The Advisor Institute: Coach's Corner
What is your 'ready position'?

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

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      By David RichmanNational Director, Eaton Vance Advisor Institute

      For many years in our phone skills workshops, we have discussed the importance of the "ready position." During these socially distant days with prospecting via social networking replaced by an increase in phone activity, my thinking on the "ready position" has deepened.

      Historically, my sense of the "ready position" brought me to a tennis analogy, with its importance for better positioning and preparedness to return serves, overheads and volleys. This metaphor relates to your position when dialing a prospect:

      • Are you ready for the person to answer the call or have you allowed the much more frequent nonanswers to your repeated dials lull you into a "flat-footed" state?
      • When someone answers and they catch you flat-footed, what happens next? Typically nothing good, right?

      Exploring the concept of equanimity can help add some dimensionality to our thinking about the "ready position." The word equanimity (traced back to the early 1600s) refers to a state of inner calm and maintaining an even keel no matter what comes our way. A podcast on the Calm app refers to it as an inner smoothness; being ninja-like. You can undoubtedly see how this takes our thinking on the "ready position" to the next level.

      Imagine the implications for your success in converting suspects into bona fide prospects if you can harness such an "inner smoothness." How? Like anything else, it takes practice. Can meditation help? Yes. Does that take a commitment and consistent discipline? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes.

      Short of committing to daily meditation and developing your equanimity muscle, here is my best advice for you to improve your "ready position": Embrace the underlying principles of equanimity and develop a nonattachment mindset. How? Start with the following four steps:

      1. Remind yourself before each dial that no single call will make or break your career. Whether a human answers my dial or not, it is OK. Whether the call goes well or not, it is OK.
      2. Anchor to your sincere interest in understanding whether you can help this person — not to selling you.
      3. Attach to your confidence as the call proceeds. You know what you are doing. You are ready for whatever may come your way. You will maintain a calm demeanor.
      4. Place these phrases on sticky notes next to your phone to remind yourself:

      • Breathe.
      • Don't pitch.
      • Lead with genuine curiosity.
      • Stay even-keeled.
      • Be ninja-like.
      • Inner smooth.
      • Slow down.
      • Talk less.
      • Ask that follow-up question.
      • Pause.

      Bottom line: Your mindset when approaching each prospect call can make the total difference. Be — and stay — in the "ready position." Practice equanimity.