Selling for the Non-Sales Professional

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.

Dear Bev,

I heard your book on sales was featured in a recent podcast. I’m the leader of a 19-person advisory firm, with several seasoned advisors in the mix. I brought all of them on with existing clients in the anticipation that they would contribute to the revenue of our firm. None of them are bringing in new business. I’ve grown the firm significantly thanks to a strong market. We’ve also received some new contributions from existing clients. But outside of my efforts, no net-new clients.

The longest tenured advisor is six years; the newest 10 months. It isn’t like I haven’t been patient. I’ve spoken with several of my colleagues and we all agree that many advisors won’t sell – they don’t like it, they aren’t good at it and they simply will not do it.

Could buying them a book help them be more effective at sales? I am very skeptical. Convince me.


Dear V.E.,

It is impossible to buy someone a book and expect them to significantly change their behavior! Changing behavior, breaking habits and instituting new ways of doing things for anyone is challenging.

I’m not sure what it will take to convince you, but I have been doing this work for a couple of decades, working with financial advisors all of types, experiences and approaches. My strong answer is “yes,” you can absolutely teach people who aren’t comfortable selling how to sell more effectively. I call this “selling for the non-sales professional.” I have watched advisors who were completely resistant to the idea of selling and seemingly unable to do so, transform once they were given tools or taught in a way that works for their style and approach. There is no one-size-fits-all — you have to try a few approaches to see what will work with each of your advisors. If you are telling them to do it like you’ve done it, although you have been successful, your style might not work for others.