The Advisor Institute: Coach's Corner
'Pitching' is for baseball

Practical messages intended to help you elevate the success of your practice.

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      By David RichmanNational Director, Eaton Vance Advisor Institute

      With baseball season in full swing, it seems like a perfect moment to reflect upon a seemingly straightforward question:

      "When it comes to your prospecting efforts on the phone, what can you learn from the pitcher on the mound?"

      With so many advisors asking for help with their "pitch" these days, my answer is to leave pitching on the baseball field, as the best approach to the phone is to avoid "pitching." No one wants to be pitched!

      While I continue to stand by this high-level recommendation, upon further reflection it dawned on me that there are many things to be gleaned from a pitcher on the mound that have, dare I say, a "striking" application for your consideration. Consider these five "pitching goals" along with my sense of their application to you:

      1. Possess the pitcher's three C's on the mound: concentration, confidence and courage.

      • Concentrate on their answers to your questions, rather than where you think you want to go
      • Have the confidence that you can bring tremendous value to the prospect once you understand them
      • Maintain the courage to be experimental and be willing to ask a question you have never asked before

      2. It's harder for the hitter to hit than the pitcher to pitch. As you continue to refine your cadence and agendaless listening skills, you will start to realize that you are in a much better position to get the prospect to warm to you than you may think, their hesitance notwithstanding.

      3. Don't forget to breathe! Breathing will help you stay relaxed throughout the call — absolutely vital to having a successful conversation.

      4. Be in command — stay focused and control emotions. Maintain an even keel no matter what the prospect says — often what you hear as an "objection" may be something else.

      5. Control — like in pitching on the baseball diamond — is developed by frequent and deliberate practice. Instead of anchoring to the results of each call, anchor to activity — remember, a single prospect call will not make or break you. Your skills can only develop in real time with high frequency of activity.

      Bottom line: Leave the pitching to the baseball hurlers on the field and embrace these attributes of great pitchers.