Hint: It's not about pushing products and sales.

    Financial advisors sometimes joke about their clients' unrealistic expectations. They smirk about Mr. Smith, who's looking for a no-risk, high return, government-guaranteed investment vehicle. They snicker about Mrs. Jones, who wants a fund that performs well in any market. Meanwhile, those same advisors are on the quest for the perfect client acquisition methodology. They want a system that's easy to implement, fairly inexpensive, requires very little risk and makes the phone ring off the hook with no effort on their part. I'm sure we'd all like to find something like that, but it simply doesn't exist.
    In this business, there is no nirvana. No matter what methodology you choose, you have to put in the time, energy and money to make it work. M. Scott Peck began his book, "The Road Less Traveled," with the famous line, "Life is difficult." Once you understand and accept that, Peck says, then the fact that life is difficult no longer matters. The same is true with finding a client acquisition methodology. Instead of trying one program after another in search of some method nirvana, successful advisors understand that discomfort is inevitable and they work hard to push past it. That's the first secret to success-being willing to do the uncomfortable things.
    Going into the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, the U.S. gymnastics team was not expected to do very well. Against all odds, they won the gold medal. The team's captain, Peter Vidmar, scored a perfect ten on the pommel horse and took first place in that event. People often ask Peter what it takes to become an Olympic champion. He tells them, "It's pretty simple, really. You only have to work out two times-when you feel like it and when you don't."
    In your search for the perfect methodology, stop for a moment and ask yourself this question: Are you willing to do the work it requires, when you feel like it and when you don't? If the answer is yes, you're halfway there. Now you just need to find an intelligent method and stick to it.
Here are four ways to recognize an intelligent methodology.

1. An intelligent methodology is client-centered. For decades, financial advisors have been showing up in the marketplace like salespeople-with aggressive marketing, direct mail and those dreaded suppertime cold calls. No client has ever said, "You know what I want in a financial advisor? I want a really good salesperson. Someone who can handle my objections and make features and benefits presentations. And when I'm really resisting buying, I want a really good closer." If you looked at prospective methodologies through your clients' eyes, you'd never choose a method that focuses on making you a great salesperson. That's not what your clients want. An intelligent methodology is client-centered, not product, sales, or "you" centered. A client-centered methodology attracts clients instead of pushing them away.

2. An intelligent methodology produces an intelligent and profitable business.  When a sales-centered methodology works, it usually results in too many clients who don't generate the revenue, the kind of business or the life you really want. If that sounds like your business, you're probably in one of two stages. Either you're just starting out, or you've spent a lifetime building a business that's not making you happy. Either way, there's good news: It's not too late to get out of the wrong system and into the right one. With a dedicated commitment to systematically implementing an intelligent methodology, you can rebuild in two to four years.
    An intelligent method executed over time leads to exactly the kind of business you'd like to have-a business with the right number of the right kind of clients paying you the right amount of money. That's because a client-centered methodology attracts the type of people you want to do business with.

3. An intelligent methodology leads to an incredible life. Twelve or 13 years ago I was giving a presentation at a major wirehouse in Los Angeles. During one of the breaks, a young man in his early twenties came up to me and told me how excited he was. He was a hardworking, ambitious guy with fire in his eyes and enthusiasm in his voice. He was modeling his business after a $2 million producer in his office, and he was clearly focused on the money. I suggested, "Before you model your business after somebody else, make sure you look at the whole picture. Don't just look at the business, look at the person's life. How many times has this guy been married? What kind of relationship does he have with his kids? What kind of physical shape is he in? Is he healthy? Does he have time to work out and is he inclined to work out? How many hours a week does he work? Do you really want the whole picture?"
    Before you choose a methodology to implement, find out about the people who use that method. Don't just zero in on the money they're making or the number of clients they have; focus on the whole life.
Our favorite success story is Mark Little, not only because of the financial wealth he's earned by implementing our methods, but because of the incredibly wealthy lifestyle he's created. Mark's business generates a predictable annual cash flow of $1.6 million, with predictable annual expenses of less than $500,000. I know there are advisors who make more money, but I'd put Mark's whole picture up against anyone else in the industry. He works three days a week, he's gotten himself in great physical condition and he has amazing client loyalty. I don't care who you are, how smart you are or how articulate you are, you couldn't steal one of his clients in a million years.

4. An intelligent methodology includes implementation support. Early in my speaking career, if people liked what they heard at my seminars, they could go to the back of the room and buy my mastery system. The package included (and still does) all the necessary books, audios/CDs and videos/DVDs along with four quarterly teleconferences-other than that, they were on their own. After a while I included additional support: I'd put my 800 number up on the screen and say, "If you have any questions you can call me." Hardly anyone ever did. They'd buy the system, take it home and put it on a shelf. Jim Rohn calls this the law of diminishing intent. They'd have great intentions when they bought the system, but they didn't do anything with it. That really bothered me, so I began focusing on helping people implement the system.
    Most human beings under most circumstances most of the time need help implementing. They're a lot like kids learning to ride a bike without training wheels. When they're first learning, it's not unusual to lose their balance and tip over. When that happens, we pick them up, dust them off, get them back on the bike and give them a push. If we stand there for a little while and watch them, they'll either fall off again or veer off course. It's our job to catch them and get them going in the right direction. Ultimately we get so good at this that we anticipate them falling off the bike, and as they start to lean over, before they hit the ground, we reach up, push them back in the seat and keep them moving in the right direction.
    Before you adopt a methodology, ask this question: When you veer off course or fall off the bike, what's built into the system to make sure you get back up and move in the right direction at a rate of speed that will get you where you want to go? If the system doesn't include human interaction to help you implement, it won't matter how good the content is. An intelligent methodology includes an ongoing accountability structure and a mechanism for getting things done.

©2006 by Bill Bachrach, Bachrach & Associates Inc. All rights reserved. For information about Bill's services or to order his books and learning resources, call 800-347-3707 or visit the Web site www.bachrachvbs.com.