Double Revenue Growth in Your Practice in 2015

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Growth

Growth of your practice, to be specific.  It’s a good thing.  Yes?  Then let’s look at some more ways you can see more of it in the coming months and make your 2015 a banner year.

In my previous post, we looked at three (3) keys to help you grow your practice:

1.  Generate More Clients
2.  Increase Your Average Client Transaction
3.  Create Transactions More Frequently

In this post, I’d like to look at three more specific keys to increased growth of your practice.

By the end of this post, I’ll show you how to manage these three keys to effectively DOUBLE your production.  (Got your attention?  Good!  Stay tuned . . . film highlights at 11!)

 

Face-To-Face Meetings

I can think of no better metric at predicting how your year is going to turn out than how many people you’re meeting with on a daily basis.

Meetings with new prospects or with existing clients whom you meet with to review their planning, are the fertile ground from which great things can come to you and cause your practice to grow.

Big deal.  Everyone knows the old adage “See More People” is the secret to increased production, revenues and income.  You’re right.  Everyone knows WHAT will grow your practice.  But HOW do you get those ‘At Bats’ with people who can either buy from you or, refer you to others who can?

The real driving force behind having enough meetings comes down to your prospecting.  If you aren’t seeking introductions to people who are most like your best clients — i.e. referral prospecting — I suggest you learn how to do that as soon as possible.  Doing that will help you grow your meetings and, ultimately, your practice.  Probably better than many other marketing tactics will — and I say that from experience.

We offer a Special Report on this topic as well as private coaching on how to utilize a proven and proprietary prospecting system known as The Preferral Prospecting® System.  Click these links for more information.

untitledCase Size / Average Client Transaction Value

If all things are equal, but your average case size (remember the A.C.T we talked about in my last post?) is more or less than another advisor’s, the revenues you produce will be more or less, too.

If you want to make twice as much as you have in the past (2014?), then you’ll either need to work twice as hard or, generate twice as much revenue from each transaction you generate.

Obviously, you’ll have a range of transactions.  We all do.  Some cases will be larger (or, smaller) than others.  Regardless, your average case size reflects where you’re marketing yourself and prospecting for clients.

If you want to improve your average case size, ask yourself, “Am I in the BEST market/s, for the value I offer?”  You can, if you do some research, find a more lucrative marketplace — and the clients it offers — than the one/s you’re in now.  Remember — even a modest change in where you’re marketing can have a significant growth on your revenues and income.

Lifetime Value of a Client

When we’re in ‘hunt’ mode . . . we’re seeking to close a sale . . . and it’s so easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees.

Quick story.  As you probably know, life insurance policies have an optional feature that allows an insured to be able to buy additional insurance at ages 25, 28, 31, 34, 37 and 4o regardless of their health.

This feature known by various names (Additional Purchase Benefit, Guaranteed Issue Option, etc.) is offered because insurance companies know that, at those ages, the need to buy more life insurance is the greatest it will ever be.

During these critical years — from 25 – 40 —  most of us get married, have kids, buy a home, have a mortgage, start a business, etc.  It’s also when the most people will have the greatest need for the insurance the companies want to sell.  Offering APB or GIO options practically guarantees additional policies will be sold . . . by the companies.

Not surprisingly, only a small percentage of all policies (about 7%) later issued under these guaranteed issue options are sold by the agent who sold the original policy.  To be fair, it could be these policies were sold by agents in these same age groups (e.g. under 30) and agent attrition can’t be ignored as a factor behind the low percentage of later sales made by the original agent.

But I submit there’s another reason.  The original agents didn’t stay in touch with their clients.  They were so busy seeking new people to sell that they ignored their past clients.  True, some clients moved away from where they bought their first policy.  But more often than not, benign neglect may be the most significant reason why those later policies were sold by agents who didn’t sell the original policy.

SYNERGY . . . It’s a Beautiful Thing

Earlier I promised to show you a do-able way to DOUBLE your production.  Not surprisingly, it depends on how you use the information we just discussed above.

Your growth or productivity reflects three factors:

•  The People You’re Seeing / Meeting
•  The Size of Your Average Case
•  The Percentage of a Client’s Lifetime Value You’ll Enjoy

Here’s a simple graphic that reflects how this works:

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Each factor is a key element of a formula or functional relationship — as you can see is being shown by the white numbers in the red box at the top.

Let’s assume each factor is equal and valued at “1.0”  The resulting formula thus gives us a growth factor of “1.0”.

OK, now let’s see how you can DOUBLE your growth!

 

The first way you can double your revenue or growth is to double the number of people you’re seeing and meeting with . . . i.e. your ‘At Bats’ . . . e.g.

 

The second way you can double your revenue or growth is to double your average case size . . . e.g.

The third way you can double your revenue or growth is to double the length of time you retain a client and, as a result, realize a greater portion of that person’s lifetime value based on future transactions for the service you offer . . . e.g.

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In theory, each of these approaches will DOUBLE the revenues or growth you’re currently enjoying.

