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What ROAD to Success? July 1, 2010

Posted by Merrilee in Productivity.
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It’s been said “He who fails to plan, plans to fail


Every New Year we ALL set goals, evaluate the past year’s successes and failures and make “resolutions” to do things differently.  Either more of what worked, less of what didn’t, or a combination of both.  Then we come up with where we want the next year to end up.  It’s our GOAL for the year. 

Much emphasis is put on goals.  “If you don’t know where you’re going – any road will take you there”  “A goal without a deadline is just a dream”  EtcEtcEtc.  


It’s also been said that success is not a destination but a journey.  If that is so, and I believe it is, an equal amount of focus needs to be given to the journey.  

In accomplishing a goal – the journey is the PLAN.  

 If we were taking a trip to Miami from Tampa, there are at least 3 routes that can get you there.  I4 or Hwy 60 to I95, south on 27, or south on I75 to Alligator Alley.  Each will get us there in almost the same time frame, but the scenery is much different on each route.  

The Road Less Taken?

If our goal is to increase our annuity volume this year, there are even more routes and options to choose from.  And to accomplish this goal, a choice must be made.  It’s ridiculous to think we can get to Miami going all three routes at the same time.  But it’s equally absurd to think we can get to a million dollars in production and not have a clear defined route or plan of action to take.  Don’t want to mix metaphors – but if you chase two rabbits, you won’t catch either.  Pick a route, pick a strategy, and keep on the road until you get to your destination. 

Will you use………

  • Seminars?
  • Client Marketing?
  • Referrals?
  • Direct Mail?
  • Purchasing leads?
  • Purchasing preset appointments?
  • Networking?
  • Telemarketing?

 Who will you market to…?

  • Business Owners
  • Baby Boomers
  • Seniors
  • Women
  • Women Business Owners
  • Widows

What days will you work?

How many hours a week will spend prospecting, selling, and studying?

When will you schedule free time?

How much support staff will have?

 All these factors make up the “plan.”  Do you have a plan?  Have you selected your route and are you “on it”?  

 If your plan of action is not clearly defined, if you don’t know which “road” you will take to your goal, Safe Money Strategies can help.  If you produce in excess of 1 million dollars of fixed and indexed annuity volume yearly, and need help with a clearly defined plan, call 866-324-3800 today.


Business Owner Marketing Plan June 23, 2010

Posted by Merrilee in Sales Strategies.
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Do you want to “Crack the Code” of the Business Owner Marketplace?  Try this simple strategy.

 Why would anyone not choose to work with prospects…..

–         Who are available during the day?

–         Whose time is as valuable as yours?

–         Will only show up when genuinely interested and in need of your services.

–         Who must plan for their own retirement?

–         Who are NOT satisfied with SS and want to maintain an affluent lifestyle?

–         Who make quick and permanent decisions?

–         Who value you as a fellow business man?

–         Who do not begrudge your commissions?

–         Who are NOT on a do NOT call list?

 The only professional who would choose otherwise must love abuse and indulge in self flagellation.  

 Low Hanging Fruit

Working with the business owner community is like picking “low hanging fruit”.  But how do you get their attention, how can you get your foot in the door?

 Every business owner in your community respects good old fashioned marketing and quiet professional persistence.  They wouldn’t be in business if they didn’t implement some of their own.  That being said – try this marketing campaign and smile all the way to the bank. 

–         Find a list – purchase a pre sorted list of business owners from any data source.  Select a radius of your own determination for how far you want to prospect.  Limit the list to 1000-1500.  You can keep the list in a certain industry.  You may want to target white collar professionals or blue collar service industries – the choice is yours.  Bear in mind that when you specialize you will get to know the nuances of that industry and soon become that industry’s “go-to”.  Don’t forget – word travels fast – especially when you do good work.

–         Mail a letter – not a postcard, not an invitation, but a letter.  You will not be hocking a product – you will be making a letter of introduction to the business owner, sharing who you are in the community and the way you have been able to help other of your clients, ending with an invitation for them to call you.  Make certain your PICTURE and contact info is on the letter.  This will be mail merged and use a first class stamp.  Safe Money Strategies will be happy to send you our prewritten letter at no charge.

–         Mail the same letter to the same list two times

–         Start calling the names and offer an appointment.  After the second mailing, have your assistant start calling the list to book a complimentary analysis of their retirement income needs and “free” personalized strategy.   If you need a great script, again, Safe Money Strategies will be happy to provide you with one.  If you don’t have an assistant – get one.  Even a part-time assistant- four hours a day – two days a week – will keep this program going for you.  Do NOT call or make your own appointments.  When you do it sends a loud and clear message – that you don’t have an assistant.

