The Elements Ironstone Blog

Current news and trending topics for sales and financial industry professionals


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A Born Leader? Would Your Office Elect You?

We have all heard it, “He/she is a born leader!” Do you believe that to be true?

Leaders are not necessarily born as leaders, instead, they encompass the desire and willpower to become an effective leader. Successful leaders develop through education, training, self-study and experience.

With the election behind us, we can wonder what changes will take place under the leadership of our elected officials. Will our leaders serve our country, states and communities keeping promises and the  hopes and dreams of us, “the people” in mind? If you held an election today in your office, would your team choose you as its’ leader? What characteristics and qualities does a leader need in order to be chosen to lead our nation, our community or yet, your firm?

We have identified that leadership is primarily learned. The skills and knowledge a person possess contribute to the development of leadership, while other attributes make a leader unique such as:

  • Beliefs
  • Values
  • Ethics
  • Character

At the most basic level, a leader is someone who leads another. That alone probably isn’t going to be enough to land a leadership victory. A true leader carries vast qualities under one hat. People are naturally drawn to successful leaders because they inspire others, they are likeable and they lead through example. Failure of leaders to live up to employee expectations is the heart of leadership tribulations.

So, How Do You Get Elected To Run Your Office?

We have gathered a list of the most important qualities employees want in a leader.  Here they are:

  • Trust Employees typically rank trust as the #1 trait essential to that of a leader.
  • People skills Employees prefer an environment where they can thrive, share and grow vs. the traditional “command and control” style of leadership.
  • Good communication skills Be honest and open about what is happening in your business.
  • Decisive Provide clarity and direction in decision making and use structured dialog to aide in reaching group decisions.
  • Motivational Strive to bring passion and positive energy to the workplace every single day. Consider the rollercoaster of the nation’s economic status – you still have your business. Provide your employees with a source of positive energy.
  • Inspiring Those that can inspire a group of people to perform at a higher level, produce more effective, efficient and productive teams.
  • Accountable Being accountable means accepting responsibility for outcomes both good and bad.  You don’t blame others.
  • Developers Leaders develop and empower their team in ways that allow their employees to feel successful, most of the time.

Leadership doesn’t happen haphazardly. It takes a lot of self discipline, a vision and a goal to continually develop and enhance your own set of leadership skills and knowledge. Leadership also means you are leading a group, working together to accomplish common objectives and goals. Being a successful leader also means you have a successful, engaged team by your side.

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.

-Peter F. Drucker (1909-2005) Political Economist & Author

Ironstone’s Vision is to forge and guide the personal and professional lives of entrepreneurs and business professionals alike to realize their full potential. Coaching and consulting allows us the opportunity to form an environment where success happens and goals are reached. 

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• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
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Building TRUST through COMMUNICATION

Effective communication with your clients and team requires more than staff meetings and educational seminars.  In a survey conducted by the Spectrem Group*,  the #1 reason clients left their existing advisor was due to lack of trust.  Building trust requires that you develop a relationship with your clients and prospects.   By communicating and demonstrating trust you will-

  • Build Relationships
  • Acquire Clients
  • Strengthen Your Team
  • Achieve Firm Success

In our blog, Knowledge is Power, https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/knowledge-is-power/, we reviewed how effective communication contributes to the success in your firm and how to build an internal communication strategy.  Knowing that external communication is just as important to the success of your firm as internal communication, build your practice by applying these communication skills to instill trust with your clients and prospects-

 Develop a relationship:  Get to know your client or prospect.  Learn as much as you can about them.  Are they working or retired?  If retired, where did they work?  What are their hobbies?  Ask about their family and community organizations they may belong to.  Show a genuine interest in knowing who they are. 

 Practice listening:  Listen, listen and listen.  Listening is a vital component to establishing trust and an effective communication dialogue.  By staying focused on what is being communicated, you show that you are engaged in assisting your clients and prospects.   Don’t start developing opinions and compiling your answer before your client or prospect is finished speaking; rather, focus on everything being said.  By applying this tactic, you will comprehend and retain 75% more of the information you hear.

