Quit Selling and Start Coaching
By Tim Ursiny
Wells Fargo Advisors is the third largest full service retail brokerage firm in the US. With 1.1 trillion in client assets as of December 31, 2009, the St. Louis based firm provides investment advice, investment and retirement planning, and advisors nationwide. Wells Fargo Advisors, formerly Wachovia Securities, was acquired by Wells Fargo & Company in December 2008.
At the start of the coaching engagement, Vince Madden's goal was to be a top recruiter within a year. A secondary goal that was developed as we worked together was to be promoted from a Branch Manager to a coveted position as a Market Manager. His ability to recruit was one of the many factors that leadership would look at in deciding if he got the promotion.
At the time of our meeting, Vince was a Branch Manager for Wachovia Securities and I was visiting the Wachovia Securities home office presenting a program on coaching skills for managers. Vince was at the home office because he was attempting to recruit a financial advisor from another firm to join the company (a common practice in financial services firms). I didn't know Vince at the time, but a mutual acquaintance asked me to come to dinner with them. I am always up for good food and wine and I also thought it would be interesting to see how they went about recruiting an advisor over dinner.
There were five of us at the dinner: Vince, two other Wachovia Securities employees, the recruit, and myself. I watched with great curiosity as Vince and the other employees spoke about all of the strengths of the company, the great culture, the focus on the advisor and the client, etc. However, I noticed that in 30 minutes of conversation the potential recruit did not utter a word. He listened attentively, but he was not engaged fully in the conversation. When a lull presented itself in the conversation, I simply asked the recruit, "How do you feel about being here?" He opened up a little bit and then I asked subsequent questions like, "What attracts you to this company?", "What are your biggest hesitations or concerns about Wachovia?" and "What do you really want to accomplish if you move firms?" These were simple curiosity questions, but the recruit started sharing very genuinely and I could see Vince's eyes watching with intrigue. After the dinner Vince came up to me and said that he heard things that night from the recruit that he had never heard before. He then asked for my card. Two months later he called me and asked if I could coach him to become a better recruiter.
Our first step was to analyze Vince's recruiting approach and habits. He had many strengths when it came to recruiting, but we discovered two areas for improvement. The first area was in terms of his discipline in developing consistent daily, weekly, and monthly actions for sourcing, warming, and landing recruits. These were fairly easy to develop. The second area concerned how to distinguish himself from all of the other managers from rival companies who were also attempting to recruit advisors. Vince was drawn to a coaching approach to recruiting and we started working from my book, Coaching the Sale (2006).
Vince quickly adapted to the identity of a coach in the recruiting process. This required several shifts from his previous approach including:
- Asking questions and listening rather than talking.
- Changing his focus from recruiting the advisor to being a catalyst to help the advisor self-discover if coming to Wachovia Securities was right for him or her.
- Mastering a process of coaching from the advisor all of their blocks and motivations (instead of selling the advisor on the firm).
- Working out a clear three-point message of his value proposition (both personally and the company) and comparing that to the advisor's needs.
- Actually turning advisors away if it wasn't a good match for THEM.
With these shifts, Vince differentiated himself from other managers who were still engaging in the old style of selling advisors. He earned the reputation as someone who really cared about the recruit and would help them discover the right decision for themselves.
The Value Added
Within one year, Vince significantly improved his standing. With this dramatic increase in his ability to recruit, his improved dedication to his work, his increased ability to coach advisors at his firm, and other areas of growth, Vince beat out his competition and was promoted to Market Manager for Wachovia Securities, now Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC.
I still work with Vince as we are currently planning his next level of achievement and growth. I always get a smile on my face when I see his name on my schedule because I know I am going to have a session full of genuine passion and drive and we also have a lot of fun! We both feel that our lives are better for knowing each other.