–         Call the whole list.  Put interested business owners in your database for future contact.  Mail to the same list every month.  Delete bad leads and add to it as necessary.  When the whole list has been called, start over with the same list.  Why the same list, why keep calling?  After a few mailings – and the content of the letter each month should vary – your name and face in front of your leads creates familiarity.  Soon they will be calling you; soon they will not only take your phone call but be expecting it.  Why do realtors mail to the same list, why do dentists mail to the same list?  Why do restaurants mail to the same list? Because it works!

 BOMP (Business Owners Marketing Plan) vs Seminars

We, as financial professionals, tend to think that seminars are the easiest way to find great prospects.  Seminars are a great way to build your business, albeit very expensive, and frustrating.  This strategy is much easier on the pocket book, builds your name recognition in your community, and creates virtually no stress for you because someone else is making the calls and booking the appointments.  The whole campaign for the year, including your assistants pay, will be less than the price of one seminar.  

 And remember, if you doubt the effectiveness of this campaign, – anything will work if you do:)


Stop LYING to Yourself, Start Growing your Practice June 9, 2010

Posted by Merrilee in Practice Management, Productivity.
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When I ask financial professionals what’s the one single thing an FMO can do to improve and increase their business and volume, invariably the small producer says it’s helping them get in front of more people.  When we offer to help turn their business into a thriving practice by implementing systematic and sequential marketing strategies to their existing client base – you would think we offered to drill their teeth.  

Novices and “ham and eggers” think they have all their clients’ money and their clients can’t afford anything else!  These are the twin sisters of delusion. 

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”   Every profitable business is built on attracting new customers, but most revenue is from existing customers – this is FACT!  And a financial practice is no different.  Every business depends on repeat business – even yours.  

If it’s smart business to keep your current clients coming back, then it’s not so smart to ignore then to chase after new clients.  Imagine planting an orange tree.  Next year you plant another, then another then another – and not go back to the first tree and pick the fruit that has grown.  Doesn’t make much sense – does it?  Neither does not marketing and servicing your client base.  

Remember these four truths and change your practice forever!

1 – No matter how good you are, you will not capture all your clients business on the first sale.  There will always be more business to write.  And no client worth having is dumb enough to give all their business on the first meeting.  If they are, you don’t want them.

2 – Some else is always marketing to your clients and will replace and steal your business.  Actually if you aren’t marketing to your clients, they didn’t steal it, you gave it away.  

3 – Your client is only a customer until they have purchased from you three times.  And the more they buy, the more loyal they will be and the more referrals they will give you.

4 – People’s situations change; jobs, children, marriage, divorce, homes, attitudes, and concerns.  These changes spell new opportunities for you.  The only way to know about these opportunities is to stay in touch.  

Remember – “anything will work if you do” and “most people miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work”!

80/20 Rule April 28, 2010

Posted by Merrilee in Practice Management, Sales Strategies.
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80/20 rule

 It’s been said that you’re only as healthy as the company you keep.  That applies to your business as well.  You’re only as successful as the clients you choose to work with. 

 There are several key fundamentals to growing a thriving practice and if we stick to them, success is almost guaranteed. And one of those principles is the 80/20 rule. That rule states that 80% of your business comes from 20 % of your clients.  

I guarantee if you look at the volume of business you’ve written over the year and identify the clients who have generated it, you will find this rule to be true in your business as well. 

 I want to encourage each of you to go out and get the book “Effortless Marketing for Financial Advisors” by Steve Moeller.  It is a tremendous book for anyone who wants to segway out of lead generation from the masses, target a particular niche and subsequently increase your income dramatically.  I have to assume that describes you or you wouldn’t be reading this.

 Steve tells a story about his father who was a dentist.  The older his father got, or rather the wiser his father got, the less he worked and the more money he made.  In fact he was making 5 times the money he had a few years prior.  While discussing this with Steve, he told him that the number of patients he had hadn’t increased, technology hadn’t changed that much, nor had he raised his prices.  All he did was become very selective about the new patients he would take on. 

He divided his patient base into a, b, c, and d clients based on agreeability and payment history.  He would then interview prospective patients and only take new patients who fit the same profile as his a and b clients.  He refused to work with those who looked like the c and d clients.  As his practice grew, he only took a profile clients.  And the phenomenon is that the less clients he took on the larger his income grew.  He called them high payoff and low payoff patients.

 So here’s the lesson – to dramatically increase your business, your income, and the quality of your life, be more selective about the people you do business with.  Selectivity maximizes your effectiveness and generates results. 

 This goes against conventional wisdom but you must turn away low payoff prospects.  When you become very clear about how much you value your time, what kind of business you want to create, and where you want to take your business, you’ll be very clear about the kind of prospects you will be willing to invest your time into. 

