Studies have shown that effective leadership and influence, whether it’s with your team, your clients, or your company partners is 87% people knowledge and only 13% product knowledge.
Reflect on that statistic for a minute, almost 90% of our ultimate success is not determined by what we know, but how we can relate what we know with the people we want to influence.
What does this mean? Well, I believe it means several things, but ultimately it begs the question, are we developing producers who can effectively communicate, and more importantly connect, with their clients and future clients?
Even in today’s world of digital disruption and insure tech, building high-level relationships will ultimately determine your success.
Let me state right up front, this doesn’t minimize understanding the technical side of the insurance business. Every producer needs to be fully equipped to understand insurance terms, definitions, exclusions, endorsements, and more.
But here’s where I want to focus your attention. Simply understanding insurance products better than your competitors will not differentiate you from them. None of your technical knowledge matters unless you can effectively transfer knowledge to your intended audience.
Becoming a world-class communicator takes time and effort. While some people have a knack for getting along with people, I truly believe that communication is a skill that can and must be developed.
So, what are some of the skills insurance producers can begin to develop today to become a world-class communicator and grow their book of business? Let me share 3 that you can begin to implement immediately.
I have never seen an insurance producer that didn’t have confidence in four key areas.
Confidence may seem more like an attitude and less like a skill, but confidence requires courage. It also requires hard work to develop the confidence necessary to become a successful producer.
Insurance producer confidence requires four main beliefs.
1. Confidence and belief in their agency
No independent insurance agency is perfect, but if you don’t believe you work for the best agency in your marketplace, you will lack confidence.
2. Confidence and belief in their products and services
You represent many insurance carriers and products. You must have full confidence in their ability to serve and protect your clients.
3. Confidence and belief in the value they provide
What is the value you bring to the marketplace? What sets you apart? If you can’t clearly identify how the client is better off after doing business with you, you will lack confidence and your client will see right through you.
4. Confidence and belief in themselves
I have seen many agents fake it and make it in the first two areas. Some even on the third area, but this last area can’t be faked.
The most important sale you will ever make will be the one you make to yourself.
Confidence comes from knowing you are worthy and provide exceptional value.
Confidence comes from belief, but also by investing in your growth and development. Where do you need to grow? How are you improving every day?
I love this quote from leadership expert John Maxwell who states, “If you don’t place a high value on yourself, rest assured, the world will not raise the price.”
So, what’s the value of you? Confidence begins by investing in yourself.
Great insurance producers are not robots. Every producer has a unique skill set, background, and passions that drive them.
As an agency leader, you must “coach” your producers differently. Yes, it’s important to implement an agency culture and sales process, but to maximize your talent, every producer needs to be authentic.
Successful insurance producers don’t try to pretend they are something they are not. This is a challenging skill as it requires every producer to develop a higher level of self-awareness.
While some producers may be extroverted and take over a room, others succeed by being a perceptive listener. It requires every producer to ask themselves, “Where am I at my best?”
This is also true in finding market niches that allow producers to shine. Every industry has a different culture and there is power in aligning the right producers to match these specific cultures.
While it’s important for insurance producers to find and connect with mentors, it’s also important that they have their own voice, style, and mannerisms. It may take a while for a producer to “find their voice,” but being authentic is a skill they can develop.
To connect with people, producers need to be comfortable with themselves. What are some of their unique strengths and abilities. Where do they stand out? Focus on their strengths and authenticity vs. trying to fix weaknesses that do not put them in the best position to win.
There is no excuse for a lack of preparation. You play like you prepare. Too often insurance producers show up to the big game with little to no practice.
I learned a great lesson as a 17-year-old kid on the importance of proper preparation.
In high school I was a successful basketball player, at least for a small town. My best attribute was shooting the ball. The summer before my senior season, I was invited to a prestigious basketball shooting camp. I was excited to maximize my best basketball skill.
After a long first day of practice and drills, we were finishing dinner when my coach stated that we needed to head back to the gym to shoot another 150 shots before we called it a day.
Grudgingly, I headed back to the gym and started my 150 jump shots. I was tired and ready to go home so although I got through all 150 shots, my form and intensity was less than 100%.
As I finished the last of my 150 shots, I walked over to my coach and told him I was done. He looked at me puzzled and asked me a question that I have since asked myself and others many times. He said, “Were those game shots, or practice shots?” I didn’t even have to answer and I headed back to the court to shoot 150 “game shots.”
I see this over and over with insurance producers. They show up to the game without game practice. The best communicators are prepared for every situation. They work as hard (if not harder) in preparation as they do in real situations.
Most insurance producers never fully prepare, at least intentionally, for the next team meeting, sales appointment, phone call, or email. Instead, they show up hoping that they are prepared.
Preparation is a skill that must be mastered for any insurance producer to have success. Relentless preparation separates the high achievers from everyone else.
Would you rather dribble the ball off your foot during practice or when the game is tied with a minute to go?
Former President Gerald Ford stated, “If I went back to college again, I’d concentrate on two areas: learning to write and speak before an audience. Nothing in life is more important than the ability to communicate effectively.”
As I stated at the beginning of this post, almost 90% of producer influence comes from the ability to connect with people and build relationships.
How much time are your producers working on developing their communication skills?
Becoming a better communicator takes initiative, courage, and skills. No one gets better by accident. It takes desire and intentionality.
That starts with developing these three basic skills of communication. Producers need to gain confidence, exhibit authenticity, and relentlessly prepare.
The results will be deeper pipelines, higher closing ratios, happier clients, and satisfied producers.
Brent Kelly is an executive coach with The Sitkins Network. The Sitkins Network is a territorial exclusive community of high achieving insurance agencies that help agencies attract, train, and maximize talent to become a category of one in their marketplace.
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