As I said in an earlier post: when you sell to advisors, you have to be authentic to your own product. If you’re not, you’ll eventually be exposed as a fake. It’s inevitable. Still, people keep trying to fake it anyway. Think of all the vendors who position themselves as "partners" or brag about their "consultative approach." (By the way, who doesn’t have a consultative approach these days? Can you think of any providers who advertise their "arrogant dictator" approach or their "we-don’t-listen-to-you" approach? It’s meaningless jargon at this point.) Okay. So this joker is now your partner. Try calling this new "partner" of yours for help solving a specific, real-world problem in your own business—say, performing an advisor practice valuation or recruiting a Millennial woman. Chances are, you’ll get to watch them twisting in the wind until they finally admit they don’t actually do any of the things they talk about on their website. They just put the content up because they know you want to read it.
In my last post, I talked about why your story needs a good villain. About why you need tension, and conflict, and a reason for your clients and prospects to cheer for you. Now I want to share two examples of relevant, real-world companies with stories that feature great villains.
I have a question for you. You won’t understand at first why it’s important. But it goes right to the heart of who you are, and what your business represents. Just bear with me. Who is your favorite movie villain of all time? Darth Vader? Hannibal Lechter? Voldemort? Norman Bates? The alien in Alien? I have two.
Right this minute, we are watching the collision of two forces that are shaking advisor firms to their foundations. The first is the commoditization of advice, driven in part by technology. Face it: investment performance is no longer a credible differentiator. Between the popularity of passive investing and the convenience of robo-advisors, few prospects are likely to be persuaded that your firm is really, truly, reliably a better stock-picker than your competitors. Most advisors recognize this fact, even if they aren’t sure what to do about it.
This is the story of how we lost an account. It was a painful lesson, but one that’s worth reading whether you’re an agency, vendor or advisor—really, anyone who’s invested in the growth of advisor firms. Of course, I’ve changed the story to the point where it’s now completely fictional and no longer resembles anything that happened in real life. Only the lesson remains the same.