Steve Brotz, one of Safe Money’s founders, tells the story about when he started out building his practice, he was instructed in some very old school ways.  He was taught to pound the phone and overcome objection after objection just to get an appointment.  He then had an epiphany; if he only looked for business owners who wanted to meet with him and wanted what he offered, his job would be much easier.  So he did and it did.  He calls it “polishing the cherries, not the pits”.

 We do that here at Safe Money.   We look back at the advisors that we have brought on.  We see who is the easiest to work with, who wants to grow their practice and who has done the greatest volume.  We’ve profiled them and determined where 80% of our revenue has come from.  We then seek out only those agents who fit the profile of our most successful advisors.  It makes our marketing effort more successful and our work easier.  There are times when we make exceptions and invariably we wish we hadn’t. 

 Truth is, if you seriously evaluate your business, you’re going to find that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your clients, but you’ll also find that 100% of your aggravation comes from the other 80%.  That’s how working with only those who profile like your best clients can increase the quality of your life as well – less stress.

 Once you start interviewing your prospects, and get good at it, you will quickly know if you want to invest any time in them at all.  If they are an a client you will know immediately and be ready to invest what you need to in terms of developing that relationship.




Golf Imitates Business – A check up from the neck up! April 19, 2010

Posted by Merrilee in Customer Service, Practice Management, Sales Strategies, The Economy.
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Safe Money Strategies offers many tools on our website and blog for the independent producer to use for training, inspiration, and motivation.  We target our material for every level of producer:  from a “pup” fresh out of the gate to a “seasoned” producer who is on auto-pilot.  Because of the broad scope of this information, one might think some of it too basic for the “seasoned” producer to gleam much from it.  Maybe, maybe not!

 Golf imitates Life and Business

I play a lot of golf – a lot.  I’m a 12.5, not great, but not too bad.  There are occasions where I go out to play and play so brilliantly that the thought actually occurs to me that ‘I have this down pat!’  But there are times when I go out to play and play so poorly, I could possibly be holding the wrong end of the club!

 Golf Basics

I’ve been playing for many years and have taken tons of lessons.  Between television, books, and magazines, I have become quite the student of the game.  So when I get into one these situations where I’m not really certain where the ball is going to go, I mentally revert to the 5 basics of the golf swing. 

  • Grip
  • Stance
  • Alignment
  • Ball position
  • Take away

These are the same 5 points I was taught the very first lesson I ever took.  When I calm down and revert to those basics, my swing and game return. 

 Business Basics

What does this have to do with building a financial services practice? How many seasoned producers set goals at the beginning of 2009 and did not reach it.  My guess would be 95%.  But why would that be?  Why would such a great preponderance of producers come up so short?  Sometimes in business we get derailed and lose focus.  It might reflect in a practice by having a string of unclosed sales, a lack of prospects, practice management issues, personal issues that distract us, or even just being stuck at a certain plateau. 

 “Check up From the Neck up”

Understanding that all distractions are equal, no matter how high volume of a producer we are, being reminded of the basics will refocus us and get our efforts back on track.

Safe Money Strategies teaches on motivation, sales and marketing strategies, practice management, prospecting, attitude, client service basics, and professionalism.  Sometimes even the most experienced producer needs a check up from the neck up.

“Back to Basics” sums up the flavor of the training we offer. 

 It’s Free

Everything on our website and blog is free to any producer who wants to tap into its benefit.  And it will benefit every level producer; from an agent just starting to build their business to an established producer who is mentoring others. 

Just like the basics of the golf swing, there are basics of “production.”  That is exactly what we offer on our website and blog; the tools for every level of producer, to remind them of the basics and get back ‘in the swing’ of serious production.

How to Conduct a Perfect Client Review April 7, 2010

Posted by Merrilee in Practice Management, Productivity.
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You’ve booked a client for their financial review.  Since marketing your financial practice and services is almost 100% of the work, you’re almost home free.  


 Now is the time to collect the money – so to speak, now is the payoff.  You can not afford to blow it by being ill-prepared!

 There are 5 components of an annual review, 5 systematic steps, when done in the proper order, will lead the client and the process in the direction you want it to go.   (It’s understood that you want it to go in the best interest of the client.)

 1 – The Warm Up

 Get the relationship “rekindled”.   It’s ok to just jump into a swimming pool, but it’s disaster to just jump into business.  Catch up with your client; find out what has happened in their lives over the course of the last 6 months – or however long it’s been since you’ve seen them.  

 If they ask questions about you, answer the question quickly and turn the conversation back to them, talking about themselves.  You ask the questions, let them do the talking.  If you find yourself talking about yourself, mentally envision yourself lighting dollar bills on fire, because you’re burning cash!!!!!!!!!!!  Shut UP!

