By: Daniel C. Finley

Building Your Business in a Bear Market

If you are in the financial services industry your business is tethered to the market. When the market is up so is your business but when the market is down, so is your business. It’s inevitable especially if you have a fee-based business. When the market and your assets under management drop it also means your gross commissions drop.

When this happens, do your business building activities necessarily need to follow suit? The answer is “no”. However, many advisors stop prospecting because they don’t have a good strategy for continuing to do that task during a Bear Market.

If you are viewing a Bear Market as an obstacle rather than an opportunity you certainly won’t reach the next level.

Warren Buffet, one of the best investors of our time had the right mentality regarding investing in a Bear Market when he said, “A market downturn doesn’t bother us. It is an opportunity to increase our ownership of great companies with great management at good prices.”

This perspective carries over and supports connecting with prospects when other advisors won’t. And, when the market is down it’s an opportunity to increase ownership in your own business.

Let’s take a look at a five step strategic process for building your business in a Bear Market!

Step #1: Master Your Mindset

Your mindset is the most important part of the process. If you don’t get into the right frame of mind you won’t apply any of the other steps. The big question is, how do you get into the right frame of mind? By reframing your reference point!

In 2001, I hired my first business coach because after experiencing my first Bear Market I was at a loss at what to do. I really didn’t want to do anything. My business coach helped me to pinpoint a different reference point and look at the opportunity within the obstacle by understanding that all Bear Markets eventually end.

He asked me to start thinking about what I would want to happen when it did end. That changed my reference point! I knew exactly what I would have wanted to do which was to speak to my clients and prospect daily to build my business when nobody else was.

Step #2: Master Your Time

Once you have a positive mindset and are ready to begin building your business in a Bear Market you need to make time to do it! In other words, you need to create a habit of prospecting. The best way to do this is by using two time management tools that I have created which are the Bottom Line List and the Time Matrix To-Do List. The first helps you to have structure in your day because it maps out the top five daily activities that need to be accomplished-each activity scheduled for a forty five minute time block. The second is a tool for prioritizing your tasks and interruptions so that you know when you will work on them.

Typically, the best time to prospect is at the start of your business day because that’s when you are more productive on the phone. Since my target market was business owners, I wanted to catch them early so I put prospecting as the first activity on my Bottom Line List. When I would get interrupted I would put the interruption on my Time Matrix To-Do List, prioritize it into one of four categories which are: today, now, this week and whenever. Then, I would got back to prospecting.

But, just making an effort to prospect isn’t enough; you need to go to the next step.

Step #3: Master Your Prospecting Process

Once you have a positive mindset and you have developed your time management system you need a good prospecting process. I recommend three prospecting tools that my clients use to find success: 1. Framing the Conversation 2. The Smoke Screen Technique 3. The Objection Resolutions Model.

I mapped out my business owner cold call script using a technique called Framing the Conversation so that I knew what to within the first seconds of the call. Then, I mapped out how to handle objections that I believed just weren’t the truth such as “I’m busy” or “Send me some information”, by using The Smoke Screen Technique. Then, I stumbled across a technique called The Objection Resolutions Model for handling what I considered to be the real objections. Once I had my prospecting process mapped out I started making the calls and setting appointments!

Step #4: Unclogging the Pipeline

All sales pipelines have a clog in them and the way you can find any/all clogs in it is to use a tool I created called The New Business Strategy List. This tool shows you what stage of the pipeline each person is in. And if there is a pattern of a number of prospects that don’t move to the next stage, you’ve found your clog. Once you find the clog you need to find and apply the solution!

After a few weeks of prospecting, I found my clog in the pipeline; it was not closing the sale because I wasn’t preparing for objections. So, I used the same handling objections tools for setting the appointment to master closing the appointment. And, my close ratio went up!

Step #5: Master Your Tracking System

Now that you’ve got a system down for building your business in a Bear Market all you need to do is keep track of your progress.

Eventually, I realized that I needed to track my successes so I created some new columns The New Business Strategy List for assets gathered and gross commissions closed. This helped to determine my progress at any given time!

Why Building Your Business in a Bear Market Works

As you know, getting comfortable with being out of your comfort zone is difficult to do. The reason why building business in a Bear Market works so well is because it gives you direction when everyone around you is directionless.

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