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What All Sales Professionals Can Learn From Starbucks?

Uncategorized Sep 01, 2017

By Brent Kelly

As I was sitting at my laptop one afternoon in a Starbucks I realized something obvious. Starbucks employees know how to ask for a sale and they are very good at it.

When I first went to the counter to order my coffee (plain, no cream or sugar), the nice lady asked if I wanted a delicious cookie for some sugar energy. I politely declined (thank you My FItness Pal), but actually had to think about it for a few seconds. She didn’t just say, “Would you like a cookie with that,” she said, “do you want a delicious cookie for some sugar energy?”

I don’t know about you, but I like delicious things, sugar, and energy.

As I began to work, I overheard one customer after another being asked if they wanted a “warm roll, yummy treat, or a bigger drink for only $0.30 more.” About half of the people who were asked agreed. HALF. There was no pressure, no pushing, and no hard sell. They simply asked.

It got me...

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Brent Kelly Joins Sitkins Group

Uncategorized Aug 25, 2017

Sitkins Group, Inc. is pleased to announce Brent Kelly has joined their team as a coach for independent insurance agencies. With the addition of Brent to the team, Sitkins Group will be able to expand their training and development programs for agents.

Brent comes to Sitkins Group with extensive hands-on insurance industry experience, having spent 15 years as a successful commercial lines producer. In 2012 he was named one of the top 12 young agents in the country. Knowing what it took to make an agency successful, he decided to take the leap into starting his own speaking and coaching business in 2015. Brent has been focusing on his passion to help insurance professionals gain influence, maximize their potential, and grow their book of business. He is a strong keynote speaker, coach and trainer, and this background makes for an easy transition into his new role with the Sitkins team.

“Brent’s experience and his passion for personal development make him a perfect...

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Is Your Agency Too Comfortable: Part Two

growth May 26, 2017

Ways to get uncomfortable

No doubt, you’re eager to discover the joys of being uncomfortable. But seriously, getting out of your comfort zone is the only way to achieve greatness vs. “okayness.”

1. Start systematically challenging everything you do. This means questioning the What’s, Why’s, and How’s of your agency’s operation. Why do we do this? Why are we doing it this way? How do we improve that? How do we get better at doing that? To quote Thomas Edison, “There’s a way to do it better—find it!” Why not use that as a guiding principle for your agency?

2. Force your producers to rehearse every presentation. Remember it’s okay to look stupid in the office when practicing (low-risk practice). It’s not okay to look stupid in front of clients or prospects. That’s high-risk practice!

Also, when practicing, record your rehearsals and then critique them. Regrettably, far fewer than 5% of agencies do this,...

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Is Your Agency Too Comfortable: Part One

growth May 12, 2017

Great growth requires letting go of complacency

It dawned on me recently that too many agencies and their teams are too comfortable (or complacent) to really grow. What they have are “lifestyle agencies,” which is absolutely okay if that’s what they want.

Gary Holgate, my mentor in the business and the first-ever true independent agency consultant, always said that what happens at so many agencies is that the owners start out selling insurance and wind up running a business. So often, they get overwhelmed by the day-to-day minutiae of operating an agency and subsequently fall into the trap of just being busy.

Now the good news/bad news is that you don’t have to implement many— if any—of the Sitkins Strategies to do just fine. As we’ve discussed many times, in this business, owners and producers can make a great living and support a very nice lifestyle without having to do too much, aside from just showing up. It’s hard to find fault...

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Circle of Choice: Part Two

process producer Apr 28, 2017

Outside the circle

Let’s take a look at some of the OTC things we can’t change, no matter what we do.

  • The national/global economy. None of us can make a significant impact here.
  • Insurance carriers’ appetites. You can’t stop them from changing, but it’s important that you understand them.
  • Agency automation system/technology. It’s not going away, so you need to adapt to it and maximize it.
  • The service trap. Allowing yourself to stay “too busy” doing service work OTC means you can’t get ITC.

Inside the circle

Now let’s put a laser focus on the things that are ITC:

  • Personal business model. What are you working toward?
  • Ideal Client Profile. What does your ideal client look like? Not everyone is an ideal client, and in fact some can be quite un-ideal.
  • High-Performance team. What are the roles, responsibilities, and makeup of your high-performance team? Calling them high-performance doesn’t necessarily mean they are....
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Circle of Choice: Part One

process producer Apr 14, 2017

An effective process consistently produces the right results

Although this topic could apply to most employees, this article is really directed at Producers.

