This week on The Elite Advisor Blueprint, Ian Altman is here to talk about how to get to the truth as quickly as possible, so you can find the right opportunities and avoid wasting time on clients that aren’t an ideal fit.
Ian is a multi-bestselling author, strategic advisor, and a highly-rated international speaker on integrity-based sales. Clients come to Ian to engage audiences, flip traditional sales on its head, and become outrageously successful at targeting and winning business.
A successful services and technology CEO for two decades, Ian draws on years of success and research on how customers make decisions. He shares how his clients have more than doubled their businesses following the same methods that he used to build his former company from zero to more than $1 billion in value.
Here’s a quick overview of what we cover in this conversation:
- We begin with why the entire sales process begins before you even interact with a prospect by understanding your clients needs and solving their biggest problems, rather than what often happens in our industry – focusing on you the advisor and what it is you do.
- Then we cover, why the sales process doesn’t have to feel like a “pitch fest” and simple tactics that you can immediately apply in order to get away from back and forth sales conversations and instead focus on getting on the “same side of the table” as your prospects.
- Later on, Ian shares a simple question – “Why would your prospects pick you?” A simple question he then unpacks that can help you define bigger and better growth opportunities for your company.
- Towards the end, I ask Ian how he picked his own financial advisor. This leads to one of my favorite discussions I’ve had on my podcast as Ian unpacks everything that led to his decision. He goes deep into the psychology of high net worth prospects, the type of activities and events that attracted him to his advisor, how his advisor built trust with his team so that Ian is comfortable working with them. He also mentions a very cool idea that I think many of you can use on how his advisor created what I’ll call a “community conference room” complete with drink services for their clients that’s led to even more business and referrals. Make sure you don’t miss this part of the conversation as I’m guessing many of you will run with this!
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- Listen to it on iTunes.
- [05:20] How he created a powerhouse executive team, over delivered, got acquired by a major company, and then managed the growth of that company from 100 million to 2 billion within 3.5 years.
- [09:10]How to scale your business as a financial advisor by focusing on your clients needs, rather than on what you do.
- [13:30] Ian’s “same side” approach to selling that will enable you to quickly establish trust and determine if you’re the right fit for your prospects.
- [17:20] The most common mistakes financial advisors make when trying to acquire new business, why same doesn’t sell, and how to make the best first impression so you can close the deal.
- [19:49] How to uncover and speak to the real problems that prospects are facing, peak their interest, land more appointments and get high quality referrals!
- [25:18] How to increase client retention by defining and delivering meaningful results.
- [26:08] Key questions financial advisors can ask clients in order to get to the truth and uncover what’s really important.
- [32:95] Learn the Side Quadrant framework for taking notes and how you can use it to fire low quality leads, narrow your focus and expand your opportunities as company.
- [43:02] Ian outlines his decision process for selecting Barry Glassman to be his financial advisor and the 2 biggest factors that clients consider when deciding whether or not to stay with you.
- [50:46] The importance of empowering your team and cultivating an entire organization that your clients know, like and trust.
- [55:01] How to create high-end events for existing clients and why they don’t need to have anything to do with financial advising.
- [01:07:21] How to avoid the mad scramble to find talent and why it’s critical to hire A players if you want to become the best, continuously grow, and take your business to the next level.
- [01:13:37] Find out why Will Smith is one of the first people that pops into Ian head when he hears the word “successful.”
- [01:15:07] Ian’s favorite and most gifted books.
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
- Connect with Ian Altman
- Same Side Selling
- Grow My Revenue Business Cast
- Inc Magazine
- Forbes Magazine
- Giftology by John Ruhlin
- Purple Cow by Seth Godin
- To Sell Is Human by Daniel Pink
- Sell More & Work Less by Andrew Blume
- They Ask, You Answer Marcus Sheridan
- Networking is Not Working by Derek Coburn
- Glengarry Glen Ross
PEOPLE MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE
- John Ruhlin – Founder of Ruhlin Group (also check out John Ruhlin on the podcast)
- Jack Quarles – Author of Expensive Sentences
- Barry Glassman – Founder & President of Glassman Wealth Services® (also check out Barry Glassman on the podcast)
- Scott McKain – Business Thinker, Best Selling Author and International Speaker (also check out Scott McKain on the podcast)
- Derek Coburn – Author of Networking is Not Working (also check out Derek Coburn on the podcast)
- David Bach – Author of The Automatic Millionaire (also check out David Bach on the podcast)
- Ron Carson – Founder and CEO of Carson Group Holdings (also check out Ron Carson on the podcast)
- Will Smith – Hollywood Actor
[00:02:07] Brad: In this episode I talked with Ian Altman who is a best-selling author, strategic advisor and highly-rated international speaker on integrity-based sales. Ian’s expertise stems from his background as a successful services and technology CEO for two decades. He teaches the same methods that he used to build his former company from zero to a more than $1 billion valuation. In this conversation, I loved how Ian dispels the notion that selling has to be done from two completely different sides, that of the sales person versus that of the prospect. Instead as the title of this book states, “Same Side Selling”. He shares how to work from the same side of the table as the prospective client and co-create a plan together.
Here’s a quick overview of what we cover in this conversation. We begin with why the entire sales process begins before you even interact with the prospect by understanding your client’s needs and solving their biggest problems rather than what often happens in our industry focusing on you, the advisor, and what it is you do. Then we cover why the sales process doesn’t have to feel like a pitch fest and simple tactics that you can immediately apply in order to get away from the back and forth sales conversations and instead focus on getting on the same side of the table as your prospects. Later on, Ian shares a simple question. Why would your prospects pick up? It’s a question he then impacts that can help you to find bigger and better growth opportunities for your company. Towards the end, I ask Ian how he pick his own financial advisor. This leads to one of my favorite discussions I’ve ever had on this podcast as Ian unpacks everything that lead to his decision. He goes deep into the psychology of high-net worth prospects, the type of activities and events that attracted him to his advisor, how his advisor built trust with his team so that Ian is comfortable working with them and he also mentions a very cool idea that I think many of you can use on how his advisor created what they’ll call a “community conference room” complete with drink services for their very own clients that they can use that led to even more business and referrals. Make sure you don’t miss this part of the conversation as I’m guessing many of you will run with this idea. Okay, on to the conversation, one last thing though, Ian made a free gift available to all of you Blueprint listeners. It’s a short video that laced out his Same Side Pitch. It shares the exact framework, you need to replicate it so go check it out. These tools available at bradleyjohnson.com/20 wherein most Mobile Podcast players by swiping to the show notes and clicking our link at the top. As always, you can find links to books’ mentioned, people discussed, a full transcript of the show, everything else there as well. Thanks for listening and without further delay, my conversation with Ian Altman.
[00:04:48] Brad Johnson: Welcome everyone to this episode of The Elite advisor Blueprint I have special guest, Ian Altman, here with us today. Welcome to the show, Ian.
[00:04:54] Ian Altman: Man, thanks for having me here, Brad.
[00:04:57] Brad: Well you come highly recommended through my buddy, John Ruhlin who said you came out and spoke for him and just crushed it. Some expecting nothing but awesome things from you today.
[00:05:06] Ian: I’m just glad that money that I paid John is paying off cause I usually have to give people a lot more money than I paid John so I’m just flattered that it worked out. Sometime you don’t have to overpay so that’s great.
[00:05:17] Brad: Money well spent my friend.
[00:05:20] Ian: Exactly.
[00:05:21] Brad: So as we get going here for those listeners obviously, we are doing a show here for financial advisors but for those financial advisors out there that aren’t familiar with Ian Altman. Can you just share a little bit of your journey, your story about what brought you to where you are today as a speaker, a trainer, a multi-time author. How did you get to be the Ian Altman of 2017?
[00:05:41] Ian: Most people know me best for either my latest book, Same Side Selling that I co-wrote with a guy named, Jack Quarles or the columns I write every week in Encore Forbes but I started my first campaign in 1993. We became a Fast 50 company by 1998. It’s one of the 50 fastest growing companies in the Washington, DC region. We then built a software company also and we grew both companies to the point that in 2005, a group of investment bankers approached me and said, “Hey Ian, we wanna acquire your company for cash and stock and actually follow through with that. I became the managing director of the parent company which is kind of an interesting way to do an acquisition because they acquired us and then I ended up running the combined entities. We grew the value of that business over the next three and a half years from a $100 million to $2 billion. We created distribution channels all around the world, a global license in program and I realized that I was flying 175,000 miles a year, wasn’t spending as much time as I wanted to with my wife or with our kids. I thought, man, why am I still doing this. I didn’t have a good answer to I stopped. Did absolutely nothing for about six months. I served this present of a country club which sounds like a great idea but if you wanted to take something that you thoroughly enjoy and learned to hate it, run it. So that was one of those things in life for it’s like, man, it was gratifying at that time and I wished I had never done it. I realized quickly that I enjoyed growing businesses more than I enjoy running them and this is what I get to do today. Now I travel around the world helping other companies on strategies for how to better attract their audio customers and how to accelerate the growth of their business.
