light bulb (Image: Shutterstock) (Photo: Shutterstock)

Old school works.

Every so often, there’s a temptation to feel the business has changed. The old rules don’t apply. Around the time of the dot-com bubble, people thought: “It’s a new economy. Earnings don’t matter anymore.” Then came the dot-com crash. We learned the old rules still apply.

1. Everybody needs something.

A property developer in our area shared this thought. You might think “rich people have everything.” Why would they want to talk to you? What could you offer they don’t have? His point was: No one has everything. Everyone has a need, even if it’s another person to share their hobbies and interests.

2. People do business with people they like.

As Americans, we have lots of choice. We can buy online. We can buy in stores. We can shop for price. But we don’t always want to be on our guard, wondering if the seller is acting in our best interests. As we get to know and like people, we develop a trusting relationship. That happens person to person.

3. Many people want to do business with you.

The thing they haven’t figured out is why they need you. Your friends like and trust you, but they might not fully understand how you help people. They may have problems or issues needing a solution. You might provide the answer, but they don’t see you in the context of solving that problem. You need to raise their awareness.

4. It’s difficult to grow your business if you focus on who you won’t do business with.

Developing a niche is fine, but you shouldn’t turn away business when it’s standing in front of you. Some people say: “I don’t do business with friends.” The logic is understandable. If great clients can become good friends, shouldn’t good friends make great clients? You need ground rules in place.

5. Everyone should have the opportunity to say no.

You know many people. It’s easy to “take them off the list” because they might be short of cash or going through a difficult time emotionally. You don’t know the whole story. As long as you ask politely, you should be fine. They might even be flattered for you to think they could invest that amount.

6. Establish yourself as the alternative.

Everyone you want as a client is likely someone else’s client already. Things change. Relationships sour. People leave jobs. Fees go up. Don’t assume relationships last forever. When they think it’s time to make a change, you want to be the first name that comes to mind.

7. You can chop down a tree with a hammer.

Persistence pays off. A problem newer advisors have is putting a strategy in place, getting to the point where it’s about to pay off, then decide “this isn’t working” and start the process again with a different strategy. Fine tune instead.

8. It’s easier to meet someone socially vs. getting them on the phone.

Get involved in the community. Attend events. Become a familiar face. Once you meet someone, you can identify interests in common. The social relationship has started. Later, you can work on adding a business aspect to the relationship.

9. Every day is a blank canvas.

You’ve heard the joke “Some days I wake up Grumpy. Other times I let them sleep.” There’s no reason not to start each day with the expectation it’s going to be great. When the sun comes up, nothing has happened to spoil the day yet.

10. Everybody lives by selling something.

Robert Louis Stevenson came up with that one. Some people look down on sales as a career. Once you think about it, it’s very hard to think about any profession that doesn’t require persuasion and getting people to come around to your way of thinking. That’s sales.

11. Everything works, nothing works.

You ask around the office for good prospecting strategies. Sometimes you get this answer: A large part of success in prospecting comes from your commitment, the effort you put into the project. Some people only go through the motions and wonder why nothing works for them.

12. Good advisors don’t leave business on the table.

Heard that one from an experienced advisor. The financial plan indicates you client has several needs. You might be comfortable talking investments, uncomfortable with mortgages or insurance. Get someone in the office to help you. Don’t have them going elsewhere for those needs. That other person might win over the entire account.

— Related on ThinkAdvisor: