by Certified Life Coach Alissa Gauger, MBA
“I’m going to go catch my horse,” is something you might hear a rider say as she gathers up a halter and lead rope and heads out to the paddock to get her horse. She will beeline right to the horse’s head and just strap the halter on the horse and tug his head where she wants to go no matter what the horse’s preference. The horse doesn’t get much of a say! By any chance do you catch your clients or do they catch you?
Watch this video from a recent Unleash Your Practice retreat to see a completely different way to ask a horse for permission to be “caught." Notice in the video that the horse Grace “catches” Northwestern Mutual Financial Advisor Jason Helmbold from Stamford, Connecticut by offering him her head when he asks her if it’s okay. Instead of lunging at Grace’s head and capturing her with a halter and lead rope, he engages in a conversation. He asks her if she would like to come with him. At first she moves away from him. He applies pressure again to ask the question a second time, and she answers “yes” in the language of the horse. Grace turns toward Jason and allows him to place the halter on her head. This is the beginning of a very different kind of relationship!
“The connection I felt with Grace was amazing when I felt like she wanted to work with me,” said Helmbold. “It was exhilarating to receive feedback from Grace that she saw me as a partner, not someone just trying to grab at her head and tell her what to do,” he added.When you compare the two ways you can “catch” a horse, which feels more familiar to you as far as how you “catch” your clients. Does it feel like you lunge at them and try to grasp on to or does it feel like genuine, enjoyable partnership?If it’s not the latter, here’s some help.Let’s start with the language of horses. Day one of Unleash Your Practice is a full day of equus coaching. Horses can provide valuable coaching insights because they mirror how others perceive us. They have no filter and cannot lie. This allows you and your coach to uncover your blind spots and gauge how effective your leadership, communication, boundary-setting and other skills are. When the horse shows you the truth, you can begin to make changes to get new results immediately.In the case of this equus coaching exercise, in order to draw Grace toward him, Jason needs to drive Grace. Driving Grace means he approached her from the hind end (her back legs) and applied pressure. Horses respond to pressure in different ways. In this case, Grace communicated to Jason “I’m not so sure yet, I’m going to walk away and consider what you have requested.” When Jason stays with Grace in partnership and asks her again by applying pressure to the hind end a second time, watch how Grace has made the decision to partner with Jason and offer him her head. This is the draw. This is a profound act of trust for a horse and is a testament to Jason’s leadership skills that he honed throughout his equus coaching experience. Notice that you can’t have draw without the drive and vice versa! Humans are the same.
The way we translate this to the “real world” is to become curious how the financial advisor is coming across to clients, staff and other people in her/his life. “I feel like I now understand how to ask my clients for permission to partner versus promote my own agenda,” said Jason. I have come home with a lot of new tools and ideas,” he said.
When attracting clients to work with you, consider how you drive them (ask questions, lead the meeting, present ideas and solutions) and also how you draw them (check for permission and connection, remove pressure, be present for their needs versus your own).
Practice the drive and the draw and experience a new way of attracting new clients, prospecting and closing. It is innate to us, just as it is to horses.
Coaching Tip Most Financial Representatives (FRs) are very heavy on drive and lack draw. When you contact a client more than a dozen time and continue to correspond without response, you are ignoring the other person’s experience in the relationship. The joy of using drive and draw is that it facilitates engagement and partnership. It asks you to be authentic and sincere. You cannot dehumanize your QSs and expect to draw them. Treat each and every person you wish to engage with as Jason did with Grace and you will benefit from having to do less activity while building stronger relationships.