[00:07:25] Brad: Awesome. Now I have to dig in a little bit because this is just intriguing to me so before we get to the sales stuff because I know you’re gonna crush it there. You’re company was acquired and then you’re the guy that’s now in charge of running the parent company.
[00:07:38] Ian: Yes.
[00:07:40] Brad: How did that transition go from a leadership standpoint as you’re transitioning to running a company where really… I’m guessing they didn’t know who you were or were they maybe familiar with you through prior business.
[00:07:50] Ian: There was a period of courtship for awhile. The way they found us is the parent company uses as a vendor to accomplish something that hadn’t been able to do themselves. My team for the first time in their company’s history delivered something on time within budget that exceeded people’s expectations and the chairman of the company said, “How come we can’t do that but you guys can do that”. So their attraction to acquiring us was more about acquiring our executive team than all the intellectual property and clients that we had. It’s kind of funny cause early on the process we thought they were interested on all of our clients and technology and that was nice. It was kind of an added bonus for them but they really just is funny… We kept for the deal was done, the chairman of the company said to me, “Well you understand that we think it’s great you guys are profitable, you are great clients but I just knew the only way you were gonna run my business is we acquired your company.”
Which was very flattering and it was a lot of lessons learned there that we can impact at other time but it was interesting experience and the leadership team there actually they’d already been working with us on and off long enough that they were… Let’s just say that the chairman of the company had an interesting personality so people weren’t highly reluctant to have somebody different running things.
[00:09:16] Brad: Interesting. A lot of our advisors and that’s a struggle for them because they start out as a very successful sales guy and then it’s like, oh wait I had too much success now actually I have to run a business right. Now I’ve hired a few people and how do I organize this, roles, responsibility, everything that goes along with that. As you scaled, I think I wrote this down right 100 million to 2 billion of revenue. What was….
[00:09:38] Ian: Value. Revenue was less than that. It was a high-value company but still significant revenue. You don’t get the 2 billion in value by doing like $10 in revenue.
[00:09:48] Brad: Either way big growth numbers.
[00:09:50] Ian: Big numbers, yeah.
[00:09:51] Brad: What is something if I’m a financial advisor trying to scale my business, what’s a big take away that you might be able to share with how you were able to successfully do that with your company?
[0:10:00] Ian: Well, so the biggest thing that we focused on and this is something that I teach throughout. Most of the lessons that I teach when I work with the organizations when I speak is lessons that I learned in growing my businesses and other ones. So, it’s no great shock that you’ll hear similar messages when I speak to events and that is that the first thing we focused on is what are the problems that we’re really get to solving. Instead of saying, “Well, here’s what I’ll do” what you want to think about is why do people need what it is that you do. One of the catalyst that cause someone to say, “Well, I might need help in this area” these are indicators. If you think of it from a medical standpoint, if you’re somebody who is let’s say an expert at treating carpal tunnel; you don’t advertise saying, “Hey! We’re carpal tunnel surgeons” because it’s a very small universe that people who already know they need carpal tunnel surgery. But if you said, “Look if you’re having tingling in your fingertips, if some of the times your hand goes numb, if you have all these things then it could be an indicator of something more serious and we’ll be happy to take a look.” People might be conscious of the symptoms but not even know you need the treatment and that’s something we did really well.
[0:11:08] Brad: Can you translate that to the financial world? I know you’ve done some coaching and speaking for financial advisors we might as well begin right there.
[0:11:16] Ian: So part of it will be for financial advisor. Financial advisors will say, “Oh well, we’re fiduciary” guess what? No one sitting around saying, “Man, if only I could find a fiduciary I’ll search for it and Google came up empty” I mean that doesn’t happen or “Oh, I want a second opinion.” Your ideal client says, “Man you know what? I’m just not sure if the people who are currently managing my assets are really in tune with where I’m going or what I’m trying to achieve. I’m not sure whether or not they’re giving me advice that’s in my best interest or their best interest. So it’s all of the pains or uncertainties.
Look, I’ve been working my tail off and I’ve been saving money but I’m still not sure whether or not I’m positioning myself well for retirement. I don’t know whether or not I’m getting the best tax treatment for my investments and my portfolio. Those are the types of questions that someone has then they’re probably right for a conversation with somebody else. But one of the things that I will tell you from most financial advisors is the client you want probably already has a relationship with an existing advisor. So, the rants if you will, the pins or the conditions that would warrant a change usually have to do with their poor experience with their existing advisor rather than just pure uncertainty about their financial future.
[0:12:42] Brad: We see that a lot. You know what we actually see a ton is a lot of our advisors’ clients, because they focus on retirement, a lot of our advisors’ clients really they’ve got a what I would call an, “Accumulation Expert”. It’s somebody that grew their net worth up to a certain level and now as they transition out of the workforce and need that nest egg for retirement income paycheck. Just a lot of advisors aren’t built to specialize in that area and so the more they can speak to creating three words we found the number one reason that our advisors’ clients set appointments… Retirement Income Analysis. Ready to retire? Well, you probably need some of that because you don’t have a paycheck anymore
[0:13:21] Ian: And guess what? So the way you can put up feelers for that or peak interest is to say, “Look! A lot of our clients have work with people who really over the years have a great job in helping them accumulate wealth but now that they’re leaving the workforce and they’re going to start drawing from that. The skills of somebody who was taking a lot of risk with their money early on may not align with their needs as they are going to retirement. And so, in those situations it could be someone who is a rock star in one area but they have different needs today. And now someone goes, “Ah! My guy was really good during the growth phase” but you throw out that term of taking risk and yet now that I’m not working I might so inclined to take risk.
[0:14:03] Brad: Completely, yeah. I’ve had a chance to dig into your books, “Same Side Selling” and I love the analogy you start out with because it leads right into what we’re just talking about here. You speak to in sales and all of these I think you even throw out a Glengarry Glen Ross reference early on the book. It’s this game always the closing ABC, right? And you say actually successful selling is not necessarily that. You use a different analogy. Can you share that with the listeners here?
[0:14:32] Ian: So a couple of things, first, effective selling is not about persuasion, it’s not about coercion. It’s about gaining the truth as quickly as possible. So when you’re in that old school, always be closing mindset you look like that aggressive, in your face type salesperson. And on my podcast I had a guy named Mark Bowden on who’s one of the world’s foremost authorities on body language and non-verbal communication. And what Mark said is, “Look, our brain looks for pattern so if the person in front of you looks and behaves like a stereotypical salesperson so it’s like “Here’s the stereotype of the sales person.” Then our brain says, “Well, okay. So if I get a stereotypical salesperson, does my trust go up or down or goes down? Okay, and if it’s a stereotypical salesperson, I might open and transparent, no I’m guarded?” So we’re triggering behaviours that we don’t want to trigger.
So instead, the metaphor that we follow is putting a puzzle together. So if you think of it more about fit and more about, “Look, does this client have conditions that we’re good at treating and we feel we can deliver the best outcome for them compared to other people. And if so, then we have something we’re talking about and if not then it’s probably not a good fit right now. Well, there’s two things that does. One is that you don’t at all come across as a salesperson. You come across as somebody just trying to see if there’s a good fit and if you can help. So, if we were sitting across on someone who genuinely is trying to be helpful that we might let our guard down a little bit and be more transparent. The other thing it does is that now if it turns out it’s not a fit, we don’t have the salesperson mindset of, “Oh, is it terrible? I was rejected.” We just mutually determine it’s not a good fit. So, I don’t need to beat myself up, it’s just this is not fit right now.
[0:16:18] Brad: You use an analogy well you’ve said fit multiple times. It’s not necessarily this back and forth ping pong match you know where, “Oh! There’s an objection. Oh! Handle that going to the next…”
[0:16:26] Ian: Correct.
[0:16:27] Brad: It’s more like you’re coming over to the same side of the table and putting a puzzle together. It’s an amazing analogy. That’s the first time I’ve heard it, it’s super simple. But it’s okay, how are we going to piece this thing together as a team?
[0:16:40] Ian: Exactly! So the idea is that so my co-author Jack his last name is Quarles. So you might guess already that with a last name like Quarles, Jack is the guy who spent years in purchasing and procurement and that’s in fact what his background is. When we talk about in the book is the adversarial traps that historically pit buyers and so are against one another still butting heads. And instead we want to do is and say, “Look, let’s sit on the same side of the table and let’s take the pieces out that we have on our respective puzzles and see if these things fit the other to create a great picture. And if not, guess what? Just taking out a hammer and bashing the pieces isn’t going to solve anything. So, it’s not going to reach a better outcome for us. Instead, we just determine it’s not a good fit.
