Evaluating Your Year Goes Beyond Production
At the end of the calendar year, many advisors find themselves thinking about how well they did during the year and what they can do better in the next. However, advisors and agents often evaluate their year from one single metric: production. It’s the only thing that matters, right?
While production can be an indicator of success, it is not the only metric that matters. Production in many ways is like a baseball player’s batting average. Many baseball experts will challenge batting average and the way it is calculated, citing it as flawed and not revealing enough about the true strengths of the player. It tells part of the story, but not the whole thing.
Assuming that production imparts the whole story of your business year can leave you vulnerable to blind spots and missed opportunities for more sustained growth. Digging deeper can help you more accurately evaluate the year and build a better marketing strategy for the next year. Here are four ways to dig deep and truly evaluate your year in business.
Examine Your Marketing Activities and ROI
You may have done bang-up job with production over the year, but how much did it cost you to hit those numbers? Look at the past year’s marketing activities and see if you can directly tie them to specific cases. Obviously marketing is a little more complex and may not always offer a direct correlation to a case. You may conduct certain marketing actions purely for the sake of brand awareness and these are less likely to produce a direct return on investment. However, think about the quantifiable aspects of the past year’s marketing to get a sense of what’s paying off. There’s a huge difference between clearing a million in production from a $20,000 marketing budget and clearing a million from a $500,000 budget.
Examine Your Target Market
If examining your marketing activities gives you an idea of how your production came to you, looking at your target market will tell you who it came from. This is important because it can help redirect your marketing activities or even open you to new markets. Did the majority of your production come from your ideal target market or was it a range of demographics? Most advisors will have a certain client profile they target. Some may specialize in pre-retiree baby boomers. So if you targeted pre-retirees, but saw more business from younger clients, you’ll want to rethink how you are marketing, either to appeal to your preferred target market, or to focus more on the new client base.
Related to this, you should also examine how much of your business came from existing clients and how much came from new clients. From your new clients, how many of them were referrals and how many were from your marketing efforts.
Examine Your Consistency Quotient
Any big league hitter might hit a fluke homer or even a grand slam. But if you swing for the fences every time, you’re going to strike out a lot and might end up on the bench. Landing big cases with high production is certainly a goal for most financial advisors—who wouldn’t want to spend their career shaping high-value cases that pay off big every time? Unfortunately not every case will be as big as you like. Taking on smaller, or more run-of-the-mill, cases is a more positive way to build your book of business. To get a better appreciation for how well you did, isolate the outliers and look at the bulk of the past year’s cases. The areas where you are consistent and see consistent growth are going to be better signals of your success than a few big cases as you move into the next year.
Examine How Well You Achieved Your Business Plans
What were your goals at the beginning of the year? How many did you achieve or how close were you to achieving them? What prevented you from doing so?
When speaking with financial advisors and agents, we find that many don’t have a set new-year business plan, and if they do, it’s often simply doing more production. Having a specific set of goals, not a vague direction, gives you a better yardstick to measure the mid-term and long-term sustainability of your practice. This helps you to analyze why you achieved some goals, and fell short on others.
If your goal is to do more production, then what constitutes more? If you have a specific number, say, hitting your first million-dollar year, what will you sacrifice or postpone to achieve this? How much will it cost you to hit a million? What other opportunities might you overlook? If your metrics of success are truly meaningful to you, then each new year in business will be a big step toward attaining your long-term goals.