One of the biggest problems I see with average producers is their inability—or unwillingness—to focus on the right things. They chase way too many “bright and shiny” objects, allowing endless distractions to take them away from their “real” job. As one of my great clients and friends once said, “You’ve got to define the job of a producer and then not let them fake it.” In other words, know what you’re supposed to do and then do it! Now that’s some pretty good advice!

Success comes down to the choices producers make (or let happen) each and every day. I refer to this as “The Circle of Choice.” Inside this circle are the things that can be controlled. The things that are totally uncontrollable are outside the circle.

Defining where you will spend your...

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The Three 100's: Part Two

3 100's Mar 31, 2017

100% Goal Attainment

Assuming that you actually have goals in all areas of your agency, attaining them is huge. As part of your NO B.S. (Non-Optional Behaviors and Strategies) business plan, you should have one-year and three-year plans for the following Key Performance Indicators.

  • Gross Revenue
  • Net New Revenue
  • Retention Rate
  • Revenue per Relationship by Department
  • Revenue per Producer
  • Revenue per Service Person
  • Operating Profit
  • Percentage of Full-Time Clients
  • Spread per Employee
  • Individual Producer Goals

The big question here: What percentage of your producers met or exceeded their sales goals in 2016? In the average agency, it’s a fairly small percentage. If you’re an agency owner and you can’t tell me that well over 80% of your producers exceeded their goals, that should be a big red flag! Unfortunately, in most agencies it’s half that number—or less.

This tells me one of two things. Either the sales managers are doing a very poor job of...

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Roger Sitkins receives the Dr. Henry C. Martin Award

henry c. martin award Mar 21, 2017

Roger Sitkins and Dr. Henry C. Martin both had the same passion; which is the betterment of the independent insurance agent through knowledge, agency efficiency, and customer relationships. Roger Sitkins is the recipient of the 2017 Dr. Henry C. Martin Award and among only five others to have the honor of receiving this prestigious award.

The Dr. Henry C. Martin Award is named after the founder of The Rough Notes Company.  Dr. Martin became a medical doctor after graduating from the Medical College of New York in 1870 and began his practice in Indianapolis. After becoming a medical examiner for Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company of Milwaukee, he opened his own insurance agency, represented Travelers Insurance Company.  In fact, he wrote the first fire insurance  policy for them in the state of Indiana.  His passion was writing and thus launched Insurance Rough Notes in 1878 which at the time became the champion of better insurance...

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The Three 100's: Part One

Uncategorized Mar 17, 2017

Set the bar high with these key goals

Having worked with thousands of agency  owners through the years, I have noticed an overriding theme: Average independent agencies and their producers are average for a reason. They simply don’t set high enough standards for themselves—they don’t aim high enough. This doesn’t mean they won’t succeed in this business, because they can and they do.

In The Better Way Agency system, our standards are pretty darned high, as they should be. That’s why, as we strive for ultimate success, we adhere to the Three 100s:

  • 100% Full-Time Clients
  • 100% Effective Retention
  • 100% Goals Achieved

That may sound tough, but as legendary coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”

100% Full-Time Clients

Come on, this should be a no-brainer, non-optional, absolute working strategy! And yes, I know we’ve talked about it at least 753 times...

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It's Time to Stop Drifting

agency growth Mar 03, 2017

How to chart a new course and stay focused on it

After all these years of coaching independent agency leadership teams and producers, I’m not surprised by very much. For example, it doesn’t surprise me that the vast majority of agencies are simply drifting along. However, it frustrates me that this is a recurring theme at most agencies. They’re doing fine, but they’re just drifting.

I know this because whenever I ask prospective consulting clients specific questions about their business—their annual business plans, budgets, sales goals, financial models, training, etc.—most of them have nothing to say, because they don’t have any of the aforementioned items. (Maybe that’s why they’re calling me!) The reality is that you can be semi-successful in this great business without any of those things.

As you may recall, “semi-successful” means you’re doing really well financially (making more money than you’d make...

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