So if I sit down with you and say, “Well Brad listen, the purpose of our meeting is somewhere over the next half hour, you’re going to slip into a coma and agree to do business with us.” You’re probably not going to be receptive to that meeting. If instead I said, “Look Brad, we’re going to spend a half hour by the end of the meeting, we’re either going to conclude that there’s a good fit and we can probably help you get a better outcome or together we’re going to determine that you’re in good hands already in which case you’re just get confirmation that you’re already in good hands.” Now, you can lower your guard and say, “Okay. So this isn’t like I have to make a decision to work with you” it’s it may be a good fit, it may not be.
[0:18:03] Brad: What are some common things that you see that financial advisors do that just completely blow this up before it even gets started? Do you see some common themes or trends that…
[0:18:14] Ian: Yeah. It does sound promising before you know. I’m sure we could do better than the other people are doing. It’s talking trash about the competition. Oh, those guys have a conflict of interest. Here’s the sad part, it is kind of unfortunate but if your client is being poorly served by somebody else they can say it but you can’t. So when they say, “Oh, my current guy I haven’t heard from him over a year. They’re not proactive and all that kind of stuff” you can’t say, “Yeah! I’ve heard that and those guys suck.” All you can say is, “That’s unfortunate.” We hate to see anybody not well-served in our industry. That’s unfortunate, that’s all you can say. All you can do is empathetic. So, what happens is someone comes in and says, “Oh. I’ve got this great system” or they’re perceived as, “Oh. I want my clients to perceive that I’m a great guy in this field.” Now, you know what? You want a client who’s investing in your organization. You want a client who sees value in your team and the best impression you can make is not about, “Oh, we have better research” because let’s face it, no one has better research anybody else today. It’s not, “Oh. We have better systems and we really care about our customers” because what is your competition saying, “Oh. We don’t care about our customers” everybody is saying that. So, same doesn’t sell.
So, if you’re the same as everybody else you’re not capturing anybody’s attention. But instead, if you start saying, “Well, so some of our clients say what they really appreciate” is that every four months we’re talking about something else strategic that we’re proactively reaching out so that as oppose to something happens in the market and they get communication a month later we’re often predicting those things happening in the market. So just get some comfort that we’re watching this stuff so they don’t have to. And now the client goes, “Oh, that’s kind of what we’re looking for” so I can tell you things or I can show you things. And so the big mistake that most advisors make is that they tell their clients stuff that everyone else is telling them but they don’t actually demonstrate how they do it differently.
[0:20:23] Brad: Let’s dig in to because we’re speaking here if we look at a sales process we’re more towards the front end right now. You mentioned that in our previous conversation we had a lot of guys even mess this up right at the introduction. So, they might not even be into the appointment process yet because they didn’t get a chance to even get into the appointment process. It’s more, here’s what I do, and you spoke to how do you introduce yourself, how do you create a message that has people leaning in and I want to learn more, tell me more about that. Can you share some tips around how you’ve coached people to do that?
[0:20:55] Ian: Yeah. So, for some new advisors to deal with people 401K’s?
[0:20:59] Brad: Most definitely. And I would say mostly taking the 401K and transitioning it as they leave work.
[0:21:06] Ian: So, it’s mostly that side but do you have people who are dealing with let’s say CEO’s running a business where they’ve got a 401K, does that play into your audience or not really?
[0:21:14] Brad: More into consulting a CEO for as company. The company’s plan.
[0:21:20] Ian: So I just want to make sure I’m using a relevant example so if the idea is “Look, right now someone else is managing their 401K and we would like to” some along those lines then what will happen is often someone meets somebody at an event and say, “What do you do? “Oh, we handle people’s 401K’s. Do you have a 401K?”
For starters, they think of everybody they meet is a potential customer. Instead of thinking of, “Well, everybody I meet is actually connected to a thousand other people who might be a good fit for us.” So for starters, if the first thing I do is start pitching you do you know like, “Oh, one of these guys” instead of adding value. The other side is that you need to get a really good handle on the problems you solve and then be able to express that in a way that entices their interest. So for example, if I’m talking to someone about their 401K oftentimes when I hear advisors says, “Oh well, you know we can probably reduce your fees.” Guess what? There are very few people who are making decision about 401K’s who their number one concern is the fees. Their big concern usually is, “Man, you know what? Our plan is somewhat top heavy so at the end of the year we’re having to kick money back to some of these executives.” So they’re not maxing out their contributions because the rest of the team isn’t contributing the level that they should be. It’s, we’re concerned about a fiduciary risk that we have because our current investments don’t get people full options so if all these in market tanks we don’t want to be in the hook where people are suing us because we didn’t give them options for different investments. And so it can’t self direct enough for we give him too much of a narrow list whatever their constraints are.
So instead, what you would do is there someone said, “What do you do?” Well, you know what I work with a lot of companies on had a better attract to retain their key employees. See on the retirement side, sometimes these plans people tell us, “Actually a key deterrent is that top executives can’t contribute because their main line people aren’t contributing as well. How do you guys deal with that?” And now the guy goes, “Oh dude. I’m having that problem” and now you’re having a discussion about their issue not so much about what it is that you do. And so it changes the dynamic because now it’s no longer discussion about some abstract thing oh you know I’m a financial advisor but instead you’re very specific about the kind of problems that you solve.
[0:23:39] Brad: So, what I hear you saying Ian at a high level focus less on how it benefits you the financial advisor and a lot more on giving in the head of your prospect and what it keeps them up at night as far as their company is concern.
[0:23:51] Ian: And by the way, the one risk is that what I don’t want someone to take away is so ask people what keeps you up at night because they might say, “Well, what keeps me at night is my dog licks himself” and you don’t have a solution to that. So, if you don’t have a solution to that, that becomes a major problem that now they just told you about a problem that they’re having that you can’t actually fix. So the idea is that if we ask that question, what keeps you up at night someone might say, “Well, my dog licks himself” and now I don’t have an answer to that so I got nothing. So instead, I want to start by enticing somebody’s interest by sharing the problems that we solve with extraordinary results. Then I want to acknowledge that everyone isn’t the right fit for us so I disarm the notion that we just started to sell something and then I trigger a discovery phase to learn more about their situation. So, in that context I don’t want to come across to somebody who is pitching what I’ve got and part of it comes down to how we’ve been train to search for things also so the world is changed a little bit. If you think about it if every time you drove down the road when you made a right turn, there was a squeaking sound coming from your car and you want to figure out what’s going on, what might you type into Google?
[0:25:09] Brad: Why does my car squeak when I turn right?
[0:25:11] Ian: Yeah. So, do we search base on description of the problem or base on the solution?
[0:25:16] Brad: I put the problem and to find the solution.
[0:25:18] Ian: Exactly! So the thing is that we’ve been train by Google to search by describing the problem and then Google presents the solution. So if you talk about, “Oh, we’re fiduciary and we’re independent. We provide some financial advice and comprehensive research” no one searching on that. What they are searching on is “How do I maximize the contributions for my 401K?” “How do I get my team to contribute more to their 401 K so that our executive team can also?” “Why is my retirement plan actually a disincentive rather than an incentive to my employees?” “What can I do with my retirement plan to prevent turnover of key employees?” Those are the types of questions that people are asking that if you can address those you’re probably attract your ideal customers.
[0:26:05] Brad: So to summarize a lot of what you just shared there, make sure on the front end of an introduction I’ve got some pretty quick samples, I call them sound lights for lack of a better term but they’re going to intrigue my potential prospect on “Hey! That’s a problem I think I might be having and I need to know, I need to learn a little bit more about how they solve that.
[0:26:23] Ian: Yeah, it’s pretty much it. You’re going to come up with six or seven different rants if you will complaints that your customers if they’re experiencing one of those? There’s a good chance you’re going to have a meaningful conversation. And then, instead of saying “Here’s what we’ll do” you say, “Here are the kind of problems that we solve” and you may or you may not be experiencing this and if not, there’s probably not much for us to talk about. But if you are, I’d love to learn more to see if we can help.
