Personal assistants, also known in the industry as sales support, are there to help you and to not add to your workload. A well-organized, reliable assistant can provide significant value to you and your firm. Assistants help with key tasks that help in relationship building, as well as business development opportunities. Not only do they handle the daily administrative and operational duties, but they are generally the first to interact with your clients.
Great support staff is invaluable, but can be very hard to find. Financial advisors with growing practices quickly realize that it’s helpful to pass as many tasks as possible to other team members, making the role of the sales assistant important in maintaining the cycle of client attainment and client satisfaction.
Investing time in sales support training can lead to increased productivity and revenue. According to a 2011 study by Cetera Financial Institutions, the average annual gross for advisors with sales support associates was $283,141, which is 15 percent more than the average for advisors who did not use sales support associates.
Anna Baron, co-founder of the International Real Estate Assistants Association in Mineola, TX, offers these suggestions for getting the most from your sales support relationship.
Communicate your needs. Create task lists detailing what needs to get done along with the timeframe in which you expect them to be done. Baron recommends that you create two lists: one for tasks you expect the team to accomplish daily and the other for tasks the team should accomplish over the long term to help you meet your annual goals.
Stay out of the weeds. Once you tell your team what you need, get out of the way. “You have to assign a project with a very clear expectation of your goals, but then you have to let go,” says Baron.
Don’t treat your team like “the help.” Show your appreciation and loyalty by investing in their education and training.
Evaluate priorities. Set priorities, which are often dictated by the market, says Baron.
Provide scripts. Scripts help your assistant handle client questions, especially the frequently asked ones. However, your assistant doesn’t need to deliver them verbatim. “Your assistant should study them so that the delivery sounds natural to potential clients over the phone,” Baron says.
Provide training.As the clients’ key point of contact, sales support associates are in a prime position to ensure a smooth and seamless introduction to the firm. Accurate account setup can also help reduce or eliminate errors and delays. Sales support associates need to know how to maximize automated features such as prepopulated apps, electronic signatures and straight-through processing applications.
Get your team involved right away. Ask your support associates to help on projects from the start. A big complaint Baron hears from assistants is that many practitioners try to handle everything themselves, then ask for help at the last minute. “That creates a huge rush to get things done immediately and turns the office upside down,” she says.
Meet regularly. Sit down with your assistant on a regular basis to discuss short- and long-term goals and projects. Allow your assistant to provide feedback on the tasks that should be done more or less frequently.
Provide feedback. Regularly review your assistant’s performance to provide input on areas that need improvement and to allow your assistant to tell you where you can improve. “Everyone has to understand each other and work together to build and maintain a successful business,” says Baron.
Summit Brokerage Services is part of Cetera Financial Group, RCS Capital Corporation’s (NYSE: RCAP) retail investment advice platform.
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