"If only I had my MBA, a doctorate, or some industry designation, things would be easier."
While those are nice, they're not necessary.
When I first started in the financial services world, I thought that too. I thought I needed a fancy degree. I thought I needed one of the many insurance industry designations.
Many of the successful agents and financial planners in our office held industry designations. A few had the CLU® (Chartered Life Underwriter®) designation. A couple had a ChFC® (Chartered Financial Consultant®) designation. One had his CFP® (Certified Financial Planner) designation - this was the mid 1990s and the CFP designation was still new.
I signed up and started taking my first courses towards the CFP® and ChFC® designation. I thought, "If the successful reps had them, it will help me learn what I needed to become successful."
The classes were filled with mountains of technical knowledge, as you would expect.
I kept at it. And I still struggled in the business.
I was learning how these wonderful investments, tax laws, and retirement plans work and benefit my potential clients. Yet I struggled.
A few years into the business, I realized that a couple of the top producers didn't have any designations or fancy college degrees. I spoke with a friend at another office and he said the same thing.
That shocked me.
I had to find out how they got there without earning their badge of expertise.
First, it was hard to talk with these top producers. They were rarely in the office. Fortunately I cornered one at an annual meeting and asked him about it.
This guy golfed six days a week and was the top person in our office. I wanted to know how he could screw around golfing all week and sell more than everyone in the office?
He said you don't need credibility from a designation when you realize you can help your client, and your client believes in you.
There were people in the office who knew things he didn't. He didn't care that he didn't need to know everything about all the fancy financial strategies.
He needed to understand how to find clients (which is a topic for another day). And he knew how to build rapport, relationships, and trust with his clients.
If he couldn't answer a question on a strategy he said, "I don't know but I will find out." There was always someone at the office who knew what he didn't, and he learned as he went.
He wasn't goofing off golfing. He golfed every day because that's where his clients were. He was prospecting, getting referrals, and most importantly, building relationships.
At least that's what I originally thought.
Becoming Believable Isn't Taught Through Product Knowledge
That conversation opened my eyes. One important thing I realized was I didn't need the classes to help me sell more.
The classes didn't have anything on how to acquire more customers, how to build your practice, or how to sell better. The classes didn't make me more believable.
It's something that comes from inside.
Believability gives you the ability to influence more quickly and easily. It can come from the new confidence you've gained by earning a designation. But it isn't necessary.
Believability comes from being honest.
Believability comes from asking your clients important questions, not talking about your products.
Believability comes from congruence in the confidence you have in yourself.
Change doesn't come from the outside. Change starts on the inside. Within you.
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