Posts

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:

untitled

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.

untitled

 

 

 

 

 

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

Like this post?  Get our bi-weekly, one page INSIGHTS Client Letter!  It’s free. 
Learn more by clicking here
.

Learn more about our Preferral Prospecting® System ––  Download your free report here.

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:

untitled

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.

untitled

 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

Like this post?  Get our bi-weekly, one page INSIGHTS Client Letter!  It’s free. 
Learn more by clicking here
.

Learn more about our Preferral Prospecting® System ––  Download your free report here.

 

Quick Recap of My Last Post

Building Your Practice Network — Part 1 of 2, was prompted by a question from a young man who was transitioning from a career as a graphic designer to becoming a financial advisor.

While his financial education was being addressed by his company and CFP studies, he didn’t feel he was learning how to build his practice.  Specifically, he was seeking guidance about the best ways to find and grow his clientele.

In the prior post, we set the stage for this post.  My biographic ramblings notwithstanding, several points were made by me to this new planner:

Passion
It’s imperative that, whatever you do, you do something you love.

Leveraging Your Network To Find Clients
There are several options to connect with prospective clients.  I highly recommend finding prospects through introductions from people who know, like and trust you to people they know who look like the people who can best understand, value, desire and afford what you can do for them.

4 Keys of The Preferral Prospecting® System

Actively seeking introductions to prospective clients is far better than waiting passively for referrals to magically ‘show up’.  Asking people who know, like and trust us for help connecting with people who could use our services isn’t easy for most of us.  But, it’s also not impossible.

A system for generating introductions to people is the ‘secret’ to generating opportunities with new clients on a consistent basis.  There are four (4) key elements to such a system:

PROFILE
. . . of someone who looks like the kind of person you know or believe can become a client.  The reason for such a profile is to share with other people when you ask them, “Who do you know who . . .”

SOURCE
. . . this is someone who knows, likes and trusts you so well that, if you ask properly, they’d be willing to introduce you to people in their network of connection who fit your profile

METHOD
. . . this refers to 2 things.  First, what you must say and do to help your Sources identify people they know who fit the profile of your Ideal Client.  Second, what you must say and do to approach those people and decide if they’re viable for you.  Or, not.

PLAN
. . . If your method suggests a number of actions you must take to ‘make things happen’, your plan helps you orchestrate and coordinate them.  Some call this the ‘How Much’ and ‘What Kind’ of activities must you engage in, daily and weekly, to generate the number of prospects that will be come the clients who support your annual revenue goals.

Getting Introduced To Others

There are seven (7) ‘mission critical’ activities that will help you generate introductions to people who look like the kind of people you’d be happy to have as your clients.

I’m assuming you’ve done the work necessary to implement your introduction system.  Namely, you have a clear PROFILE of your ideal client, you know people — SOURCES — you can approach to generate introductions to their contacts who look like your PROFILE.  Your METHOD — the things you’ll say and do — has been developed and readied to use.   So now, the PLAN of what to do when is all that remains to be done.

Six (6) Key Activities

1.  Approach your Source/s for a Meeting 
You want to begin with people you know well and, vice versa.  You can just pick up the phone and ask to meet.  Tell them you’re actively building your clientele and would like their input on how to do this most effectively.  Most people who know, like and trust you will agree to help and meet with you.  You’ll also quickly discover who your real friends are here!

2. Meet with your Source/s 
I highly recommend you have a face-to-face meeting with someone if possible.  But, if you know someone really, really well or they’re not able to meet with you in-person . . . then a phonetical can work just fine, too.

