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sales best practices
October 6, 2022

Replicating A-Players: How to Capture and Share Best Practices from Top Performers

sales best practices

This article originally appeared in Finseca Focus Magazine.

It’s no secret that the financial security profession is aging. We’ve been talking about the graying of the industry for years as our struggle to attract new blood into the profession continues. Now, with the onset of the Great Resignation, we may be reaching a critical point.

The Pew Research Center reports that nearly 30 million baby boomers retired in the third quarter of 2020.[1] Since about one-fifth of financial security professionals are 65 or older, according to J.D. Power, I think we can safely assume that a fair number of them are active participants in the Great Resignation.[2] In fact, Cerulli Associates estimates that more than 100,000 financial security professionals will retire over the next 10 years; that’s more than one-third of the workforce.[3]

When these financial professionals retire, they’ll take 20, 30, even 40 or more years of experience with them, including customer insights and product knowledge that are critical to revenue generation and growth. And these figures don’t take into account younger, top-performing financial security professionals who leave the profession every year for a variety of reasons. We must take steps now to preserve the knowledge that is walking out the door.

Enabling A-Players

There was a time when you could bring new financial security professionals on board, assign them to a mentor or joint-work partner, and hope they’d excel by learning from an experienced colleague. This tried-and-true technique is still an exceptional development tool; the problem is, it doesn’t scale. When Bob is mentored by Jane, Bob learns from Jane. If Bob is ambitious, he’ll seek out a few others in the office and pick their brains as well. It’s a haphazard process with no guarantee that Bob is learning and applying the leading practices that set A-Players apart from the rest. And how many team members can Jane mentor in a month?

I can almost guarantee that there are hidden pockets of deep expertise across your enterprise that are only being shared at the local level, and perhaps not even there. To preserve this knowledge and share it across the enterprise, companies must find a way to replicate A-players at scale.

Challenges of Knowledge Sharing

Knowledge sharing between veteran and new financial security professionals is even more challenging now that many firms are working in a hybrid situation. Some offices are fully remote, some fully in person, and some pursuing flexible options that allow team members to choose their preferred situation. This has complicated the already-difficult process of transferring product knowledge, customer insight, and market intelligence to the next generation.

Today’s mobile devices (smartphones, laptops, and tablets) and video technology offer a way around these hazards. The flexibility and convenience of mobile can help financial security professionals enhance current relationships, find new opportunities, cross-sell more effectively, and uncover new clients. Using mobile also allows high-value talent to find critical and relevant information quickly rather than spending time “off-line” in meetings, sorting through their inboxes in search of nuggets. Yet few firms harness the speed and ubiquity of mobile to advance their training initiatives—or to capture the wisdom of their highest performers.

There are many effective ways to share information. One of them is through formal training—national sales meetings, regional meetings, courses, and certifications. But there is real value in informal channels. Have you ever noticed how people at sales meetings congregate around their successful colleagues to soak up the stories or learn about the process they employ? Consider how you can replicate these peer-to-peer conversations and informal swapping of success stories. Here are four steps to capture, preserve, and share the best practices of your top performers.

4 Steps for Knowledge Sharing

1. Collect Success Stories

On a weekly (or monthly) basis, ask team members to report their biggest success, including their strategies for building relationships and determining the best solutions for their clients. Choose a few to share each day to provide a steady stream of wins.

2. Record the Best Stories

Record a two-minute video of each of the most important, memorable, or relevant success stories. Ask team members to talk about how the sale evolved, from how they determined the best solution, presented the proposal to the client, and overcame objections to following up after the sale to ensure client satisfaction.

3. Distribute Broadly

Send these videos throughout the enterprise on a regular cadence to inform and inspire others.

4. Create a Library

Add these videos to an internal online library that is searchable and accessible from a mobile device. Tag each video with the product name, client name, or other approach so that team members can locate the relevant success story and video at their moment of need.

Creating Connections

One of the things I like best about using video in a learning platform is the opportunity to create connections. Many training programs still focus heavily on product and sales training. These are essential skills, to be sure, and no learning platform would be complete without them. In an environment that is increasingly moving toward specialization, on-demand product information is especially important. But this kind of training doesn’t capture the nuances of relationship-building, problem-solving, and follow-through that today’s A-player requires and that happen best through peer-to-peer learning and knowledge sharing.

At its best, video-based learning is essentially storytelling, connecting people in a more meaningful way than other, less interactive modes of learning (think “death by PowerPoint”). It is one of the most powerful tools leaders have to influence, teach, and inspire their teams. How can you use it to strengthen your team’s connections to the enterprise, reinforce your core values, and help new team members better understand the importance of the protection and financial security you provide to your clients every day?

Footnotes:

1. Fry, Richard, “The pace of Boomer retirements has accelerated in the past year,” Pew Research Center, Nov. 9, 2020.
2. “Technology, Social Media Critical to Bridging Financial Advisor Age Gap, J.D. Power Finds,” J.D. Power, July 9, 2019.
3. “A More Diverse Advisorforce Can Help Counteract Looming Talent Shortage,” Cerulli Associates, Feb. 4, 2020.

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