There are two types of advisors.

Those who love the chase. They’re energized. They’re excited to follow up on leads and track down their next client.

And there are those who…don’t.

No matter which you are, you need to recognize the importance of growing your firm and find a way to do it. You need a laser focus on business development.

The reality is: If you’re not growing your business, your business is dying. You cannot rely on the market or mergers and acquisitions if you want your firm to grow and grow quickly. Instead, you need a clear strategy – and the will and resources to execute it.

When you put together your business development plan, be sure it includes these four key items.

Plan

Say you want to bring on 12 ideal clients by the end of the year. Great! Now you need to form a plan that will lead you there.

As the saying goes, a failure to plan is a plan – to fail.

Break down your yearly goal into quarters. Decide what you need to accomplish every three months to make it happen. Break down those quarterly goals again into months, weeks and days. You will know what you should be doing to get your firm from A to B.

If you don’t identify these incremental steps, you risk a year coming and going without hitting your goal.

When you’re in the planning stage, reflect on what you’ve done in the past. Ask yourself:

  • What worked well? Can I replicate that?
  • What didn’t work well and why?
  • Can I adapt my strategy to account for last year’s shortcomings?

You should also consider your personal strengths and your firm’s resources, which directly impact whether you can accomplish your goals. Ask yourself:

  • What energizes me? If you love to write and are a strong communicator, decide to write one blog a month and promote it on Facebook with an ad campaign that targets prospects. By the same token, if you hate public speaking, don’t schedule yourself to lead workshops that you’ll dread.
  • What resources do I have – or lack – that I’ll need to execute my plan? You have the space and the budget to host an event each quarter but don’t have a background in event planning. So consider hiring an intern with that specialty to make it happen.

Read more: How to Connect with Prospects: Forget the Elevator Pitch. Ask These 3 Questions

PROCESS

Your intern just helped put on a successful open house during tax season. You got 10 leads. What now? Leads are only valuable if you follow through.

You need to have a process in place to get in touch with those prospects – and you need to do it fast, so you don’t lose steam. Right now, they’re familiar with your firm. Warm leads are easier to engage than cold leads.

Call them within two business days of the event to set up a meeting – and make sure you have time set aside for that office meeting.

Keep these things in mind at a client meeting:

  • Ask powerful questions. It’s important to know what drives your clients, so you can help them work toward their goals.
  • Apply those engaging questions to an agenda. Having an effective agenda sets the stage to move the client through a seamless process, but it shouldn’t be so rigid that you can’t be flexible.
  • Tell the client how and when you will follow up with them. Be sure to ask them what their preferred method of communication is going forward.

It’s wise to leave time blocked out each week to take prospect meetings. If you don’t have that time set aside, and a prospect has to wait several weeks to see you, they might lose interest. The lead turns cold. Now, a client who needed help didn’t get it, because you didn’t plan appropriately and take action. Those 10 leads you earned suddenly drop, and you’ve started to fall behind on your goals.

ACCOUNTABILITY

Having a plan and a process is only half the battle. You also need to hold yourself accountable.

You took time to reflect on your capabilities when you set your goals and laid out a plan to reach them. It’s important to continue to reflect through the year to make sure you and your team are on track.

Consider a weekly staff meeting to discuss what process is working well and what isn’t. Adjust along the way. These adjustments will ensure you don’t find yourself in the fourth quarter, only halfway to the finish line.

Don’t forget to analyze your ROI during that meeting. You should know where your leads are coming from so you know which strategies you should stick with and which strategies you should rethink. If your blogs through the first three months of the year are sending you twice the leads you expected, you might up your output on that front, because it’s so productive.

Some firms put up a visual reminder of quarterly goals in the office, so the big picture is always front of mind. You could also turn your goals into a friendly competition and create a leaderboard, showing who has turned the most prospects into clients.

CELEBRATE

You’re working hard, you’re checking boxes, you’re hitting goals. Don’t forget to reward yourself and your team. It’s important to celebrate wins big and small throughout the year to continue that momentum and stay motivated.

Did an advisor land a big client? Take them out to lunch.

Recognize your staff after a team win by bringing in doughnuts and orange juice, or give them a Friday afternoon off.

Small recognitions are valuable, too. Spend 10 minutes once a week sending a thank you email or words of encouragement to a couple people in your firm.

Make sure you show appreciation to everyone involved – without operations and support staff, the process would be a grind.

Don’t forget to treat yourself, too. A massage or new gadget are the perfect rewards when you cross something off your list.

If you feel overwhelmed or are struggling to execute your business strategy, you might need a coach – someone who acts as a strategic thought partner, offers advice and provides accountability. Reach out for more details.

AUTHOR

Jessica Harrington

Executive Business Coach
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