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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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The Secret of Business Growth?

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I hope you’d enjoy this brief trip back down ‘Memory Lane’ with me.  I sure did!

The Wizard of Oz contains the secret of business GROWTH.

You need (at least one!) a clear GOAL and a PLAN (of action) designed to help you reach it.

The other thing you need to be successful is . . . ACCOUNTABILITY!

Follow, Follow, Follow, Follow . . . Follow The Yellow-Brick Road!”
In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy has a clearly defined GOAL — to go the the Emerald City and find  the ‘great and all-powerful Wizard of Oz’.  After that she had another ‘bigger’ goal — to get back home to Kansas.  And, just like Dorothy, your business has multiple goals that all depend on still other goals to become realities.

Every business has a basic and clearly defined Goal — generate revenues and . . . profit.

Early in the story, Dorothy gets a road-map (literally!) to reach her goal – when the Munchkins tell her to, “Follow the Yellow Brick Road”.  (That was the 1939 equivalent of our modern GPS!)

But what happened to Dorothy?
She manages (catch my humor, there?) to recruit some staff members.  But she soon learns that her staff is far from perfect!  Tin-man has no heart (legal department?).  Scarecrow has no brains (operations?).  And the cowardly Lion has no courage (the sales force?).

Great way to start the process of achieving her goal!  Maybe you can relate?

The Wicked Witch of the West
The wicked witch represents the ‘force’ that makes many things ‘go awry’ during the implementation of any plan.  So it wasn’t surprising that Tin-man was threatened with water so he could rust again, Scarecrow was set on fire and Lion was scared into catatonic paralysis.

Later, Dorothy’s entire staff was easily distracted by being made to fall asleep by the Wicked Witch in the poppy field scene — making her ‘easy picking’ for those winged monkeys!

And THAT is why if you want to be successful . . . you need a Goal, a Plan and you need to be held accountable for doing what you planned to do in the first place.

KEY POINT:
Success reflects a PLAN to reach a GOAL and some way to be ACCOUNTABLE for doing whatever it takes to reach your goal and achieve success. 

 

Method: Orchestrating All Your Activities

Marketing is both an art and a science.  Let’s stay with that for moment, OK?

Science is very orderly.  And so, I would hope, is your marketing.

“Live By The Calendar”
That’s what John Jantsch, Duct Tape Marketing’s founder wants you to do. It’s true.  Just as a magazine needs structure in the form of an editorial or publishing calendar to produce content on a regular schedule, your business will benefit from using a calendar, too.

As a committed marketer, you’ll find you can quickly (too quickly and easily?) acquire so many ‘good things’ to get done that you feel overwhelmed.  Once that happens, you can easily decide that all this marketing ‘stuff’ just isn’t worth it and you’ll stop.  DON’T!!!

The Most Important Calendar You Have:  Keeping-In-Touch
As you attract prospective clients, not all (not even most!) will be ready to do business at their first contact with you.  So you’ll want to cultivate a relationship with them.  Or, as some say, ‘nurture a lead’.  Regardless, that takes repeated contacts over a fairly long time.  If you’re not prepared to do that, you probably won’t.  And there goes all the goodwill you wanted to leverage for yourself!   But a good CRM software or service can make sure you do what you plan and reap the benefits when you do.

KEY POINT:
Marketing requires a lot of coordination of many details and actions . . . get a system to put order into your marketing and you’ll see the benefits of that very, very soon!

Keep Score . . . Be a Winner

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Lately, graphic information (not the “Oh no, I did NOT need to know THAT!” kind) has been prolific.  Whether it’s the state of your equity assets or the rate of (un)employment, there’s definitely no shortage of information about what’s happening in the world, is there?

The Heisenberg Effect
Werner Heisenberg won a Nobel Prize for his work in physics.  The ‘Heisenberg Effect’ got its name from his experiments that revealed the fact that observing an event changes the event.  Heisenberg observed the velocity and movement of sub-atomic particles.  If he focused on a particle’s velocity, its movement changed and vice versa.

Tracking Your Behavior . . . Changes Your Results 
In your daily life, Heisenberg’s effect is operating, too.  The action of tracking your behavior makes you more aware of it and, somehow, it affects your performance.  Athletes keep score not only to know who won the round or game but because it drives them to improve.

Behavioral Goals . . . Matter
Goals reflect either 1) a consequence or 2) a contributing factor.  “Make $1.2MM in gross revenues” is a consequence . . . of doing many things correctly before that becomes a reality. “Develop visibility and credibility with CEO’s in our target market” is a contributing factor. The former reflects a meaningful achievement.  The latter is what will cause it to happen.

KEY POINT:
Keep Score . . . tracking your contributing factors leads to successful consequences! 

What’ll It Be, Today?

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I get to talk with different business owners about their marketing.  Sometimes it’s a casual conversation while waiting for a meeting to begin.  Other times, it’s a formal one that’s key to a project we’re working on.

Flavor-of-The-Week Marketing
But more often than not, I find business owners change their marketing tactics about as often as they change their underwear.  That’s a lot more frequently that it should be, too. (their marketing, not their underwear!).

Marketing Momentum
If you change what you do for marketing too often and/or without good cause, you risk losing the momentum that a consistently applied marketing message, media and method can generate for you.  That’s not good marketing and it’s definitely not good for . . . you!

KEY POINT:
In marketing, being consistent is a good thing

Metrics

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Last evening, I attended a meeting of a trade association in CT — The CCRS.

My friend Carl Messina, President of Positive Impact Enterprises, was the main speaker.

After he spoke, a panel discussion of shop owners, vendors and one representative from the insurance industry was ‘on stage’.  What impressed me to no end was that these business owners really knew their numbers!

At one point, their discussion focused on what percentage of gross sales a certain kind of product (paint) involved in the auto collision repair service these firms provided should be.  I learned that paint product represents, on average, only 6 – 8% of a typical repair job. That’s a small margin to cover a bad call on your pricing or if you mis-manage your materials costs.

Your marketing is no different.  Do you know YOUR marketing numbers just as well?  How many impressions create a response?  How many responses does it take to generate a client?  If you don’t know your numbers, you may be marketing inefficiently.  Not a good thing.

KEY POINT:
Knowing your numbers means marketing profitably!

Modest Action / Significant Improvement

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This week, I’ve suggested 3 ways to grow your revenues.  First, see more people.  Second, sell more effectively.  Third, improve your ACT (Average Client Transaction).

If you want to increase your revenues, consider this:  “Doubling ANY one of these three factors will double your revenues”. Consider therefore, the following:

Row ‘A’ . . . shows the relationship of the 3 factors that drive the revenues you’ll generate.
Row ‘B’ . . . shows that doubling the number of  ‘prospects seen’ will double revenues.
Row ‘C’ . . . shows that doubling the level of ‘selling skills’ will double revenues.
Row ‘D’. . . shows that doubling the size of your A.C.T. will double revenues.
Row ‘E’ . . . shows that increasing each factor by only 25% will . . . DOUBLE your revenues

The problem is . . . it may be unrealistic to ‘double’ your seen, skills or case size.  But realistic improvement across-the-board is likely to produce magnificent results.

KEY POINT:
A modest improvement in key factors can significantly boost your revenues.