Building a Strategic Business Plan
By Jerry Butler
Read over the italics and use as a guide of what to consider for the actual Strategic Business Plan.
A. Develop Your Vision:
When developing your Strategic Plan you need to consider the following:
- Your marketplace – who are your best and favourite clients. What is the common thread? Is the market large enough for you to be a niche marketer?
- Your competition – Who is your competition? What do they do? What do you do better? How can you differentiate yourself from them?
- Your current capabilities – no sense having a goal of 50 appointments a week if that is impossible. No sense being a stock trader etc.
- Your personal definition of success – has to be quantifiable, measureable and realistic.
These are the general parameters to stay within when developing your plan.
- Tying it together – using the above as your perspectives will allow you to develop a strategy that will allow you and your firm to:
- Respond to your market;
- Differentiate you from your competition;
- Build on your core capabilities; and
- Fulfill your personal definition of success.
B. Define Your Focus:
Who is your target market? How will you “introduce” Limestone? Maybe you want to concentrate on your own files because there are so many? If so, rather than see everyone when 6 out of 10 may be a waste of time – what is your process?
What is the objective of each appointment? What is the service experience? In the book Spin Selling – every appointment should have a goal of finding a need/problem/issue and therefore a potential sale – in other words always have the objective of another appointment. (unless they are willing to buy now!)
C. Evaluate the Gaps and how to close them.
If you want a $1,000,000 in sales and you are currently at $500,000 – what has to be done to close that gap and how long will it take.
The best way to analyze the gap is to consider the strengths and weaknesses of your business. List them. Attempt to design a plan that will enhance the strengths and improve the weaknesses.
D. Execute the Plan
Remember the goals have to be measureable and realistic. I had a client whose sales were $200,000 and every year he would set a goal of $1,000,000 in sales and his sales never changed. I am sure 10 years later nothing has changed.
AIso use increments that are bite size. If you want to increase your sales $500,000 over 7 years than that is $71,500 per year and $6000 per month or $1400 per week – $6000 per month seems more likely than just saying increase $500,000. Each month have a different sales concept – for example let’s say my goal is to sell x new insurance contracts. I will make a list of 50 people age 35 – 50 and have my assistant book 25 appointments. I will talk to each about their insurance needs and have a goal to take 8 aps and earn $6000+ in sales commissions.
E. Monitor and Measure Results
It is very important to keep track and analyze the results. Again be realistic in your goal setting so you don’t get discouraged. But good or bad analyze the results.
F. Leveraging Your Business to Increase Sales and Value
There are several ways to leverage your business:
- Buy another business.
- Merge with other businesses.
- Licensed Employees generate revenue.
- Sales Associates.
Firms can use all of the above to close the gap between their expectations and current reality. Keep in mind Queenston gets dozens of calls every week to “find me a business”. Easier said then done.
- Building Value
The key is to build a business that will last – reduce transition risk when ready to sell and/or merge. The way to do this is to have increasing and stable recurring income. Profitability should be consistent and in line with averages. A systematic process should be in place for customer service, new clients, etc.
The branding goal should be that every client when asked who their financial advisor is answers the name of your company not your individual name. This can be done by promoting the name of the company. Also having clients meet with different advisors and/or licensed staff or associates.
Other factors to increase value include: location of your office (especially if your clients come to your office); reputation (branding); leveraging of licensed employees (long term)and technology, a complete and comprehensive CRM of clients and prospects; clearly defined and consistent client service model; unique and successful marketing program.
STRATEGIC MARKETING PLAN
Limestone currently has two (three?) offices and …….
Where do you want to be in 5 or 10 years into the future. What kind of a business do you want? Sales, advisors, etc.
Strategic goals are an expression, in measureable terms, of what your business intends to achieve. There are Hard Goals and Soft Goals. Hard Goals address financial goals – the Urgent and Important. Soft Goals refer to the less “Urgent” but Important goals such as employee issues, infrastructure issues (CRM, Technology, Facilities, “different plans”, etc.).
Breakdown the “important” products eg.
Insurance Sales increase sales revenue by x to y
Investment Sales “
Income Tax Sales “
Fee business “
New Clients “
New AUM “
Total AUM “
New Term Ins Policies “
Reduction of Expenses “
You get the idea. Pick those issues that you feel is important.
Sales and Marketing – appts per week, appointments – selling #; service # – seminars, etc.
CRM – clients
CRM – prospects
Goals have to be measureable and have to be reviewed to actual vs goals. Then it is important to adjust what you are doing in order to hit objectives.
PRODUCT MARKET FOCUS
The key here is the FOCUS part. In your Plan you casually mention a few products – insurance, segs, income tax, etc.
It is not just what but who and how and how many. You may want to focus on a specific product at least for a quarter.
Eg. Term Insurance – we have X Term contracts. We will convert Y policies to either new terms or permanent. We will sell Z new contracts. You can even define the market you are targeting.
What is important to your customers? You cannot be generic. What seperates you from dealing with the Banks or Credit Unions?
“Limestone has xx years of experience and yy education and therefore we are able to help our clients achieve their financial planning goals and objectives.” If you were sitting down with a new prospect is what you tell them going to convince them that they should deal with you?
Should be short and to the point – kind of an “elevator sales pitch”.
The second part is you have to deliver that propostion.
What are the value adding activities that your business intends to perform and how does it intend to perform them?
Eg. Financial Planning including – retirement planning, debt analysis including mortgages, investment and risk analysis ….. for all clients with revenue greater than $1000.
ELEMENTS OF THE PLAN
- Marketing Plan – who is your target market? what will be done to increase profile, increase appointments, etc. promotions – email blasts and seminars; advertising; social media; etc. A clearly defined service model should be developed both proactive and reactive.
- Operation Plan – CRM, Employees, junior advisor, expense reduction, etc.
- Financial Forecasts – spreadsheets
I would recommend doing Quarterly projections broken down by product/service including recurring revenue. Also, set your expense goals in the same manner for the first 4 quarters and then annual for 4 more years for a total of 5 years.
There are two categories to list actions in order to prioritize what and when actions should be done.
- Important and Urgent – these are the items that are in “crisis and/or critical” mode. They should be addresses first but not at the exclusion of the day to day operations.
- Important but not Urgent – these are the items that are very important for the long term success of the business but not in crisis mode. This is where a business wants to be as these are the activities that will prevent having to be in the urgent list.