The Difference Between Good and Great: Intentionality

Intentionality [ in-ten-shuh-nal-i-tee]

An attitude of purposefulness, with a commitment to deliberate action.

In our work over the years with thousands of advisors we’ve captured many of the skills and practices that are consistent with the best, most productive advisors out there – those who consistently achieve their productivity targets and do so by making the most meaningful and lasting impact on the clients they serve. In one of our recent blogs – What Makes the Best Advisor? – we highlighted some of the intangible attributes that make the difference between a good advisor and being one of the best. In this blog, we are focusing on a more practical, yet critical attribute that advisors and firms can employ simply through commitment, focus and discipline – Intentionality.

What has been surprising to us and has helped us further develop how we help firms and advisors become more successful is how few (both at the firm and advisor level) are truly intentional, and thereby missing the opportunity to achieve their productivity potential and clearly differentiate themselves in the market.

From the firm perspective, most simply leave to each advisor how they will go about engaging with clients to drive the results they are looking for. This obviously results in a lack of consistency in the client experience they deliver, as the success of new business acquisition and the development of client loyalty rests solely on each individual advisor. And the experience a prospect or client receives from the firm is dependent upon the advisor with whom they engage.

From the advisor perspective, one of the most common conversations we engage in with advisors typically sounds something like this:

This typical response is a sure sign that the advisor lacks intentionality in how they approach their clients and their practice, and therefore a sure sign that there is ample room for improvement, both in the impact they make on clients and their productivity.

We have seen numerous advisors break through to a new level of productivity simply by taking the time and effort to become more intentional in each of the four key phases of the Client Experience they deliver – from the prospecting experience to the sales experience, the onboarding experience, and then the relationship management experience. We’ve also helped numerous firms achieve the same by establishing intentionality, and therefore consistency, in the firm’s approach to the experience they deliver by defining specific, objective standards and outcomes they expect to achieve in each phase of the Client Experience.

Developing Intentionality

To give you some idea on how to develop such intentionality, here’s a list of some of the key questions we pose to the firms and advisors we work with to put them on the path to greater intentionality and therefore enhanced growth and differentiation in the marketplace. Note that there is not necessarily a singular “RIGHT” answer for every question (though there certainly are best practices for each). The key is that the firm/advisor HAS an answer and leverages those answers to deliver a consistent and intentional experience that leads to greater results.

How have I developed a sales and growth plan that defines the quantifiable pipeline benchmarks required to meet my growth goals?

What is my explicitly defined approach to consistently sourcing new leads for my pipeline?

When I engage with a new prospect, what is the process I take them through – including the defined specific outcomes required for each interaction in the sales experience – that will lead to an improvement in my close ratio, a reduction in the time and calls it takes to get there, and maximize the revenue I generate from each sale?

What objective standards do I use in Discovery to ensure I have a comprehensive, intimate understanding of my clients at all times?

How do I assess each prospect’s/client’s situation to uncover and identify unexpressed or emerging needs?

What is my approach to ensuring the prospect or client recognizes the key issues they need to address and the importance of addressing them?

How do I engage clients in the goals-based planning process in a way that leads to greater client engagement and the delivery of distinct, recognizable value?

What is my framework for the Relationship Management Experience to ensure I am best serving my clients, expanding these relationships, and strengthening their loyalty to me and my firm?

As we’ve found repeatedly, those firms and those advisors who have clear, thoughtful answers to these questions will set themselves apart from the pack and put themselves on a path to greater, more consistent success.


Given the frequency in which we’ve seen this issue arise, we’ve developed the advisor2.0© Forum, a unique program designed to help firms, teams and individual advisors become more intentional in the experience they deliver, leading to enhanced productivity, sustainability of that productivity, and the consistent delivery of distinguishable value in the experience they deliver.

About Rick Swygman and David Greene