Suze Orman on Prospecting: If you have to, you must not be very good at your job

Normally we leave Suze Orman alone, but now I’ve written a post about her two weeks in a row.  I promise next week not to talk about her at all.

Actually, this piece has been in the works for a while.  Brandon started it a while back when a colleague steered him to yet another video capture from Suze’s talk show where “real” callers call in to discuss their financial woes.

Why would anyone do that?  Beats me, but evidently some people are just gluttons for a good tongue lashing from the diva of dinero.

What she does (sell information one could find in 15 minutes on the internet) is way different from what we do (help create solid financial futures and legacies). But we found something (another something) that Suze said on her TV show that was so ridiculous we couldn’t help but point out her foolishness.

In a recent show, Suze asserted that if a financial advisor must call on prospects, “dialing for dollars” as she and sales trainers in the industry refer to it, than that advisor doesn’t have enough clients, which means he or she must not be very good at his or her job. What?

If you don’t believe me, see here:

On top of her over the top claim that calling on prospects is a sign of weakness and somehow related to an advisor’s longevity in the business, Suze goes on to lay out attributes that she feels her viewers should look for in a “good” financial advisor.

How Does Suze Orman Define “Good”?

On her list of attributes is an experience hurdle, 15 years minimum.

According to Ms. Orman, no one should work with an advisor with fewer than 15 years experience. Why?

Well her first–and really only–example is that newer, less experienced advisors, wouldn’t know what to do in the event of a market correction.

Really?

We were around in 2008, and I saw a lot of experienced (i.e. 15+ years) advisors quaking in their boots over the market decline. In fact, Brandon relayed a story to me not too long ago in which he got to witness first hand a 20+ year CFP (certified financial planner) lament the stock market free fall to her administrative assistant (This same CFP completely botched the explanation of an ADR to a new agent, to her credit she went and looked it up afterwards and came back to apologize that she had given him the wrong information).

So much for experience.

Those in the Know…

For those of us with first hand experience in the industry, we know immediately how ridiculous the suggestions that one only work with financial advisors with at least 15 years experience sounds (unless of course you have 15+ years of experience, at which point it probably sounds like a great idea).

The truth is we all start somewhere, and Suze is either delusional about the sort of people she attracts to her show or she has some other incentive…not really sure about that one?  I do know that prospecting for new business is a part of any business.  There are no exceptions to that.

If a business isn’t growing, it’s dying.  You can’t just stay at the same level, that’s a myth.

And unfortunately, years of experience has no correlation to competency.  Brandon and I spend a great amount of time helping clients untangle the mess that was created by “veteran” financial advisors.  Sadly, in many cases it seems all these people have gained in their 15+ years in the business is some super awesome sales skills that get people tied up in really bad deals.

There really doesn’t appear to by any direct correlation in our industry between experience level and ability to offer appropriate recommendations/solutions.

So, if you’d like to talk to a couple of inexperienced agents, please contact us, we’d love to help you.


3 Responses to “Suze Orman on Prospecting: If you have to, you must not be very good at your job”

  1. Andy says:

    Gosh I hate to take you to task concerning Suze Orman of all things. Well, okay, not really but…

    I thought I’d chime on on a couple of things. I’ll start with what you said about Suze spouting information one could find in 15 minutes on the Internet. True enough, but I contend it’s not the information itself that has “value” but the filter. Just like water, information is generally plentiful. But without a decent filter it can be plenty dangerous.

    Consider what a search engine does. Look at any general search on Google for common terms. You’ll find oodles of pages on any given subject. The more popular the search term, the more pages you are likely to find. (If you discover I’m wrong on this, please contact me immediately with details :-)

    For example I just searched for “cash value life insurance” on Google. Investopedia came out on top. Below that Dave Ramsey revealing the “truth” about cash value insurance.

    Google filtered the information but it was a lousy filter — unless of course you ask Rave Damsey.

    My point being, Suze found a topic people want to hear about and filtered the information to the extent that a lot of people are willing to pay for it. That fact alone does not validate the value of her filter. However I would say it IS inaccurate or, at least a bit misleading, to say she “sell(s) information one could find in 15 minutes on the internet”.

    Let’s face it: youse guys give good filter. The trouble is your information is a bit obscure. Part of the reason for this is simply because your ideas are not all that popular. It may always be this way. That can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it.

    Being rather new to the insurance gang myself, I find myself in total agreement about the whole “gotta have 15 years to be any good”. On the other hand until I started digging, really digging, I had a hard time coming to any kind of valid understanding of cash value insurance. I’m still green. I’m still learning but I’d say I’ve gained a better understanding of how to design a good policy than a lot of my more experienced colleagues.

    The sad thing is, so many people tout the ‘great sales training’ the insurance industry is known for. From what I can see, it’s not sales training that is needed but rather product training… specifically, how to best design policies to meet the needs of prospects.

    The simple fact is, measuring competence in years is about as useful as measuring water with a ruler.

    Finally a big surprise. She may actually have a point when she declares those top-notch experienced professionals shouldn’t need to call if they are any good. At some point in one’s career, a majority of that new business should ideally come from referrals.

    Again, it doesn’t follow that one must have x number of years to be competent any more than one can ascertain that competence can be measured in years. We should all be able to cite multiple examples of this fallacy.

    Thus while I too would be suspect of a seasoned agent, adviser or nearly any service professional calling me cold looking for business, a better approach might be to evaluate those ideas on their own merits.

    Andy

    • Brantley Whitley says:

      Thanks for your feedback Andy. I would agree that the “filter” is where the true value of information resides, however, I would also contend that Suze shows very little desire to be a good filter for information. Her main objective is to give good headline and sell advertising for her show. The bone I was picking with her statements is something you picked up on–length of experience doesn’t necessarily correlate to competence. Believe me…we witness it every day when our clients and prospects forward emails to us that have been sent to them by other agents, some of whom have been in the business long enough than Brandon and I combined.

  2. Andy says:

    Brantley,

    I totally agree she leaves much to be desired as a filter. The sad thing is, quality seems to have little impact on popularity – hence my reference to the cash value insurance search.

    But the other point I wanted to make and I’m not certain I did was this:

    The abundance of information available in no way guarantees anyone will get the information they need. Thus we all NEED filters.

    As insurance sales agents, one of our functions is to act as a filter for out prospects and clients enabling them to make an informed decision.

    You and Brandon have taken on an additional filtering role by publishing this blog.

    For anyone who doesn’t realize, my opening statement about “taking Brantley to task” was in jest. I sometimes fail to realize even my own family doesn’t always get my humor. :-)

    Even so, I consider the point about filters to be a very serious one exactly because the information you and Brandon are “filtering” is NOT easily found on the Internet. Thus anyone searching for answers about topics like “cash value insurance” at this point are stuck with the Ramseys of the world.

    When it comes to the experience equals competence formula, the fallacy is clear to most anyone with a clue. However we are faced with the horrific idea that there are very few agents around who understand much less advocate building truly superior contracts.

    The fact that clients and prospects forward stuff (I’m assuming incorrect information?) to you daily speaks loudly to the fact that many realize just how misinformed their “seasoned experts” are.

    I’d say the need for true experts – those who understand and can design better policies is substantial and growing. You and Brandon may be more instrumental than you realize in fulfilling this need.

    Andy

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