In practice, that’s not likely.  Why?  Because it’s not easy to double the people you’re seeing, double your average case size or double the length of time you retain a client.

That said, here’s a far more practical (i.e. DO-able!) way to double your revenues . . . e.g.untitled

 

 

OK, now let’s suppose . . . you improve each of the factors we’ve introduced by 25% . . . that’s far more do-able than if you actually had to do twice as much of any one of these factors as you were up to now.  Fair?

But look . . . if you improve each factor by just 25% across the board, you actually end up DOUBLING your revenues!

Making a ‘little bit’ of improvement in each factor goes a long way toward making your revenues and the growth they’ll support . . . what you really want them to be.

POINT:
Growth comes from doing many things, a little better and more consistently than you are now

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3 Keys To Increased Growth for Your Practice in 2015

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untitledOK.  It’s January.  Almost February.  And, if you’re like many advisors, visions of lofty goals for growing your practice in 2015 are still dancing in your head like sugarplum fairies were in December, right?

In this post, I’d like to share three basic opportunities that, if used properly, can really help you grow your practice.

 

I’ll explain each and show you how, synergistically, addressing each of these factors can create exponential growth for your practice.

CLIENTS

Here’s a simple fact: growing your practice means generating more clients.  The more clients you have, the more revenue you’ll enjoy.  Pretty simple, right?

What isn’t always so obvious, however is that generating a client is merely a symptom of doing enough of certain behaviors often enough and well enough that a client results.

Some people like to refer to this as ‘How Much’ and ‘What Kind’.  That means referring to your ‘cookbook’ of key behaviors that are required to generate a client.

Personally, I advise clients to consider the following key activities:

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SEEN . . . are your face-to-face meetings with qualified individuals who are meeting with you to discuss a challenge or opportunity you are in a position to help them fix or achieve.

FACTS . . . refer to the information you need from a prospective client to determine if they need something you can provide, has a budget that you can both afford to work with and a commitment to ‘do something’ in the reasonably near future.

OPEN CASE . . . happens when you have obtained sufficient information to determine that a problem exists that is addressable, a budget is available and adequate, and a presentation is ready to deliver.

DECISION . . . is the kind of meeting you have with a prospect to discuss your presentation and seek a decision to either act on it or, not.

CLIENT . . . is the natural result of successfully moving through each of the above gateways.

The bigger picture issue here is this . . . there are certain ratios between these factors in what some call a revenue pipeline.  The specific ratios vary for each of us.  But tracking ‘How Much’ and ‘What Kind’ of activity is needed in one area to proceed to the next one allows you to predict the ultimate results (i.e. clients) you’re likely to generate if you do these activities.

A quick example.  If you track your activities and you learn that you require:

3 Decision Meetings to generate 1 client transaction,
2  Open Cases to generate 1 Decision Meeting,
3 Facts to generate 1 Open Case, and
2 Seen to generate 1 new or updated Facts from someone you meet

THEN . . . to produce one (1) new client transaction, you’ll need:

3 Decision Meetings
6 Open Cases
18 Facts, and
36 Seen

The above formula identifies HOW MUCH and WHAT KIND of activity you need to generate a client transaction.  It doesn’t explain how you generate these activities (that’s a different topic and a different post!).

Once you know your numbers, multiply them by the number of client transactions your annual plan requires and you’ll know How Much and What Kind of activities you’ll need to produce the number of transactions your revenue goals suggest.

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 VALUE

When you do business with someone, what, on the average, is the size of the transaction?  That’s the value, to you, of each client transaction. This is your A. C. T. or, ‘Average Client Transaction’.

If your A.C.T. is $5,000 and a competitor’s A.C.T. is $10,000, if your Cookbook ratios and behaviors are the same, you’ll make half as much as your competitor.

The implication I’d like you to take away is simple.  Find ways to increase your value per transaction.  If your cookbook numbers don’t change at all, you’ll still end up generating more revenues.

This requires more thinking and less sweat than you might think.  Take McDonald’s.  By simply asking, “You want fries with your order?”, they added billions of dollars their bottom line by boosting their average customer transaction.  It’s more about looking for overlooked but appropriate ways to up-sell and cross-sell than anything else!

untitledFREQUENCY

A third key to increased revenues is to generate buying and selling opportunities more often than you are now.

If you’re providing a professional service, you may be thinking, “I don’t use coupons or anything like that”.  True.  But increasing the frequency of opportunities to think about using your services is actually pretty easy to do.

Most professional service providers are reactive, not pro-active. They wait for clients to present them with a need for the problem-solving expertise and services the professional provides.

The problem with this approach is that those same professionals are doing little (my apologies if you’re the exception) to give their clients and prospects a good reason to ‘raise their hands and ask for assistance’.

Assuming you provide a client-letter, do you invite response from your readers?  If not, you should!  How?  Add a mini-case study and include a call-to-action.  This alone will easily generate inquiries from people who ‘discover’ they have the problem your case-study reveals and . . . you’ll generate more revenues for services you can render.

Poor communications = poor revenues.  The opposite is true, too.  Think about it!

