I’ve given dozens of talks on the need for financial professionals to navigate the digital landscape effectively, and invariably the conversations veer into the arena of “what’s the newest, best tech to help me grow?” As a self-avowed tech junky, I am always obliged to engage in this conversation, because it’s a lot of fun to talk technology.
However, what most people don’t realize is that I do so with significant hesitancy, because I am acutely aware that as an outside-the-box thinker with ADD I have to fight my inner tendency to want newer, cooler, better. I admit it – I like blowing the whole thing up and finding a better way of doing it! If you’re at all like me, suppressing that tendency can be challenging, especially since there seem to be new awesome apps, platforms, and digital tools popping up every single day.
Avoiding Shiny Object Syndrome
NAIFA recently had an excellent panel discussion with several MDRT-level producers providing the latest and greatest tech tips. Of course, I couldn’t miss the live event and, not surprisingly, it delivered! Events like this make me think to myself, “Wow, if I just had that, then everything would change!” We probably all have thought this at one point considering how many amazing tech things have been created to support us professionally. I am one of the biggest offenders because I am enamored with cool apps, easy-to-use platforms, and anything that doesn’t just make my practice better, but is fun to use.
With so much out there that shines, I’ve had to train myself to slow down, step back, slap my hand away sometimes, and think critically about technology. This may be “cool,” but how does it fit into the bigger picture? Will this help me reach our target audience in a meaningful, repeatable way, or is it designed for a broad audience (buckshot approach)? Can more than one member of my team use this? Will it bring improvements in our areas of greatest need? Might it become a distraction, or worse yet, undermine our ability to deliver high-quality results to our target audience? In short, I remain laser-focused on my mission of producing a superior brand experience, and therefore I cannot add more without answering the question: How does this help us be better?
As billions of dollars flow into FinTech each year, technology continues shaping the landscape of the financial experience. As financial professionals adjust, we too are bombarded by technology that all has the same marketing theme: “If you want to have the practice of the future, then you really need this!”
But the obvious question should be, “Do I really need this?” And herein lies the first, and possibly most critical step to take: You must step back from your practice, look at it both dispassionately and strategically, and properly diagnose what your true technology needs are. It might not be what you think.
Know What You Need, Not What You Want
Trust me, I know this all too well. As salespeople, generating new business is likely the most significant use of our time each week. It’s easy to always be thinking about leads and hooking the “next big opportunity.” While growing our practice seems like it should rank highest in our hierarchy of needs, the reality might be quite different.
As an advisor with ADD who loves sales, I am acutely aware of my Achilles heel: service. I’m wired to bring clients in but taking care of the little details is something I am just plain bad at. This means I’ve had to concentrate on adding tools to my practice to handle service and manage client relationships so that my clients do not suffer from my shortcomings. The last thing I want is to bring in a great client and see them leave because I fail on service.
Solving this issue has meant adding both the right people and the right technology, to have a digital infrastructure of success. Our firm has spent substantial time investing in the right CRM to support our practice and deliver a superior client experience that reinforces our brand. We had to prioritize our spending on this first, instead of adding more to our sales and marketing framework, because we did not want to outgrow our capacity. For us, it wasn’t about more sales or new leads, it was about being a more well-oiled machine that can take exceptional care of clients.
Here are several critical points to help you identify your tech needs and determine how technology can help you:
- What things do I and my team spend a lot of time on that could be handled by technology?
- How are my operations? From commission tracking to payroll, is it easy for me to see the “inner workings” of my practice?
- Do I have a uniform client experience, one that is repeatable and supported by a technology framework?
- Is my practice systematized – Could I hire someone and plug them into it and have them be able to operate successfully?
- Do I easily and routinely communicate well with my clients? Do they know what to expect from me year-over-year?
- Is it easy for me to manage not just my calendar, but my team’s calendar? Are we in sync?
- Is it easy for me to see my book of business all in one place?
- Do I have a strong brand that stands out in the digital marketplace?
- Do I have a digital marketing framework that helps me generate consistent leads?
- Is technology helping me keep score? Can I track my progress with leads, sales, and know exactly where I am in the cycle with an opportunity?
Technology Should Empower You
You would never buy a car without an engine, nor should you build your practice without a technology framework that allows you to optimize your time and talents appropriately. Looking cool is great, getting more leads is important, but the right tech tools must ultimately create a digital infrastructure that becomes an indispensable part of your success. Once a solid digital foundation is in place and you’ve aligned your business development strategy to it, it becomes significantly easier to add pieces when you know exactly what you need and how they will fit.