It’s an amazing phenomenon.  When people talk about themselves, they feel connected to you and “like” you – because they feel like you understand them, not because they understand you!

 Don’t rush thru this step; warming clients up is an art and some people take longer than others.  This is a foundational step and extremely important.  Don’t discount or dismiss its importance in the process!

 2 – Manage Contact Expectations

 You will see your best, “A”, clients more often than others, but each client needs to be seen yearly at the very least.  If you don’t see your clients yearly, they aren’t clients, they were customers.

 The first part of the business conversation should outline and establish how often the client wants and needs to be seen.  “A” clients are usually larger clients with more moving parts to their financial portfolio.  With change in their lives and portfolios, comes the need and opportunity to reposition assets.  This is less about an opportunity to generate commissions and more about doing what the client needs.  It just so happens that with doing the right thing for the client comes the opportunity to do the right thing for yourself.  It’s funny how that works!

Establish a schedule for how often you will meet.  A rule of thumb is once per quarter for “A” clients, every four to six months for “B” Clients, and yearly for “the end of the alphabet” clients.   At the conclusion of the review, they should know when they will be called back in.  Preferably, set the appointment before they leave.  

 If you manage their expectation, let them know what to expect, you are filling your books well in advance, and training your client to be prepared to meet with you.  Essentially, you are removing obstacles to the sales process before they even appear.  

 3 – Review Clients Holdings

If you are their financial advisor, not having just sold them one product, you should have a list of all their financial holdings.  Review their holdings and review the performance of those holding over the period of time since you’ve seen them last.  

 If you have Act for Financial Professionals or another comprehensive software program, this info will be at your finger tips, if not – you need it, get one.

 Reviewing this information might create opportunities to reposition assets based on your advice and their needs and goals.  During this part of the interview, we advise using a template or questionnaire to keep you on track and make sure all pertinent information is captured.  We recommend OnTrac.  This questionnaire will allow you to help your client determine and verbalize where they want to go financially.  It also helps you to create the “path” and uncover potentially missed opportunities for sales.

 4 – Identify the “structure” of the plan – risk vs. reward

Everyone knows the formula – subtract your clients’ age from 100 and that is the percentage of their portfolio that should be exposed to “risk”.  You can then initiate a conversation with your client and get agreement from them about this percentage.  Now you have a launching point for “repositioning”.

 5 – Education

 Here’s where this whole process culminates into potential business.  You should be a student of the economy and market forces.  You should also be able to disseminate current events in digestible nuggets for your client to understand.  With this information, you will move them to action.  (We hold a Producer’s Power Call every other Monday morning at 10 am EST.  You will hear this kind of information and can use it close business)

 Educating your client about current economic chaos and market forces builds a natural bridge for a conversation about principle protected investment vehicles – annuities.  When you have their agreement about the % of their portfolio they can afford to keep at risk, when you have agreement from them on the need for “safe money strategies” based on the current market climate, you have an opportunity to show them a vehicle that will fit like a glove and help them accomplish their financial goals – an annuity.

 Safe Money Strategies is a boutique FMO dedicated to helping agents take their business to new heights.  If you are a seasoned producer looking to turn your business into a thriving 100% referral generated practice, we just might be what you are looking for.

Manage Marketing Experiences by Managing Marketing Expectations March 23, 2010

Posted by Merrilee in Productivity, Sales Strategies.
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While discussing possible marketing ideas we could offer agents thru Safe Money Strategies, Scott Harris said ‘the best help we can give any agent is to help them understand their marketing efforts.  If we can help them manage their marketing expectations, we can help them manage their marketing experience.’  That may not be the most profound thing he’s ever said, but it comes pretty darn close.  (And can be applied to every area of life)


Let’s think about that.  If we manage our expectations, we manage our experience.  I talk all day long with agents who have tried every conceivable marketing strategy and say nothing works.  It really amazes me, how many agents have that feed back.  It shouldn’t amaze me, the largest majority of agents are mediocre at best and at least 50% are below average (Average is just the best of the worst and the worst of the best).  We only work with proven producers.  So what mindset do these proven producers have?  Or better asked, how do they manage their expectations and thereby manage their experience?

 Kick the Bushes

Scott proceeded to say that marketing is NOT an event, it’s a process, or a journey.  It’s not only a journey but a commitment.  He is always saying agents need to “kick the bushes” and “get their hands dirty.”  Pardon the mixed metaphors but you get the point. 

