BOOK REPORT ARE YOU IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL?

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1 BOOK REPORT Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Am I the Most Valued of them All? The Ultimate Element of Differentiation is YOU By Leo J. Pusateri ISBN ARE YOU IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL? After years of studying sales behavior and being in the industry trenches myself, I realized that the difficulty lies in identifying your own unique value. Once you master it, you realize: YOU ARE THE VALUE. This is a concept that can be understood well before you develop your own value. You are the value means just that you not your product or your company are the value. HOW IT ALL BEGAN What exactly is the value ladder anyway? It is the core component of the strategic development initiative that helps you begin the discovery process of differentiating your value from the competition. The value ladder is a process consisting of seven strategic steps (critical questions prospects usually ask or might be thinking) that prompt you to be introspective, ultimately helping you deliver your message with confidence, passion and speed (lack of hesitation). Discovering and delivering your value is a strategic process. It s what I refer to as a chest game of questioning, answering and understanding. As an introspective process of discovery, the value ladder process allows you to understand the seven critical questions clients ask and to answer them with confidence, passion and speed. THE VALUE LADDER 7.Why should I do business with you? Real Value 6. What makes you different? Differentiation 5. Who have you done it for? Client Successes 4. How do you do what you do? Process 3. Why do you do what you do? Business Beliefs 2. What do you do? Unique Value Proposition 1. Who are you? Background 1. Who are you? Here are some guidelines: Say who you are by giving your name, title and who you work for Explain your organization, provide the firm s history, strategic alliances, relationships and how long it s been in existence

2 Your part of the team or department identified Describe its functions and how your team/department operates and what your role is Other considerations: (A) Your location Years in business Years with current organization Members of your team Former employers Key clients New clients on annual basis Assets under management Areas of expertise Professional designation, special education Professional affiliation Special background Other Considerations: (B) Where you live Where you grew up Family information Educational background Hobbies Sports you enjoy Other non work activities Charities or civic organizations Strategic Questions to Consider: 1. How well do I position myself now? 2. What is my typical response to the question, Who are you? 3. How does my response help to begin my differentiation process? 4. How does my response help to set the stage for further dialogue, building trust and rapport? 5. What other information does my team need to answer this question at a world-class level? 6. If my team and I can answer this question at a world-class level, what impact will that have on sales or my consulting process? 7. What impression will I make in the marketplace if my organization fails to respond to this question with confidence, passion and speed? 2. What do you do? Defining your unique value proposition. The second step in the Value Ladder, What do you do? helps you develop your unique value proposition. This is what your prospect really wants to know. So what, exactly is your unique value proposition? It s a brief statement or paragraph that clearly and concisely captures the essence of

3 what differentiates you from your competition. It is your compelling message delivered with such confidence, passion and speed that you will really feel on top of your game. Your Unique Value Proposition Unique: You are one of a kind; or as I say, you have exclusivity Value: How well your solutions help achieve your clients goals. Proposition: Your written or verbal proposal Your unique value proposition sets the stage for your differentiation and should imply to your prospects that what you do is special. It should generate interest and give a definite sense of your expertise. It should also open the door of opportunity for people to say, Tell me more about what you do or What do you mean by that? How to develop your unique value proposition The first step is to think about the various words that describe the unique value of your company. Here s a sample listing of words that typically come up: minimizes risk global regional specializes in wealth management specialist partner industry innovator socially responsible international provide preserves capital peerless customer service seeks superior results has competitive advantage vigorously implements strategy market leader alignment with clients consistent track record old line heritage Give yourself 60 seconds to brainstorm ideas and come up with the key words to be on your list. Second step: Consider the words that best describe the unique value of the solutions you provide. For example: portfolio managers on the same side of the table with analysts managers have meetings with clients if needed multiple portfolio management systems comprehensive

4 customized personalized large, but entrepreneurial proven, unique process analysts are money managers broadly diversified low volatility capital market insights institutional quality money management Again, give yourself 60 seconds to brainstorm some ideas that would be the key words on your list. Third step: think about all the words that describe the unqiue value of you as an individual. Such as: skillful proficient experienced capable intelligent clever resourceful compassionate informed trusted expert master competent prepared sharp methodical trustworthy aware distinctive understanding smart accomplished efficient talented discreet inventive ethical educated

