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Achieve Top of the Table and seek introductions
Achieve Top of the Table and seek introductions

May 01 2024 / Round the Table Magazine

Achieve Top of the Table and seek introductions

Believing is the beginning of becoming elite and introduction is the king of referrals.

Topics Covered

By Simon D. Lister, Dip PFS

Attaining Court of the Table or Top of the Table doesn’t happen by chance. It’s about doing the right things daily, and it all starts with a plan.

I created my plan by understanding how many days in the year, month and week I would work and how many of those days I would see clients, which determined how many focus days I would need. Then I made sure that I was seeing prospects and clients on those days. I never leave the office without knowing that my calendar for next week is full. That discipline and focus enables me to hit Top of the Table.

Change your mindset

The funny thing is I’d never heard of Top of the Table when I first joined MDRT. I had already reached Court of the Table, and I thought it was the maximum level I could write because that was as high as my peers had risen. When I found out about this new world of Top of the Table after attending an MDRT Annual Meeting, it opened my mind about what I could achieve. So, I began writing a plan. I thought, What do I need to do differently in a day, week and month to achieve Top of the Table?

Understand your numbers

I’ve always known my numbers — how many people I was seeing a week, my closing rate and my average case size. So, I used that data to come up with a plan to qualify for Top of the Table after that first year. Each year thereafter, I evolved and honed my plan to become more sophisticated in how I operated and began seeing wealthier clients.

When I found out about this new world of Top of the Table, it opened my mind about what I could achieve.

Be consistent

It’s incredible how I went from never having heard of Top of the Table to qualifying for it. All that was blocking me before was that I didn’t think I could achieve what others were achieving. Mindset is crucial. Now, there’s no question that I will make Top of the Table every year. For me, it doesn’t matter how good the year before was. I start fresh with a blank sheet of paper, go at it again and monitor the data.

The discipline to work on your plan is the key. Not every week, not every month, but every day. If you do the right things every single day and live by certain principles, you’ll reach the elite levels.

Simon Lister, of Norfolk, England, UK, is a 17-year MDRT member and a 14-time Top of the Table member. Contact him at simon.lister.mdrt@mlfa.co.uk.

Seek introductions, not referrals

By Sandy Schussel

In my 23 years of working with financial professionals, I’ve seen advisors ask clients without hesitation for $300,000-plus commitments for large, single-premium insurance policies or for an investment. But when the time came to ask clients if they knew someone who could benefit from their services, they couldn’t bring themselves to do so for fear of being rejected or appearing too needy.

There’s no risk to asking for an introduction. The idea that someone would take back his check, storm out of your office or throw you out of their home is nonsense. Introductions from engaged, happy clients are the best way to grow your business. There’s no cost, they’re immediate and the introduction comes with a built-in testimonial from the client. While a client making the introduction is putting their relationship with someone at some risk, when it works out (and it’s likely to, since you’re involved), the client becomes a hero to friends and family members. But if you don’t ask for an introduction, you deprive them of that opportunity. 

Were you taught wrong?

This fear of asking likely comes from the way advisors learned how to seek referrals early in their careers:

     “I get paid in two ways. Give me 10 names and phone numbers.”

     “You’ll never get a bill from me. All I ask is that you refer me to friends and family.”

Or worse:

     “If you want me working on your account rather than looking for more business, give me names and numbers.”

     “We’re having a contest at our office, and I just need two more clients.”

If your conversations look like this, stop asking for referrals (you probably have already). Clients don’t care about your need for more business — that is unless they’re someone who loves you so much, like your mother, and they want to help. Seek introductions rather than referrals. With referrals, clients give you names and phone numbers of people they’re not close to and leave it to you to call them. But introductions exercise the client’s influence muscle. They get to mention someone specific they know and the best way to connect with them.

If they can’t think of anyone specific, ask if there is someone they might want to help:

“Is there someone we could talk about who might not be feeling the same way about their situation? Maybe you don’t know what their situation is because people rarely talk about their finances, but does anyone come to mind who you’d want to help if they needed it?”

The focus on helping someone else reduces resistance. Who will reject you for wanting to talk about helping their friends and family? This approach depends on whether you earned the right to have this conversation, but that’s another subject. Make the conversation about them and the people they care about. Then getting introductions becomes much easier.

Sandy Schussel is a performance acceleration coach who has been working with financial advisors for more than 20 years and helping them break through to higher production levels. Contact him at sandy@sandyschussel.com.