When it comes to recruiting new clients, are you a “yes-man”? Do you work with everyone regardless of need, resources and temperament? If so, you could be making a big mistake. But it’s not too late to change. Just ask the advisor we mentioned in last month’s column: Mike Reese of Colorado-based Centennial Wealth Advisory.

Mike used to take on anyone who walked through his door. But instead of having a thriving business, he was miserable and exhausted. He spent too much time with clients he didn’t like, and they expected the world of him, while offering little in financial or emotional reward in return. Mike finally sat down and asked himself, “Why can’t all clients be like my favorite ones?” He began thinking about the clients with whom he most enjoyed working and writing down their characteristics. He considered their demographics (age, income) and psychographics (temperament, passions, tolerance). Then Mike took a pivotal step and “fired” all the clients who didn’t meet his ideal client profile.

Now, some of you may question whether firing a client is ethical. Isn’t it abandonment? Yes, it is ethical, and for two reasons. First, referring clients to a more compatible advisor is in their best interest. Second, working with compatible clients helps you do a better job for the clients you retain. Today Mike is more successful than ever. He works fewer hours and has more fun. And he loves coming to work.

Do you feel you have too many challenging clients? Then consider these transition techniques:

Stop taking on all referrals. This obligates you to those that may be problematic. At the same time, do promote referrals from existing clients, friends and colleagues who fit your ideal client type.

When you first meet a prospect, determine “fit.” Ask open-ended questions and listen carefully to the person’s answers. Note their body language and determine your comfort level.

Don’t be afraid to transition “unsuitable” clients. Send them an appropriately worded termination letter. Explain your decision in a follow-up phone call. Refer them to another, better-suited advisor. (But be upfront with that advisor about why you’re making the referral).

Beware of troubling behavior styles. If someone is overly needy, abrupt or annoying to you during your first meetings, watch out.

Bottom line: Saying no to a prospect is never easy. But once you start, you may well become the most popular “no-man” in town.

Steven McCarthy is a director of the National Ethics Bureau. Responses and questions can be sent to feedback@seniormarketadvisor.com.