Imagine two advisors, both in the same geographical area and with the same target niche, who provide clients with exactly the same level of service and quality of financial advice. They both have similar personal financial situations and external responsibilities, including family obligations. All other factors, such as their staff support, are the same. Yet one advisor generates much more revenue than the other-$1 million versus $200,000. In short, everything about the two advisors seems virtually identical, except that one produces five times more than the other.

Why do some advisors generate more revenue than others? Why are some far more successful at bringing new clients into a practice?

Clearly, there's no scientific formula for "making rain." Despite the plethora of books and seminars promising to teach sales acumen, answers remain an enigma. Take the wirehouse environment, where the majority of new recruits in every entry-level training class wash out. Independent advisors feel similar frustration at the high turnover among junior advisors, many of whom give up once they experience the challenge of bringing in new clients. Even with rigorous interviewing and testing, selecting the sales stars is akin to predicting the stock market. Skills can be taught, but if one doesn't have the necessary mindset-well, it's a little like attempting to make a sow's ear into a silk purse.

Given that so many advisors want to grow their businesses into multi-advisor firms, what's the best way to identify a true rainmaker? While taking on someone with a proven track record is the best rule of thumb, there usually aren't enough of those candidates to go around. In this article, the first of a two-part series on rainmakers, we'll explore the personal characteristics associated with top producers.

Inside The Rainmaker's Mindset

High-producing advisors focus on maximizing potential, time, talent, and passion. They're motivated by the challenge of influencing prospects to become clients. They think of production as a way to maximize their personal talents, not simply as a means to money or the stuff money can buy.

What else characterizes the rainmaker's mindset? Here are some common attributes, based on a review of the literature, personal experience, and expert advice:

Positive personality and perspective: Top producers tend to be optimistic but not Pollyannaish. As recent scientific studies show, there's a correlation between positive psychology and success. Others are naturally drawn to the rainmaker's personality. When the rare charismatic individual chooses a sales-related profession, high production is a likely outcome.

Focus: Top producers are intent on generating revenue. They consciously choose to use their time (both minutes and larger blocks of time) for revenue-boosting activities, as opposed to activities not tied to the bottom line. High-producing advisors block out the noise and concentrate on using their time judiciously.

Organization: Top producers are capable multi-taskers. In a typical day, a rainmaker might juggle hiring a replacement receptionist, asking for an introduction to a client's business colleague, approving the marketing staff person's recommendations for a client appreciation event, finalizing a new client's asset allocation, and rebalancing a portfolio for a review meeting the next day. Instead of insisting on doing everything themselves, rainmakers delegate more and more support activities as their business budgets allow.

Passion: High-producing advisors believe in what they do. The saying "If you can conceive it and believe it, you can achieve it" defines the confidence they genuinely feel.

A bias for action:
High-producing advisors are not plagued by analysis paralysis; rather, to borrow terminology popularized by Tom Peters in his book In Search of Excellence, they're oriented to activity. Although quality matters to high-producing advisors, they have a stronger bias for action than for perfection.

Goal and outcome orientation:
High-producing advisors set an annual production goal and actively track it throughout the year. Goals may be realistic or a stretch; frequently, top advisors set two goals or a range of goals.

Sociability: Top producers proactively and energetically meet people and form deep relationships with others. It's easy for them to talk about what they do professionally. While some may struggle with elevator speeches, conversations about their work generally come naturally to them.

Trustworthiness: What is it about high-producing advisors that inspires trust in clients? It could be their empathy, acute listening skills, ability to simplify complex financial information, confidence without conceit, or something else entirely. Whatever it's based on, that trust is absolutely essential to the rainmaker's success. In fact, their trustworthiness is a key reason why many top producers can rely primarily on referrals to grow their businesses.