Scott and Steve have built two very successful financial services practices.  How?  By being willing to try every possible marketing strategy and understand that they might not “reap out of the field they sowed” 

 What the heck does that mean?  It means they may have invested a few thousand dollars in a direct mail campaign that generated dismal results, and then do a seminar that generates just a few key clients but huge volume.  They spent years doing radio and tv.  Did this pay off?  Not immediately and not directly.  They were putting in their time.  They will tell you that the referrals and exposure that was created by these efforts were priceless.  But most agents will do a radio show for 6 – 8 weeks, not have prospects beating down their door and say it doesn’t work.  They have not managed their expectations, therefore they consider the experience a failure.   

 No Magic Bullet

Scott and Steve know what to expect from their marketing effort, most agents do not.  And that’s why they say nothing works.  Marketing is doing everything and anything that will create activity and put you in front of prospects.  But if you think that any one marketing strategy or program is the magic bullet, you need to “manage your expectations.”   Building a practice is done one client at a time.  Marketing however is an unceasing, many pronged activity, necessary until you build your practice and can market only to your clients and referrals.  

Manage your Marketing Experience by expecting to spend a lot of money and time on every conceivable marketing strategy that appeals to you – without ceasing.  Marketing is the real work of a financial services firm, until it’s built.  In order to create the building you must lay each brick – one at a time!   If you EXPECT this and are willing to do this, you will find the task much easier and much more enjoyable.  If you do not expect marketing to be “the work”, you will continue to scratch your head and wonder why nothing works for you.  It is working, you’re just expecting too much and a magic bullet.

 Manage Your Marketing Expectations and thereby Manage your Marketing Experience!



5 Steps to Amazing Annuity Volume – Without Spending a Dime on Prospecting March 8, 2010

Posted by Merrilee in Practice Management.
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This report is designed for financial advisors who are reasonably established; advisors who have a base of operation and an existing client base.  The steps outlined in this report will help you take your business to the next step.  It outlines how to use the foundation you have laid, springboard into amazing volume and thereby transform your business into a thriving practice. 

 There are a few key truths that we will use as a foundation for this plan of action.

  • You do not have, nor will you ever have, all your clients’ money.
  • Your clients’ lives are continuously changing, therefore their finances need constant review and restructuring.
  • If you are not marketing to your clients, you will lose them; other advisors are marketing to them and will steal them.
  • Until someone has bought from you multiple times, they are not a client, they are a customer.  The more money, i.e. positions, they have with you, the more they are tied to you, and harder for them to leave you. 

Acres of Diamonds

If you are an advisor with a client and prospect (people you have presented to but haven’t purchased yet) base of just a few hundred, you have a goldmine in your back yard, or file cabinet so to speak.   This report will give you a step by step plan to literally mine that contact and client base for every conceivable piece of business while tying your clients to you for life.

There is nothing new in this report, nothing that is so innovative you haven’t heard it before.  But what Safe Money Strategies has done, is taken fundamental principles and marketing techniques and combined them in common sense order, to generate amazing and consistent results, as well as huge steady volume and paychecks for you. 


 While explaining this process to a prospective agent the other day, he remarked that this process is just short of getting married – as far as commitment goes.  Maybe, maybe not!

 But truth is, you are either committed to growing your business or you are not.  And your actions, consistent and persistent, will determine the volume of business you generate.  

This program may be equivalent to marriage when it comes to the level of commitment, but without the “pre – nup”.  If you are serious about turning your business into a thriving practice, this level of commitment is absolutely necessary. 

 STEP 1 – Create a database

 The foundation of this program starts with having all your clients and prospects in a database.  File folders and file cabinets don’t count.  They must be entered in a contact management system.  We recommend Act for Financial Professionals

 Having information at your fingertips is key, but it also gives you the freedom and capability to do research and filter within your client and prospect base.  Once all your clients’ information is entered, it’s very easy to run a report and find who has particular needs.  For instance, who needs to convert their traditional IRA to a Roth?  This information will be at your finger tips, instead of shuffling thru file folders. 

 Having a complete and continually updated database also gives you access to all the information you need to go to step 2.

 This is an important foundational step.  Don’t sacrifice the “important” on the altar of the “urgent”.  When this happens, advisors find themselves chasing from one prospecting campaign to the next, almost like chasing their tail, or a rat looking for cheese in a maze. 

Take the time to lay a firm foundation.  The firmer the foundation, the larger the building it will support.  

 STEP 2 – Drip on that Database

 You must Drip on your database.  This is an absolute essential activity for anyone calling themselves a “professional”. 

 Drip marketing is the heart of keeping a consistent number of prospects and clients flowing through your business.   This is not optional.  Sending out newsletters, letters, articles and postcards keep your name and face in front of your prospects and clients.  “Top of the mind awareness” is critical to doing more business with your clients and being the “go to” financial expert for your prospects. 