[0:26:48] Brad: And it sounds like the same thing translates to existing clients as you’re trying to work into the referral game the more you train your existing clients. These are the type of problems that Ian and his company solve the more they can more easily share that to their…
[0:27:03] Ian: And in fact, even one step further so if you start with a problem that’s someone’s looking for you to solve then when you want to ask your client is so how would we know six months after we’re working together whether or not we were successful. And now you should do this… “Hmmm I don’t know Brad, let’s see.” And they may not be able to give you something specific and you say, “Well, some of our clients say that some it just come down to peace of mind.” Like 0 to 10, how comfortable are you today with the information you’re getting? They go, “A five.” Okay. So clearly in six months it doesn’t need to be a 10. What would it need to be so we know we’ve made a positive improvement? Well probably anything about seven it’d be great. Fantastic! In six months, I’m going to ask you the same question. Now six months later, you says you’re a 10, how confident are you with the results you’re getting? Here’s what we talk about before, they go “Oh, well you know what? You’re probably an eight. Ok, and I remember looking at our notes you said it had to be at least a seven, right? Can you think of one or two other organizations you know that might have that same anxiety and would like to be in a better position today just like you are?”
And now, it’s a much stronger recommendation because what they get to do is when you draft the email to them it says, “Hey! So six months ago, 0 to 10 we were about a five and how confident we were and just six months later now we’re an eight. I thought you might like an introduction to Brad.” That’s an awesome personal introduction.
[0:28:29] Brad: I like that simple framework. So, as we go through your book here, Ian, I’m looking at least through the first couple chapters here. So we had talked about stop playing games, get over to more the benefits as oppose to the back and forth kind of ping pong match and then you’ve talked a little bit about being unique and narrowing your market but do you have anything else that you want to dig in on there before we talk about getting to the truth?
[0:28:52] Ian: Well so, a lot of it comes down to this idea of and I just tip my hand a little bit to it which is just this idea of focusing on results. So, very often what happens is, if we think of the buyer-seller interaction and we say, okay you just met this prospect and that’s let’s say the initial contact as a starting block what’s the finish line? Most people say, “Well, I get the sale. I get the account” like they shift their assets to us. Great. But what would our client say is the outcome or result or the finish line. They would say it’s the result. Well, what’s the result? Well, if we don’t define what’s the result is upfront then we might think that we’re doing great and they might think we’re not doing so great. So, how do we know how to measure the results. Well, the client might say, “Well, if I’m getting the 30% return” “well, hold on, so what are you getting right now?” “Well right now we’re getting like 3%” “Ok, so, you’re saying success, if we went from 3% to 4%, that’s not worth doing, you’re just better off sticking with where you’re at?” “Well no, I mean, that would be a third better.”
So, you can manage those expectations so someone gives you an unrealistic target, you can say, “Well, is that really what it would take for you to be successful?” because they might overshoot the mark, in which case you need to reset expectations. But once you have a mutual agreement on what the results are then your mission in life is to deliver those results. And if you deliver those results, you’re likely to have amazing retention of those accounts plus you’ll probably recruit and attract new business that comes from referrals from those people. So that focusing on results is a really big game changer for organizations.
[0:30:34] Brad: So is that what we’re getting to the truth? I mean is that the key when they’re throwing out, “Hey! I expect a 30% annual return and you’re like, “Whoa whoa whoa, what are you getting now?” That’s the process of starting to work through getting to the truth right there.
[0:30:46] Ian: Well, so getting to the truth when we talk about in the book is this notion of so if someone says, “I’m looking a new advisor” I say “Why?” “Why? I just want to see what else is out there.” My guess is that it’s not really what’s going on. It’s not like we’re on thoroughly satisfied with my current provider. But I just wanted to see what else is out there that really isn’t happening because if you’re thoroughly satisfied with your current provider, you’re probably not wasting time looking elsewhere.
So, there’s some key questions that you can ask so you might ask them for example and this comes out on really getting to the real truth which is you want to get a sense on what they like when they don’t like about their current provider. But if we ask of that way it can be confrontational so instead what we might ask is let’s say, you were the client, I might say, “So Brad listen, I know you’re dealing with somebody else right now” we always like to get the sense what other people are doing that we’re not doing that we should be doing. Can you tell me some other things you like about your current advisor? “Well yeah, he’s personable, he’s a good guy, and we hang out and I talk to him once every five years. He sends me a card for my birthday every year and whatever else garbage is going on.” If you can change one or two things about them, what would those be? Now, if I had asked you what don’t you like about him you might get defensive. But if I say, what would you change about him? You might say, “Well, I wish they were a little bit more proactive” “What do you mean? Is there a time recently where they weren’t and impacted your comfort?” “Yeah, this happened and they weren’t proactive about it and we had to call him three times” “Okay. How often does that happen?” “Well, I mean all the time.” Okay. “Anything else?” “Well, you know I also wish that their reports are easier to follow and that they better communicate.” “Okay. Is the potential of working with somebody who is more proactive?” And walk you through all that analysis so that you don’t have to figure it out on your own worth the conversation about how we might be able to help?”
So now I get to redirect and ask them questions based on what they just told me their current provider can’t do. But if don’t disarm early the notion that I’m just trying to figure out what we should be doing that other people that are doing. Then it might sound confrontational talking about the competition but if I ask you the right way now I can peak their interest. And then I get to ask some of the things that they already told me are important to them.
[0:33:01] Brad: The other thing I noticed that you did there in that example and I see this a ton is I called it like an egg shell and then you’re working towards the yolk, right? And a lot of these surface level comments like the first one you said, “Oh, we’re just kind of looking around if you know for other financial advisors.” It’s almost like when you walk into a store and then they’re like, “Hey! Can I help you?” “No, I’m just looking” because I don’t want to be bothered right. Just let me wander around on my own till I find something I like. What you did right there with those examples of the questions was you’ve dug a little deeper, a little deeper. So, is there a certain methodology that you utilize there in getting to the truth or just kind of go with where they’re taking you?
[0:33:41] Ian: Well, there’s different methodology, I teach this fully workshops all around North America that it’s basically just customer. I get enough people in the area and say, “Hey, will you come do one in our area?” and then we schedule one in that region. Most the stuff I do is in-house for companies but some of these around the country as well. So we spend a lot of time on specific questions that we ask. So there’s a framework that we use for taking notes in the meeting called the Same Side Quadrants. And the idea is that the way people buy and the way people prove decisions comes down the superficial interest they have is what we call the issue then what happens if they don’t solve that which what we call impact and how important is to solve this that we categorized as important. So it’s issue, impact and importance.
Then we talk about what the results are and who else might be involved in this and who else is impacted by the situation going on. And so if you think of it that way in the upper left we have issue, in the upper right we have impact and importance, in the lower left we have results and in the lower right we have others impact. And the idea is we meet with the client and they say, “Well, I’m just shopping around trying to find, see what else is out there” “Okay, well my guess is if you were thrilled with what you’re getting you probably won’t take the time. So, are there one or two things that kind of stick out to you?” “Well, I just I don’t necessarily have a warm fuzzy” “Okay, so because you don’t have that warm fuzzy, what happens?” “Well, I’m not sure if my retirement is covered. I’m not sure how I’m going to pay for my kid’s education. I’m not sure what my lifestyle is going to be like in retirement all those sorts of things.” “So, how long have you’ve been feeling this way?” And now, they’re starting to relive it. “Dude, for like 18 months I hate this guy.” If you ask them the questions like of all a sudden like that person becomes their nemesis. It’s like “ok, well compared to the other things on your plate, how important is it to address this issue?”
All of a sudden, they have explained all these consequences they’re like, “Well, it’s pretty important. It may not have been 30 seconds ago but now it is.” “I appreciate where that’s coming from but now we’re getting the results.” So what happens six months from that? How do we know if it was successful? If we were successful in getting to a better place, what would we seek? And by mapping that out and you take notes that way in these quadrants then all of a sudden you have a framework and you can look at a sheet of paper and say, “This is a real opportunity or it isn’t.” Most organizations don’t have a lack of opportunities. They have a lack of time to spend on the right opportunities.
[0:36:11] Brad: Because they’re molding their business to fit everyone that happens to have all of these issues all over the place. So you’re actually working on both sides of the business there because they’re helping them find the right fit for the actual client. But you’re also helping make sure they focus on the stuff that they can actually address.
[0:36:27] Ian: Yeah, it’s interesting. I just had on my podcast just interview the guy who has doubled his business each in the last two years. And so it’s a different type of professional services, ad agency and design firm in New Castle, England. I met him a few years ago and he’s been a valiant student of Same Side Selling and I said, “Well, so what’s the major difference between the way you operate a few years ago and what you did differently today?” and he said, “At the initial meeting with potential clients, we fire 80% of our leads.” He says, “On the first meeting, we walk away from 80% of the opportunities.” And he said, “it may sound counterintuitive because how did we double in each of the last two years and we doubled by only focusing on the business opportunities where we could deliver the best results and what’s the best fit for our organization. And if they don’t, then we walk away.” People were like, “Yeah, but they kind of walked away from a big opportunity.” “Yeah, but that client probably wasn’t going to pick us anyhow.” So by narrowing our focus, we actually expand our opportunities.
