At Q4intelligence, we have had an annual theme going back to our beginnings 14 years ago. We use the themes to keep us focused. They keep us focused on what we work on internally, what we take to our member agencies, and even on what we discuss with the industry as a whole.
Some themes serve our purpose for their year, as intended, while others weave their way into our DNA. One of our earliest themes, "Fill Gaps and Take Away Excuses," has become a mantra that describes our commitment to delivering what our clients need.
Other themes, like "Get Shit Done," attach themselves to our identity and brand. Yet others, "Simplify" and "Intentional vs. Accidental,” for example, stay at the forefront of our consciousness as we work to improve every day.
Plan it, and the theme will come
Our theme always evolves out of our planning process. As we do our annual planning, we take inventory of what’s working, what isn’t, and what we are committing to accomplishing that year. As a result of the conversations, there is always a unique thread that connects it all. Strange how that thread always converges into a theme.
As we were planning for 2022, it was clear that it would be a challenging year in almost every conceivable way possible. We realized we needed to question everything we did, built, and touched to overcome the expected challenges. Thus, the theme #ReThinkEverything emerged.
And we did rethink everything! This doesn't mean we changed everything; we just thought through everything very intentionally. Doing so validated that we were doing many/most things the way they needed to be done.
Our rethinking led to many changes, some as big as they get for a business, such as reorganizing an entire division. Other changes were as small as redesigning key documents.
Most importantly, the rethinking and changes it led to have positioned us for a new era of growth.
Drum roll, please…
That (along with the blog's title) was a not-so-subtle hint at our 2023 theme: GROWTH.
The thing with our themes is that, as much as it becomes a part of our team, the story and purpose behind the word(s) themselves mean the most. For us, Growth will drive many reflections, conversations, and actions. Some will be expected, and others a bit more surprising.
While the theme constantly evolves and, dare I say, grows throughout the year, we already have many early plans of how it will keep us focused.
As we predicted, 2022 was a challenging year, and we struggled a bit. Our biggest challenge was that many of our member agencies were acquired during 2022. As a result, we know we have to stay obsessively focused on growth this year. However, we also recognize that not all growth is created equal or even good. We must be intentional with our growth.
Here’s some of what we have in mind.
Personal growth – As we rolled out our theme to the team, the first feedback was from a team member who said her immediate thought was how she could grow personally and professionally. How awesome!
Obviously, the team is made up of individuals. Their individual growth feeds the growth of the team and the business. And, as the business grows, so does the size of the team. As the team grows, each member gets to drive in a narrower lane that defines their passion and unique skill sets and allows them to be more focused. As they grow into a more specialized team member, it feeds the growth of the team and the business, and so it goes perpetuating growth for all.
Reach/Scalability – One of, no, THE limiting factor to our organizational growth in the past has been the hands-on involvement that our coaching model has required of Wendy and me. Not only has it prevented scalability, but it also holds us back from taking our commitment to transform and serving the industry as far as we have wanted.
We have spent the past several months taking what we have built for our coaching clients and making it into an online learning management system. We will grow into new spaces that put our ideas, tools, resources, and teachings within reach of any committed industry professional.
This does not mean we have outgrown our coaching model. By growing into new revenue markets, we will now be able to grow into new levels of value and impact with those select few agencies we commit to coaching.
Credibility – While we believe we have a strong reputation and credibility within the industry, we know there is always an opportunity to build it to new levels. Part of our plan is to do so through the lessons and resources we will provide in our first book.
The working title is "The Salesperson's Guide to Growing a Business." It will be filled with common sense ideas, lessons, and resources to grow your business while also helping us grow our credibility. (See what I did there? 😏 )
Revenue – This could be an easy one to keep to ourselves. But, yes, we are committing to growing revenue. EVERY business must grow revenue. Nothing else that I've discussed matters if the company doesn't grow healthy financially.
I mainly include this because many producers and agencies hold back from the biggest goldmine within their reach: client referrals and introductions. They do so out of fear of it sending the wrong message – You’re interested in growing your revenue. Gasp! Your clients want you to be successful; they need you to be successful. For you to be there for them, they need you to survive and thrive.
Growing, now and forever
The key is to grow in a manner that benefits everyone, especially your team and clients.
What we are committed to more than anything is creating an environment that supports sustainable growth. The key elements are to be intentional, healthy, and build on small building blocks of growth.
As an example of what we mean by focusing on small building blocks of growth, let's say a producer has been growing their book of business steadily over the past several years. However, they decide it's time to get serious and commit to annual growth of 50% more than what they've been doing.
Do they realize that if they simply:
- increased their number of opportunities by 10%,
- focused on opportunities that were 10% larger than their previous average,
- improved their conversion ratios by 10%,
- and increased their close ratio by 10%,
they would increase their overall revenue growth by 60%? (Compound math is our friend.)
Think about it. Committing to an overall growth increase of 50% seems overwhelming. But when you look at small improvements to the variables that drive that kind of growth, it seems more than doable. On top of that, you are growing healthy, sustainable habits that will ensure that hitting the growth goal isn't a one-hit-wonder.
You gotta make room
Finally, to make room for growth, we need to let things go. Specifically, we need to get rid of those growth inhibitors. I'm no gardener, but I know for a plant to be healthy, you must prune the plant and weed the surrounding area. If you don’t, no amount of watering, feeding, and sunlight will ever lead to the plant reaching its potential.
Your book of business is like that garden. Many of you are still exhausted from perhaps the craziest fourth quarter ever. If you stopped and evaluated the revenue per account and the effort you and your team put into retaining those accounts, you’d recognize that you busted your asses to hold on to unprofitable business.
Worse than that, you fought like hell to hold on to business that will inhibit healthy growth in 2023. Chances are that your book of business needs to be pruned and weeded of certain accounts for you to reach your potential. Sometimes you need to get smaller before you can grow.
Everyone wants to grow, but fear of the inevitable growing pains holds most back. Stop focusing for a moment on what it takes to grow, and spend some time reflecting on how painful it is to stagnate and slide backward.
Are you ready for 2023? Let’s GROW and make shit happen!!!
Position your agency for the best growth in 2023, and grab a copy of our Agency Annual planning guide below.
Photo by blackdiamond67