The difference between where you agency is today and where it’ll be in five years is directly related to your ability to develop your sales team. If you can create a sales culture that helps your producers improve the way they prospect, sell and retain business, you will experience massive growth.
Imagine what type of agency you would have if you had a proven system that helped your producers double their book of business every three-to-four years. You’d have a lot of happy producers earning a lot of money, and you’d also be increasing the value of your agency. It’s a legitimate win-win for you and your producers.
However, there are eight main mistakes that stand in your way to this bigger and better future. If you can overcome them, you’ll transform your agency into a profit generating machine. If you can’t, you’ll continue to struggle with anemic growth.
It’s now more important than ever to address these mistakes because of the state of the industry. Kevin Stipe of Reagan Consulting said: “The gentle tailwinds we’ve had in commercial P&C for the last few years are going away. They’re becoming headwinds again, and if we can’t build a sales culture to give us a stronger growth and push into these headwinds, then we’re going to be in trouble.”
So, if you want to avoid the trouble Stipe refers to, make solving these mistakes your number one priority.
Mistake #1: Half-Hearted Commitment
Thinking you can create a growth culture without fully committing to it, is a mistake. Every firm is a mirror image of its leaders. If you’re not 100% committed to growth, your producers will see it and know that it’s not really the main priority. This is why I say most agencies do not have a producer problem; they have a leadership problem.
Real producers are the type of people who will test your resolve. They want to know if you truly are committed, determined and have a clear plan of action. If you are, they will gladly follow you. If you aren’t, they will throw more obstacles at you than you can manage!
Mistake #2: Failing to Differentiate
Assuming you can create worthwhile differentiation without a strategy and working on it daily is a mistake. Many firms spend a lot of money searching for the Holy Grail of competitive advantage. Some agencies believe that when they buy or rent a tool, or hire a resource, they have competitive advantage, however, true advantage comes from superior utilization, and that’s a function of commitment.
When you commit to a daily regimen of defining, and refining, your differentiation – and when you actually implement your tools and resources – then you’ll have a huge impact on producer confidence. It’ll show in your retention rates and new business log.
Mistake #3: Creating Corporate/Impersonal Goals
Many agencies make the mistake of thinking corporate goals are more important than a producer’s personal goals. Often times, this isn’t intentional. Typically, the owner never thought about how much more motivated their producers would be if they could help them connect their daily sales activity to their own personal long-term goals.
The only sustainable motivation is that which comes out of the producer’s personal desire. Agencies miss a hug opportunity by not making a direct correlation to a producer and their activity, their new business, their book growth, their savings ability and the ability to become financially independent, maybe even wealthy.
Mistake #4: Failing to Understand What Motivates Your Team
Another common mistake owners make is failing to understand what really motivates people. For example, if you don’t think your producers are motivated by pride, ego, recognition, money and material things, you’re missing out on ways to truly motivate your team.
Doing a once a year, off-site goal setting event with no follow up and no accountability is a mistake. Not having a means to connect pride, ego, recognition, money and material things to day-to-day activities is a mistake.
Mistake #5: Not having a Clearly Defined Sales Process
Many agency owners say: “The reason we don’t have a standardized sales process is because everyone has their own way of selling. And we just like to leave them alone to do what they do best.” This mentality is dangerous to the health of your agency!
It’s dangerous, because this passive attitude toward selling kills the growth in your agency. It allows producers to stay within their comfort zones, and it never challenges them to become the best version of themselves. Not challenging their comfort zones, not growing their prospecting and sales skills and not challenging their knowledge is a mistake that hurts you and your team.
Mistake #6: No regular Training
Athletes have practice, students have homework and managers have coaching. So why would producer development be any different? Are they superhumans who are able to improve their skills without any practice or training? Or is their path to mastery the same as the rest of us? The truth is, they will not improve without proper training and accountability. They must be taught and tested and pushed to new levels of production, or they will always remain stuck right where they are.
Mistake #7: Low Standards
Thinking producers don’t want accountability and boundaries and that they will leave your firm if you institute these is a mistake! The truth is, real producers expect higher standards, because they will want to rise to meet time. Remember, they are competitors, go-getters, the type of personality who wants to win and outperform others.
Therefore, when you shy away from high standards, you fail to unlock the true potential that resides in your most ambitious people. So, turn it up! And don’t be afraid to set higher standards.
Mistake #8: Failing to Make Agency Growth The #1 Priority
One of the worst mistakes agency owners make is thinking other things are more important than growth. There are a thousand different things that compete for your attention and focus as an owner. And it’s your responsibility as the leader to set the agenda and to say NO to all the little things, so you can say YES to what’s most important.
It’s about adopting an essentialist mindset to growth, so you start to do fewer, but more profitable, things in your agency. However, if you don’t make this a priority, nobody else will. This is your job as a leader. You’re the captain who needs to steer the ship.
Prioritizing anything above agency growth is a mistake.
Article By: Randy Schwantz
Source: Insurance Journal