We’ve all been to sales meetings, conferences and seminars where great producers share the secrets of their success. But it’s often the secret behind the secret that forms the real basis for success. Here are 5 things that differentiate great advisors from the rest of the pack:

1.    Great advisors are often more focused than the average bear. They’re very clear about their goals, and don’t waste time. Coffee breaks and chitchat are avoided. I once worked with a young advisor who said, “I thought we’d have more time to talk. I now realize that your success comes from working steadily and not wasting time.”

2.    Great advisors have workable business plans which they follow religiously. First you must develop a plan and then you must follow it. Having a plan means you cannot be happy with the status quo. Many years ago, I attended an agency meeting where the facilitator asked, “How many of you have a business plan?” Of about 60 of us, only three raised their hands. Those three were the top producers in the agency.

3.    Great advisors prospect better. Here’s how I was taught to prospect: “Ask everyone you meet for referrals.” But studies show only about 11 to 20 percent of advisors prospect on a regular basis. The importance of prospecting is well documented, but the teaching of effective prospecting methods is uncommon. How I know? Almost everyone I coach is in desperate need of prospecting training.

4.    Great advisors work with ideal clients 50 to 80 percent of the time. Advisors typically reach this ratio of ideal client only after 15 to 20 years working steadily as an effective advisor.

5.    Great advisors are more resilient (and thus more patient and persistent). What they know is that people learn more from failure than from success. Hanging in there and learning from mistakes is the best way to build your ideal practice.

There’s no reason you can’t achieve advisor greatness. Apply these rules, and one day soon, you can take your place at the top.

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Nick Ray is a business coach who specializes in working with financial services professionals. He is the author of There’s More to Selling than Making the Sale as well as a workbook on target marketing. He can be reached at nick@coachnickray.com.