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essential selling skills
September 22, 2022

8 Top Skills Financial Services Reps Need Today

essential selling skills

The pandemic changed financial services sales forever. Wholesalers, advisors, and other client-facing professionals must adapt to a hybrid world.

But some things haven’t changed. Winning sales professionals have tactical skills that help them win business. They know how to develop and nurture client relationships, stay up to date on products and the market, add value and differentiate from competitors, and handle objections—to name just a few things.

To truly succeed, however, top performers also possess essential soft skills. Because selling, especially in relationship-driven industries such as financial services, requires making and sustaining connections with people.

I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing several top financial services sales experts for The Adapter’s Advantage podcast series. During our conversations, they shared the most important skills sellers should learn or improve on today. Here are eight of the top skills they say people should have.

Top 8 Skills Sellers Need Today

1. Have Confidence

Kate Holmes, Founder, Innovating Advice

“Confidence is one of the biggest things. Overcoming imposter syndrome. One of the biggest challenges a lot of firms have is people being willing to close the sale or have their first client meeting by themselves. The power of building confidence is incredible.

“I learned this lesson all over again when I took a month off and got my private pilot’s license. There’s a learning curve and a rush that you get the first time you land an airplane. It changed my entire thinking. Once you can do that, you’re like, all right, I can do anything.”

Learn More: Listen to The Adapter’s Advantage podcast episode with Kate Holmes, Building a Business for Life.

2. Embrace Change

Kent Fitzpatrick, Managing Director, Asset Strategy

“If you resist change, you may not be relevant. If you embrace change and you can adapt to change, you can stay relevant.

“Look at the impact that technology has had in every facet of our lives. If someone says, ‘I’m not going to get a smartphone. I’m going to use the flip phone,’ [they’ll] be left behind. Technology, like many things, is constantly changing. It was hard for folks in our office to let go of their iPhone 8 to get the iPhone 12. But I said, ‘There are certain things that you don’t want to miss out on.’”

Learn More: Listen to The Adapter’s Advantage podcast episode with Kent Fitzpatrick, Fostering Client Relationships with Video.

3. Work in Teams

Rhomes Aur, CEO and Investment Advisor, First Horizons

“When you work with a client, to gain their trust, you’ve got to have a team of experts. It’s hard to be a generalist who knows everything about the client’s financial needs. You need the banker, you need the estate planning trust officer, you need the financial advisor. You need everybody working together.

“In the old days, the stockbroker was one person sitting in the corner, doing their thing, and going home at the end of the day with a big paycheck. That’s not the world we live in today.”

Learn More: Listen to The Adapter’s Advantage podcast episode with Rhomes Aur, Serving Our Communities.

4. Connect with People

Cheri Lytle, Managing Director, Head of Chase Wealth Management Advice and Strategy, JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.

“Today, people just take out their phone and literally look at it while you’re talking to them. You might as well have a magazine in your face and flip it because that’s exactly what’s happening. Somehow, we made this okay. But you have to be in the moment.

“As a manager, if I have a one-on-one with someone, I will not look at my screen. I will make eye contact. You would not believe the power of that simple gesture. Put your phone down. Don’t put it on the dinner table, put it in your pocket. Make eye contact. Live in the moment. I wish every human being of all ages could just practice that. If I could teach a class on that, I would.”

Learn More: Listen to The Adapter’s Advantage podcast episode with Cheri Lytle, Coaching Advisor Growth.

5. Listen

Dan Perry, Managing Director of Sales Excellence, The Riverside Company

“Everything I’ve learned and how we practice now is because I listen. I listen to all the best and then aggregate it and try to make it easy to digest. So, listen and educate yourself. I tell my two college-aged daughters, ‘The success you have in life will be based on two things: the books you read and the people you hang out with. So, pick your friends wisely.’”

Learn More: Listen to The Adapter’s Advantage podcast episode with Dan Perry, Revving Up Revenue Growth.

6. Have Work-Life Balance

Mark Caner, Financial Services Leader, W&S Financial Group Distributors

“It’s important to not let work become everything, but to allow other aspects of your life, your family, your community, and your own personal development to receive your time, as well. I used to be a wholesaler and carry the bag, so to speak. What I took away from that was how challenging it can be to balance priorities in travel-intensive roles, whether you’re in the field, in sales management, or some supportive role.

“I use a construct that reminds me how to balance life priorities in a holistic way. I evaluate life in four quadrants. The first quadrant is work. The second quadrant is family, which is being a good spouse if you’re married, being a good parent if you have kids. The third quadrant is community, which is really quite simply what you do for others outside of your family. The fourth quadrant is personal. That is taking care of yourself physically through diet, exercise, and sleep.”

Learn More: Listen to The Adapter’s Advantage podcast episode with Mark Caner, Listening to Lead.

7. Treat People as Individuals

Jeff Duckworth, Investment Executive, John Hancock

“Every single person is different. So, the way you deal with people needs to be unique and different. I think that’s critical to building better relationships, for driving better success.

“John Hancock Investor Management is people focused, family friendly, and team oriented. Every decision I make is based on those three principles, and if it doesn’t match up, then we don’t do it. It’s that simple. So, whether it’s that or whatever principles people live by—some people might call it their true north—whatever it is, don’t waver on that. Don’t deviate from that. Live your life, personal and professional, based on your principles and you’ll be successful.”

Learn More: Listen to The Adapter’s Advantage podcast episode with Jeff Duckworth, Bringing Remote Teams Together.

8. Be Flexible

Brian Shortsleeve, Co-founder, M33 Growth

“I would say the most important skill is flexibility and the ability to change your mind or your course when the facts change. Markets don’t stand still. Markets move fast. Your competitors move fast. Things happen. Our most successful entrepreneurs are able to flex and pivot as they need to.

“If you look back at the preceding year and say, ‘Here are all the things we thought were going to happen in 2021.’ You find none of that stuff happened, but five other things did happen. The real question is how fast can you pivot? How flexible are you? How quickly can you adapt yourself to changing market conditions?”

Learn More: Listen to The Adapter’s Advantage podcast episode with Brian Shortsleeve, Having a Bias for Action.


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