Close Close
Popular Financial Topics Discover relevant content from across the suite of ALM legal publications From the Industry More content from ThinkAdvisor and select sponsors Investment Advisor Issue Gallery Read digital editions of Investment Advisor Magazine Tax Facts Get clear, current, and reliable answers to pressing tax questions
Luminaries Awards

Life Health > Running Your Business

Prospecting: A Marathon, not a Sprint

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

I’m not really sure why, but I decided to start training for a marathon. Yes, the kind where you run for 26 miles or so. It’s one of my goals for the New Year. As a boxer, running is part of my training, and recently, becoming a better and stronger runner has turned into a bit of an obsession. Again, I’m not really sure why.

As I speak to prospects, clients, and pretty much anyone who will listen, I tell them about my goal, and they offer words of encouragement. If I ask the right questions, they offer advice. As a result, I’m reading some great books, practicing some new techniques, and playing the mind games I need to in order to stay focused. After all, running is not fun – at least not for me. Hey, elite runners have told me that they don’t even find running fun. It’s just become their obsession.

I’m told I need a “base” from which to work before I even consider taking on such a lofty goal. That said, I’m running about 20 miles a week at a respectable pace, and setting weekly goals to improve my distance and time. Next, I’ll work on what’s called a “long day,” in which I eventually work up to running upward of 20 miles for the day.

As a sales rep, agent, broker, or advisor, prospecting needs to be your obsession, or you won’t ever be successful in reaching your career goals (the finish line). Prospecting may not be fun for you, but just as in running, constant words of encouragement, advice, great books, and new and better techniques can make all the difference in your success. And, yes: mind games can help, too.

If you plan on being successful as an advisor, you also need a “base” to get you started. Your base should consist of establishing a target market (those you serve best and therefore wish to serve most), creating an elevator pitch, and developing a network of people who are connected to your niche marketplace. Without this, you have no base from which to start, which means you’re starting your run cold. Give your base some serious thought before tackling the tips below.

Share your goals with friends, family, associates, and clients

Once you register for a race and start sharing that news with people you know, you’re pretty much locked into your goal. It’s the same premise when it comes to growing your practice. The more you share your goals with those in your world, the more advice, insight, recommendations, and support will come your way. You’ll also feel more locked in.

Read about the skills you need to develop

Read all about it! For me, it’s reading about the right training schedule, pace, and running shoes. For you, it might be the right approach to setting appointments on the phone, networking, public speaking, sales techniques, or referral marketing. There are tons of books on these and other areas to keep your mind focused. Read an hour every night. Where the mind goes, the body follows.

Talk to those who have seen it, done it

Talk to advisors who are successful doing what you’re looking to do. My best advice continuously comes from experienced marathoners. If you’re looking to deliver seminars as part of your business model, doesn’t it make sense to get direction and encouragement from someone who has developed material and worked with compliance, and who delivers a good program that attracts desired business?

Set mini-goals

Start small, and go from there. An advisor from a client firm just delivered his first seminar this week in New York City. He promoted it through social media and word of mouth. Even with bad weather and limited parking, he had 22 attendees show up to his event. Now, the attendees weren’t necessarily “the right” attendees; they didn’t fit his ideal marketplace, but he did get 22 people in a room under these challenging conditions, which is incredible. For the next event, he’ll make necessary adjustments and simply go from there. So again, start small. Each time you chip away, you will build more confidence, gain more momentum, attract more advocates, and celebrate bigger victories.

Focus on the process, not the goal

Your goal may be to hit a specific commission rate – which is fine, but just make sure the number is realistic. What’s important is to focus on how you’ll hit that number. What will your daily, weekly, monthly activities look like? How are they aligned with the number you have in mind? How will you know if what you’re doing is working?

Track your activities

Not to beat you over the head with the running metaphor, but every book I pick up about the subject emphasizes how important it is to track your activities and results in a diary. Your firm may have a daily or weekly activity form that helps you track how many calls you make, appointments you schedule, etc. Why not use that form (or make one like it) to help you in your day to day?

Get a coach

This should be an advocate who can keep you focused, give you great advice, and hold you true to your daily, weekly, and monthly activities. This doesn’t have to be someone you hire; it’s simply someone who can be your accountability partner in helping you do what you need to do.

Some of this might not seem fun for you. Heck, none of it might seem fun for you. But that’s where the mind games come in. Apply the suggestions above in a way that will make it as easy and as much fun as possible — or you simply won’t do it.

If you must develop new skills such as phoning, networking, public speaking, or sales, it’s best to focus on the aspects that connect you with activities and people that you like. Hey, it beats running!

Michael Goldberg is a speaker, consultant, author, and the founder of Building Blocks Consulting. His book, “Knock-Out Networking! More Prospects, More Referrals, More Business!” was published in March. For more information or to subscribe to Michael’s free blog, The Building Blocks to Success, please visit or


© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.