Leadership Perspectives | 08.28.19
What Motivates Financial Advisors and Sales Managers?: Part 1
This is part one in a series of four.
What makes a great financial advisor? How important are sales managers in helping their financial advisors succeed and reach their full potential?
These are fundamental questions that have been discussed and debated for years. Of course, financial advisors need to have strong product knowledge, solid communications skills, attention to detail and quite literally, dozens of other skills and knowledge about economics, taxation, technology, compliance, communications, and on and on. Sales managers need all these skills, as well as the ability to build rapport with their financial advisors, gain their trust and respect, as well as find ways to keep them motivated, happy and on track to be successful.
Beyond these skills and talents, at the heart of why a financial advisor or sales manager is successful, lies the obvious fact they want to be the best they can be. In other words, they are motivated to succeed. Without motivation and the ability of both financial advisors and sales managers to self-motivate, as well as sales managers to motivate others, all the skills and talents would never be used. We frequently talk about people who have passion, focus and even “a fire in the belly” to be successful. This is all about motivation.
So, if motivation is essential for success, what do we know about it? Why are some people more motivated than others? How do you self-motivate? And what are the strategies and tactics managers use to motivate others?
Psychologists and scientists from different disciplines have studied motivation for more than 100 years and have come up with theories that explain the how’s and why’s of motivation. From operant conditioning, to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, there are dozens of theoretical explanations for motivation and the lack of it, too. Industrial psychologists have tried to take these theories and develop practical applications of techniques that can motivate employees and help managers improve productivity and retention, and build loyalty to their organizations. From sales contests to performance reviews, the results of many of their attempts to motivate employees have been mixed, at best.
With 25 years of recruiting, interviewing and consulting experience, I have spoken to thousands of financial advisors and sales managers in the bank investment programs marketplace. I am not a psychologist, nor a certified behaviorist. But I have learned a lot over the years about what motivates sales people and have come to my own conclusions. What I’ve come to believe is this:
First, financial advisors, and essentially all employees in all industries, are motivated by four basic wants, needs and desires:
- Monetary rewards
- Self-satisfaction/internal rewards
While this may seem pretty basic, the tricky part is that everyone is motivated by all four at the same time, just to different degrees. While everyone has his or her unique “MRSF” profile, it is constantly changing with the individual’s circumstances. Let me give you a couple of examples.
If financial advisor Mary Smith wants to be promoted to vice president, her motivation by recognition is high. But, if she happens to get the bill for her son’s college tuition in the mail, her level of motivation for monetary rewards will probably increase relative to her desire to attain a title. And, if manager John Doe has just been given sales goals that seem very difficult to achieve, his motivation due to fear (fear of losing his job, his manager’s respect, etc.) may very well be “off the charts.”
Financial advisors need to be honest with themselves as to what really motivates them. Many financial advisors want to give the impression that their primary motivation is “to do good,” and that may be the case. But to effectively self-motivate, an honest evaluation will lead to successful motivational strategies. If a financial advisor or sales manager wants to work hard to get a higher payout, receive a bonus or get a prestigious award, that’s fine – just try to not fool yourself as to what will make you achieve these goals. At the same time, understand that what may primarily motivate you today may be more or less of a factor in the future.
In this series…
Part 2: Practical self-motivation strategies
Part 3: A sales manager's role in motivating financial advisors
Part 4: Improving recruiting and hiring results
Paul A. Werlin founded Human Capital Resources, Inc. (HCR) in 1995 to provide recruiting, consulting, training and employee selection services specifically for the financial institution investment program marketplace. HCR has worked with more than 200 banks, credit unions, broker/dealers, third-party marketing firms, and mutual fund and insurance companies, helping them recruit key personnel for sales, marketing, technology, compliance and senior management positions.