For most people, the gap between knowing what to do and actually doing it is vast.

This is true for most aspects of life—not just financial advising. Most people aim to improve throughout their lives; to become a better person, a better parent, a better spouse, a better friend—and yes, in the highly competitive advisor space, even a better producer.

But if we intuitively know what it is we need to do to become new and improved versions of ourselves then why aren’t we making those positive changes? “Old habits die hard” is an adage that is quite apropos here. A change in a well-established routine can be about as difficult as it can be painful. We all get ourselves into habits easily and unknowingly. After all, we are creatures of habit, experts say, but we don’t have to be.

Why would any advisor just dream of becoming a bigger producer when simple changes can get them there? Most advisors already know what they need to do–the question is will they? Unfortunately, the answer for many advisors is “no.”

And that’s because change is hard. Most have become too complacent to even think of changing. Even though most will admit that these changes will significantly improve their lives in the long run, the fact is it will also cause pain now.

People tend to want what they want—now. It’s all about instant gratification. And these necessary changes that we’re talking about here are long term, with any possible benefits in the distance.

I see it firsthand here at the Rummage Group, not just with the advisors we work with, but also among my own staff. Indeed, we all fight these same “pain vs. pleasure” challenges everyday—it’s a constant human challenge.

Most advisors have proven their ability to endure pain. First by going to college and then by making it through the first three years of production. Imagine what you might be doing for a living if you had not gone to college or if you had become stuck in the early stages of your career.

The odds are you would not have the income or quality of life you currently enjoy. So if you were able to endure the pain of college or the challenge of building a book of business, I know you have the strength to change a few habits to increase your production in the New Year. Maybe you could even set a goal to double your book size in the next five years.

There are so many different sales and marketing ideas it is impossible to cover all of them in a short article. However, here are some basic ideas on how to increase production in the New Year.

• Write a detailed marketing plan with exact details for implementation. Be very specific as to when, how often, etc.

• Take 10 referral sources to lunch–gain their respect, trust and build a strong rapport with them. Lawyers, accountants, builders, mortgage lenders, employees at the chamber of commerce, key members at various organizations (if at a bank, branch employees, mortgage lenders, merchant services reps, commercial bankers, trust officers, capital markets managers).

• Set an attractive bonus for your sales assistant if he or she helps you hit your target growth this year. Don’t set a cap. Make it strong enough so that they can significantly increase their take-home pay.

• Start sending out a monthly newsletter to clients and prospects–make it interesting and informative. Too many newsletters are boring and overly technical.

• Hold semiannual reviews with at least the top half of your book. Clients need face time to establish a strong relationship with you. One of the biggest complaints from clients is their advisor is not around or not accessible.

• Hold at least two client appreciation events each year–ask your clients to bring a few friends. Once the friends see how good you are to your clients they will want to do business with you.

• Focus on business at work and fun at home–stop socializing as much at the office. I have worked in many offices during my 20 years as an advisor and a manager and was always shocked how much time advisors wasted talking about sports, etc.

• Shut your door so others don’t interrupt you as often. If your door is closed they will assume you are too busy to be bothered.

• Hire a junior advisor or intern – most big producers didn’t build their book alone. No company grows without hiring employees.

• Have a junior partner handle the bottom 20% to 30% of your book. Instead of getting rid of all your small clients give them to a junior advisor on your team.

• Call 10 publications and ask if you can write an article for them – at least one should say “yes.” Publications are always looking for experts in a field who can write.

• Buy targeted clients magazine subscriptions for their favorite hobbies–check amazon.com for inexpensive subscriptions. For the low price of $20 a year you can help your client think of you 12 times per year. This, in turn, will help with referrals.

• Send targeted clients “Happy New Year” gifts: steaks, chocolates, popcorn, cookies, etc. This plays into the rule of reciprocity: Give to get.

• Arrive at work 30 minutes earlier and leave 30 minutes later–this adds about 260 work hours per year. Imagine how much you can get done in all those extra hours.

• Buy an advertisement in the bulletin for your place of worship–one new client will pay for it five times over. Be patient, with this type of marketing prospects usually don’t call right away.

• Invest $5,000 to $10,000 in marketing your business. Practice what you preach to your clients, i.e., invest. You ask them to invest their money in the market, so you should invest some in your business.

• Stop going to lunch with coworkers. Instead, take clients and prospects to lunch. Here is another 260 hours that could be spent trying to close new business.

• Hire a cold caller–they find leads and you close them. Cold calling still works quite well. If you feel you don’t have the time to hire someone, bear in  mind that some other advisors out there are doing this quite well.

• Join two nonprofit or networking groups. There are plenty of organizations that are always looking for board members with a financial background.

• Find four networking groups or nonprofits that will let you be a guest speaker this year. Speaking works far better than seminars. You just show up and give the same presentation each time.

• Give outstanding service to every client and become very responsive to them. Happy clients provide referrals. Go out of your way to exceed the clients expectation.

OLD IDEAS WORK (IF YOU DO)

These are just a few ideas which are fairly common in the industry. There are not too many new and original ideas left. Most success is not rooted in an original idea, but rather in the implementation of an existing one. Ask yourself, “How many of the ideas above am I currently implementing and which ones could I add?” Most success is simply a matter of executing on an old idea or improving it slightly. Holding yourself accountable is the most important part of the task. Always remember successful people are willing to do the things that unsuccessful people aren’t willing to do.

Happy hunting!

Rick Rummage is the founder and CEO of the Rummage Group, a consulting firm for advisors. Follow him on Twitter at @therummagegroup.

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