[0:37:36] Brad: It’s interesting you share that story. That’s essentially Advisors Excels story. When we started, our differentiator was we don’t work with every financial advisor in the country. We were just working with the top 1% to 2% because what we found was the ideas we provided from a marketing standpoint. They actually took some money to run. We didn’t have free marketing ideas we are just the calendar was full for the next month. You had to invest a little bit on your business and what we found is unfortunately the advisors that weren’t quite at that point in their business growth. We were just wasting a lot of time sharing ideas that they could never put into motion. It’s the same model right there.
[0:38:13] Ian: It’s exactly this. What most people say is “I can’t walk away from this opportunity. These guys I mean this client has $8 million to invest so I want this account.” And the question I always asked them is, “So if you were that client, why would you pick you?” “I mean we really want the business.” “No, that’s why you want them as a client. Why would they pick you over somebody else?” “Well, I think if I can get in front of them…” “No, no! First, you need to understand why they would pick you.” “Well, I don’t have a good answer.” “Then you should walk away because if you don’t know they’re not going to figure it out.”
[0:38:45] Brad: So true. That is solid advice right there in a very short snippet.
[0:38:49] Ian: It requires a lot of discipline. I will tell you it’s a hard thing to do. I had someone contact me recently and they said, “Our CEO saw you speak at this event so we want to see if you’re available to keynote for this event that we have coming up. It’s 600 women in business or women in sales.” I said, “Let me ask you a question.” I said, “Don’t take this the wrong way, do you think this 600 women in sales would respond more favorably to a speaker who is female rather than who is male?” And there’s dead silence then she says, “You know, in all speakers I’ve talked to, you’re like the fifth male speaker I’ve talked to, and you’re the first one who brought that up but yeah you know what, I do think that they would probably respond better.” I said, “Ok, well can I recommend some female speakers on sales who are brilliant who could probably just better resonate with your audience.” And she’s like, “You know that’s so nice.” I’ve told the story and people we’re like, “Well, but why’d you do that?” I said, “Because that’s what makes most sense for that client and they’re going to figure that out anyhow.” So, I could either spend six weeks talking about strategies and ideas. In the end, someone’s going to wake up and say, “Wait a minute 600 women in sales? Wouldn’t they respond better to a woman.” I said to him, “Look if you’re gonna have a bunch of different speakers and you want some guys and some gals like that’s fine but if it’s all guys and I’m a women in the audience, I might be pissed off. I think you’re gonna be better served this way.”
And then they called me back about a month later and said, “Well, so we have this bigger event where it’s men and women. Are you available to speak at that event?” And I didn’t make the recommendation initially because I knew were thought they’d be something else. I just realized for that audience there’s probably somebody better. It’s a tough thing to do when you need to be in the position where you don’t need the business, otherwise you might make stupid decisions.
[00:40:42] Brad: Well even at the point when you did need that business you probably wasted five weeks of your own time prepping and the back and forth negotiations only right at the last second. We found the female version of Ian Altman, right?
[00:40:54] Ian: Exactly. By the way, the fact that I then 15 minutes later referred her to three females speakers and all three female speakers are, “Oh I love you and so awesome. Thanks for referring these people to me” and the client was like, “That’s so generous that you did that”. I wasn’t looking for kudos from anybody. I’m just thinking what’s in the best interest of the client and if you were always doing that then the reputation of the industry is my guess or my bet is that sometime of the next year that company happens to be a Fortune 100 company, that company, someone’s gonna contact them and say, “Hey, we’re doing this event who should we get?” They’re gonna say, “We didn’t hire them for this one event but you should call him because he’ll give you the honesty feedback and what impact you can have for your audience.”
[00:41:40] Brad: You created three champions in the female speakers that you referred as well. So I’m guessing that might come back alright too.
[00:41:46] Ian: But if I didn’t thinking about what’s gonna come back then it probably wouldn’t come across this genuine. So you just always think of what’s the best interest of my client and if I’m doing that then I’m okay with myself.
[00:42:00] Brad: We don’t have enough time to dig into the whole book here. Any other big takeaways you’d like to share with the audience before we move on kind of the rest of the conversation here.
[00:42:13] Ian: That’s the biggest thing there’s a ton of stuff that I write about things there including the books so people initially need need the book. A lot of the concepts we talk about today if you search for example the terms Entice, Disarm and Discover. You’ll probably see a bunch of interviews I’ve done or articles I’ve written about that. It’s not like, “Oh, I got to have the book. I got to have chapter 4 to get that.” There’s a lot of stuff that we give away anyhow. It’s something that if it resonates, the book is there, the audiobook is there, great and if not I don’t want anybody buying the book, he’s not gonna read it.
[00:42:43] Brad: I love how you open it. You open right with the story. I think one of the cool things about the concept of the book is you’ve got you a sales trainer and then you have Jack that is kind of the opposite, he’s trying to keep cost down and keeping this company from being sold. I love the fact that you’re sitting on two different sides of the table typically but you wrote a book, how do we come to the same side of the table.
[00:43:05] Ian: Yes as far as we know it’s only sales book written by someone on the sales side and the procurement side. It’s funny because occasionally Jack and I will speak an event together and during Q&A portion, I will give someone an example and somebody says, “Why don’t think that would work with a purchasing person.” and Jack would come out on stage and go, “Actually here’s exactly how it works with a purchasing guy and here’s why it’s effective.” And there are a lot of things that I learned in writing this with Jack and we’ve been very good friends for a number of years now. But there’s a lot of things that I learned that I had misconceptions about what motivates purchasing and procurement people that I then learned to this process and it’s really the same thing with all customers in terms of how they behave and once…
Here’s the biggest takeaway I think for your audience. Which is if the client is truly in touch and believes in the impact that their current situations having on them. And if they truly believe in the results and that you can deliver those results the close is very simple, they’ll close you. So think about it, if you go to the doctor and the doctor diagnosed as a serious condition and then explains you there is a treatment that can solve that. And then left the room, you wouldn’t be like, “Alright. I guess I’m going to die.” You’d like, “Where is the doctor? Like how do I start this treatment?” It’s the same thing in business. So, when your client isn’t making a move, what you have to realize is either they don’t believe in the impact or they don’t believe in the results and it’s your job to figure out which one and see if they’re concern is valid.
[0:44:42] Brad: Alright. So, let’s switch gears here. We were talking before we went live here Ian and you, you’re like cool. You all share how I picked my financial advisors. So knowing that that’s my audience here and knowing that you’re obviously a successful guy that’s built a massive business and now you’re out sharing and helping others do that. You would be a target client for a lot of listeners here.
[0:45:02] Ian: Yeah, I’m sure I’ll be getting emails this afternoon.
[0:45:05] Brad: We’re going to put your email. We’re going to see who has the best pitch, right? So I’m curious, it sounds like you’ve been with your financial advisors for a very long time. Early on though, before essentially you became a good friend, what were the decision-making processes for you that lead you down the path to selecting him?
[0:45:25] Ian: As a form of background, the guy had for years prior to… The person I was working with, his name is Barry. So you know the Glassman Wealth you can see what their firm is, what they do. So before I work with Barry Glassman and his team, I worked with a guy who is a technical trader. So it was like Mister Toad’s Wild Ride to Disney who was like, “Would be up, would be down.” I’ve just spent like my life sitting in my office with my stocks up on the screen. It was like manic depressive like, “Yey! No. Yey! No.” it was like you know just this terrible process that I would go through every day and it was like, “Oh. It looks like here’s all the technical details on these things so we should buy this, sell that.” And candidly, when I was a younger entrepreneur it was kind of fun. It was like sport. And then, all of a sudden I started looking at how much time am I really spending looking at this stuff? And after getting my rear end handed me it involve on market at one point what I realize is you know what? If I’m spending all this time on this I’m not spending it on my business. And so, why am I still doing it this way?
And Barry is the guy who would just you know, “Hey, if I can ever help with this stuff let me know” and so I said, “Hey, you know, how should we address this?” And what I quickly learned is that his firm, it’s not just one guy. So like every single person I meet in their team is like just more amazing than the prior one and the level of service and attention to detail and follow through is just remarkable and if you talk to Barry, Barry says, “Look, one of our biggest competitors is Ritz Carlton” and people are like, “Woah, but Ritz Carlton they’re not a financial advisor” he said, “Yeah, but our clients have that level of experience from a service standpoint” and that’s what they expect.
