“What’s your target market?” The wrong answer to this question is “I offer my services to everyone.” Financial advisors who tell me they help [all] people reach [all] their personal, career or financial goals, do not understand a critical truth about 21st century business: Clients want to work with experts and specialists. If you serve everyone, then you serve no one. Instead, become a specialist.

If I want to hire someone to handle an estate matter, wouldn’t I prefer an “estate planning specialist” to a life insurance salesperson? Both advisors may have the same training and background — they may even have the same experience in estate planning — but one has narrowed his focus and made himself far more appealing.

“But if I limit myself to the senior market,” Tina, a financial advisor, complained when I introduced this concept at a recent seminar, “I’ll turn off some younger people who might have wanted my services!”

Limit your target, not your services. I asked Tina to trust what I was saying and give it a try. A week later she called, excited by her results. “Sandy, I tried what you suggested at a party last week and it worked, but I think it worked backward,” she exclaimed. “I told a guy in his mid-30s that I work with single older women who are worried about having enough money for retirement, and he asked if I would make an exception and help him out, too. And then he hired me!”

“Tina, that isn’t backward,” I told her. “It’s exactly how it’s supposed to work.” Being a specialist not only attracts your ideal client, it actually attracts people from other walks of life. I offer my assistance to professionals who want more clients. But when someone who does not fit my marketing profile asks for my help, I refuse that person only if I don’t want to work with him or her (for whatever reason) or if I think someone else could do a better job.

If you want to stand out from the crowd, carve out a niche and avoid the temptation to stray from it. Then, when someone asks “What do you do?” you won’t be afraid to describe your ideal client.

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Sandy Schussel is a speaker, business trainer and coach who helps sales teams develop systems to win clients. He is the author of The High Diving Board and Become a Client Magnet. For more information, go to www.sandyschussel.com.