As a coach, I work with all kinds of successful people looking to bring their careers to the next level. Most are selling professional services of one kind or another, often in an independent practice. Their goal is to get more clients, get better clients or turn the clients they have into advocates who will keep working with them for years to come.

Many of my clients come to me with a belief that the only way they can grow is to spend time doing something they dread: marketing, prospecting or — horror of horrors — “selling.”

“But I’m an advisor,” my client Bob protested a few years ago, “not a salesman.” Bob had a picture in his mind of someone who “sells”: a pushy salesman on a used-car lot with a loud plaid sports jacket, a phony smile and a bad toupee. Who wants to be that guy?

Like most professionals who are not precisely where they want to be, Bob was struggling to fill his schedule with quality clients for two reasons:

  1. He didn’t know how to attract more business; and
  2. He was apprehensive about cold calling, presentations and other “sales-y” things he was afraid I would ask him to do.

“What if instead of worrying about marketing, prospecting and selling, you positioned yourself to attract the clients you want?” I asked Bob.

“I don’t know what you mean,” he responded, “but that sounds a lot better than selling.”

Bob could send out mailings and refrigerator magnets, make cold calls, deliver presentations, etc. Or, instead of struggling to sell his services, Bob could position himself as a provider who can fulfill a specific need for a specific type of client.

If you’re “just another financial advisor,” as Bob had called himself, you’re faced with competition from dozens — or hundreds — of people doing the same work you are. You’re just another white crayon in a box full of white crayons, and your ability to get more and better clients will be limited.

When I connected with Bob on social media, I found several posts he had written about putting four kids through college. He also mentioned that he had put himself through college, because his own parents couldn’t afford to help him.

His knowledge of this subject was exactly the type of expertise he needed to highlight in his practice. These were two powerful personal stories that made Bob a red crayon. His personal history could easily attract many more new clients than any “sales” effort ever could.

Clients are more attracted to experts and specialists — to someone unique — than to general practitioners who look like all the other general practitioners in the field. Your prospective clients are looking for the red crayon, the one that stands out. Start attracting them by giving them what they’re looking for.

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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.