5 sophisticated honest Again, take 60 seconds to brainstorm some words that describe you. Fourth step: Now that you have a list of key words, your fourth step is to choose ten that really jump out at you. Use them as a starting point for the first draft of your unique value proposition. Fifth step: The fifth step is to begin writing your initial draft. When you are satisfied with the first version, review it carefully and make any changes you feel are necessary. Have a colleague read it, leave it for a few days and then go back to it with a fresh outlook. Guidelines as you begin writing your draft 1. Make your unique value proposition one sentence or a brief statement. 2. Be specific. 3. Convey a positive, passionate and confident feeling. 4. Create an emotional connection through your words. 5. Have your statement create enough interest and excitement so that someone would say, Tell me more. 6. Write your unique value proposition to fit on the back of your business card. Samples: I provide wealth management services that assist clients to reduce taxes eliminate the fear of financial loss and retire comfortably by meeting their financial goals. I enable individuals to make more informed decisions about their money, the growth and protection of their assets in providing estate-planning situations. I offer customized investment strategies that are academically based and give clients the greatest chance of reaching their financial goals. I offer comprehensive, objective financial advice to clients who desire a high level of personal service. 3. Why do you do what you do? How are your business beliefs founded? You need to take into account the direction in which your organization/practice is headed which may include the investment climate and industry trends. Consider which trends are affecting your organization right now so you can get a clear picture for how to structure your business beliefs for your unique value proposition. For example: a. Are you positioning integrated seamless financial solutions versus selling products? b. Are you attempting to differentiate your process? c. Are you committed to developing a fee-based business? d. Are you focusing on gathering assets?

6 e. Are you truly committed to competing on value? f. Are you consulting with clients or are you transacting? g. Are you perceived as a registered vendor or the clients one and only consultant? Business beliefs are also founded on where your practice has been, which means looking at historical patterns. Do you earn your revenues on a commission basis? Do you regularly compete on price or value? Do you focus on transactions? Are you selling products and not emphasizing a consultative approach? What have you learned as an organization? What opinions, wisdom and experience have you developed in your practice? What have your clients taught you? a. You know what you like/don t like. b. You know what works best for you. c. You know, most importantly, what works best for your clients. d. You know that your clients have taught you many things over the years. I ve recently realized, sadly, that there s another way business beliefs can be formulated. I refer to them as unexpected events in your life or business. As we all know, unexpected events can change our outlook. In other words, what have we learned from the things that haven t turned out well in working with clients? When we have not been successful attracting a new client or keeping an existing client that fits our ideal client description, what have we been able to learn from that experience? Individual business beliefs 1. I believe that we are still in the midst of a value revolution. 2. I believe the changing client is driving the value revolution. 3. I believe our business is becoming more commoditized and the challenge to distinguish ourselves today is critical. We need to be distinct, or we will become extinct. 4. I believe that any organization/team/individual in business today needs to answer seven simple yet powerful questions to truly distinguish themselves based upon their value. These seven questions are the seven steps of the Value Ladder. 5. I believe we must stop winging our responses to clients and answer questions with confidence, passion and speed. 4. How do you do what you do? This step really talks about the process that you use in your business. Here s a sample from another advisor. 1. Identifying your financial needs and establishing goals. 2. Developing your professional investment strategy. 3. Establishing your written game plan. 4. Implementing your plan.

7 5. Maintaining your objectives and reaching your goals. 6. Keeping the promise. 7. Continuing the commitment. Your Process Create it, make it come to life, spread the word. Here, you are to brainstorm all things that you believe are part of your process. Start thinking about components of your process, such as: long term goals discussion disciplined approach discovery evaluation constant monitoring asset allocation performance reporting planning protection Client Relationship Process 1. List the steps of your process that you believe differentiate you from the competition. 2. Explain each step in your process. What are the specific actions that need to be taken to complete each step? 3. As you go through each step, list ways in which you and your organization are different from the competition. 4. Include additional ways these steps provide added value to your prospects and clients. Additional thoughts: as you re refining the process, think about adding statements such as: sustaining the commitment ongoing communication coaching to meet lifetime goals monitoring the plan or portfolio evaluating and reporting on the plan or portfolio Finally, after you have your process down pat, you should consider putting a name to the process. When you name the process and are in a social setting, it helps you describe how you do what you do. Example: I have trademarked a process called The Unique Solutions Process. Specifically, it helps people reach their lifetime goals by making smart decisions on how they manage and handle their money.

