Do you remember yelling those magic words as a kid? Maybe you stumbled out of the blocks, your trick shot missed the mark, or the rules of the game just weren’t in your favor. Regardless of the reason, yelling “do over” typically meant the game wasn’t going your way and you wanted a fresh start. Have you ever compared your book of business, pipeline or sales results to your goals and wished you could get a “do over?”
I was recently reminded of this phrase at the Extreme Networking conference of Sitkins International. I had the pleasure of listening to Steve Farmiloe, COO of Vantreo Insurance Brokerage in Santa Rosa, Calif., give a presentation titled, “If you could start over…” Steve’s presentation was an entertaining description of starting an agency from scratch, and starting over with the knowledge and bruises that come from the first time around.
It sent my mind racing. Wouldn’t we all like a chance to start over, to not be burdened by the weight of bad habits, to better understand where true opportunities lie, to play by our own rules? I’ll ask the question again: Have you ever looked at your book of business, your pipeline, the bad habits you just can’t seem to break and wanted to yell out, “Do over!”? Well, what’s stopping you?
Okay, maybe it’s impractical to start the game over, but you can absolutely take control of the outcome. However, you have to start by making the tough decision to play your game by your rules.
Let’s start with a prospect do over
Look at your pipeline. What do you see? Your pipeline is a look into your future. It should energize you and give you confidence. It needs to be filled with prospects that value what you have to offer and will produce enough revenue to allow you to deliver. It should give you clarity as to where and how to spend your time. It has to be filled with opportunities that have a high probability of becoming clients.
Do over challenge – An effective pipeline starts with clarity around the ideal client with whom you want to work. What is the smallest account on which you should work — $5,000, $10,000 or $25,000 of revenue, or higher? Regardless of your number, eliminate any prospect in your pipeline that won’t produce that much revenue in the first year. Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “But they are going to grow into a real nice account.” Most won’t, and they far outweigh the few that will. Get them out of your pipeline.
Now, take the average potential revenue of your remaining prospects and compare it to the average revenue of your existing book. If it is less, even when you write a new account, you are going backwards. Ideally, every new account you write should be larger than whatever your average revenue is at the time. At a minimum, the average prospect in your pipeline should be larger than the average of your current book.
Next, identify the time wasters. Be honest, you know who on the list will accept an offer of lunch or ball tickets, but never seem to move through the sales process because they don’t truly value what you have to offer. If you don’t have an agreement and clarity with the prospect about what the next step is and when it will happen, you need to either get that agreement right away or get them out of your pipeline.
Finally, where in your pipeline do you see a toxic relationship? Get them off the list right away before they become a client; no excuses. They will cost you more time and heartache than can be justified by any amount of revenue. Life is too short and you deserve to enjoy your client relationships.
Now, a client do over
As hard as it is to hear, more than likely, there are clients you need to fire.
Do over challenge - For the same reason as with your prospect pipeline, you need to fire the clients with whom you have a toxic relationship. Again, life is too short and they will take way too much time away from the clients with whom you want and need to have a long-lasting, profitable relationship. Remember, these toxic clients don’t just affect you, and your ability to grow your book of business, they affect your entire team. Ask your team members which clients abuse the relationship and negatively affect their energy and performance, all at the expense of your other clients. Believe me; they will rattle off the names immediately. If you want a team willing to run through walls for you and your best clients, get rid of the toxic relationships.
Next, if you have been in sales for any length of time, I can almost assure you that you have too many clients. Seriously, it is a safe bet that you have too many clients who don’t produce enough revenue to justify your time and attention. Profile your book of business from largest to smallest in terms of the amount of annualized revenue. It is a fairly safe assumption that if you divided your accounts exactly in half, the bottom 50% (by number of accounts) will produce about 5% of your total revenue. Even if they produce 10% of your revenue, they are unprofitable. I can hear some of you saying, “But I never touch them; my team does everything on those accounts.” Remember, every hour your team spends on one of these accounts is an hour they can’t spend with your best accounts. Get rid of these clients. There may very well be a place for them in your agency, but your book of business has outgrown the smaller clients!
The list of “do overs” could be a long one, but these are the two most important places to start. The biggest advantage to you will be recovered time. That means more time to prospect and work on accounts that are profitable, worth your time, and fun.
I realize these challenges aren’t easy, but I’ll argue that they are easier than continuing to play the game under your current circumstances. If you want a pipeline of prospects and book of clients who value and respect you as a trusted advisor, who will allow for your continued growth, and who are enjoyable clients with whom to work, you’ll accept the challenge.
Doing business with you should be a privilege. Act that way and ask yourself, “How bad do I want it?”
Photo by OakleyOriginals.