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Monday, September 15, 2008

Three Requirements to be a Million-Dollar Producer

Perhaps you’ve been in the business for a few years and you’re doing okay, but you can’t seem to find that magical formula that will make you a million-dollar producer? If you only had more clients, that would do it, right? However, time is a precious commodity; there is a limit to how many clients you can effectively serve. In truth, acquiring more clients isn’t as much the answer as getting the right clients in the door is.

This is the first of a series of three articles that will help you focus your practice so that you can reach the million-dollar sales level.

You Must Have Homogeneous Clients
The homogeneous mass market, which has dictated the offerings of U.S. producers since the dawn of the industrial revolution, is coming to an end. Think about what has happened to the automobile industry. Henry Ford sold his Model Ts in any color the customer wanted, as long as it was black. And the same holds true with the fast-food restaurants. Today, you can get it “your way.” Hardly the case a few years ago when all that was available was a one-way-suits-all burger.

The mass market is splintering into market niches and the niches are growing smaller. Therefore, the shotgun approach to reach those niches will not be as effective as they were in the past. You must breakaway from the heard and focus your marketing efforts on a narrower and more specialized group in order to become a million-dollar producer.

Tomorrow’s clients will be more demanding and vocal and will expect you to fulfill their requirements. So rather than trying to increase your number of clients, think about narrowly targeting your market to increase the quality of the products and services your offer to fewer clients.

Tapping into a specific niche can help you stand out from the crowd—differentiate yourself in ways that are important to your prospects and clients. And the most efficient way to do this is by working with groups who have similar “mind sets” so you can become the expert on solving their problems. Examples of niche markets include small business owners, early retirees from the same company, individuals who recently lost a spouse, and newly divorced women. Take a look at your current client base. Most reps say that 80% of their revenues come from 20% of their clients. What characteristics do your top 20% have? Do you know their preferences, goals, and lifestyles? What do they have in common? Is it their age, net worth, geographic area, or perhaps religious or ethnic background? And equally important, which group do you enjoy working with the most?

Do your homework. Identify common problems; create solutions. Become an expert on the sociology of this group, what motives them, and their inclination to plan for financial security. Find out what this group expects from a financial professional and how they want to receive your message.

One of the best ways to really get to know your clients is to interview them. Ask 20 of your clients who best represent the market you wish to target to meet with you. Take some of your better clients to lunch and ask them what they like and dislike about your products, your services, and the presentations you made to them. The answers will give you some ideas on how to market and sell to this niche. Then you can use the same profile early in a prospect relationship to find out if this is the type of person that you want as a client.

Have a list of 10 open-ended questions you really want answered to gain insight to the mind-set of this group. For a few hundred dollars, you’ll have marketing information that few other planners or even financial services firms have ever obtained.

Reorganize your marketing efforts, such as seminars and direct mail campaigns, around these common needs and carve yourself a homogeneous market. This will allow you to better monitor your results and make changes as needed. Don’t forget to ask for referrals; “do you have other friends who are like you that may be interested in my services?”

Niche marketing requires a thought process in that you cannot be all things to all people; don’t be afraid to turn away business that isn’t in your niche. Once you get into the mind-set of this group, you can better define your practice’s image and product offerings to meet their needs. The payoff will be that you will become better at the services you offer, you will realize more sales per client, and your practice will become more profitable.

This post provided by Javelin Marketing