Express empathy:  Tell your client or prospect that you understand their concerns.  Let them know their success is the #1 most important factor in your relationship. 

 Use Proper Timing:  Don’t rush to sell your products and services before you have earned trust.  Trust forms the foundation for effective communication.  Once you have earned trust, you are then in a position to discuss solutions to meet your clients and prospects needs.

By becoming a trusted advisor, you are now in a position to engage in open, honest and detailed communication.  Communicate details of your firm’s vision, mission and investment process.

  1. Be clear and concise
  2. Explain how your firm differs from your competitors
  3. Review with your clients and prospects exactly what they can expect from your firm
  4. Develop a process to ensure omissions are avoided
  5. Be pro-active by asking and encouraging questions

Remember, any areas of communication that are not understood can present serious challenges to the level of trust that you have worked to build.  Last, but not least, frequent communication with clients is essential to retain a solid trusting relationship.

To be a successful advisor and grow your firm, don’t sell your products  until you have sold your trust.

“Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know.”

~Jim Rohn~

We are curious!!  Do you practice communication techniques at your firm?  Let us know!

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

Coming up next, learn about Strategic Planning and Succession Planning

*The Spectrem Group is a consulting firm specializing in the affluent and retirement markets.

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com

• Call our office at 800-917-8020

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Think Client Workflows Are Corny? Think Again…….

Growing up on an Iowa farm was one of life’s greatest pleasures. One of my fondest memories was the gathering of relatives when it was time to freeze corn.  Nothing tasted better in the harsh cold winters than fresh farm corn; but the preparation of freezing corn consisted of a workflow detailing responsibilities each family member had to complete during the process.

The objective of Ironstone’s Fundamental4™ –Operational Effectiveness and the New Client Workflow, serve as the foundation of your unique process to solve problems, manage interaction, automate tasks and provide consistency for positive and repeatable impact to the client experience.  The same was true when we would gather for our annual corn freezing day.

In our blog, Workflows & How They Enable Execution Of Your Business Strategy,https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/workflows-how-they-enable-execution-of-your-business-strategy/,   we reviewed two primary objectives of a client workflow system; improved efficiency and profitability.  The new client workflow will provide the mechanisms needed for all team members to work together seamlessly providing a high level of client service.

The absence of any workflow model in a firm is a primary culprit for office inefficiency

Each advisory firm will have a unique process that works to the advantage of its clients, team members and the firm. Create a checklist for each of these fundamentals to allow your client workflow to take the repetitive activities and routines out of your brain and let it rise above to focus on more difficult tasks.  Download our guide for Creating Checklists:   How To Create Checklists

Review the foundation and objectives of your new client workflow, ensuring that each component is aligned to achieve goals of your firm;

  • Solve problems:  Problems are easily identified when using a client workflow system.  The system provides you the ability to assess exactly where a client falls in the process, allowing you to identify any problem areas and address them accordingly in a timely and efficient manner.
  • Manage interaction:  Client relationship management is easily managed at any given point and time.  By implementing a new client workflow you are able to identify the progress of each step being taken to ensure superior client service.  The process gives you the opportunity to communicate information and answer questions that may arise from your client.
  • Automate tasks:  Tasks will be automated with a client workflow process allowing each team member to hone in on their specific duties.  By automating tasks, you will increase efficiency and productivity within your firm.  With documented procedures in place, task productivity is available for tracking during the process.
  • Provide consistency for positive and repeatable impact to the client experience:  Each  process within your client workflow system is inter-related. Workflow systems will benefit your firm by enabling you to continually provide excellent client service, concentrate on your areas of strength, build accountability for your practice, enable you to deliver more comprehensive services, assist in managing regulatory and compliance related issues and add value to your firm for re-sale purposes.

Ironstone can assist you in developing a comprehensive new client workflow. We specialize in identifying gaps in your existing plan and will collaborate with you to develop solutions that are parallel in achieving the results you desire.

A workflow system should always be a work in progress. Your practice will evolve and grow; and your firm will encounter regulation, compliance and industry change. Accordingly your workflow process should continue to evolve and be updated.