In my next post, I’ll reveal a simple matrix that will show you how easily a little improvement, across the board, can have significant and positive impact on your practice growth for 2015.  Stay tuned!

POINT:
Growth comes from knowing your numbers, realizing more value and generating more opportunities

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4 Factors Behind Marketing Failures

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Yesterday, I had the pleasure to be invited to do an ‘Ask The Experts’ call with Colleen Ferrary, President of Small Business USA. Colleen and her organization are dedicated to helping small business owners access resources that help them succeed.

On our call, we discussed a number of factors that both enable and dis-able the ability of a small business owner or solo-practitioner to be effective in their marketing.  I thought it would be timely and useful to share some of the highlights of our call with you, today.

Marketing Means

We began by talking about the role and definition of marketing.  While there are various ways to define this essential business growth function, I said I like one that’s fairly simple:  

“Marketing is a business function that reflects the decisions you make and actions you take, over time, to increase the quantity and improve the quality of opportunities where a sale can be made”

Marketing effectively, means you’ll be coming into contact with people who can best understand, value, desire and afford the beneficial difference you can create in their life on a predictable and regular basis.  And that spells S-U-C-C-E-S-S.

The Challenges You Face

Typically, if you’re a small business owner or sole-practitioner, marketing is a challenge. Why?  Because it sucks . . . resources away from other activities in your business where you’d prefer to use them.  Notably, there are four (4) factors that limit your ability to market your business, your products and your services as effectively as you’d like:

Time
You have all the time in the world.  24 hours per day.  So a lack of time isn’t the problem.  OK, what is?  Making choices on how to use your time that doesn’t help you your marketing, effectively or efficiently.  Too often, I see people who make bad choices on how to invest their time on marketing as well as other areas of their life.  Making better choices seems easy enough.  Until you realize there is an emotional payoff for the choices we make.  Yes, including the ‘bad’ ones.  Reframing the importance of marketing can help.  But this is a real issue.

Money
Business people often lament, “I can’t afford to spend money on marketing”.  Really?  Tell me, “Can you really afford not to market your business or practice?”  Unless you’re absolutely without a source of funds for marketing, this is not a good mantra.  Said often enough, you may actually believe it!  My suggestion . . . get in touch with WHY you want to market — the consequential benefits it will produce — and you’ll reframe this issue in a totally different and far more productive way.

Skills
This is probably one of the few legitimate reasons why people don’t market effectively.  You need to have an aptitude for marketing.  Not everyone does.  Maybe not even you.  But even if you have it, you need time to invest in learning how to do it effectively.  For these two reasons alone, having the requisite skill to do your own marketing isn’t something that’s safe to assume is always likely to happen.

Staff
If you’re a solo-practitioner, you have a number ‘hats’ to wear.  For that same reason, you will be most challenged by this factor.  You know the meaning of the saying, “If it’s going to be, it’s up to ME!”.  Your nemesis is, more than anything, time.  More precisely, it’s all the demands you have to do everything you must in the 24 hours a day you have to do it.  If you lack the skills to do your marketing, then you’re really in a tough spot to get your marketing done effectively and efficiently. If you lack both time and skill . . . get someone else to do your marketing activities for you . . . or, suffer the consequences.

If you have staff, they may be just as challenged to do your marketing –– for the reasons cited above.  First, they must have skills to market your business, products and services.  Second, they must have the time — in addition to what you’re already asking them to do — to do marketing on top of everything else.  Regardless of what your employees’ challenge may be, something has to give and usually, it’s not something you’ll like.

A Solution You May Like

If you’re a big company with lots of money (a sure-fire way to buy someone else’s TIME!) and staff (some of whom have some aptitude for marketing), then this won’t be of interest to you.

BUT . . . if you’re a time-starved solopreneur or self-employed advisor / planner / professional . . . this may be the best way to do marketing –– for you –– that is not only simple and effective but affordable and sustainable, as well. (How cool is that!)

istockphotoPAM

Say “Hello” to PAM — Personally Assisted Marketing

‘PAM’ is a marketing service that’s designed for you if you lack the time and possibly the skills you need to do your own marketing.

Because PAM is affordable, you don’t need to invest a lot of money to see meaningful and measurable results.  In fact, your marketing budget, large or small, is capable of generating a really nice ROI for you . . . in the hands of ‘PAM’.

 

How It Works

The power of PAM comes from a series of ‘touches’ . . . contacts made with people who are your prospects, clients and centers-of-influence.  Most of these are done FOR you . . . by a VMA (Virtual Marketing Assistant) who is assigned to handle your marketing.

We’ve learned the #1 reason smaller firms, consultants and advisors find marketing so frustrating is that they’re trying to do it themselves.  Not good!

That’s why you want someone else — your VMA — to do most of the ‘heavy lifting’ your marketing requires.  This allows you to respond to marketing that puts people, with a PAIN or a PREFERRAL into contact with you on a regular basis.  That is ‘all good’ for your bottom-line!

The Eight (8) Touches PAM Makes For You

Since most of your clients are buying a relationship with you, PAM focuses on creating ‘touches’ that are personally meaningful to the people you’re cultivating for the lifetime value they offer you . . . either in the form of revenues and/or referrals.  These include:

Emails
PAM sends these to people who want to hear from you — i.e. 100% opt-in.  These emails are short, interesting and can be scanned in no more than 7 seconds.  We feature your photo and contact information prominently on each one.

PAM also does all the ‘work’ involved in creating these emails.  From researching, writing, releasing and reporting on what your people do after they receive them.  All you need to do is invite people to receive them from you.  PAM . . . does everything else!

This keeps you top-of-mind with people who can, sooner or later, buy from you or refer you to others who can.  They’re also designed to get people to ‘raise their hands’ and let you know they’d like to learn more about specific products or services you offer.  Sweet!

Phone Calls
Once a quarter, your VMA will make a ‘courtesy call’ to each person you’re cultivating.  The goal for each of these calls is to do three (3) things:

1.  remind them that you are thinking about them . . . in a fiduciary way . . . to ensure they’re doing well

2.  learn if they have a need that someone (an ‘Expert’) in your network may be able to help them address

3.  invite them to request a call or arrange a meeting with you, if they wish, to discuss a matter of importance . . . to them

Do you get a periodic call from the office of your doctor, dentist, accountant, coach, auto mechanic, remodeling contractor, etc.  Few do.  But the impression it makes — and the perception of ‘preference’ it generates — for you when you do this is . . . ‘priceless’.

Meet ‘N Greet Lunches
One of the best ways to reconnect with people who are ‘key’ to your practice or business — prospects, clients and centers-of-influence — is by breaking bread together.  Once or twice a month, PAM arranges for you to meet with 2 – 3 other people you’re actively cultivating.

You have to eat anyway, why not use the opportunity to strengthen relationships, introduce people who know you to one another.  In the process, you’ll discover needs and opportunities you can address.  Plus, ‘PAM’ takes care of everything — from contacting the restaurant (or, ordering the food to be delivered to you office), inviting and confirming the ‘guests’ and following-up afterwards.

Thinking of You Emails
Periodically, PAM will send a brief email to people you’re cultivating with one or two sentences.  Something like, “Dear Mike — I saw this post on Linkedin and thought you’d find it of interest.  Hope all’s well with you and yours.  Sincerely, Christine”

Sending these thought-full emails to your ‘special’ people on topics you know (and, tell PAM!) are important to them will make YOU far more valuable to them, as well.  Guaranteed!

Preferral Exchange Meetings
You know there are certain people in your business circles who have referred people to you in the past and likely would do so again in the future, right?  Well, do you plan to reconnect with them on a regular basis?  If not, PAM can help make that happen.

Once or twice a month — you choose — PAM will arrange for you to meet with people who are likely to introduce you to new people who are likely to understand, value, desire and afford your problem-solving services.  Of course, fair’s fair and this is an excellent opportunity for you to return the favor.

But the bottom-line is that, by doing this consistently and conscientiously, you’ll be regularly generating new people to talk with because of the influence and prestige of someone else who’s already established a ‘trusted advisor’ relationship with them.  Kind of makes your work a lot easier, doesn’t it?

Introductions to Your Experts
As PAM connects with your people each month, ‘needs’ will be learned and shared with you.  Many of these will not be needs for something you do.  But other people you know will be able to help.  When that’s the case, PAM will help you make an introduction of your contact and your expert.  This tends to delight three (3) people.

Your contact is delighted because you’ve helped them to identify and meet with someone they can trust — because they trust you, yes?  Your Expert is delighted because you’ve helped them to meet with a prospective client they might other never have known about.  And then there’s you.  You now have two (count’m 2!) more people in the world whose opinion of you has gone up a few points.  That’s called goodwill.  And goodwill turns into more revenues and referrals!

Items-of-Value
Staying-in-touch and top-of-mind with your key people is an important thing to do.  And, do regularly.  That’s why an item-of-value is so important.  This ‘touch’ needn’t be expensive.  But, it must be thoughtful.  It’s a tangible experience that reminds someone you’re cultivating that, “You’re important to me”.

These items are usually very simple, inexpensive and have a high utility value.  One of the more creative clients we’ve had the privilege to work with uses a solid milk-chocolate bar that shows their practice’s name and logo.  It doesn’t last long (DUH!), but the feeling it creates for our client and their firm is . . . priceless!

Handwritten Notes
Each month, PAM will remind you of certain individuals who should receive a handwritten note from you.  These are (mercifully) brief.  Why?  It’s not the message you write.  It’s the message you’re sending to someone you’re cultivating — “You’re important to me”.

The reason notes work so well is that in a high-tech world where it’s so easy to ‘like’ someone’s page on Facebook or ‘follow’ someone on Twitter, you have to give your personal attention and time to write a note and (snail) mail it to someone.  What your effort communicates, more than any words you may write on the card, is that the recipient is someone you regard, respect and value.  Get your people feeling that feeling on a regular basis and you won’t worry about any alleged competitors!

