She sat across the table from me, diligently working on a new script. I had heard her on a few previous calls with potential clients; her strategy was clear, and her execution process was by the book. She pressed for the sale and ended each call asking for a commitment. But closing the sale was difficult, and the entire process was so much work.
She would come into the office early and stay late and made more contacts than her peers (all male), but her numbers were not what they should be. Knowing her as well as I did, it was hard to watch her struggle; as a coach, it was challenging for me not to speak up right away, but I knew when she was ready, she would ask for my help.
As a natural achiever, she was constantly searching for the perfect process, the right words that would generate more positive results; perhaps that’s why she finally reached out and asked, “What are some questions I can ask that will help me uncover the issues better?” We talked about her process, and I shared a few questions that could better open up the dialogue. Then, I told her what I believed was her real challenge and what I thought could unleash her success.
“You have all the right lines, you follow the process of your firm, you are doing and saying everything right just as you were taught, but you are not sharing YOU in the call. You are not trusting yourself so you can really listen and feel what has to come next.” She looked at me and said, “I know.”
The moment I said those words, she could feel what I was saying. The entire process she was using was so uncomfortable for her, and it all felt staged. She trusted her managers and was diligent in doing exactly what they were telling her, but, as a result, she was losing her real power—herself. This was a strong, very confident young woman, a former athlete who understood the value of coaching and the importance of following instructions.
But in the financial services industry, coaching and guidance are NOT necessarily conducive to women.
This was a prime example. While management could SEE what she was capable of, they did not know how to coach it out of her. Being the only female advisor in the company, this was not surprising.
These are challenging situations for women and often cause women to lose confidence in their skills and ability over time. Women have struggled to adapt for way too long; they have natural abilities denied and overlooked. The key is discovering how to integrate the teachings from men into your own strengths as a woman. However, more often than not, instead of integrating, we submerge ourselves in the male model.
So what’s a girl to do?
For this young woman, there were two options:
Go for Broke: Trust that she had the skill sets and start focusing on being more natural and authentic during her phone conversations. She had developed some great skills; now it was time to integrate her unique strengths as a woman and go for it!
Change Jobs: In most cases, I would suggest that you consider changing jobs ONLY after ‘going for broke.’ You will never know what you could achieve until you truly unleash your strengths as a woman. But under some circumstances, you may recognize that your current position will not allow or support your desire to stray from the pack and follow what you know to be a better way of building a business.
Women have conformed, adapted, and stuck it out for way too long. You have nothing to prove to anyone but yourself. When you tune out that inner voice or hide your strengths, you will never achieve your true potential as a financial advisor.