When a Drip campaign is done consistently and effectively, your prospects and clients will be calling you very soon, rather than you calling them.

Drip marketing pieces can include anything from a monthly letter just to keep in touch, postcards that announce workshops or open houses, holiday cards, emails, and newsletters to keep them educated, just to mention a few. 

You don’t have to send the same thing every month.  If you use a newsletter service, send it every other month and in the off month, send something more personal.  In the off month, you might choose to use an email, which will cost nothing. Use creativity, use humor and your clients and prospects will be looking forward to your communications.

Once your drip list grows to 600 qualified prospects and clients, you will never need to market outside this group ever again.

 A word of caution, do not market products in your communication.  Be personal and offer useful information and tips.  If you “sell product”, you’ll find your mail in the trash!

There are many newsletter services for financial professionals on the market today.  We have recommended Newkirk and LTM in the past, but there are many available.

  • Using a newsletter service sends a message of professionalism and expertise. 
  • It also screams that you are “in business” and in business for the long haul. 
  • It keeps your face in front of your clients and prospects increasing the chance of them calling you when they have a need or question.


STEP 3 – Conduct Annual Client Reviews

 After you have implemented the first two steps, you will have your assistant call every client and bring them in for their annual review.  Having an assistant is absolutely key.  They will be accountable for keeping the program on track, and booking your appointments.

 –   Annual reviews are a must, for many different reasons.  This is not optional.  If you don’t solidify your clients relationship and their perception of you, someone else will sell them and replace your business.  You must do this to preserve your existing business as well as to generate more business and referrals. 

   Peoples’ lives change, they marry, they divorce, they die, they have babies, kids go off to college, they win the lottery, they get sued, they retire, they start businesses, they buy houses.  Every one of these events generates a reason for modifying a financial portfolio.  Without seeing your client at least yearly, you will never know of these changes and never “get the business”.  But don’t be naïve – if you don’t, another advisor will!

–   Insurance policy reviews are a great source of new potential business.  This can be incorporated into your annual client review, or done at the 6 month mark as a way to keep yourself in front of your clients – a must!!!!!  This can very easily open up new avenues of revenue for you.

 The key to booking annual client reviews, is to make it necessary – not optional.  Your assistant should say something like “Hi ———–  I’m Sara from Joe Smith’s office, He asked me to contact you and get you scheduled to come in for your annual financial checkup.  There were a few things he wanted to double check and few things he wanted to discuss with you.  Are mornings or afternoons better for you?” 

 Do not book your own appointments.  It sends the wrong message.  It screams  –  You do not have an assistant.  The little you spend on help will be made up in spades with just a few annual reviews.  

 During this review, we strongly recommend you use a financial questionnaire.  OnTrac is terrific.  It will guarantee no key information is overlooked and give you all the information you need to help your client. You will then input it into the software program (free of charge) and design the plan to get your client from where they are to where they want to go. 

The key to this process is getting really good at “extracting” the necessary information from your clients.  Once you have all their information, where they are and where they want to go, all your work is done! 

 STEP 4 – Referral Marketing

 Divide your database by twelve, that’s how many will be called each month for annual reviews (or complementary evaluations).  The group that was called last month will be sent the referral program this month. 

 Once a year send each client a financial workbook as a gift.  We recommend the Retirement Planning Guide by Newkirk.  The cover letter (available from Safe Money Strategies at no charge) included with this gift will offer to send this same gift to a maximum of 3 people they care about as a gift from them.  If they do not fill out the form and fax it back, follow up and ask who they would like you to send the gift to.  Upon getting their contact information, call to confirm, start a conversation, if appropriate invite them in, and at worst add them to your drip list. 

 The amount of referrals that can be generated with this program will astound even the master referral generator.  These referrals will keep you with a steady stream of prospects so you will never have to spend money on leads or marketing ever again. 

 STEP 5 – Client Appreciation Events

 Nothing in life will generate more of what you want than an “attitude of gratitude”.  No words in the English language mean more than “Thank You”, at least in business. 

Showing your appreciation not only ties your existing clients to you, but it ingratitates them to you.  When you go above and beyond to show your appreciation, people instinctively feel obligated to continue what they did to establish that gratitude.   In other words you solidify their behavior. 

 Client appreciation events are as varied as an advisors imagination.  Two client appreciation events a year is not too many!   

 Annual Open House – Invite all clients to your practice and invite them to bring a friend – now you have a referral as well.

Holiday Parties – same as above, at your practice or other location.

Host a birthday party for your “A” Client.  Call their family, arrange to host a surprise birthday party for your client.  You will pay for the event and host it.  All the family has to do is put it together and arrange for the guests.  Those guests are now your prospects!  Who would not want to be the client of someone so generous?