Now, I believe the numbers may not be exactly right but I believe that they clear through Schwab and I think that they have a distinction of being in the top I forget it’s five or 10% for assets and their management and the bottom five percent for number of clients. So, which is kind of everybody’s wish list, right? I want to give that point that I have a small number of really high net worth clients and I know that they manage north of $900 million with a relatively small team. And it’s all free for service stuff but the level how they’re proactive is just remarkable so it’s funny because I get approached by financial advisors all the time and Barry and his wife had become like some of the best friends of me and my wife in fact when we first met they were looking for a house in our neighborhood. We became friends. They are my kids godparents. We’re really close friends. We also happens to be in the Washington DC area. The number one place that accountants and an accounting professionals trust with their money. And tax advisors do… He’s a guy who they’re voted best place to work. I mean it’s amazing operation so I tell people, “Look., if someone’s got a close personal relationship with somebody and that person is highly regarded and respected in their field, that’s probably not where you’re going to invest the best amount of your time trying to seduce a client to switch from that person” because I tell people some like, “Look, the best advice I can give you is everyday check the Obituaries and if his name is in there and his team I give all of them went down in a fiery plane wreck then call.” But outside to that, I’m not going to change because I’ve got such a high degree of confidence. There’s times where I’ll see something in the market and I’m like, “Hey, I saw this, what should we do?” and they’re like, “Yeah, we actually changed to that position three weeks ago.” “Oh, never mind.” And once that’s happen five over six times, you’re like, “Alright, nevermind. They’re watching this way better than I am.” And I went from literally having my portfolio up on the screen and watching stuff real time to looking at a statement twice a year.
And so, the big lesson there is that everyone’s got a prospect that looks like that. And they keep trying to figure out different angles for it and it’s like, “Dude, just focus on somebody else who’s dealing with somebody who sucks because there’s enough people that do lousy work in this space.” It just like if you’re somebody who provides great service to your clients, you’re not worried about someone stealing them because they’re not going to be able to because you deliver amazing service. And this business more so than any other, it’s funny because people has talk about returns; most people don’t leave or switch because of returns, they switch because of confidence or trust. It’s not, “Oh, my guess not generating the returns” it’s “I don’t trust or have confidence in what they’re doing for me” and my returns reflect that but if you have total confidence to them even if your returns aren’t enough, you’re like, “You know what, it’s just a cycle right now.” Now, if you keep getting bad returns, it’s a different story.
[0:50:28] Brad: There is so much knowledge right there. Well number one, give Barry my contact info we’ll chat but there’s so much you shared right there. I was just scribbling a few notes down so for those listening, actually Scott McCain shared something similar earlier on and it’s the client experience in financial services, you’re no longer just going up against your competitors and financial services especially as the asset level rises, right? You’re going up against the Ritz Carlton, you’re going up against the Apple store, their client experience, you’re going up against the high-end luxury car dealership and how they get treatment when they walk in those doors. I love the fact that you brought that up Ian because it’s completely the truth and if your financial services firm doesn’t replicate some of those really cool high touch experiences you’re missing the boat and probably you are not going to climb that asset level as far as your clients are concerned either. So I thought that that was a huge take away from that.
The other thing that you share too, you said Barry and then immediately after you said Barry said “and his team.” And I found going back to how we started this conversation scaling a large from a sales person into really a CEO, as a financial advisor, it’s all about the team and how important it is to surround yourself with incredible people. So, if you could dig in there I would love I think if you could provide some really cool insight there, what allowed you, was there a process that obviously Barry being the godfather of your children there’s a high level trust there but as he transferred that trust to his team? Are there certain things that they did that you’re like, “Okay cool. I’m in good hands.”
[0:52:06] Ian: There are stuff and I’m sure I mean you might have Barry in your show at some point and I’m sure he’d share some insight about it. But you could tell in his business he was very deliberate about “I don’t want it to be about me, I want it to be about my organization and the team that I’ve got.” So early on it would be, “Hey Barry, what about this, what about that?” and then Barry would say, “Hey you know what? Gabe can probably give you better answer. You know what? Travis can probably give you a better answer about this. You know let me have you talk to them.” And as I start to getting better and better information from them, it was like, “Oh yeah. I don’t need to talk to Barry.” Everyone is teamed as such high quality now keep in mind, this is an organization that is listed as into two different publications DC’s area as “Best Place to Work.” The culture they’ve developed there, the level of talent on their team is remarkable and so they’re able to now attract some of the best and brightest minds. And they’re not afraid to invest in their people so sometimes what happens is I see financial advisors say, “I want to build a team but I don’t want to get giveaway all these profit that I’m making with this team so I’m going to hire like junior level people and maybe they’re not that proficient and I don’t want to pay them that much because it’s affecting my income” instead of, “Look, short-term it’s going to impact your income but long-term, it’s going to impact your income on a positive side” because now, if Barry wants to take a trip with his family for two weeks, as a client I’m not like, “Where the hell is Barry?” I’m like, “Who cares Barry is.” As long as all these other people are there, I’m good.
You know it’s like when I was doing some tax-planning stuff and I said, “Hey by the way, so I need to transfer some stuff over, what do I need to do?” and they’re like, “Well, if you recall a couple of years ago you set this up so that we can automatically pull it. Just let me know and I can take care of it for you.” “Well, I mean I can do it” and he said, “I know you could but we can take care of it for you. Just let me know and It’ll be done today.” “Awesome!” And then I’m just focused on something else, now for a lot of advisors you might say, “Well, now I’m taking time away from one of my producers to do this when the client could’ve done it themselves” but guess what? It just further locks me in because it’s like, look I don’t have to worry about a darn thing. And it’s not, “Oh, where’s that form and how do I fill this out?”
It’s like once you have a high enough level of trust then your advisor does that for you to just make sure life is easier. I’ve heard their team tell stories about how they had somebody who was recently widowed and so the mother in this family was going out to look to buy a car and of course their kids were like, “Well, I don’t have time to do this” and so the woman calls up and says, “Well, how should do the financing because my husband used to take care of this.” And someone in Barry’s team said, “Well, what car you’re looking at? Have you decided which one you want?” “Yeah, okay.” “So, what’s your schedule like tomorrow? Look, I’m going to come by and pick you up and we’re going to take care of this.” And people will be like, “But they’re not in the business of helping someone buy a car.” Look, they’re managing very high net worth individuals. Now, once they do that for that client, do you think that their kids are going to say, “Oh, you should switch with somebody else”? they’re like, “Dude! They take care of the stuff for their mother that we don’t have to deal with.” We love these people.”
And they’re just making sure and guess what? That client probably told that story to 50 people and said, “Oh my god. You wouldn’t believe what my advisor did.” And who do you think she’s hanging out with? Do you think she’s hanging out with all bunch of low net worth people or is her community of friends high net worth people just like her? And they’re thinking, “Well, my advisors never done that for me maybe I should switch.” They run events a couple times a year. They are not marketing events for new clients but are high end events for their existing clients. Look, if you’re client you can come and if you have a friend who may and they have to see what we do, let us know and if we feel if it’s appropriate you can invite one person. And so there will be a room of a hundred clients and three potential clients in the room. And when I see this, I’m like there’s no way those three people aren’t becoming clients next week because I look around the room of like, well, these are the people I want to hang out with. They’re all in this room together and everyone of them just says these guys are greatest people on earth and I just learned something that I didn’t know before and they communicated in a way that my current provider can’t communicate. Wow, these guys are awesome, why aren’t I were working with them? And I guarantee their competitors were like, “I can’t believe these guys spend tens of thousands of dollars on an event and it’s not even prospecting new clients.” Yeah, but what happens is the guys in the country club and he tells his buddy, “Oh yes. I got this great information yesterday. Where was it?” “My advisor did it.” “Dude, why didn’t you invite me?” “Well, because I’m not allowed to bring guest. It’s only for his clients.” “You mean, these are not marketing event?” “No, it’s just to inform his clients.” “How come my guy doesn’t do that?”
[0:57:01] Brad: I’m curious Ian. Are those educational events or are they just like, “Hey. We’re going to bring in a sommelier that knows a lot about wine. He’s going to share three napa cabs where they come from…”
[0:57:11] Ian: So the answer is yes. So sometimes it’s like here’s the person at Schwab who runs this unit for Schwab and they’re gonna impact about talk about this. Sometimes, it’s here’s somebody who’s a publisher of this magazine, this financial magazine and we brought them in so they’re gonna talk about what trends are going on. And sometimes it’s, “Hey, people have asked about safety when they’re traveling abroad. So we’re going to bring somebody in who’s an expert on travel safety” and it’s all just about creating a high value experience. Once again, think Ritz Carlton. Don’t think, “Well, does that have to be financial related?” “No not necessarily.”