8 5. Who have you done it for? Tools to help you analyze your clients and markets The fifth step of the Value Ladder forces you to think in deeper layers about your clients, about who they are and whether your interests are aligned with theirs. It makes you think, which new clients would I like to work with? It also helps you assess if your current clients have appreciation for your value and your process and are they willing to pay for it? Individual Client Analysis 1. Who are my individual clients? 2. What are their key emotional issues? 3. What are the solutions for these issues? 4. What is the real value that you provide? Market Segment Analysis A good exercise here would be to write down the list of your top clients. After you ve done that, evaluate each client on the following basis: a. What are their key emotional issues? What are their challenges, special circumstances, concerns, frustrations, opportunities, needs and problems? b. What are the solutions that you provided? c. What was the real value that you delivered? Key questions the advisor needs to ask and understand from his top clients. 1. How long have you been working with your financial advisor? 2. What specifically is he/she doing for you? 3. Why did you decide to do business with your financial advisor? 4. Tell me what process you went through to make your decision. 5. Who else did you consider? 6. What do you value most about your financial advisor? 7. Do you trust your financial advisor? 8. What is the real value that your financial advisor can provide? 6. What makes you different? Three ways to distinguish yourself 1. You could distinguish yourself as a company against your competition. This is called organization differentiation. 2. You can distinguish yourself and your company on a solutions level. This is called solution differentiation. 3. You can distinguish yourself on an individual or team level. This is called individual/team differentiation.

9 Who are your real competitors? 1. Who is your direct competition? 2. Who would be your indirect competition? 3. Who are your remote competitors? 4. Which one will be the most important in your industry five years from now? 5. Which minor competitors could become threats? Key Competitive Differentiation Concepts 1. The concept of uniqueness. What characteristics make your firm truly unique? You are unique; it s only a question of understanding your uniqueness and speaking concisely about it. 2. The concept of competitive advantages. Are you better than your competition and in which ways is that important to your prospect or client? Is there something that you do better than your competition? Then it becomes a strategic competitive advantage and something that you need to put emphasis on. 3. The concept of parody. In an increasingly commoditized world, we can try our best to distinguish ourselves but sometimes things seem so similar that they look and feel to be a competitive wash. i.e. the peanut analogy they all look the same and yet they re all different. Remember, pay attention to the details on this issue. Differentiation is in the eye of the beholder. 4. The concept of competitive uniqueness. i.e. I d rather be playing cards knowing what s in my opponents hands. I can then strategize differently and make the most effective use of my resources. 5. The concept of competitive disadvantages. This is the opposite of competitive advantage and this concept represents what your competitors do better than you. Organization Differentiation 1. Identify your top five competitors. 2. Identify your organization s uniqueness. 3. Identify your own competitive advantages. 4. Identify the characteristics of your firm and your competitors firms that you feel are fairly equal. 5. Identify your competitors uniqueness. 6. Identify your competitive advantages. Keys to Differentiation The most important element of differentiation is literally the person the prospect partners with. Even though you can distinguish your company and your solutions, the critical component is you. You are the company. You are the process. You are the value. What do you stand for? 1. Passion: we have boundless enthusiasm and love for our work. For us, work is fun. 2. Commitment: we have emotional and intellectual commitment to organization and personal growth. We bring a mindset of innovative learning and dedication to all of our client relationships.

10 3. Trust: we earn this coveted distinction due to our client s total confidence in our abilities, our integrity and our character. Our clients are confident in us because of our faith to our work and ourselves. We always do what is right for our clients. 4. Respect: we treat our clients and each other with the utmost respect. We regard each client relationship as a special privilege. We are constantly considerate, appreciative and always strive to exceed our client s expectations. 5. Value: we are unique because we know our value and constantly strive to understand our clients value. We also believe that value is not only the operative word in business today but also it is the single most compelling word that must be in the financial advisors vocabulary. 7. Why should I do business with you? Value versus real value Your value is having a process in place that can help clients realize their lifetime financial goals and dreams. Your real value is implementing that process to achieve your client s lifetime financial goals and dreams. You should do business with me because I can help you achieve real value Qualitative Quantitative - peace of mind - increase assets - achieving a legacy - increase revenues - community support - increase assets under management - charitable endeavors - increase certainty of return on investment - quality of life - accelerate cash flow - ease of doing business - protect assets - confidence - reduce risk - loyalty - reduce cost - reduce fiduciary liability Financial Entrepreneurial Impact Ladder 1. Mister Nice Guy the individual who gets by on personality. 2. Price/Performance Advisor the advisor that competes strictly on price. 3. Technical Advisor your value is being a strong technician. 4. Need satisfier the advisor who realizes that they were born with two ears and one mouth and are working at becoming a better listener and responding to the needs of the client. 5. Strategic partner this is where professional advisors want to be. They realize the following: a. The most important thing they have to sell is themselves. b. They compete on value. c. They truly exhibit consultative behavior. d. They earn the coveted distinction of trust. e. They think like a partner. f. Exhibit conversational respect.

11 Summary g. Can illustrate a process. h. Demonstrate unbelievable confidence. i. Passionate in all that they do and say. j. No hesitation in responding to critical questions. Creating a culture of value: - Challenging yourself and your organization to greatness - Understanding your value gaps and act - Listen aggressively to your clients - Total commitment to the initiative - Utilize all the requisite skills - Respectful dialogue with all involved - Enjoy the ride and measure your success

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