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, even though it’s never been easier. Unlike the bulky cameras, tapes, and tripods of yesteryear, today’s digital technology makes recording and viewing practice sessions simple, convenient, and inexpensive. If you have a smartphone (and who doesn’t?), there’s absolutely no excuse not to do it.
3. Incorporate selling skills practice into every sales meeting. You do have sales meetings, don’t you? I can’t imagine what sort of sales organization doesn’t have sales meetings. Unlike gripe sessions, the purpose of these gatherings is to improve selling skills. In fact, many of our clients refer to them as “sales improvement meetings.”
Some of the ways producers can hone their craft:
4. Hold mock networking events. We all know the importance of getting out there and networking, but you’d be surprised at how few producers are adept at making the most of an actual networking event. To conduct this low-risk practice, split producers into two groups (event attendees and producers working the room) and have them role-play. We’ve done this at several of our ProducerFit programs and have seen excellent results.
5. Challenge your service team. Question them about X-dates and rounding out their accounts. How do they ask for referrals? The purpose of this challenge is to transform the internal service team from being transaction handlers to relationship managers. Rounding out accounts, asking for future X-dates, and asking for referrals are all part of that position.
All of the above are basics that we should expect from producers and staff, and yet we never make them practice. Then we wonder why they never become comfortable enough to make these actions part of their normal routine! Naturally, it’s going to create some discomfort at first, but that’s how you grow.
I realize that to some this will sound hokey. However, after conducting more than 100 producer training programs attended by more than 3,000 producers, I know for a fact that the vast majority of producers out there would fail the “ambush test.” This test is something you can—and should—do in your office. Walk up to any one of your producers or relationship managers and without any warning say, “Ask me for a referral” and see how they respond. See what happens when you say to them, “Ask me about my life insurance needs” or, “Why should people do business with our agency?” or, “Give me your 30-second commercial,” and so on. You won’t know how your team members sound to the public unless you put them on the spot. Usually what they say will clearly indicate why they’re not getting great results.
The Better Way to do things says we have to get uncomfortable to get comfortable at a higher level of performance and actual results.
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