Step 1: Know them. Get them to know you.

As an advisor, you want 100 or 200 of the “right” relationships. Who would they be? Think about your local market. Build a list. Choose the ones you would like to cultivate. Where will your paths cross? Do you belong to the right organizations? If not, why not? (Photo: Shutterstock)

Step 2: Exclusivity

Be desirable. People want what they can’t have. When you meet these people socially, they will ask: “What do you do?” This is when you highlight your practice is small and exclusive. The message is you don’t take just anybody. Many high-level people choose you. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Step 3: Be discreet.

Enter confidentiality. At some point, they might ask: “Who are these “high-level people?” You aren’t telling. They will likely ask around. They discover a few people they know are your clients. Perhaps they bring up a name later. You still aren’t talking. “We all socialize with the same people. We don’t talk about client relationships.” They realize their secrets would be safe with you. (Legal ones, anyway.) (Photo: Shutterstock)

Step 4: Listen. Make them feel important.

Even good clients get taken for granted. Advisors are focused on new business. Some ask for referrals while not giving that same client much attention unless they ask for something! Take the time to get to know about this person and what makes their situation unique. Remember details. Ask about their children and parents. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Step 5: Establish a rationale for the relationship.

Many people think: One client. One advisor. They like you, but doing business means leaving their current advisor. They won’t do that. Explain successful people often have multiple advisory relationships. “How many do you have?” If they think one’s enough, ask how many doctors they visit. (Photo: Shutterstock)


Step 6: Find out what’s missing. Give it to them.

People invest for a reason, like having a comfortable retirement or educating their children. They might want a beach house someday. As advisory relationships mature, some advisors review performance by talking in numbers, how the client did versus indexes. The original reasons the client invests has been forgotten. Does your current advisor understand what you want to accomplish? You do. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Step 7: Establish yourself as the alternative.

You are not a home wrecker. They have an advisor. They’ve been together a long time. You respect that. However, if anything ever changes, you would be glad to help them. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Step 8: Be in front of them.

You attend the same events. You see them socially. You don’t talk business, although you might share anonymous success stories about how you helped someone if they specifically bring up work. You remember things important to them like birthdays, anniversaries and their parents’ health. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Step 9: Make it easy — small steps.

Having an extra set of eyes looking over their account statement is a good thing. It brings a fresh perspective. You can put together a report that combines assets held in different places. They can see how things fit together. You are glad to do it again. In the future, it would be easier if they had an account at your firm. You start a relationship. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Step 10: Life as a client — make it difficult to go back.

Provide excellent service. Be proactive, giving plenty of attention. Suggest consolidating assets at your firm. It would be easier on your CPA, who is probably reviewing all the paperwork you send from different institutions and charging by the hour. You are an important client to me.

Each step is a small distance from the previous one. The stranger in Step One is now a client in Step 10. It takes time, but you selected the people you would like as clients at the start. (Photo: Shutterstock)


Every ideal prospect you cultivate is probably another advisor’s ideal client already. You want to win them over and establish yourself as the alternative. It’s like seduction in the movies, but for you it’s client attraction. As you review these 10 steps, your favorite films will come to mind. All the steps are from the advisor’s viewpoint. The secret is the distance from one step to another is pretty small, yet when the prospect looks back from Step Ten to Step One, they realize how far they have come.

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