In this Section:

3 Lessons For Overcoming Obstacles To Success

Growth stagnation can be a frustrating hurdle that threatens the success of new and developing practices. I experienced a particularly challenging period in my practice that coincided with difficult personal circumstances. During that rough patch, I applied three key lessons I refined over the course of my career. Those lessons helped me adapt my operations and make it through that seemingly impossible chapter.

Years later, my practice is thriving. These lessons can be implemented in any combination to help advisors overcome the most common obstacles to their success.

Lesson 1: Empower Your Staff To Help You Achieve More

A successful practice cannot prosper and flourish with the support of only one person. Advisors need to delegate tasks to their team in order to open their schedules and drive growth for their practices. Ideally, advisors should not be involved in or responsible for tasks that do not relate to revenue generation.

Recognize your staff’s strengths and weaknesses, and work with them individually and collectively to delegate ownership for areas that elevate their skills and minimize gaps. This will ensure that employees are not frustrated or discouraged with their tasks and will keep them satisfied and efficient. Some tasks, such as illustrations and visualizations, may need to be outsourced to a third party to streamline workflow.

The only way to get through growing pains is to accept that mistakes will happen; when they do, try to fix and minimize them. Consistency and structure are key to a well-functioning team dynamic.

Lesson 2: Never Stop Prospecting

No matter how successful you are, you cannot afford to get too comfortable or stop prospecting. You must keep your radar on at all times and follow up with new prospects at an appropriate time. Gaps in prospecting can create a drought in your business down the line and can cause serious damage to your practice.

My practice relies on a few ongoing prospecting strategies to feed the lead pipeline and ensure sustainable long-term success. I give road show presentations as a way to educate professionals who offer related, complementary services on the benefits of various insurance products and strategies. Presentations are tailored to suit the needs and interests of their professional services — from lawyers to CPAs to trust and investment brokers. In these hourlong meetings, I dedicate time for questions and open conversation, which leads to networking and opportunities to collaborate on ways to better serve our clients.

My other prospecting efforts focus on networking within my community and centers of influence. This contributed to 80 percent of my gross annual revenue. In fact, my network carried me through a few lean years of operation. I relied on fellow advisors’ referrals and prospect leads to protect my practice and employees.

It’s important to pay that forward and keep in touch with influential advisors in my local community and the greater industry. I attend meetings and conferences, sponsor local events and schedule one-on-one outings to professional sports events in addition to outreach through targeted email campaigns. I also hold an annual holiday party to treat 30 of my closest sources and my staff to a private five-course dinner. At this dinner, some of Boston’s top advisors are able to network and refer business to each other. This promotes a positive relationship and community that ensures our mutual success.

Lesson 3: Know Your Value And Strengths

Identify and hold on to tasks in your day-to-day operations that keep you excited about your business and help you perform better than anyone else. Find a way to keep at least two of your valuable strengths within your purview.

For me, it’s prospecting and client service. My skills help clients and other advisors feel comfortable that they will be well taken care of. This brings real value to those relationships that might not otherwise exist if those tasks were outsourced.

Roadblocks to success can be difficult to navigate, but it is possible to overcome them with strategies in place to generate and manage growth. Advisors who are hesitant to relinquish control over their practices’ day-to-day operations should identify a few key changes they can make to build momentum as they grow and develop their practices over time.



David E. Appel, CLU, ChFC, AEP, is managing partner of Appel Insurance Advisors, Newton, Mass. He is a 19-year qualifying and life member of the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), with seven consecutive Top of the Table qualifications and eight Court of the Table qualifications. David may be contacted at [email protected] .

More from InsuranceNewsNet