The difference between where your agency is today and where it will be in five years from now is in direct proportion to your ability to develop your sales team.
That’s a mantra that I ask every one of my agency owner clients to ponder.
There is plenty of time for agency owners to blame their producers for being lazy, uninspired, weak, poor prospectors and lousy closers. But before they do, they should look in the mirror.
Back to the mantra above, and it’s so important, so it bears repeating: The difference between where your agency is today and where it will be in five years from now is in direct proportion to your ability to develop your sales team.
This means that your agency will grow in direct proportion to your ability, not theirs. Because if you – the agency owner or sales leader – don’t have the ability to motivate your producers, they won’t be motivated.
If you don’t have the ability to develop their confidence, they won’t be very confident.
If you don’t have the ability to get them organized, they will be chaotic and waste enormous amounts of time.
And…if you don’t have the ability to get them focused with a fine-tuned plan, they won’t know where to go or how to get there.
When you develop your abilities, you can help them develop their potential abilities into a new reality. And when you do, your agency will grow.
But there are obstacles, excuses and justifications…all sorts of nonsense in your agency owner head that you’ll just have to get over for this to happen.
An agency owner’s job is either really cool or really sucks — it just depends on how you look at it, and what you enjoy doing.
First, it’s easy for an agency owner to get buried in all of the daily “bull-bleep” going on in an agency, and it buries them in muck.
Some really enjoy it because it makes them feel needed. They get involved in personnel issues, underwriter visits, outside boards, you name it. They can tell everyone about how busy they are, and it makes them feel good.
Second is their book of business, which in most cases makes them most of their money. Agency owners have renewals and a responsibility to write new business to replace lost business. This is very time consuming, too.
The third priority for most agency owners is developing the producer team. There’s usually not much time left for that, apart from maybe the weekly liars club sales meeting. Or the book of the month club. Or approving a budget for a producer to go to some far away sales training class in the hope it will transform the frog into a prince.
It seems that most agency owners find this element of their job to be gruesome, horrible, or at a minimum, moderately distasteful. In fact, most would rather take out the trash.
So, what’s the problem here? Is it the producer team? Nope. It’s just an ugly symptom of an agency owner living a delusional reality while believing that an un-watered plant will grow.
“Hey Randy, you don’t understand…” (complete this sentence with an excuse, justification or self-imposed obstacle).
Perhaps I don’t understand, but I’ve seen enough agency owners transformed to know that when they do, they simply take ownership of the growth problem, which in most cases is a group of undeveloped producers that had little reason to write new business, lacked confidence, were grossly disorganized and confused on what to do next and within 12 months doubled new business. And it didn’t stop there. They did it again.
Here is the beautiful thing: You too can do this. You don’t have to be a genius. You don’t have to have an enormous personality. You don’t have to be a mean boss. And, you don’t need a lot of time to do it.
The problem is simple: You can’t drive an idea; you can only drive a process. So, you do need a process that you believe in and the ability to drive it.
Your process should be producer centric, meaning it should help them get rich. And if that is too out there for you, then you should help them become financially secure. If you have producers that do not care about financial security, taking care of their families, providing for their children, funding their retirement or getting ahead of the curve, then fire them.
Helping your producers become financially secure is the basis of your motivation strategy, and it starts with you caring about them as much as or more than yourself. Help them connect the dots between new business, growing a book, making money, saving money and becoming financially secure.
If you’re an agency owner that could care less about your producer’s well-being, then it will be evident in that you only spend about 50 minutes per year on goal setting.
What’s worse – those goals are not tied to the well-being and financial security of the producer.
It’s just a lousy, “What are you going to write in new business this year?”
Another big responsibility of an agency owner is helping to develop the confidence of your producer team.
Confidence is a feeling – a feeling of self-assurance, or the “I can do this” feeling.
Confidence is also contextual, meaning someone could be enormously confident hitting a golf ball 300 yards in front of 1,000 people but is scared to death to make a cold call.
The source of confidence lies in two simple things: skills and knowledge.
Skills must be trained. Knowledge must be acquired.
So, how do you help your producers gain confidence to make cold calls, ask for introductions, qualify a prospect or gain a broker of record (BOR)?
You have to train, train, train to develop their skills. And you have to create a strong learning environment for them to gain knowledge about themselves, your agency differentiation and your competition’s weaknesses.
Agency owner: You are about to tell me how your people don’t like to role-play so you can’t train them, aren’t you? Stupid question on my part perhaps, but tell me why they have a choice to avoid your training sessions and not engage in role-plays to build their skills?
Before you answer, let’s check in with Nick Saban, coach of Alabama University, and Bill Belichick, coach of New England Patriots, (a couple of my favorite coaches and proven winners) to see what they have to say.
Nick Saban: “There are two kinds of pain. The pain of discipline and the pain of disappointment. If you will suffer the pain of discipline, you’ll never suffer the pain of disappointment.”
Bill Belichick: “Do your job.”
I would suspect these two would say that if someone didn’t want to practice, they didn’t want to be on the team.
It might take a lot of courage for you as an agency owner to say that, and as long as your producers can bluff you into believing that they will leave, take all their business, and you’ll go bankrupt.
You’ll be a victim of those losers, and you’ll never grow your agency.
So, you can either be a victim of your weak producers or the victor by developing your own abilities so you can bring out and develop the capabilities of your producer team.
Please watch for part two of this article next month.
To help develop your own abilities, obtain a free copy of Agency Growth Machine at: www.thewedge.net/insurance-journal-free-book-offer/.
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