3.  Generate Introductions 
10 Step Preferral Guidethis is where your METHOD comes into play. You want to explain that you have a challenge (to grow your clientele) and you’d like their help –– if they’re able to help you (by introducing you to people they know who fit your Profile).  This is all covered in detail in this Discussion Guide:

4.  Approach Your Introductions
the best way to do this is by snail-mailing a notecard or note on blank paper to each introduction you generate. You simply want to prepare the person for a phone call that you’ll make shortly after they receive your note.  Do NOT assume or suggest the person has any need or desire for your products or services. Leverage the relationship you have in-common with the Source with a simple “P.S” like “Prior to my calling, please contact Bill Doerr concerning who I am and what I do.  Bill’s number is (860) 798-6964”.  Here’s an example of what this might be:

5.  Follow-up with Your Introductions . . . about 3 days after you mail them your note of introduction.  You’ll want to call these people, introduce yourself, reference the person you know in common (your Source) and see what happens.  Generally, there are only three possible outcomes.Vintage Traffic Signal

“It’ Over!” . . . First, they may not only have ‘no need’ to know more about you / your services but they may already have a great relationship with another planner and have no desire to look at you any further.  Congratulate them on their relationship, thank them for their time and hang up.  (In time, you can pursue these kinds of people, but for now, keep it simple.)

“Receptive, BUT not now” . . . Second, you may find someone doesn’t have a ‘financial girlfriend’ and also isn’t opposed to knowing you.  But they also have no compelling reason to get to know you any better.  Today.  Again, you weren’t calling to sell them, today.  You wanted to find out if they’re the kind of person who might need to know someone in your field . . . probably in the future, right?  So ask them to invite you to keep-in-touch over time so that when (not if) a need arises that you can help address . . . you’ll come to mind like candy from a PEZ dispenser — i.e. first and favorably.  You’ll need a system to do this — a ‘cultivation’ system.  But it’s not hard to set that up and use it to keep-in-touch and top-of-mind with these people who are likely to become someone’s client . . . and you want them to be yours!

“Come on down” . . . Third, you may find yourself talking with someone who, upon learning that you’re a financial advisor, reveals that they’ve been thinking about their financial affairs and were wondering how to address them.  These people may give you an appointment!  It happens.  But not it’s not common on a first call.

6.  Follow-up with Your Source/s
If there’s one thing you can do that will make it so easy to generate additional introductions in the future from the person who just helped you to meet someone they know fitting your profile it’s this . . . give your Source a simple update on how their introduction turned out for you.

It’s such a simple courtesy!  This one simple action will mark you as someone who has both class and manners.  I suggest using a form to be able to make these ‘reports’ to your Sources — e.g.

Preferral Follow-up Report Form

Using a ‘Follow-Up Report’ form will allow you to do two things:

1.  Record . . . what happened with each introduction your Source made for you, and

2.  Report . . . back to your Source very easily on what happened with their introductions

The Key To Ongoing Success:  Cultivate 240 People!
If you follow this process and grow your contacts being cultivated to about 240 people who agree to be cultivated, you’ll have a steady stream of predictable revenue-generating opportunities . . . each and every month!!

Let’s assume you call each of your well-qualified contacts every 3 months.  If so, you’ll be calling about 1/3 of your total contacts EACH month.

Monthly Calling Chart

If you’re cultivating 240 people, it means you’ll have roughly 80 people you’re to re-call to ’touch base’ with each month.

You won’t connect with 50% of these people (40 people) due to timing issues — yours or theirs.  It’s OK.  They’ll come back again for another call in 90 days.  That leaves you with 40 people who will be reachable.

50% of the remaining people (20 people) will thank you for your thoughtful diligence and follow-up call but have no need, at this time, to talk with you further.  OK, they stay in your system and will also come back again in 90 days or so.

The remaining 20 people will either agree to talk with you about their financial matters and/or agree to introduce you to people in their networks who fit your Ideal Client Profile.  Remember, these are people who ‘qualified’ to be cultivated in the first place and are growing closer and closer to their ‘need’ and purchase.  So stay with them and see what develops!

Assuming you actually end up meeting with 20 people . . . how many will give you introductions . . . possibly half?  How many meetings will generate updated ‘facts’  and turn into ‘open cases’ for you?  How many open cases will result in a ‘decision meeting’ where you can present a recommendation for someone to buy something from you?  What’s your average client transaction worth to you?  How many of these do you require to ‘make your numbers’ . . . for the month . . . for the year?  See where I’m going with this?

My friend, and I say this not knowing you personally but in a collegial way, you are in a wonderful position to do a great deal of good for others and enjoy a great life and lifestyle for yourself as a financial advisor.

If I can be of any further assistance to you, contact me.  I’m delighted to be able to transfer what I’ve learned worked for me on to a new generation of advisors.  To download my report on this topic, just visit: bit.ly/1wOx6j6  Enjoy and prosper!

POINT:
Building a Practice Is Best Done By Design, Not Accident

Like this post?  Get our bi-weekly, one page INSIGHTS Client Letter!  It’s free. 
Learn more by clicking here
.

Learn more about our Preferral Prospecting® System ––  Download your free report here.

I was approached by a young man who recently switched to financial planning after a career in graphic design.  He said, “I’m learning the technical side of financial planning through my company and CFP studies. But I’m not finding a lot of detail on how to build a productive professional network.  Do you have any suggestions on how to do that, as well?”

Having been a ‘convert’ to financial planning myself I shared some thoughts on the topic . . .

Quick background.  I was a Psychology major in school and one of my student jobs was taking care of / walking timber wolves (magnificent animals, by the way).  I wasn’t in graphic design, but I can relate to making a fairly radical change and not having a ‘MAP’ to make the journey. ‘-}

I was recruited into the financial services field by a General Agent who’s classic line was, “Well, you’ve been shoveling their (the wolves’) _ _ _ _, why not try shoveling ours and see which one you like better”.  That lead me to be in ‘the biz’ for 17 years in various capacities in the US and around the world.  But I began as an agent / representative who had to find clients or starve. So I can relate to your situation.

Passion . . . You’d Better L-O-V-E What You Do!

Two bound heartsWhy you’ve decided graphic design is not going to float your boat and financial services will, is only relevant to you.  But I do hope your decision fuels your passion.  Why?  Because if you’re not turned on by whatever you do in life, it’s going to be difficult to get up each morning and ‘go to work’.

Find Your Ideal Market

missile on targetLike you, I had to find a way to get clients.  I quickly learned that my ‘natural’ market of college students wasn’t filled with ideal prospects.  Why?  My competition was the myriad alternative ways my peers could spend their time and money.  Good times, high times, etc. were far more compelling to most of my peers than investing or saving those dollars for a delayed gratification in the future.

I decided to seek out people who had some compelling motivations to insure their future and invest their money in other ways than my college chums.  My prospect of choice looked like this: “Under 30 years of age, employed full-time, career-oriented, married, with 1 or more kids (or, planning to have them), owning a home and paying off a mortgage”.  That completely changed my life in the business.  Why?  I had a profile I could use to ask, “Do you know anyone who . . .” with practically everyone I knew or met.

In the beginning I was pretty much of a rank amateur.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  I also didn’t know what wasn’t supposed to work.  So I made things happen that my more senior colleagues would tell me would never work.  Sometime, ignorance is bliss.

Back to your question.  I like that you’re coming into financial planning from a non-financial background.  As a psych major I ended up learning the business by getting my CLU and ChFC within a few years of my decision to go into the financial services field.  You’ve already figured out that the ‘technical’ aspects of the business are not too difficult to learn.  Yes, you must study, but you can learn what you need to not harm your clients’ interests if you’re willing to pay the price.

HOW . . . Do I Build a Productive Network and Profitable Practice?

The ‘real’ question you want answered is “How do I start networking in this (new) field?”.  

Permit me to share some wisdom that, had I learned it earlier, would have created more success more quickly and easily than it did under the ‘trial and error’ approach I labored under.

By ‘networking’ I presume you mean ‘prospecting’.  Specifically, prospecting TO meet people you don’t know (yet) THROUGH people who already know, like and trust . . . Y-O-U.

If you’re reasonably connected with people who want to be financially stable, happy, independent, etc. then you can apply what I’m about to share with you to grow your clientele and, in so doing, enjoy both significant financial success for yourself while you create substantial value, financially and otherwise, for far more people than you’ll ever know directly.

I hope you do just that.  It’s hokey to say it, but when you can see the magnificence of the daily activities of your work, you turn mundane activities into magical ones and your life will be illuminated with a majesty that few people ever know from the work they perform while they’re on the planet.

So, here’s my advice to help you build a highly successful, effective and profitable network and practice for yourself.

Four Keys To Successful Networking

Let me suggest four (4) elements to create a ‘lean, mean, client-development machine’ . . .

PROFILE:

You must define the kind of person you want as your client. This is key — don’t offer, ask, invite or expect anyone to know if someone needs or even wants what you offer.  Why?  Because most of us don’t know people who need a financial planner.untitled

Most of our friends appear to be doing pretty well.  They live in nice homes, drive expensive automobiles, take great vacations, etc.  So stick to what I call ‘CVS’ characteristics to build your Ideal Prospect Profile.

  • C = common to people you want as clients,
  • V = visible to the naked eye and
  • S = suggests a high correlation with the kind of person who can best understand, value, desire and afford the products and services you’ll offer.

My first profile helped me quickly determine if someone I was talking with knew anyone who was “under 30, employed, married, had a home, a mortgage and 1 or more kids”.

It was my job — not my nominator’s — to determine if someone had a ‘need’ or ‘want’ for the beneficial difference my problem-solving expertise, products or services could provide.  Burden someone to know if someone they know has a ‘need’ for what a financial planner can do is likely to produce a ‘deer-in-the-headlights’ look and . . . no names!!  (Arghhh!)

SOURCE:

2 guys talking verticalYou must seek out people who know — and can introduce you — to people who fit your PROFILE.  I quickly learned my college buddies didn’t know too many people who looked like the kind of person I wanted to meet and, I hoped, make my clients.  So I started to ask other people if they knew anyone who fit my profile.  Some did.  Some didn’t.  But here’s what I learned!  Just as I had formed a profile of my ‘ideal prospect’, I was also forming a profile of my ‘ideal SOURCE’.

As soon as I’d find someone who seemed to know people in their network who looked like someone I wanted to meet, I’d note what my source looked like and I built a profile of my ideal source — of people I could approach who’d likely know people who fit my ideal client profile.

Ironically, these two profiles were actually very similar.  DUH!  Water seeks it’s own level.  People of a certain nature do, too.  So if you want to find people who are gainfully employed, own a home, are married, have kids, take exotic vacations, etc. then it helps to ask people who look just like that, too.

METHOD:

Knowing WHO you want as a client and WHERE you want to go to ask for help to meet them is worthless . . . unless you have a way to make your Sources produce the names of people who fit your prospect Profile. This is not easy to reduce to a few pithy lines — but I’ll give you a Special Report I wrote on the topic if you ask.  just visit: bit.ly/1wOx6j6SR YINA 2

That said, the ‘secret’ that caused me to enjoy week after week after week of sales early in my career in the field was to ask my sources — once I verified they knew people who had any of the CVS characteristics in my prospect profile — for an INTRODUCTION — to the people they knew who fit my profile.

I learned that asking for an introduction is far less problematic than asking for a referral to someone.  I explain why in my Special Report.  But trust me.  If you want to meet with qualified individuals who can become your client, seek introductions.  If you want to become extremely frustrated with yourself, your contacts and your results . . . seek referrals.

Once your source is willing to introduce you to someone they know, you need a system to do this.  And a key part of your system must include a commitment to report back to your source on how their introduction/s turned out for you.  Why?

First, it proves to your source that you didn’t destroy their relationship with the person they helped you to meet.  Letting your source know that ‘nothing went badly’ when you followed-up with their introductions is so important to your success.  It’s also good manners and up-bringing.

Second, it makes going back to that Source a whole lot easier in the future.  Trust me, you WILL go back – repeatedly – to any Source who can introduce you to people who can best understand, value, desire and afford to work with you. So why make it more difficult to do that?

PLAN:

iStock_000003581765XSmallThe last element in your lean, mean, client-development machine is your plan of WHAT you’ll do and WHEN . . . to generate new opportunities you can convert into clients.

At a minimum, you’ll want to break your activities down into monthly, weekly and daily behavior goals.

To keep this simple, focus on doing the following kinds of activities:

1) approach sources for a meeting,
2) meet with sources,
3) generate introductions,
4) approach introductions,
5) follow-up with Introductions,
6) report back to your sources

In my next post, I’ll explain what EACH of these six (6) key activities imply and how to make them productive parts of a process that helps you ‘Get New Clients’.

POINT:
Building a Practice Means Building and Leveraging Your Network

Like this post?  Get our bi-weekly, one page INSIGHTS Client Letter!  It’s free. 
Learn more by clicking here
.

Learn more about our Preferral Prospecting® System ––  Download your free report here.

money magnetFew outcomes of significance — like generating more and better referrals for your practice — requiring the coordination of time, skills, efforts and people happen “by accident”.  Usually, planning is involved.

The Moon Landing, the Apollo 13 recovery, America’s declaration of independence from England, your having the best year year ever due to generating better referrals and introductions than ever . . . are examples of what’s possible when you make plans to make something important happen for you and your practice.

Referrals Don’t Happen By Themselves!

It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past about generating referrals for yourself.  What you want to remember is that you’ll never be as good at generating high-quality referrals today as you’ll be tomorrow . . . assuming, of course, that’s important to you in 2015.

One of the keys to improving the quality and increasing the quantity of your referrals and introductions is the use of a SYSTEM.  In The Preferral Prospecting® System we use to coach advisors, there are four (4) key elements of a referral system that, used correctly, consistently and conscientiously can significantly improve the quality and increase the quantity of revenue-building connections, introductions and referrals your practice needs to grow:

1.  Profile . . . of the kind of person who can best understand, desire and afford your services

2.  Sources . . . people who can introduce you to people they know who fit your Profile

3.  Method . . . what you must DO and SAY to generate introductions and referrals

4.  Action Plan . . . the daily activities you must take to use our system and see results

You Can Make 2015 Your Best Year Ever . . . IF . . . You Plan To Do So

Pull Quote 122214When I was a consultant for LIMRA International, the esteemed trade association for the financial services industry in the US and around the world, I was taught a powerful planning process by Gordon A. Kratz, CLU who was a Director in the Company Operations division.  It was based on a simple process for planning: “DOME”.

D . . . Diagnosis is the first thing you want to do.
Some call it ‘situational assessment’.  Basically it means taking stock of what you have (and, what you don’t have!) to help you achieve your BHAG — your ‘Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals’.  But wait.  You don’ t set goals here in this step.  That comes next.

O . .  bjective is the second step.
This is scary easy to screw up –– and your plans and results will show it if you do!

This step is not where you set a goal to “Increase sales by 25% in 2015”.  This is where you set goals to reduce or eliminate any factor that’s limiting your ability to achieve that kind of goal.

Let’s get away from referrals for a moment.   Let’s say your kid, in middle school, announces, “I want to be a doctor when I grow up”.  That’s a BHAG, isn’t it?  It’s laudable.  But not helpful.  What’s better?  Smaller goals! Like getting A’s in math, chemistry, physics, biology, etc.  Why?  Because if those goals are NOT achieved, your kid won’t be qualified to get into a decent pre-med program, apply to any medical school and, if he or she is able to stay ‘on course’ over many years . . . become a medical doctor.

M . . . Method is the third step.  This is where the ‘nitty-gritty’ actions are chosen and coordinated into do-able Action Plans that, when completed, mean the goals are accomplished and the BHAG is more likely to be realized, as well.  My buddy in high school wanted to be a doctor.  Only problem, he sucked at math.  Fortunately, his family could afford to send him to a prep school for 2 more years.  That action built the math and science skills he needed to not only get into a good university but made him academically able to handle the rigors of a pre-med course of studies and qualify, eventually, to apply to medical school.  Today, he’s a radiologist and doing very well.  But if he didn’t overcome his inadequacies in math and science, he might be doing something other than practicing medicine later in life.

E . . . Evaluation is the last step.  This is where you assess your progress-to-goal on a regular basis.  It’s really no different that your Diagnosis step, EXCEPT . . . this is done, periodically, AFTER  your plan is underway.

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image18105419Did you know the Apollo astronauts were only ‘on course’ during their lunar missions about 2% of the time. Shocking, isn’t it?  BUT . . . by evaluating if they were ‘on course’ regularly and frequently, they were able to make minor course corrections — fire their guidance rockets for a few seconds here and there — when they weren’t.  As a result, they achieved their Big Hairy Audacious Goal . . . they successfully went to the moon and returned safely.

How This Applies to You Generating More Referrals . . . in 2015

Knowing the process of planning to make things happen is one thing.  Actually using it to reach the Big Hairy Audacious Goals you have for your tax or financial planning practice is a little more involved.  Not impossible.  Just easier said than done.

Regardless, what I want you to take away from this post is that if you want more / better referrals in 2015, you must PLAN to make that happen.  And not just set a fluffy goal like, “Get more referrals than I did in 2014”.  No, you must assess if you have a system for generating referrals and if it’s working for you (assuming you’re also using it!).  If not, THAT . . . is a legitimate factor that will limit your ability to generate the quantity and quality of referrals and introductions in 2015 that you want.  So THAT . . . calls for a ‘goal’ to eliminate that situation.

Specifically, I urge you to set a goal to find, use and benefit from a proven system for generating referrals by design, not accident.

POINT:
Make a goal . . . to find and use a proven system for generating referrals in 2015

Like this post?  Get our bi-weekly, one page Client Letter!  It’s free.  Learn more by clicking here.

Learn more about our Preferral Prospecting® System ––  Download your free report here.

August 24, 2011.

Steve jobs resigned as CEO of Apple.  It was the right decision.  It was an unselfish decision.  It was a tough call to make.  And, to take, as well.

“I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple”s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.”

Steve has cancer.  He was in remission. But it returned.  That’s what he’s referring to when he says, “. . . if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties”

Succession . . . Reflects Leadership
Institutions that go on and on . . . the British Royalty . . . the US Government . . . Apple . . . all recognize the need for succession planning.  It’s akin to drafting your will.  It’s your acceptance of your fragile mortality that we all understand and yet, most  find difficult to acknowledge.

In your business, anticipating the inevitable — and acting accordingly — is ‘good business’.

If your business is to enjoy an uninterrupted existence, you must plan for it.  That means you must PLAN.  Not only for your annual objectives and daily tasks, but for it’s perpetuation over time.  With you and, alas . . . without you, too.

KEY POINT:
Business perpetuation is never an accident — it reflects both strong leadership and your ability to have a plan in the first place.

Planning is a good thing.  Action is, too.  Together they are . . . great!

The moment you begin taking actions to achieve your goals you’re no longer planning.  You’re DO-ing!  And that’s a whole new ballgame.

Lesson: The Apollo Spaceflights
Before lift-off, before ever leaving earth’s orbit, the Apollo astronauts had a ‘plan’ for their mission to the Moon.  It indicated where and when the astronauts would be from lift-off to touch-down.  But their flight plan could never anticipate all the things that could happen.  That’s why they made ‘minor corrections’ — a 2 second engine ‘burn’ here, a 5 second ‘burn’ there — throughout the mission.

Historically, the astronauts were on their ‘flight plan’ only about 2% of each flight!  But, by regularly evaluating their position and taking corrective actions as needed, they always achieved, in the end, a successful flight.

Evaluation is Diagnosis . . . Done After ‘Lift-Off’
You begin your planning process by assessing where you are, now.  As you implement your plan, you want to assess how you are doing ‘now’ at regular intervals over time.  You want to compare your ‘actual vs. planned’ results.  As you find discrepancies (trust me, you will!), you can use a problem-solving process to help you take actions to correct the situation.  Eventually, you will achieve your larger goal because you’re making corrections ‘in-flight’.

KEY POINT:
Periodic evaluations and corrective actions . . . lead to SUCCESS!

You set a goal because it’s important.  Achieving it makes you more likely to succeed.  You want to achieve your goal. That’s where the ‘Methods’ step of your planning comes into play.

Actions Achieve Goals
Achieving any goal requires a series of coordinated and aligned actions that turn your goal into a reality. For example, a ‘Vision’ goal might be to earn your M.D. degree.  Your ‘Milestone’ goals might be to earn A’s in math, biology, physics and chemistry classes in college.  And, one of your ‘Structural’ goals might be to register, attend and complete a course in how to study effectively.

Structural Goals Address Roadblocks
Once you establish your long-range goals, you’ll see things that, if not addressed, will prevent your vision from becoming a reality.  Earning your M.D. degree requires not only the intellectual ability but your successful performance as a high school, university and medical school student.  In business, not having a supportive organization or not having people who can perform as you need and expect to attract and retain clients are ‘roadblocks’.  Those are what you set goals — and take actions — to address.  Why?  Because until you do, your ‘vision’ is at risk of not being realized.  Simple.

KEY POINT:
Goals help you align actions to remove roadblocks to your success

As you look at your business through the 4 ‘filters’ we discussed yesterday . . . a clearer sense of where you are  today will emerge.

Goals . . . What You Want ‘To Be’
Robert Browning knew about goals (“. . . else what’s a Heaven for?”) and you want them, too.  Why?  Because they help you bridge the difference between where you are now and where you want to be in the future.

Vision Goals . . . are goals that inspire you to achieve —  e.g. “Let’s win the SuperBowl!”
Milestone Goals . . . are goals that measure progress toward larger ones — e.g. “Let’s win the Divisional Championship”
Structural Goals . . . are goals you set to address factors that affect your success — e.g. “Let’s find a quarterback who can win games!”

Of the three, the highest utility value comes from Structural goals — because these kinds of goals improve the business structure that supports your success.

You’ll want to have goals to improve the ‘structure’ in each of the areas identified earlier

•  Personal
•  Organization
•  People
•  Financial

KEY POINT:
3 Kinds of Goals . . . All Good . . . if you use them

D = Diagnosis
Growing your business requires that you know 3 things:

Baselines . . . where is your business . . . today?
Projections . . . where do you want your business to be . . . in the future?
Discrepancies . . . what variations do you find as you use your plan?

“Is Now”
You start by establishing a baseline for how your business or practice is . . . today:

AREA 1: Personal
This includes your personal vision and goals that reflects your business as a success.

AREA 2: Organization
This means how effectively your business supports your people to produce the revenues that support your vision and dreams.

AREA 3: People
The difference between your people and your profits is their performance.  So who you have ‘on staff’ and what they offer is important to know.

AREA 4: Financial
In a way, financial is a two-part issue.  First, it’s about the numbers you need to support the vision you hold for yourself and your business. At another level, it’s about the decisions you’re making and actions you’re taking to market and sell your services.

KEY POINT:
Know where you’re starting from . . . find your baselines