Winning the Same Way Every Time

Winning the Same Way Every Time

As a student manager for the men’s basketball team at Indiana University, I was fortunate to sit at the end of the bench for the 1987 NCAA National Championship. Many people ask me how Coach Bob Knight prepared the team for the final game against Syracuse in the day and half after we beat UNLV in the national semifinals. Well, we did the exact same thing we had done all year. 

You see, success follows process and procedure, which eventually allows a team (or business owner) to use their talents effectively. That Final Four run proved that when you follow the successful process you’ve established, you can relax and play the game freely and confidently. 

As we approach a fiduciary standard later in 2016, it’s important to set up wining processes now. Following an established process every time will allow you to focus in on the client while acting in their best interest. Pay attention to how you interact with your clients in the following ways:


Make sure you have a set routine for each client to explain your services, set expectations and sign a standard engagement letter. The engagement letter (contract) should provide flexibility in how you provide solutions and receive compensation. It’s too early in the financial planning process to determine which solutions you’ll use or if/how you will receive commissions. 

Discovery Process

In order to act in the client’s best interest, it’s critical to uncover all the necessary information through an established discovery process. Create a written fact finder to document the answers, and be sure they aren’t completely quantitative. It’s just as important to understand how a client feels and prioritizes their goals is as it is to know their net worth, disposable income and assets.  


You should leverage a consistent software or set of software tools in your analysis of each case. Having a process that provides dependable output gives you, and the client, assurance they are receiving the best advice. 


Because you are familiar with the software output, your client presentation should be methodical and factual while emphasizing the key areas of concern. Obviously, this is where you begin to recommend and offer solutions. If you have followed your standard process up to this point and have established their needs, how you receive compensation will likely be irrelevant to the client. 

Implementation and Review

One of the most frustrating things clients tell us is that their financial professional failed to follow up on the plan. It’s really important to make sure all your recommendations were executed – either by you or another financial professional – and that you take the initiative to make sure all those recommendations are performing properly and still meet the client’s goals.

Many financial professionals remain concerned about the pending fiduciary standards. However, I argue the vast majority of our sales professionals are following some sort of established process already. 

Instead of worrying about changing your financial planning practice on a dime, look to review and refine your established processes. Make sure they are agnostic to companies and compensation. Most importantly, write those processes down so that you have documentation in the event you are challenged by a client in the future. Following the same processes over and over will give you the same confidence the Hoosiers had playing in the national championship game. 

Bottom Line

Establish and follow your selling process for success. Having set standards allows you to focus on the client and meet or exceed their expectations.


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1897 NCAA Tournament:


About the Author

Mike McGlothlin is the Executive Vice President of Annuities at Ash Brokerage. His strength is helping advisors become more efficient and effective in their businesses. He and his team provide income-planning solutions focused on longevity and tax efficiency, and they also assist advisors with entering defined-benefit termination planning and structured settlement markets.