[0:57:49] Brad: I like the travel expert. I mean look at, you’re serving a high net worth client. They’re obviously traveling so once again going back to the very beginning of this conversation getting in ahead of your client and prospect what do they actually want, right?
[0:58:01] Ian: Yeah. And so it’s funny, it’s like have you had Derek Coburn on? So Derek talks about, “Look! If you want to create those great networks, think about what’s going to be valuable to that client group? And that’s like just you know magic at that point and most of the reason why people are shifting to somebody like Derek or someone like Barry is not because, “Oh man, I Googled financial advisor and I couldn’t find anybody.” That’s not it. They say, “Oh, this guy helps me in areas that no one’s ever helped us before. This person’s helping me grow my business. They’re helping me get investors.” They’re doing stuff that has nothing to do with their traditional financial advisor hat on.
[0:58:41] Brad: It’s interesting. I’ve asked a handful of guest that obviously do very well for themselves on the podcast, how do they find their financial advisor? So far, a hundred percent has been some sort of a referral or you know you said a couple of things with Barry it was really here are these third party resources that I trust that said, ‘”He’s the man.” His firm is highly regarded in this industry and so I think as you start to climb the asset level. You’ll notice typically they don’t come from your more traditional marketing funnels like public seminars or even radio shows. I found it a lot of the higher net worth or going to tend to talk to their buddy at the country club, “What are you doing?” He did that event, why can’t I come to the next one?”
[0:59:28] Ian: And if you think about it, it’s not like the conversation is “Oh, I’m going to get better return than somebody else.” I had someone ask me about Barry, “You think he’s out performing everyone else?” I said, “Dude, if they knew exactly what the market was going to do, they wouldn’t be in business. They would’ve just printed money and walked away.” No advisor actually knows what the market’s going to do. You just want to make sure you’re surrounded with the team and people who are way more proactive on top of it than we would be. That’s what we want and I want people who are thinking about stuff that I’m not thinking about. So when I’m pissing money the way I don’t wonder, “Wow! I’m pissing this money away someone losing the rest of it.” It’s “I’m pissing money away but it’s okay cause I got more somewhere else and it’s being shepherded well.
[01:00:11] Brad: I had a conversation with David Bach, he helps us out on our wealth management front and he said, I wrote this down, the best financial plan for someone like you should be boring, boring, boring. And he basically said going back to your day trader, your technical guy you had before, he said, “Show me an exciting investment plan and I will show you a scary day to day life”. And it sounds like that’s what you’re doing. It was really exciting but it was like riding that roller coaster.
[01:00:42] Ian: Oh yeah. I’ve been telling you. It was Mr. Toad’s wild ride. It was like, just strap yourself in. It was “Hey, we made a lot… oh we lost.” It was like, I’d be amazed and pissed off in the same day and I realized, “Well why am I taking this strategy. I don’t need to take these high risks. I just need to know it’s taken care of.
It’s interesting. One of the things that Barry’s team did was… My Dad was 89 and as he was going through all his retirement stuff, he’s in a different financial position than I’m in. And so I was talking to Barry and said “Well here’s what I’ve got going on with my Dad and one of my brothers is looking at this, and this one’s looking at that.” And Barry said “Hey, we’ll just take care of it.” I said, “Well you know, I just have to look at the fee structure…” He said, “No no, we’ll just take care of it. Like, don’t worry about the fee side of it. We’ll just take care of it, because that’s obviously a distraction for you and your siblings. So we’ll just take care of it.”
And if I looked in hindsight, it didn’t take them a lot of time. And they probably over the course of a number of years answered 10 questions about it. But it was just like “Look we’ll take care of it.” And guess what? If all of a sudden someone said “Oh, you should switch to us. By the way, I also have this other thing, here’s the fee…” It would have gotten too complicated for someone else to win that business. If you think about it, at their firm, they’re thinking “Well who cares? It’s a rounding error. It’s not going to matter, let’s just take care of this.” So, it’s remarkable stuff when it’s done right.
[01:02:07] Brad: There’s another lesson there too. In sales, when someone is at the point, and at this point, your Dad obviously, you’re already a client, so it’s really more of a “Let’s just take care of Ian and help him with his Dad.” But you even said it a little bit ago, you were talking about forms. And I find most people in our business, for those that can see the video, I have a stack of papers. But they’ll say, “become a client” and then there is a stack of paperwork that is like 5 inches thick. And then the next thing you know, the clients takes it home, and there’s a ton of homework and it’s like “oh my gosh, this is complicated, I’ve got a question on form 7, what do I do?”
Going back to their process, it was simple. It was just “say yes and we’ll handle everything else for you. Your Dad, don’t worry about him, simple, do you want us to take care of him?” “Yes!” So I think there’s another lesson in there for financial services that get’s messed up a lot.
[01:03:00] Ian: Well if you think about it in this context, my Dad’s got a small portfolio, and then I’m already a client of theirs. So, one of my brothers is like “I know a guy who does it like this, and here’s the way the fees would be.” And so I mentioned it to Barry’s team, and it’s like, “Here’s the deal, we’ll just take care of it.” I said, “Well ok, so someone is going to ask ‘what’s the cost?’” “We’ll just take care of it. We’re not going to charge you anything for it, we’ll just take care of it.”
So I’m talking to my brothers and they’re like “Well what’s his motivation for doing this?” “He’s just taking care of it for me, so they’re not even going to charge for it.” “Oh, I guess that’s good.” And it just ends the conversation. So if you think about it in a competitive landscape, let’s say that some other advisor had taken up that small portfolio. And now I’m talking to the other advisor, well that other advisor has now has got my year, my siblings year. But now he doesn’t. Because that person was just shut out of the game. Now I don’t even believe that the team at Glassman even thinks that way. They’re just thinking, “how do I provide great value to my customers and to my clients so they feel taken care of.”
And it’s just the little things like “Hey, if you’re meeting in our area and you need an office or conference room, let us know.” They have built this amazing space next to this private dining club that’s 2 floors up from them in the Washington, DC area. So it’s right off the elevator, everyone passes it. People think “Why are they paying for this space?” Well if you have a client meeting, you can have it in our office. Now, I’ve never asked him what the return is, but if a high net-worth client is having a meeting in that area and wants to use your conference room and his staff is amazing. When you come in and there’s like a beverage menu for all their different teas and coffees. How many times are they meeting with some high net worth person who goes “Man, these guys are awesome, their service is amazing. Do you work with them?” “Oh yeah, I’m a client of theirs.” “What does it take to become a client?” I guarantee that happens every week.
[01:05:08] Brad: Who did you hire to cater this meeting? Oh, that’s my financial advisor.
[01:05:11] Ian: Exactly. I mean, so it’s a good model for people to follow and I know that Barry spoke at the Schwab Impact Conference. One of the few times they had an advisor keynote. And he just got up and said “here’s the way we think differently.” And he was totally transparent about what they do differently for their business.
[01:05:29] Brad: Let’s see if I can go back here. This has been 10, 15 minutes of gold by the way for financial advisors. So go back to, selling to client benefits. All of the stuff you just went through Ian, it was, how did working with Barry benefit you. And going back to, how can you share that with… This is a perfect example of, if you’re a financial advisor, this is the story you want your clients to tell about you.
[01:05:50] Ian: It’s exactly it. And too often people focus on “I’m going to win this client because I’m going to offer a slightly lower fee.” Or “I’m going to win this client because I’m going to convince him that we’ve got better research.” And the reality is if you look at your best clients, they didn’t switch because you had better research or because you had lower fees. They switched because they felt you better understood their situation. And that they were in good hands working with you. And you get that by asking great questions about them. There isn’t a darn thing you can say that will convince them of those things. You can only get to that information by asking great questions.
[01:06:30] Brad: One other thing I’m going to make sure the listeners didn’t miss. That very simple idea on offering a co-working space for your clients. That’s brilliant. I’m just thinking, if you’re trying to attract a high net worth business owner. That’s a very simple idea right there that could be just for you.
[01:06:48] Ian: And by the way, if you’re ever in the DC area, you go visit their space, it’s not like, oh and they added an extra office or two, kind of bare bones. They invested heavily in their build out, and you walk into the place and it’s like “Man, I want to meet here.” I’ve actually done podcasts interviews in their space and the people I’m interviewing, are typically successful people who are like “what’s it like to work with these guys?” And literally, it’s not even a part of the conversation, and they’re like “Man their team is amazing.” And it’s like, everyone in the office, just carries a certain level of professionalism. I think that’s something that’s lost because what I’ve seen some advisors do is, they operate at this really high level and then they don’t’ want to spend the money so they hire people on a much lower level. And what happens is, it just brings the average down in the organization.