Dinner Parties   Same as above, just smaller venue at a restaurant.  Your clients bring a few couples they know. 

In Conclusion

 Once these 5 steps are implemented you will have a steady stream of prospects sitting in front of you and a steady stream of new business from clients and prospects alike.  In addition, and most important, you will have a steady stream of dollars flowing thru the coffers. 

 Safe Money Strategies offers to discuss these processes in much more detail, and coach you thru the whole process.    Call today to see if you qualify to be a “Safe Money” Agent.

 1-866-324-3800 or email


3 Key Components to Increasing Annuity Sales February 26, 2010

Posted by Merrilee in 1, Productivity.
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Sometimes the TRUTH hurts.  Truth – you can have all the ideas you can possible implement to increase your annuity sales, but if you lack the foundation of a good business plan, all the ideas in the world won’t make you a penny. 

 So today we are going to share 3 key components of a great business plan.  (These are applicable to life, not just your annuity sales.)

Desire, Will and Teachability

 You can have as many lofty goals as you can imagine, throw money at annuity marketing campaigns, and even surround yourself with brilliant help to do most of the work for you, but if these three elements are missing from your business, you will not only fail miserably – but scratch your head and wonder why.


It’s been said that “when the desire is strong enough the ‘how to’ will appear.  Goals are useless, leads and preset appointments are useless, if your desire to meet your goals is not strong enough to propel you thru the tough times.


Have you ever seen someone who’s so dead dogged-ly determined, there is no quit in them, they are willing to do whatever it takes.  What does it take to be successful in our industry? – Whatever it takes! You got to be willing to do whatever it takes.

 I’d like to share a real quick story about will, or the lack thereof, in my life.   It might put things in perspective for your business.  I live in decent neighborhood in North Tampa, and I walk about 4 miles everyday.  The houses are gorgeous and the lawns are wonderful.  I would do just about anything to have a lawn like the ones I walk by.  So every once in while I muster up the desire and figure out what I need to get to make my yard beautiful.  But then it’s time to go to Home Depot to get the stuff and actually do the work.  That’s where the lack of Will comes into play.  I don’t go, I put it off, or change my mind.  I have all the desire in the world but I have no will.    You see – Will is a key component of success


A little success can be a huge enemy to your business.  Sometimes the more success we have, the less we think we need to learn.  A true professional is always learning his craft, he is a consummate student of his business.  He understands that a lot of times, in fact most of the time, wisdom can come from peers and colleagues. 

 If you are a million dollar producer, or a 10 million dollar producer, the difference between where you are and where you want to go is learning something you don’t know.  If you’re not open to learning, you are stuck.  If you aren’t open to help, you’ll never get your business to the next level.

If you want to get your annuity sales ‘kick started’, try this.  Rearrange your schedule and commit to our Producer’s Power Call.  Hear annuity sales and marketing ideas and strategies, listen as we distill current events and the economic upheaval into useful nuggets.  You will be able to use this information to move your prospects to action and close more sales. 

 Don’t make the mistake of dismissing the brilliance in its simplicity.   The best at their craft always look to others for help.  Take Tiger for instance, (separate from his personal life),  He surrounds himself with help but no one can really teach him anything about golf.  But that’s not why he pays his coaches so much money.  They keep him in the right mind frame and the right attitude, and keep his head screwed on straight (not necessarily the straight and narrow). 

 On our Power Call, we go over the basics, you will hear what you need to hear for your business to grow if you make the commitment to log on.  Another point about Tiger, he doesn’t seek out advice and help from people who are better than him at golf, he seeks out people who can remind him of what he already knows, your annuity sales and growing a practice is the same way.

Even a 10 million dollar producer can benefit from a peer or collegues’ insight, experience, and marketing perspective.  The shortest conversation with a colleague can garner the greatest answer, but only if you’re open and teachable.

Desire = deciding what you really want.

Will = digging deep to find the will to do whatever it takes to accomplish your goal

Teachability = remembering the difference between where you are and where you want to be is learning something you don’t know or remembering something you may have forgotten.

 If you are a proven produce, an established financial professional, looking for the special relationship with a marketing organization, Safe Money Strategies might be a fit.  Call Merrilee at 866-324-3800 to discuss how we might be able to help grow your annuity sales and marketing efforts.  

Our next Producer’s Power Call is Monday March 1st.  Log in at 218-339-2500  414687# and start your week in the right frame of mind.

Increase Annuity Sales and Practice Productivity February 1, 2010

Posted by Merrilee in Practice Management.
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Critical Evaluation

We invest time in a lot of things during the course of a day that pay no dividends at all.  And a “critical evaluation of our efforts” goes along way to increasing our annuity sales and our practices’ productivity.   Once we decide where we want to be in our financial services business, then identify where we actually are in our business, then we can determine what is necessary to bridge that gap.