We are curious!!  Does your firm use client workflows?  Which part of your client workflow reaps the most benefits?  Which part of the workflow needs to be improved?  Let us know!

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

Coming up next, learn about the Human Element and Communication

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020 • Connect with us:


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CAB Please!

With investor skepticism, market volatility and financial planners trying to differentiate themselves from competition, many advisors have plunged forward into creating client advisory boards.

What better way to find out what clients and prospects need from you than by asking your best clients.  Not only will you have the capability to position yourself to provide solutions to the most sought after needs of clients, the likelihood of client retention will increase as well.

It is easy to stray away from developing a client advisory board because of the work involved.   The payoff will out-weigh the work by helping you understand new expectations of the investor:

  • Communication frequency
  • New investment strategies
  • New product development
  • Education requirements
  • Expectations of investment managers

Engaging with a client advisory board will also prepare you and your firm for new changes and expectations that will continue to develop.

 We outlined eight steps to creating your advisory board in our blog, Create A Powerful Asset With An Advisory Board, https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/create-a-powerful-asset-with-an-advisory-board/.  These steps are your starting point in creating a group of mentors to provide advice, objective feedback and ideas to elevate the level of service you provide for your clients.

Populated by the right mix of clients, your client advisory board will help you stay connected, build trust and create a competitive advantage over other firms.

Client advisory boards will also improve internal operations by:

  • Gaining new perspectives and ideas
  • Improve operating procedures; staff meetings, client workflows and team productivity
  • Improving  marketing, business development and long-term plans
  • Increase personal and business networks resulting in possible referrals for your firm
  • Increasing the value of your firm

Ironstone will evaluate your existing CAB plan and strategize with you to gain optimal benefits.  If you haven’t implemented a client advocate program, we will collaborate with you to develop a first-class plan.  We specialize in identifying gaps in your existing plan and will collaborate with you to develop solutions that are parallel in achieving the results your desire.

            The most pathetic person in the world is the one who has sight but has no vision- Helen Keller

 We are curious!!  Does your firm have an advisory board?  How has your CAB enhanced your firm and clients  Let us know!

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

Coming up next, learn about Operational Effectiveness and New Client Workflow

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com

• Call our office at 800-917-8020

• Connect with us:


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Ready To Jump On The Social Media Bandwagon?

As social media has taken a front seat for many advisors, there is still a high percentage  not taking advantage of this prospecting tool.  Many advisors simply don’t have the time, knowledge or staffing to implement a social media platform.  The benefits of having a social media presence will out-weigh the efforts you invest  developing your prospecting strategy.

The fundamental element needed to implement a successful prospecting plan at your firm is to systematically position your practice to attract new clients.  Choose activities that will put you at your best in order to invoke natural enthusiasm with the purpose of cultivating trusting relationships.  Within  your marketing plan, you will need to develop a comprehensive prospecting strategy appealing to new clients.  Begin with the 7 strategies  Ironstone recommends as your foundation.  If you missed our blog, “How to Write a Prospecting Plan for Your Firm,” https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/05/learn-how-to-write-a-prospecting-plan-for-your-firm/you can read it here.

Top financial advisors have one common denominator:

  • A marketing plan and a follow-up strategy

 The biggest difference in this  common denominator is what is within the marketing plan and how committed each firm is to their follow-up strategy.

Adding Social Media to Your Prospecting Platform

Ironstone suggests starting small and simple.  Establish  your social media goal.  Don’t feel you need to take on the world.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Blogging are all easily managed social media channels  you should be using; START TODAY!   By using social media, you will gain:

  • Name recognition
  • Establish credibility
  • Client acquisition and retention
  • Deepen existing relationships

 Follow Ironstone’s simple guidelines to get started with your social media presence.  By following these basic steps, your social media goals will be easier to reach and more rewarding.

Create Basic Profiles on the Social Media Channels You Wish to EngageYou must realize  social media is an active exchange of information.  In order to establish relationships, you must engage in and actively participate in discussions.

Add Your PhotoUse a professional photo.  If you don’t have a professional photo, make the investment to have one taken.