Instead of sometimes, you just have to invest in good people. And you have to spend the money so that you further building confidence from your customers. And it might mean that short term you’re taking home a little less income, if you’re truly trying to build a business, not just a lifestyle.
[01:08:01] Brad: It’s interesting you bring that up. We had Ron Carson on that’s another top 10 wealth manager in the country. And I think a lot of advisors look at it as, dollars out. So here’s an expense for staffing and hiring. And he assured me, “we’re looking at it as investing into the business.” So it’s like investing in stocks. You don’t’ want to invest in penny stocks. You want to invest in blue chips. And he shared that analogy and I heard one other piece of advice when it comes to hiring. And the A player is always free. And if you think about it, that’s how it works. They take all the stuff that brings you down and then they do 10 times more than that and it’s amazing. Just as you were speaking to Barry’s team. Where if you hire a C player, now that type A personality, that achiever, that financial advisor, now you’re going back looking over their shoulder, double checking their work, misspelled email goes out and you’re freaking out. And I’ve seen it over and over and over.
[01:08:59] Ian: Well think about it this also. If he had hired C level people would I call them instead of calling him? No way! But if he’s got A calibre people, then I don’t care who I talk to, they’re going to be great. It’s kind of funny because his wife is a pediatrician and in their pediatric practice she’s followed the same philosophy. So my wife takes our kids there for the pediatrician and people say “Well who’s your favorite person?” My wife goes, “I’ll go to anybody in that practice. I don’t call, I don’t look for special treatment, I just call, make an appointment and anybody I see I know is going to be top in their field. So I don’t care who it is, I know I’m going to be taken care of.” And too many businesses don’t’ do that, so it’s like there is this huge fall off from the top person. The next person down is like 5 levels deep. They don’t understand and say “Man, I hired this person but they’re not taking anything off my plate?” No, because your clients still want to deal with you because they don’t have confidence in that other person. But if you hire at the right level, like in my prior business, when I first started it, I was doing consulting for clients. I was doing like business process and consulting. I hired really sharp people and my goal was that I wanted my clients within 6 months to 1 year to say “Well why does Ian need to be here, these guys are awesome.” That’s my goal, my goal is that they don’t’ need me anymore. And when Ian comes by, sure he takes me to lunch but he doesn’t really add any value, let’s just keep him away. Well, I needed that so I can run my business.
Same thing as the financial advisor. You start off where you’re the primary point person. You start growing your practice and now it’s like “Well I need to hire somebody. I know, how cheaply can I hire somebody?” Well, you may as well not hire them. So hire somebody who is almost your equivalent and maybe give that person a way to own part of the practice, because guess what? If they’re that good, you don’t want them leaving either.
[01:11:02] Brad: Yeah, it reminds me we’ve got another really successful advisor on the east coast and he got some business advice I thought was just brilliant. It’s simple, that’s the best part about it is he was talking to… It was some sort of business coach and they said, “Well do you ever plan on stopping growing? Are you done here or next year you wanna keep growing?” So like, “Well, no I plan on continuing to grow that’s the goal”. Why would you ever not be hiring then? And I see what happens a lot in financial services is you hire about six months too late. There’s this mad scramble trying to find talent and the piece of advice here was now he’s never done hiring so as he randomly comes across people that are A players he finds a spot on the team for them because he knows they’re gonna fit and help them get where he wants to go.
[01:11:49] Ian: There’s always gonna be additive. I mean it’s interesting is most what to do is professional speaker like Scott McCain who’s got a voice like butter. And Scott’s like this amazing… That voice is just magic so anybody hasn’t listen to Scott’s episode go back and listen to it, it’s just very soothing. It’s interesting because I’ve always grown business to a lot of people and this business it’s like someone calls up and says, “Oh, we can’t get Ian, okay we’ll take somebody else”. I mean it’s they either want me or they don’t. It’s a slightly different model but kind of for me in this business I’m not looking to “grow people”. It’s just my fee goes up and I do fewer gigs and get paid more for each one. It’s a different model but I’ve kind of already done the rapid growth hire a lot of people, have employees all over the world. At one point when I was flying 175,000 miles a year, we had offices or joint ventures in 12 countries. I’d show up in Beijing and there was an office and admin staff for me and I would go there twice a year. I’m like, “Why do you guys add this?” It’s just part of our protocol in China is that the top dog needs to have a dedicated office and staff. To me, it seemed ridiculous so I realized that they don’t pay people very much there. It wasn’t a big deal but kind of a funny thing.
[01:13:10] Brad: It’s not very often I see guys do the public speaking gig and actually travel less. That’s a serious travel schedule right there.
[01:13:15] Ian: It’s a very different type of travel so I used to be that I would fly some place as soon as I landed, I’d be in nonstop meetings for two or three weeks and then fly back. Now, let’s say I’m doing a keynote on Tuesday morning, so Monday afternoon I fly to some place, get in for starters barely the people hold big events in bad places. It’s usually a pretty nice place. I get there do the tech check that kind of stuff, speak for an hour, sign some books, kiss some babies, fly back. It’s a slightly different experience than in the past. It’s a different type of travel. It’s not back to back to back meetings for weeks on end.
[01:14:00] Brad: Maybe even fit a spa treatment in there right?
[01:14:01] Ian: From time to time.
[01:14:11] Brad: I used to give my wife a hard time and then I went with her one time and now I’m ruined for life. I have to hit the spa today to have a nice one. Well Ian, let’s go ahead and as we wrap here I’ve got a few questions I’ll throw you away if you still have a few more minutes.
[01:14:15] Ian: Sure.
[01:14:16] Brad: Alright. Perfect. When you heard the word successful who’s the first person you think of and why.
[01:14:22] Ian: Aside from you, Brad.
[01:14:23] Brad: Aside from me. This is the second, number two.
[01:14:29] Ian: Number two. There is no one person that comes to mind. It’s funny you ask. I haven’t really thought of who do I think of is successful because I see success at different levels. There’s people I see who, man, have amazing relationship with their family and their kids. I think, man, that is really successful. There are people who I see who have tremendous financial success and I think, “Wow that is successful”. There’s people who are just like the most respected people in their industry. There is not any one person. It’s funny we had a discussion with a number of speakers recently about Will Smith and people were commenting that, “Wow, this guy has been really successful in music and in movies in our television and is a highly involved committed father. If I get to pick somebody right now in the spot he is fresh in my mind. If you would ask me yesterday, I would probably would come up somebody different but that’s just because of a recent conversation. One of my friends is interviewing him today in front of 12,000 people so he was asking questions, “Hey, what are good questions to ask him?” and that’s why his name comes up.
[01:15:34] Brad: I could see that. I think what’s interesting is when you ask that question, how often it comes back to not just monetarily. It comes back to, do they actually enjoy life or are they a good husband and so that’s great. Alright. Let’s go with the favorite book you’ve ever read and why or secondarily your most gifted book that you give out frequently.
[01:15:56] Ian: So most gifted book ironically is Giftology. It’s John Ruhlin’s book which seems like it would be fitting. I think that’s a great one. There’s a lot of great books that I’ve read. Most of the stuff that Seth Godin reads, makes my head hurt. Seth’s book Purple Cows, one of those books that like if you haven’t read it you should read it. It’s amazing book in that regard on the sales side Dan Pink’s To Sell is Human. There’s just a lot of stuff that for people who don’t traditionally see themselves in sales is very relevant. There are some other books that are very action related. There is Jill Konrath’s latest book is Sell More, Work Less. It’s about how to be more efficient and effective in what you do. Marcus Sheridan has a book called They Ask You Answer which is a great blueprint for content marketing. And a lot of those are books that I gift also so it goes both ways. Derek Coburn, Networking is not Working, another great one for people in your industry.
[01:17:00] Brad: Alright. Last question here. What is the one piece of advice you can share with the listeners that’s lead to your success?
[01:17:08] Ian: Always know why people would work with you more so than what it is that you do. If you understand why they would work with you and what results would make it impactful for them then you always have great clarity over who your ideal clients should be and why. To often people instead focus on what it is that they do when who the clients are that they want instead of for whom can I have the greatest impact. If you focus on why those people need you and what the outcome needs to be, then you’ll always focus on the people you can impact the greatest and you’ll never sell anything, your clients will sell themselves on you.
[01:17:48] Brad: Incredible advice. Well Ian, I just want to say thank you. This has been an incredible conversation and what I love about it is you’re talking about how to sell which is oftentimes a dirty word but everything we talked about during this conversation, it’s all about integrity and really just figuring out what’s the common solution what you can co-create together. Thank you so much for sharing. It’s been awesome chatting.
[01:18:11] Ian: Awesome, Brad. Thanks so much.
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