06/16/2014 04:44 pm ET Updated Aug 16, 2014

Why This Financial Advisor Did Not Get the Business

I thought I would share this story with you as I believe it is really important to not only any financial advisor, but to any business owner.

So let me tell you the story of Tom (not his real name, of course!) who relayed this story to me recently.

You see Tom works really hard as a financial advisor, and is pretty successful in the opinion of many. Tom's own view, and one I would share, is that for the stage he is at, he is not as successful as he should be. I will come back to that.

Anyway, Tom had been in contact with a prospect who is a consultant obstetrician, about taking over his investment portfolio. Tom had done quite a bit of work in preparing a proposal to his prospect and was very confident that he would secure the business.

He didn't, and was very disappointed. He asked if the range of options he had put forward were not to the prospect's liking, or was it the projected returns that caused the discussions to come to a halt? He wondered if he had got it wrong and had misunderstood what the prospect was looking to achieve.

Tom did the right thing to try and understand why the business was not being closed. Eventually, the obstetrician told him why -- and Tom was really taken aback.

The reason for not proceeding was that the obstetrician did not feel there was a "fit" between him and Tom. His response was "My patients come to me because I am a specialist in my field, and they know what specific area of expertise I have. They would not come to me if they had a liver or a lung problem. They see me as a specialist, not a general practitioner. So, when it comes to my personal financial well being, I want to deal with someone who specializes in my field, not someone who is a generalist and has no specialization. My needs are different to an accountant, a lawyer or an engineer and I want to deal with someone who clearly understands the needs of my profession and specializes in it."

So, Tom lost out because he was seen as a "jack of all trades" and not a specialist. Obviously I paraphrased what the obstetrician said but it is how Tom relayed the message to me.

So, how did I end up having this conversation with Tom? Well some time ago we spoke about doing some work together and I highlighted to him that one of his issues was that he did not have a clear target market, and he was wasting a lot of effort spreading himself across too many professions and industries and not making any penetration in any. He was not seen as an expert in any field.

At that time that point did not resonate with Tom, and he felt that this approach was restrictive, but after his encounter with the obstetrician he called me and said -- "I think we need to do a bit of work together!"

You see, lack of a clear target market will always result in being seen as the "jack of all trades" and not being there to serve any one sector.

As entrepreneurs we all have limited resource in terms of time and money, so we need to make the use of those resources count. You simply cannot build a reputation as an expert across various industries or professions.

Start with one, and once you have developed that fully you have two choices -- develop another target market to sell the same service to, or sell other products to the same target market. Not rocket science!

But, please, do not end up like Tom wasting huge effort, only to be perceived as a general practitioner in your field. Specialists are valued more, and earn higher fees.

If you would like to chat about finding your perfect target market, give me a call. Tom did -- eventually!!