For years, I have talked to producers across the country who struggle with consistency in their production. Everyone is trying to get to the next level, but it seems like only a few ever actually reach their full potential.
In most cases, a producer will have a stellar year, only to fall short of that production goal in the years to come. In my business, I have been able to achieve continued levels of success and growth as my career has gone on. What I have realized is that I did it by creating an efficient business model to drive my production instead of chasing the next shiny-object lead model.
The truth is that there is no golden ticket to success in this business. You can’t produce on a consistent level and increase your production if you treat your career as just another job. The day I stopped trying to sell another client and started to work on developing a thriving business to help my clients is the day my production and my career turned on its axis.
In the past 10 years, I have seen my business grow to well over $20 million of gathered assets in 2011. I no longer have a job; I have a self-sufficient business. And my financial practices business (Ohio-based W.A. Smith Financial Group) will continue to grow exponentially … as long as I allow it to!
I contribute most of my success to the business model I developed to turn my financial practice into a consistent, self-sufficient machine. By developing the right model and adding the right people to my team, I was able to focus on the most important revenue-driving tasks a financial advisor should have: meeting with people, speaking to people, and servicing my current clients.
My team spends its time focusing on all the other important stuff that most advisors end up wasting precious minutes on. Things like new business paperwork and marketing ideas used to consume my days. Instead of having a calendar chock full of appointments with new and existing clients, I was spending my time trying to get people through my doors to begin with.
I decided to create a business model that consists of three main components: office infrastructure, marketing, and sales. Each component to the model is just as important as the next. Just like a tripod, if you kick one leg out, the rest comes crashing down. The systems rely on each other to run smoothly.
As a one-man shop, I had a job. I did all the new business paperwork. I answered my phones. I developed different marketing methods to try to get people through my doors and onto my calendar. My time was being consumed by things that didn’t necessarily drive revenue but needed to be done nevertheless.
My team now consists of six full-time team members who have specific job duties and responsibilities. Each person is as important as the next, and their responsibilities involve two main things: getting new business issued and completed and getting new prospects through the doors.
My team enables me to spend my time working on my business instead of in my business. I have two associate advisors, a director of client services who handles all new business processing and incoming client service requests, a case design specialist in charge of developing sales tools and evaluations on prospective client portfolios, a marketing director in charge of creating and managing multiple marketing avenues to get new people through the doors, and an administrative assistant who manages the entire schedule, routes incoming phone calls, and assists all other team members with daily tasks.
Obviously, having multiple employees costs money, and most people are under the belief that they can’t afford to add an employee or two because their current production level just won’t allow for it. Instead, advisors believe they need to increase their production first before they can add team members (or expense). So they cut corners. They try to find the golden lead ticket. Ultimately, they end up spinning their wheels.
Multiple marketing methods
I talked about inconsistency earlier. I can attest to this. There was a time when the only avenue that produced leads for me was a free dinner seminar. If the seminar didn’t go as well as I hoped, my lead funnel would drip dry. My production levels were inconsistent because of it. If I wanted more leads, I would have to send another mailer out and run another seminar. However, sending another mailer added expenses, and without consistent production, I would have to end up waiting on an “easy” sale before I could pull the trigger.
It felt like I was running on a hamster wheel. I was tired of having one marketing avenue to rely on. I didn’t want to have the added pressure that if my event didn’t go as planned, I might not be able to fund another lead-generating event.
I set out to develop other forms of marketing that I could rely on to alleviate some of the pressure of having a single marketing method. Today, I have six or more marketing methods running at any one given time. If a seminar doesn’t go as well as planned, my calendar (and consequently my revenue stream) doesn’t dry up anymore.
I started by adding a radio show to try to reach prospective clients. I ended up developing an added level of authority through the radio show that helped me stand out from the crowd of competition. Not only did the radio show produce new leads, but it allowed me to reach my clients and their friends and family members in a new way. It created business in an indirect way. I began getting referrals, and I finally had a place to drive those referrals to help cement a sale.
As of right now, seminars, radio, my book (“Knock Out Your Retirement Income Worries Forever”), a formal referral program, an Internet-based lead generation program, and my existing client-based campaigns keep my production steadily growing.
A psychological sales process
Having a team and multiple marketing avenues to get people through the door is about half the battle. You still have to make the sale before you can generate revenue. Far too many advisors take an off-the-cuff approach to their appointments with prospective clients. I used to be the same way. I call that the “using-a-yellow-pad approach,” where you go into an appointment with a yellow legal pad and a calculator and wing it. It’s a bad idea.
I wanted to develop as much consistency in my sales process as I had developed in my operational systems. In order to get as efficient as possible, I needed to know what my sales formula was. Specifically, if I ran my appointments using a process and used the same process for all leads that came through the door, how many people would I close, on average?
My marketing systems are organized around this formula. I know that based on my average case size and my closing ratios, I need to see a specific number of people each and every week to hit my sales goals. Having a consistent sales process to use with all prospects is a pivotal part of this process.
With the help of a behavioral psychologist, I developed my own appointment process that would help me gain commitment from my prospects and increase my closing ratios. As advisors, we have all heard of things like the Sandler system and Zig Ziglar. I decided to use a blue ocean strategy. Rather than trying to sell prospects a product or investment, I decided it was time that I sell them a solution. I wanted them to buy me as a trusted advisor, as the go-to advisor in the area.
The day I stopped selling products and started running my prospects through the system that I created, which I call my Financial G.P.S. system, people started viewing me differently. They had never been treated that way before. They liked it.