It takes courage to scrutinize and improve, but if you’re willing to do it, life and annuity sales come much quicker and much easier.  

It’s been said that anything that you work easy at is hard, and anything you work hard at is easy.


This is illustrated by the Productivity Pyramid

                                    $$$$$$$ Activities that yield High lifetime value

                                    $$$$ Activities that yield high dollar value

                                    $  Activities that yield low dollar value

                                        Activities that yield NO dollar value

 Pyramid Illustration

The Productivity Pyramid allows us to take a good hard look at our business activities and identify what is putting money in our pocket, increasing annuity sales, and what is not.  Let’s be honest.  Some activities that we enjoy, we tend to rationalize.  But to increase our annuity sales we need to honestly evaluate our day and how we spend our time.  

NO Dollar Value

Starting at the bottom of the pyramid, what activities do we do that yield NO dollar value – during business hours?  If we are honest most of these are just  pure avoidance.

1 – checking personal emails, taking personal phone calls

2 – lunches with business associates who don’t do business with us or refer people to us

3 – surfing the net

4 – pushing papers on our desk, filing and “getting organized”


Low Dollar Value – activities that put money in our pocket – but not much!

1 – answering your own phone

2 – stuffing envelopes

3 – scheduling your own appointments

4 – filing paperwork

High Dollar Activities – anything that finds us prospects, gets us in front of these prospects, or actually getting in front of prospects

1 – annual client reviews

2 – appointments with prospects

3 – seminars

4 – prospecting

5 – networking

High Lifetime Value Activities

1 – following up with contacts to develop strategic alliances

2 – lunches with potential long term referral sources

3 – calling on CPA’s and attorneys for relationship building

4 – marketing to clients (possibly THE most important)

After we identify what these activities are for us (these activities are different for everyone), what do we do with this information?

No Dollar Value Activities

Completely eliminate these activities from our income producing hours.  Give our business 100% focus while our working.  Notice I didn’t say work with focus 100% of the time. But the hours that we have designated – whether that is 60-70 hours for you work – o – holics or 20-30 for you semi-retired, whatever time we have allocated for our business – if we give that time 100% focus, the results will amaze us.  We will experience much greater results with a lot less effort by applying the principles of focus.

Low Dollar Value Activities

After we’ve identified the activities that produce low volume revenue for us – OUTSORCE all of them.  Someone out there is saying it – I can hear it – “But I can’t afford to”.  That’s a lie – you can’t afford not to.  If we boil down how much our time is worth, I guarantee, it’s worth more than the few dollars you will spend on an assistant or the fee to outsource a task.  If you do the math and prove me wrong – I have a suggestion for you, – get a new job, because you’re not very successful at this one.  

High Dollar Value Activities

Now identify the things that produce high dollar value for us.  This one is obvious – these are the activities that we will now spend almost 100% of our time on.  This is the ONLY thing we will spend any time on at all.   Here’s my promise.  You spend your time on only these activities with laser like focus, eliminate the things from your work day that create no business value or income and outsource the things that generate low dollar value, your income will not only soar, but you will have more free time to do the things your really love and spend free time with your family in a better lifestyle to boot.

High Dollar Value Activities

Now, there’s one last category, the things that produce a high lifetime dollar value.  When do we do these activities – at least one hour a day!  Spend one hour a day on the phone, generating contacts, meeting potential referral sources, and scheduling times to meet with these people to share your mission and expertise. You will develop a network of referrals so consistent and abundant, you will never spend money on marketing ever again.  

AYE, the rub, anything that holds future long term lifetime value, at the outset, looks like a huge waste of time and is the hardest to do!  Why?  Because the payoff is down the road.  We tend to not want to ask that CPA to lunch, because it might not turn out that the relationship will ever yield any fruit, while stuffing those envelopes and licking those stamps gives us such a sense of accomplishment – Wow, I can cross that off my list of things to do…..

But this is very deceptive. 

How much benefit will that one letter yield, compared to how much benefit meeting with right center of influence will?

Don’t be deceived

Everyday invest a small amount of time into lifetime high dollar value activities, invest the rest of your time in high dollar generating activities, outsource low dollar activities, do not allow yourself to engage in no dollar value activities and you will start earning more, working less and enjoying much more free time.

If you are a seasoned financial professional, focused on growing the annuity and life portion of your business, Safe Money Strategies might be for you.  Check out our website and feel free to call me to discuss whether Safe Money might be that missing tool in your tool box.



Your comments are welcome and invited!