In a recent article, I discussed what I would do if I were an agency sales manager. It got a phenomenal response, prompting a huge number of questions and comments. Although producers weren’t so crazy about it, most sales managers loved it; they said it gave them a blueprint to follow. I also heard from several readers who wanted me to revisit the topic, but on another level. Their question: “What would you do if you were our CEO?”
That’s a great question! And it got me thinking about my “perfect vision” of an agency. How would I create the agency that exists in my mind and make it a reality?
If you’ve followed me at all, you know that I’m always preaching that numbers (your actual results) are the end result of the behaviors and strategies you have in place. Subsequently, the best behaviors and strategies become the “non-optionals” that drive the desired results. In effect, they become The Rules of The Game.
Over the years, I’ve compiled a list of the Top 25 Sitkins Rules of the Game for an agency’s predictable and guaranteed success. If I were your CEO, these rules would provide the foundation for all of your growth and success as an agency. Here are my Top 10, (the complete list is at www.sitkins.com/p/25Rules):
I’d want to ensure that everything we do is about getting results, not just staying busy with activities. Specifically, I’d want to know what we are doing to:
(a) proactively manage relationships;
(b) install exit barriers that will result in great retention; and
(c) create such an outstanding client experience that we earn nonstop referrals.
3. Know the 80/20 Rule. Pareto’s Principle, the 80/20 Rule, is one of the most powerful and transformational strategies ever, yet most agencies ignore it. As your CEO, I would use the 80/20 Rule to focus on the Vital Few vs. the Trivial Many clients. I would make sure that everyone on my team could identify those vital few clients, the top 20%, that generate 80% of our revenue. Please note: This isn’t a matter of treating certain clients badly. Any account that stays inside the agency deserves VIP treatment. The reality is that a high percentage of your clients should be moved to your best carriers’ service centers. More on that in future articles.
4. No Subsidizing. If I were your CEO, I would never allow profitable producers to subsidize unprofitable producers. Consequently, there would be no RIP (Retired in Place) producers. As CEO, I would require and inspire producers to invest 80% of their time in sales and sales-related activities. The only exception would be producers in training. We know you’re not going to make money on new producers for the first couple of years. However, they’d better be producing by the third year. The bottom line: It’s okay to subsidize newbies, but it’s not okay to subsidize oldbies.
5. Build Overflowing Pipelines. As it was with my role as your sales manager, my weekly—if not daily—focus as CEO would be on filling prospect pipelines to the point of having more opportunities than time. Also, rather than worry about suspects and prospects, we’d focus solely on identifying Future Ideal Clients. We would know exactly who they are, including the main contact’s name and contact information.
If I were CEO, I would actually know the Top 100 Future Ideal Clients for my agency—the ones who ultimately would be among the top 20% of my customers. Also, I would meet with my sales manager at least once each week to discuss where we stand with these Top 100. The reality is that most agencies never define their Top 100; they seem to think that every “mirror-fogger” is a viable prospect.
I frequently refer to business guru and speaker Dan Sullivan, who often talks about the concept of “front stage” and “back stage.” Front stage is what goes on in front of the curtain; it’s everything the client or prospect sees. Back stage is everything behind the scenes that supports what’s happening in front of the curtain. As your CEO, I’d insist on spending a significant amount of time staging and thoroughly practicing what’s in front of the curtain. This applies to anything that can be seen, heard or felt by a center of influence, prospect or client, even something as simple as answering the phone. You can never over-rehearse anything that could affect the agency’s brand.
Of course, slogans and written policies are meaningless unless they are embraced and implemented by the entire organization. If I were CEO, I would make sure that everyone adhered to our agency’s Client Experience, which would be so phenomenal that we’d have 100% retention! In fact, our clients would become such raving fans that we’d generate constant referrals and introductions. What’s more, we’d never have to worry about renewing an account, because we’d have a culture of cultivating and continuing relationships. The Client Experience is a topic I would constantly promote to my team.
In leading the agency, I would provide ongoing training and opportunities for development to all of our team members. This would involve much more than just attending a mandatory continuing education course during the year. If I were CEO, we would be a learning organization, constantly striving to improve collectively and get better at our jobs individually. I would also hold everyone accountable for what they’ve learned and how they’ve implemented it.
As CEO, I’d make it very clear that we train to win!
When it comes to colleagues, I’d want to provide a great work environment with substantial opportunities for both career and financial advancement.
I’d also want a successful business that gives back to others and benefits the entire community, be it close to home or far away.
Finally, let’s not forget the carriers. What are you doing to create the best possible brand with your best carriers? During my latest mission trip to Nicaragua, one of the other volunteers was a regional vice president for a major insurance carrier. Because it’s really hard for me to take off my coach’s cap, I asked her what she thought about the agency distribution system. Among other questions, I wanted to know what her best agencies do exceedingly well. When I asked her, “What percentage of your underwriting decision is based on the name of the agency and agent?” she didn’t even blink. She immediately replied, “A little more than 50%.” (I hope you remember our discussions on always having a Top of the Stack Submission.)
If I were your CEO, I would preach all these principles nonstop, so they would become the foundation for your agency’s culture.
Even though you’ve probably heard these 10 guidelines before, are you doing them? Or, if you think 10 is too many, at least pick three and actually do them. Ultimately, it comes down to selling more, retaining more and earning more. What are you doing—or what will you do—to achieve these goals?
Roger Sitkins, CEO of Sitkins Group, Inc., is the nation's number-one “Agency Results Coach." He established The Sitkins Network™, a territorial exclusive network of high-performing agencies, and The Better Way Agency, a web-based training program that shows agency owners ways to make significant improvements in all areas of the agency. To learn more, please visit www.sitkins.com.
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