Be YourselfEngage in social interaction.  Relationships are developed when you allow others to get to know you.  Talk about your family, your interests and things that will interest them. Consider scheduling random posts or blogs about health and wellness or other generalized topics that pique interest levels.

Target MarketPick a small niche.  Remember, you don’t need to take on the world.  Find out where your target/niche market hangs out online.  You might find your COI’s on Linked In while retirees are making posts on Face Book.  Connect with your clients in these various social media channels.

Provide ValueBeing the solution to a prospect is the key to landing new business.  Provide information that will genuinely help others.  Review profiles;  find out the interests of your clients and prospects.  Gather relevant content  you can post and distribute on your social media channels that are devoted to your target market.

Provide A Capture FunnelAdd a form that is short and simple to capture information from readers and those who are downloading your content.  Do not simply ask readers to call you;  they are online and that is where they want to stay for now.  An Ironstone best practice tip is to provide a capture form that leads readers to valuable and relevant information; example:  “The Top 5 Ways To …………..”

Manage TimeDefine your own unique publishing schedule and pick a specific time to post and read updates from those in your network.  Make adjustments as needed,  test different times and days.    If you find  you get more interaction on certain days and times, stick with it.  Maintain a continued presence online, but be cautious of overdoing it!

Follow-Up – It is imperative and courteous that you follow up with those who have accessed your information.  Be ready to provide them with additional information that will be useful to them and offer a solution to their needs.

Ironstone can assist you in developing a social media plan for your firm.  Let us know how you are using social media in your firm!

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us:


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Learn How To Write A Prospecting Plan For Your Firm

To accomplish overall marketing goals, many advisor firms need to include a plan for prospecting that includes the strategies and tactics to reach their desired results.  In our blog, “Learn The Fundamentals Needed For Your Marketing Plan”   https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/learn-the-fundamentals-needed-for-your-marketing-plan/    we reviewed critical steps to include in your plan, which are the same for your prospecting plan.

How do successful firms prospect?  Top financial advisors have one common denominator– a financial advisor marketing and follow-up strategy.   A rule of thumb to remember when prospecting is:

40% is preparation, 20% is presentation, and 40% is follow-up

Ironstone suggests implementing the following seven strategies in your Prospecting Plan

1. Provide a Personal Touch – Focus on the value and benefits to your prospects and clients.  Clients want attention and care.  Make use of public seminars to deliver solutions to clients through the benefits you can offer them.  Include hand written notes on mailings to add a personal touch that prospects will notice and appreciate.

2. Communicate Your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) – Differentiate yourself from the competition.  Keep your name in front of prospects to retain and acquire new business.  Your newsletters are an easy way to provide information about your firm or explore the potential of getting published.

3. Choose a Niche Market – Identify the clients you want to serve, you can then find out everything you need to know to dominate that market.

4. Share Your Referrals with Reciprocal Referral Partners – One of the easiest methods for receiving highly qualified referrals is from reciprocal referral partners who serve the same niche market.

5. Maintain Consistent Frequency of Follow Up – It takes about 6 – 15 “touches” for someone to start working with you. Plan a strategy that will allow you this opportunity.   You might include phone calls, mailings, emails, and events as a part of your “touches” strategy and tactics plan.

6. Leverage Your Time – The most successful advisors automate and systematize as much of their financial advisor marketing strategy as possible. Social media and e-prospecting are useful tools to employ.

7. Increase your Retention & Relationship – It is critical that you include relationship building in your plan.  Networking is the best place to start.

Remember:

  • People buy from those they know and trust
  • Prospecting is not easy unless you focus on helping, not selling
  • People who trust you give referrals
  • Referrals take the burden of prospecting off the salesperson

Ironstone will help you implement a successful prospecting plan, identify gaps in your existing plan and collaborate with you developing a solution to achieve the results you are looking for.  We will work with you on creating detailed goals that go deeper than the surface and assist you in planning the strategies and tactics needed to reach your goals.

Contact us for assistance in starting and improving your prospecting plan.

We want to hear from you!    What strategies does your firm use for prospecting?  Share your best ideas here!  We always love hearing from you!

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series:  Operational Effectiveness-Service Matrix