadically try different marketing and sales techniques one-off to see what sticks instead of intentionally building a strategy and plan that makes sense for their business and future goals. It takes practice to become great at most things, marketing and sales are no different. Patience and persistence are key to seeing long-term results. There is no easy button when it comes to selling services, trust is built over time. Often results don't come fast enough but changing direction doesn't help. Have a plan, stick to it and measure short-term results (leading indicators such as website or social engagement, number of meetings, tone of feedback, etc.), consistently do the right things and results will happen.
In challenging markets, embrance your new limitations and innovate. Some of the most impactful new ideas can come out of difficult environments where resources are limited. Don't abandon your plan or stop working towards your goals but you may need to adjust your approach.
As a reminder, challenging and volatile markets don't require you to abandon your growth goals and activities they simply call for a different approach.
Learn more about how I can help you and your business grow at www.shaunamace.com.