The Power of PAM: Synergy

As good as each of these ‘touches’ may be, the real power of the PAM service doesn’t come from using any one of them.  It comes from the synergy of combining all of them into a coherent and coordinated plan of action that is carried out consistently and diligently.

Your PAM plan is uniquely tailored to your needs and resources
For example, you may not want to have two Meet ‘N Greet lunches every month.  OK, just do one.  Or, you prefer your item of value to be a white paper — rather than a keychain calculator.  That’s fine.  You have a lot of latitude and options.

Regardless of your choices, just be sure the type and frequency of the PAM ‘touches’ your plan calls for are done consistently.  That’s why we assign a Virtual Marketing Assistant to you . . . to help you make sure your marketing activities  happen “according to plan”.

POINT:
Don’t Let Limiting Factors Hold Back Your Marketing and Your Success!  Get PAM working . . . for you!

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Learn More About PAM — Personally Assisted Marketing
Complete the form below.  Mention ‘PAM’ in the comment box.

We’ll be in touch to discuss how it works and, more importantly, how it may be able to do what your previous marketing efforts haven’t done as well as you wanted.

Your Contact Network IS a Money Tree

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Money TreeThe more people who ‘know, like and trust’ you, the better.  But do you really know why?

It centers around the value of building a network of ‘raving fans’ — people who know, like and trust you.

Doing that is not only easy, but motivational as well.

Your Network IS a ‘Money Tree’

If you’re a solo-practitioner, there’s a practical limitation on the number of business relationships you can cultivate.  Despite what you might like to believe, it’s difficult to maintain a quality relationship with more than a few hundred individuals.

In fact, an English researcher named Robin Dunbar did research that revealed how most people can only maintain a viable relationship with around 150 people.  Thus, the ‘Dunbar Number‘ of 150 people refers to the number of people you can maintain an active relationship with over time.  And, by ‘active’ I mean they’ll respond to you when you call or contact them.

If you look at the average person’s network connections on Linkedin, they probably have a few million ‘close, personal connections’.  The fact is . . . most of your online ‘connections’ don’t know you exist and couldn’t pick you out of a police line-up if they had to (and why would you be in a police line-up, anyway?).

I’m not putting down social network connections.  But the reality is, absent a personal effort to cultivate an awareness of you and build a position for you / your brand, you’re not likely to generate new clients from social network connections.  Doubt that?  OK, in the last 12 months, how many new clients did you generate who only know you from Linkedin, Facebook, Google + or the like?  See.  I rest my case.

What’s a Better Approach?  Cultivate Your Own Network!

Again, there are very good reasons to be active on social media — especially Linkedin.  But generating new revenues from people whom you have not connected with in a meaningful and ongoing way . . . is not one of them.

What is better is to identify people who are likely to buy what you offer and/or likely to refer you to others who can?  In a word, ‘Cultivation’.

Cultivation is a KEY Function for Growing Your Clientele

Cultivation is one of the six (6) key client-development functions you must engage in or you’ll be relegated to making cold calls for the rest of your career.  These are:

Fueling . . . generating introductions to people who MAY be able to buy or refer you

Qualifying . . . learning if someone can buy and/or refer you to others who can

Cultivating . . . building top-of-mind awareness and preference for the brand called Y-O-U

Converting . . . helping someone make a decision to act on your recommendations

Servicing . . . keeping someone happy to work with and spend money with you

Managing . . . operating your practice in a way that consistently exceeds clients’ expectations

Once you’ve found someone who’s able to buy what you offer and/or refer you to other people who can, you’ll want to cultivate a relationship with them.  This helps you build the ‘know, like and trust’ factor you need to be thought of first and favorably when (not if) a need arises for your problem-solving expertise, services and products.

To keep this function simple, all you want to do is keep-in-touch and top-of-mind with your qualified people.  Reconnecting with them to remind them you exist . . . with relevance, respect and regularity . . . is all you need to do.

This calls for a very simple ‘plan’.  For example, you can build a Cultivation Plan using any or all of the following means of keeping-in-touch and top-of-mind with your ‘qualified’ connections:

1.  a newsletter

2. a personal, handwritten note of appreciation

3. a phone call to ‘touch base’

4. a ‘Thinking of You’ email with a link to an article of relevance to your contact

5. an invitation to reconnect over lunch or coffee with 2 other people-of-interest

6. an introduction to a person of interest or value

7. a referral to someone you know who might do business with your contact

8. an item-of-value that your contact would likely appreciate receiving

You don’t have to incorporate all these different activities.  Nor do you need to do them each month.  But you do need to choose some of them and use them consistently and conscientiously.

Why 240 People . . . Is Your Magic Number

Earlier, I said it’s not practical to attempt to cultivate more than 150 – 250 people on a regular basis.  But if you do cultivate 240 people, you’ll see a lot of opportunities to generate clients, revenues and referrals.  Here’s how . . .

Let’s say your Cultivation Plan requires you to call your people once a quarter.  That means you’ll be calling, on average, 1/3 of all your contacts being cultivated, each month.  (If you want to know why, call me — 860-798-6964).

