How Selling Screws Up Your Marketing


Even advisors who “get” the marketing concept frequently sabotage it when they sell.

The key to niche marketing and, by extension, successfully attracting referrals, is identifying a target market and delivering a customized service mix to that audience. For many advisors, that whole idea (which involves deliberately ignoring a lot of promising prospects) is a difficult one to endorse and adopt. But even those who embrace that concept frequently undermine their own efforts when they get in front of the prospect one-on-one.

A wealth management practice I work with recently hired a new business development officer. The new vice president is a gifted salesperson. Put a qualified prospect in front of him, and there is a high probability they will become a client. He has introduced many high net worth clients to the firm, and attracted millions of dollars to manage. Long-term, however, we have an issue that may compromise the company’s brand.

What makes him great is his natural, intuitive ability to connect with people, identify something of concern to them, and assure them that his company will provide a good experience. The issue is that the experience he sells could change with every person he meets. In a recent client advisory board I facilitated for the firm, I asked the group “how would you describe the ideal client for this firm?” He was quick to raise his hand and reply “Let me tell you how I answer that question when I am meeting with someone: You are.”

So, if he is attracting millions of dollars to the firm, what could possibly be the problem with that?  Individual selling cannot be replicated across other people.  And it will not build your referral stream. In effect, you will have to rely on his selling for most of your new clients. You will not be able to magnify his efforts with a referral stream that builds on his spectacular selling ability.  You will be prevented from farming, and will have to revert to hunting for your food.

One of the critical components to successfully attracting referrals is to represent a particular kind of solution or experience to its target client. If everyone you meet is your ideal, then you are ideal for no one. And none of your clients will remember to refer you because they will not have a clear idea who your ideal client is.

When you craft your marketing plan and identify your ideal client and the particular mix of benefits you provide especially for them, make sure that you reflect that whenever you have an opportunity to describe your firm to someone new. Bring your selling efforts in line with your marketing efforts and they will be synergistic. And your ability to attract referrals will be magnified.

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