I know what it’s like when you first start your firm….you practically give away your services to get business in the door. Once you have built out a good, solid client base it‘s time to stop giving away your gold, as it is your most valuable asset. The foundation of your firm, its brand and value are based upon it. So what exactly am I referring to?
Your gold is your intellectual capital, it is the knowledge that you have and what makes you and your firm a good partner and service provider. Every time you give your plan design proposal away, even if it is a plain vanilla plan, to the referral source for them to present in your absence you have decreased your value proposition. You have effectively commoditized your own firm by not thinking it important enough to present your most valuable asset.
You or someone from your firm should be actively involved in every new business opportunity, from discovery to close. No one can tell your story or explain your plan design better than you. Don’t erode your brand by letting someone else present your work and firm. By not being engaged you also lose out on the opportunity of developing a relationship with that referral source and in addition decrease the ability to retain the client because there was no connection, no face attached to the firm providing the service.
Incorporate a new policy that clearly states that your firm will only generate plan design proposals and fee quotes for opportunities for which you are involved in the sales process, from discovery to close. That you do so because you know that all parties involved are more successful when working together as a team. So stop giving away your gold!
Policies communicate your firm’s business rules in order to drive consistency and compliance with the strategic direction outlined in your business plan. They would state what the company wants done and why and are adhered to with very few exceptions, authorized only by someone in a senior managerial position. Generating proposals and fee quotes for an outside referral source for which you are not involved in the sales process, from discovery to close, is a practice that you should review and consider changing.
So what are the ten things you should consider in the decision to change this practice?
- What is it costing you today to complete plan design proposals?
- Compensation and lost billable hours for those engaged in the process
2. LOST OPPORTUNITY
- You have a much greater opportunity of closing the business if your firm is involved in the sales process, from discovery to close
3. BRAND erosion
- What are others saying about your firm?
- Can anyone other than someone from your firm clearly articulate the value of the services your firm provides to the prospect?
- Every time you give away your intellectual capital you have commoditized your own firm
- A referral source that does not want you present is most likely spread sheeting your firm, comparing only fees, as part of their “due diligence” process
- By not being present you convey a sense that meeting the prospect is not important
- Your firm becomes “and oh by the way there is this TPA that performs all that administration work”
- You have eroded your client retention ability as there is no “face” to your firm, your firm has become somewhat of a non-entity in the mind of the client making it easier to fire your firm
8. PARTNERSHIP loss
- A referral source will never think of you as a partner unless you are one
- Getting to know one another and becoming a team requires you work together
9. CLOSE RATIO – increase it
- Your involvement will most definitely increase the close ratio on the proposals you generate
- Your involvement will increase sales thereby lowering the number of proposal requests you need in order to meet your annual new revenue goal
10. NEVER just give out your fee schedule
- Each client is different, you need to know their specific needs prior to generating a fee quote