If you’re cultivating 240 people, you’re re-calling 80 people a month.  Unfortunately, between your schedule and theirs you aren’t going to reach 50% of them.  No problem.  They’ll remain in your cultivation system and you’ll continue to cultivate them as your plan suggests.  Yes, you’ll call them again in another 90 days.  So you’re down to 40 people.

Of the 40 people you do reach, expect that around 50% will thank you for calling but they’re not going to have a need you can address or know someone they can refer you to meet.  It’s OK.  They go back into the cultivation pool as well.

Now you’re down to roughly 20 people.  A couple are likely to tell you, “Let’s stop”.  They (or, you) will decide that they’ll never buy from or refer to you.  It’s over.  It’s OK.  You’ll live.  You remove them from your cultivation system and make room for new, more viable contacts to go into it.  It all works out in the end.

Of the remaining people you do reach, you’ll either find a reason to meet or you’ll generate some referrals to people they know who fits the profile of the kind of person who can best understand, value, desire and afford your services.  It’s all good.

Now remember, these are WARM calls . . . to people who know, like and trust you.  Each one is growing steadily closer to the next time they need to buy what you do — lifetime value of a client, remember?

So how many discussions do you need to generate an open case?  How many open cases can you turn into a decision meeting?  How many decision meetings do you need to close a single sale?  What’s your average sale look like?

Now, do you see why you want to cultivate qualified people?  It reinforces your relationship with key people for your practice, it makes your life easier, your revenues greater and, best of all, more predictable, too.

POINT:
Cultivating Key Relationships . . . helps generate revenues easily, predictably and significantly

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Leveraging Your Relationships

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What’s Your TRUST FACTOR?
People who know and like you are likely to trust you.  Trust is evidence you have relationships that allow access to the contact networks of others and that allows you to generate referrals for your business.  And, as you know, more referrals = more revenues, profits and owner equity.

Why is TRUST Important?
To build business, you want referrals.  The more people who allow you to leverage their TRUST of you, through their endorsement of you to their network contacts, the more referrals you’ll see from it.

Why Relationships Matter
Consider this . . . the average person has a contact network or sphere of influence with 200 people — more or less.  So building a solid relationship with people whose contacts are most likely to 1) understand, 2) value, 3) desire and 4) afford what you do, the more opportunities for referrals you’ll be generating.

Strategic Alliances
One of the types of relationships you’ll want to establish and maintain is with someone who satisfies the following characteristics:

1.  they are highly regarded and trusted by people in their contact network

2.  they know or have clients who look like your ‘best clients,

3.  they know, like and trust you . . . i.e. ‘raving fan’ material, and,

4.  they are willing to introduce you to select members of their network

 If you will build a strong relationship with 25 people who serve the same kind of client as you do — with complementary vs. competitive services or products — then you should be seeing both referrals (inbound leads from receptive individuals) and Preferrals (outbound introductions to qualified individuals).

The numbers of Reality
Let’s say you have 25 Strategic Alliances.  On a quarterly basis, that means you could be meeting (I prefer lunch) with 2 of your alliances each week.  Now, because they already know, like and trust you AND you’ve been able to give as well as receive . . . they’re coming to lunch with the full understanding that this is a time to exchange introductions to people in their network who share characteristics in common with people who are your ‘Ideal Client’ and you’re coming to lunch to do the same thing for them.

Assume you manage to collect, on average, 5 names of people who may, sooner or later, be likely to need the services (and, outcomes!) you offer.  That’s ten (10) preferred introductions (Preferrals) a week . . . 40 or so a month.  So what happens when you follow up?

Roughly 1/3 will say something that means there’s no future — e.g. “Oh, did I tell you my wife is a CPA and does all our tax work?”.  See, it’s over before it gets going.

Another 1/3  will express interest in what you do but have no current need for it.  If they invite you to ‘stay in touch’, you have a ‘future opportunity’ you can cultivate, over time, until one of either ‘coughs up’ or ‘gives up’.

Finally, 1/3 will be interested and receptive to some kind of immediate ‘next step’ . . . a meeting to get better acquainted, an agreement to take your online survey and schedule a debriefing call or meeting, etc.

The REAL Payoff — “Life Gets Much Better!”
Over time, as you build up your database of people who share characteristics in common with your best clients, and they invite you to keep-in-touch so you can stay-in-mind should they or someone they know ever need the service/s you provide, roughly 1/3 of the people you’re cultivating . . . will come ‘up’ each month . . . for a recall to requalify to remain in your Client Cultivation System, or ‘CCS’

Say you have just 240 qualified prospects in your CCS. That means that about 80 people are due, each month, for a ‘touch base’ call.  Now, because they already know you, it’s not a ‘cold call’.  As they’ve invited you to stay in touch, it’s a call with ‘permission’ — so you’re not intruding. And, assuming they were qualified to be cultivated in the first place, with each subsequent call, they (or, someone they know!) are getting closer to the time when they’ll need someone who does what you do.

