During my years at OppenheimerFunds, I spent a ton of time training future bank platform reps how to sell mutual funds.
Each month the Mutual Funds One class would begin with participant introductions, and I could tell from the wide eyes and hesitant voices that these New Account Representatives were not quite ready to embark on the company mandate that they now learn how to sell non-deposit products to bank clients.
By day three, after filling their brains with an inordinate amount of information, but before turning them loose on the investing public, I asked them about their level of confidence.
Most replied that they were worried – worried about sounding or looking bad.
I reminded them that everyone starting out must “get their teeth kicked in”.
It was my indelicate way of telling them that there was no easy path to bridge the gap from the comfortable place of selling CD’s to the uncomfortable place of pitching a mutual fund investment to the same bank client.
I reminded them that they would feel intimidated that the prospect’s knowledge might be (would be?) greater than theirs, that their presentations would be awkward and contrived until they found their rhythm, and that they would have truly uncomfortable moments with clients where they would not know the answer to questions asked.
I recalled that story as I worked with a present-day coaching client.
She was trying to re-frame her own mindset because it was preventing her from undertaking a task that she knew would yield business.
She worried that it would make her uncomfortable until she perfected the assignment.
She feared, just like the new class of mutual fund sellers, that she would be potentially embarrassed during her first few times out.
Dale Carnegie published a book in the 1940’s called How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. In this lesser known but no less meaningful book, Carnegie speaks directly to this issue of ‘worry’ and how it impacts our business and personal lives.
He suggested one solution is to consider the ‘worst case scenario.’
What was the worst case scenario for the banker turned licensed rep to consider?
Perhaps they might omit an important fact about a fund recommendation causing the client to experience a huge loss. In turn, the client files suit against the broker dealer, the rep is found culpable and is terminated for cause.
You can play the worst case out as far as you wish, but did the class actually believe that the worst case scenario would occur?
Whether it’s a new product pitch, a new channel’s advisors to cover, or a new value add program to learn, every one will experience some degree of trepidation.
And there are no shortcuts.
You need to get your teeth kicked in.