Written by Kronos Technologies on November 05, 2018
Although the New Year isn’t quite upon us yet, it’s important to put your process for tracking actual versus projected results in place ahead of January 1 so that you are ready to hit the ground running right from day one. Defining your process now will ensure that you start the year on the right track, and are able to make course corrections if you begin to fall behind expectations.
The following three-step approach can ensure you hit or even exceed your targets for the coming year.
Step 1: Implement a consistent process for evaluating your progress
In order to effectively track your results you must first define your measurement parameters. Start by focusing on the key levers that influence the growth of your business, such as:
- Product mix - which products do you sell and how many of your clients have bought which products
- Average sale - the first year revenues from a new sale
- Number of sales - how many products you have sold in the period
It’s easy to measure how effectively you are moving those levers if you use your CRM’s reporting features. Advisor-specific CRMs include a wealth of pre-defined reports that are ideal for helping you do this, including:
- Total Insurance policies versus sales objectives
- Total investments versus sales objectives
- Assets by client or fund
- Sales by product
These reports allow you to easily track your actual revenue against your projections. They will show you what products and services you sell, how many you sell, and what the average first year revenue from a sale is.
When will you measure?
Some advisors take time to do monthly reviews, others prefer to examine their performance on a weekly basis. The key is to do it consistently, and that is made easier if you set up your process in your CRM. Block off time in your calendar to work ON your business versus IN it, and let your CRM send you alerts when review time comes.
Step 2: Identify revenue shortfalls and understand why they happened
Once you start generating reports that show how you are performing against your targets the next step is to understand any gaps that you see. This happens in two ways.
Mind the gap: evaluating the magnitude of the shortfall
If your reporting reveals a shortfall, ask yourself, are you off by a little bit or a lot? A small divergence from your projections can usually be addressed with small changes in activity. Minor shortfalls are often indicators that you just need to optimize what you are already doing. Find incremental improvements to your workflows and execution, and you should get right back on track.
On the other hand, if you had predicted 10 sales year-to-date and had only two, then the problem is entirely different. In extreme cases like this it may be that your strategy is just not working. In that case you may need to start thinking about how best to reach your targets using alternative strategies.
Understand what is happening
The second dimension to evaluating results is to understand why a shortfall occurred. There could be a variety of factors at play:
- Internal factors—such as lack of time, resources or effort
- Loss of focus
- Competition—like a new competitive product in your niche
- Failed strategies—for example, a marketing campaign that didn’t produce the desired results
- Changing client expectations
The good news is that an advisor-specific CRM can help you determine why revenues may be lagging. Good CRMs allow you to enter reasons why individual sales didn’t happen. If you find yourself off target you can run a report that gives you an overview of the main reasons why your sales opportunities are not being converted. This enables you to see if you have consistent issues that can be addressed: such as lack of follow-up, or poor targeting of prospects.
Step 3: Make the appropriate course corrections
Once you feel you understand why any shortfalls have occurred the next step is to come up with strategies for correcting your course. Consider the following when trying to identify the changes you should make:
Give it time
Many strategies unfold and become successful over a long-term so make sure you have given your approach the chance to succeed. Some marketing strategies, like implementing a system for obtaining introductions, can take months to bear fruit. And some sales processes require not one, but more than half-dozen touches and follow-up efforts to get to yes.
Keep what works
In some cases you may see that your actual results fall short of your predictions, but feel that the underlying strategy is sound. Perhaps just one element of it is flawed—for example poorly targeted prospects or poorly targeted materials. If so, the best approach is to keep the overarching plan, but change those elements in the execution that aren’t optimal. For instance, you might look at streamlining your workflow, adding more resources, or perhaps using your CRM to better filter your prospects.
Utilize all the resources available to you
Success doesn’t happen in isolation. When searching for answers or better solutions for realizing your goals make sure to reach out and make use of your network for help.
Make an effort to utilize all the resources your partners make available to you. Use your CRM to schedule monthly coaching meetings with your wholesaler. Hire a business coach and get in the habit of meeting with them regularly to review your results and plan the way forward. Meet with your accountant and solicit their strategic management advice. Also consider what your clients are telling you. Reach out and talk to them. Conduct surveys. Get their opinion of what is working and not working. Ask them to tell you what has value.
Cultivate a group of coaches and experts you can turn to for new ideas and out-of-the-box thinking to keep your evergreen plan flourishing.
The keys to reaching or even exceeding your annual targets on a consistent basis include: implementing a consistent tracking process, understanding the reasons for any shortfalls and making the right adjustments to get you back on track. It’s important to treat planning and tracking as ongoing efforts—which means taking the time to work ON your business versus In it. And make sure to utilize your CRM, other technologies and your network to get the most out of your efforts and give yourself the best chance for success.