The process of rainmaking—converting prospects into clients—can be broken into three main steps: building a qualified prospect list, connecting with the prospects on that list, and then converting them into clients. You can follow these steps with precision, but in order to be successful, you must give prospects a reason to use your services rather than someone else’s.
To do this you need to differentiate yourself from everyone else. One way to do this is to become an expert for the specific clients you want to attract. For example, some advisors focus on working with doctors or medical professionals, others on executives of publicly traded companies, and others work with retirees only. Some set themselves up nicely with clients in a particular industry, such as technology or banking. Advisors can also develop a product niche. For instance, they can specialize in handling and managing corporate cash, corporate retirement plans, or alternative investments. The variations and niches are almost endless. The key is to know your specialty inside and out.
What you specialize in will depend on your interest and the opportunities around you. They usually develop over time. When you develop a concentration, rainmaking becomes very narrow and deep. Here are a few ways to approach becoming a specialist:
- Learn the investment needs of a specific niche by talking to practitioners in that arena.
- Talk to members of the target market to find out what they need.
- Take classes, get certifications and read books to learn any technical aspects unique to the investment needs of a specific market.
- Learn about the industry itself—subscribe to trade publications, attend conferences, network with industry executives. Prospects typically feel more comfortable talking to people who can speak their language.
I took these steps myself when I was starting my practice. Back in the mid-to-late nineties, discount brokerage firms were beginning to proliferate. It wasn’t long before we saw the emergence of online trading. After learning as much as I could about the niches that composed the industry, I decided the best way to differentiate myself from the discount brokers was to become an expert at handling the restricted stock needs of corporate executives of publicly traded companies. To narrow the universe and be most efficient, I focused on industries that awarded the most stock options to executives at the time—technology, telecom, and healthcare.
Once I had settled on my target universe, I had to educate myself. I studied the ins and outs of restricted stock as well as the process of executing the cashless exercise of stock options and how to arrange a loan for my clients to execute it. I learned the differences, advantages, and disadvantages between non-qualified and incentive stock options (ISOS). I immersed myself in the nitty-gritty details of the technology, telecom, and healthcare industries. It’s easier to interact and carry on conversations with executives if you can talk intelligently about their industry trends and challenges. I did the work and put in the time to become an expert. I’ve done this many times over as market needs have changed; it works. When you can provide a value that clients seemingly can’t find elsewhere, you’ll succeed.