It’s called ‘CULTIVATION’ for a reason — just as a farmer keeps the weeds away, the insects at bay and makes the water plentiful, so too must you, as a service provider, offer the ‘gentle care and feeding’ of the relationship known as ‘client’.  And if someone is not (yet) your client, keeping-in-touch on a regular basis and in a client-centric manner is one of the best ways to ‘harvest’ the seeds of success you’ve planted in the past.  It’s also a proven strategy to both differentiate yourself from others in your field, and build up client loyalty to you and your brand.

POINT:
 Relationships matter.  Cultivating relationships for both current and future revenue opportunities is a wise strategy to make your business or practice generate clients (and, the revenues they suggest!) consistently and efficiently.

Don’t Do Social Media

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. . . UNLESS . . .  you can justify it, financially.

I just love it when a brilliant mind takes on a topic that’s so inviting of opinion that a clear conclusion seems highly unlikely. Drew McLellan did that in a recent post on MarketingProfs.com and it’s inspired this post from me.

coinsIs It Worth Being on Social Media?
I speak with a number of business owners who tell me that if they’re not doing social media, then they’re probably missing out in some way.

As a result, they set up social media profiles, create a facebook page, a LinkedIn profile, etc.

But when I ask them, “So, is social media working for you?”, they often can’t say.

If I then suggest that maybe they shouldn’t do any social media, they come back with, “But if I don’t . . . it’s going to cost me.  Look, maybe I can’t say that being on social media has made me money, but I’m concerned that not being on it will cost me money”.

So, as a purely defensive position, they engage in social media for their business but they’re not able to justify their time online in terms of real sales or value to their business.

Sorry, but that’s unacceptable.

How To Tell If You Should Invest Your Time on Social Media
If you can MAKE or SAVE money by being on social media, DO IT.  If not, DON’T.

Drew McLellan actually suggests a number of ways to assess if you’re getting value from social media.

Is Social Media MAKING You Money By:
Allowing you to stop doing something you’re currently doing?
Allowing you to extend or expand something you are currently doing?
Lowering your customer acquisition costs?
Connecting you to existing customers in an efficient way?
Creating a community specifically for your customers?
Making it easier for your customers to rave / create positive word of mouth?
Making you look ‘in tune’ with the times to my customers if you’re there?
Introducing you to new potential customers at a low lead-generation cost?
Making you easier to find (within the social network or on search engines)?
Improving your search engine results (so you don’t have to buy results)?

Is Social Media SAVING You Money By:
Shortening your sales cycle?
Creating credibility and trust faster among prospects?
Establishing you / your firm as THE expert?
Shortening customer service response time?
Creating a sense of accessibility for my customers?
Increasing trial of my products or services?
Allowing me to connect with more prospects at once?
Increasing repeat sales?
Will it increase upsells?
Helping me collect or leverage testimonials?

KEY POINT:
Social Media is never ‘free’.  The time you must spend online has a definite ‘cost’. If your cost/benefit ratio is not attractive, don’t do social media until you figure out how to make it make or save you more than it costs you to use it.

What Ripples We Create!

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I just received an email from a dear friend . . . Kathy Vincello who helps smaller business owners manage their finances as a QuickBooks Advisor and VFA (Virtual Financial Assistant).

Whatever you do . . . I hope you realize the IMPACT you have when you exchange value with a fellow business owner.

Here’s what she just sent to me . . . WOW!

When you stop and think about it . . . it’s so true.

I recall a very wise mentor of mine who once said, “If you can infuse the majesty of what you’re doing into the mundane  actions you’re required to do . . . you will never feel you are stuck doing ‘little’ jobs because EVERY job is . . . magnificent!”

Well said, Kathy . . . well said.  ‘-)

By the way, if you (or, someone you know!) ever needs a truly quality individual to handle your virtual bookkeeping needs . . . just call Kathy and you’ll be very glad you did . . .

Are You a ‘Professional’?

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To me, the word Professional means “Worthy of Trust and Respect”. Without these qualities you’re unlikely to be an effective agent of change and growth in your company.

So here are five (5) qualities that correlate with being a pro . . .

 

1.  Competence
You could call this ‘Knowing Your Stuff’.  And while it’s important to know enough to be competent, it’s also about being confident enough to know what you don’t know and being able to admit that.

In my first job, I felt compelled to ‘have all the answers’ . . . until a senior associate replied to a client, “Y’know that’s a good question.  I don’t have a clue . . . but let me do some digging into it and I’ll get back to you”.  After that, I found it was a ‘strength’ not a ‘weakness’ to accept and acknowledge my limits and commit to learn what I didn’t know but needed to know to grow (what else!) “more professional’ to my clients.

2.  Conviction
As the recent election showed, differences in position or opinion are perfectly acceptable.  If you prefer one candidate over another, it’s because someone had a clear position on what’s important and they didn’t compromise their values to please people or gain a short-term popularity (which you know won’t last!).

3.  Commitment
You know the term, “Keeping your word”?  Well, people do prefer to work with / support / follow people who do what they say.  As one staffer at a client told me, “I may not always agree with or like what ______ says we’re going to do, but I know she’ll do it and back me up if I do the same.  I can rely on her to create ‘no surprises’ and I really find that attractive!”

4.  Transparency
This suggests a lack of pretense and that’s what the famous JOHARI Window reveals — that organizations where people are transparent have the smallest facades and ‘blind-spots’ — two factors that correlate with highly effective organizations where communications and productivity are generally very, very high!

5.  Endorsement
This is what you DO when you ARE someone who endorses others on your staff.  I used to fly with a great pilot — John H. Phillips, USAF.  His greatest compliment to me was, “I’ve got your six”.  That was an endorsement that, if the you-know-what should hit the fan . . . I wouldn’t be alone.  That kind of support would make me march into the gates of Hell for John –– as I knew he’d do for me.   If you can instill that kind of esprit-d-corps in your staff, your competitors won’t be getting much sleep!

This post was inspired by a great post by Sharlyn Lauber  AKA the “HR Bartender”

KEY POINT:
Being a ‘professional’ isn’t what you say you are, it’s something you DO . . . and these 5 qualities are useful benchmarks to judge how well you’re doing it.

Strategy AND Tactics . . . You Need Both

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Sun Tzu, Chinese General and StrategistThe famous Chinese general, Sun Tzu once said:

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

I’ve just returned from the annual ‘Gathering’ of my fellow Duct Tape Marketing consultants in Kansas City, MO.  It was good.  But it also reinforced a basic premise of the Duct Tape Marketing ‘system’ my colleagues and I practice — a practice that helps to differentiate us from other ‘marketing people’ — the web designers, the email marketers, the copywriters, the graphic designers, etc.

Strategy BEFORE Tactics
I like to say that, “. . . to the man with a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail”.  That’s true for many professional fields.

My father was an MD.  He began his medical career as a surgeon.  One day I asked him, “Dad, is surgery the cure for everything?”  His thoughtful reply was full of wisdom . . . “It is if you’re a surgeon!”.  Yes, even the medical specialists have their built-in biases!

However . . . your marketing challenges are unique.  To your business or your practice.

And while you may be talking with the most gifted person in their area of expertise — web design, blogging, etc. — what you need to do before you engage anyone . . . is to know WHY you need what they can do for you and then, choose only those ‘solutions’ (we call them ‘tactics’ in marketing) that are most likely to address the issues you have and create the results you want.

No Axe To Grind
In The Profit Project™, (our proprietary approach to creating growth in a business or practice) we don’t / won’t advocate a specific solution — regardless of how good it may be intrinsically — unless and until we know what is necessary to address the symptomatic ‘issue/s’ that a client presents to us. Only then is it possible and appropriate to suggest the best means of correcting the situation a client wants to change.

Back when I was a practicing financial advisor (CLU, ChFC) I took a professional oath that said, in part, “I will do for my client, that which, were I in the position of my client, I would do for myself”.  In other words, while it’s good to ‘take your own medicine’ and ‘drink your own Kool-Aide’ . . . you’d better know which kind is best for the situation you’re in!

KEY POINT:
Sun Tzu’s wisdom on STRATEGY is still valid, over 2,000 years after his death.  As my physician father said, “Knowing how to make the incision for surgery is important.  Knowing why and where . . . is invaluable!”

Exclusive . . . is Attractive

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There is a wise and seasoned professional colleague of mine . . . named Kyle Hunt.

Kyle’s based in Michigan and he’s the owner of Remodel Your Marketing.  He specializes in working exclusively with clients who are  in the remodeling business and related trades — painters, carpenters, builders, electricians . . . well, you get the idea.

Kyle is undoubtedly one of THE best marketing advisors to trades people that I know.

Kyle is someone who ‘Walks his Talk’.  He practices what he preaches to his clients.  And there’s great wisdom in how he does that.

One of the basic marketing objectives is to seek to be attractive . . . to the kind of people you want as clients.  And, of course, the corollary to that would be to know the kind of person you do NOT want to attract.  That suggests you should have an ‘Ideal Client Profile’.

Your Ideal Client Profile
Often, when we talk about a ‘profile’, we mean the demographic and psychographic factors that correlate highly with the kind of people who can best understand what we do, desire the benefits we offer, afford the fees we must charge and (sooner or later) buy what we offer.

This is NOT that kind of profile.

The profile I want to introduce to you now — and use Kyle’s own profile (below) as an excellent example — is more of a profile that allows your prospects to self-qualify or, self-DISqualify themselves as being viable candidates to work with you.

Below you can see the “7 Characteristics” that Kyle uses to help people determine if they might be a good ‘fit’ for Kyle and vice versa.

Knowing WHO you do NOT want to work with is as important as knowing who you do. Effective marketing honors the truth that . . . “You can’t be all things to all people”.

So Kyle brilliantly just ‘puts it out there’ for all to see and use to determine if they’re even QUALIFIED to be one of Kyle’s clients.

It’s not hubris to do this, it’s brilliance!

KEY POINT:
When you know who you want (or, don’t!) as a client . . . and can communicate that to others . . . you’re far more likely to end up with clients you’ll like!