#SitkinsIsTheSolution

Activity vs. Results - Click #3

podcast productivity results Jul 13, 2022
 

Brent Kelly:

Welcome to the Agent Leader Podcast. My name is Brent Kelly, your host. Thanks so much for joining me on this episode. This is part three of an eight part series on the clicks and to remind the listeners, if you haven't listened to prior episodes and why wouldn't you? We've got two clicks already out there and obviously, a number of other prior episodes. But on this series, the idea of a click is a breakthrough. It's a new way of thinking. It's maybe a new strategy or maybe it's going back to doing something that you should have been doing a long time ago. But it's these shifts that we see. I've got my very special guest on with me again today. Roger, I'll just go ahead and let you say hello to the audience. Roger, hello.

Roger Sitkins:

Hello, Brent. Hello, audience. It's great to be here. Of all of our topics, this is certainly one of the sticky ones, one of my most favorite ones because it's a big breakthrough. It's a huge click when people finally go, "Oh, I get it. Activity versus results." We share a lot.

Brent Kelly:

We're going to dive deep into this today about again, what's activities, what's results? I know Roger and I are both going to share some examples of things that we see. But to illustrate what Roger said, this really is something that is extremely powerful in agencies when they say, "Wait, are we an activity based agency or are we a results based agency? What does that look like? What can we do? What is that going to mean for us as an agency if we can make this click and make this shift in different ways?" You as an agency leader may be way down the activity area or maybe you're somewhere in the middle. But we're going to help you get a click and help you break through today in our conversation.

Brent Kelly:

As always, I want to remind the leaders of the purpose of the Agent Leader Podcast is to help you gain clarity, build consistency, and make a commitment to become your best version possible. You're going to hear a lot more about Best Version Possible, the book, which is available if you go to sitkins.com/bvp to get a copy of the Best Version Possible book. You're also going to be hearing upcoming about the best version possible process, the experience, what that's going to mean for you as an agency. Keep your eyes and ears on the lookout. There's some really important things coming from Sitkins and what we're going to be able to offer agencies out there in the marketplace. Roger, I want to dive in today's topic. Are you ready?

Roger Sitkins:

Oh yeah.

Brent Kelly:

All right. Activities versus results. What does that look like? What does that mean? I want to start off and get your perspective, your vantage point on, what does an activity based agency look like? What does it sound like? What's the culture? If I'm an agency leader and I go, "I don't really know what I am," give me some examples of maybe some things that you hear or see, Roger.

Roger Sitkins:

Language as we always talk about, or excuse me, the culture is the language and behaviors that are normal. We look at this and just listen to what's going on in your agency. Do you even speak this language as a leader? You go up to people, "Hey, how are you doing? You busy?" "Oh yeah. I'm busy. How about you?" "Yeah, I'm real busy too." Go to the next person, "What's going on?" "Oh man. I am covered up. I'm so busy." You get home at the end of the day and your significant other says, "How was your day?" "I was just so busy today." "What did you get done?" "I don't know, but I just know I was busy. I'm so busy." We hear this all the time.

Roger Sitkins:

I'll never forget one of our first CEO Boot Camps, an agency principal, you could just see he had this blinding flash of the obvious. I think we might have talked about this before. But it's such a great, true story in that he's sitting there and we have this discussion and he went, "You know what?" I said, "What's going on?" He said, "I just realized that for years I've sanctioned activities and I've never demanded results." Boy, you could see every CEO, every agency leader in the group is going, "Yeah, that's right." Just listen to what's talked about. "What's going on?" "I'm busy." "Where are you going?" "I'm just really busy." If you just start asking different, better questions, "I'm really busy." "Really? What are your results?" Create a results based organization. I think the biggest thing is, what's the outcome? Everything's about an outcome.

Roger Sitkins:

In an activity based agency, every year looks the same. Some new business comes in the front door, goes out the back. We do okay, we're having average growth, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7%, whatever it may be. Profit's not really growing, but we're really busy. We're just so busy. People start confusing the activity with results. The producers specifically go through three things where they're, "I'm going to start selling. I'll do some prospecting." You prospect, you start selling. You sell, you got to service the new business plus the old business. They're in the service trap. When all of these converge on each other, prospecting, selling and servicing, the first thing that stops with a producer or for the agency overall as well, "We're too busy to prospect." The minute you're too busy to prospect, you are an activity based agency. In fact, you start hearing that ITB excuse, "I'm too busy." That should be a red flag for every agency leader.

Brent Kelly:

You alluded to this a little bit, Roger. If you've already answered this question to a degree, that's fine. But I was thinking about, where do you see agencies and, of course, producers? Where do they get caught? You mentioned that those three things collide, but how does it happen? What does it look like in your world?

Roger Sitkins:

The biggest thing is the service trap. The producers spend their time in the... We've talked about this, the red zone versus the Green Zone. The red zone is all the stuff that has nothing to do with selling an account or retaining an account. The Green Zone are those four key activities of sales, relationship management, a continuation process, and pipeline building. Our model is, as we've said before, probably the stickiest thing we've ever talked about is the Green Zone. The fact that looking at this and saying, "We've got to be in a situation where we take our producers from 80% in the red zone to 80% in the Green Zone."

Roger Sitkins:

When they can do that and we say, "There's only four things. There's only four things a producer should do." That's, again, sales, relationship management, the continuation process, and pipeline building. When we get organizations to really transform into that, agencies into that, now they realize that, "Wow, every year's not going to look the same. We're not just going to keep growing by 3, 4, 5, 6%. We're going to start growing by 2, 3, 4 times what we used to simply because our producers are now producing. They're doing the right stuff." It's so exciting when people get this going and they say, "Wow, Green Zone." Plus it's what the producers do best. The service trap is where they mess things up. It's Green Zone.

Brent Kelly:

I know we've referenced this briefly on a couple of the first few clicks because it really is part of, really of all the clicks to a degree. It's just getting people to do the things that they should be doing as their role. Roger, you said it, what's the definition of a producer? One who produces. It's one of those things that we see that the producers oftentimes do everything but their role of what they're supposed to do. You've led me into this, Roger. I was at an event a few weeks ago with one of our carrier partners and Reagan Consulting. I shared this story. I'm going to share it on this podcast because it's my podcast and I get to share stories.

Brent Kelly:

It's all about the Green Zone. The analogy that I used, I said, "Just imagine," and for the agency listeners listening right now, obviously whether you've got one producer or 30 producers on your team. But go back to, what is the definition of a producer? One who produces. I don't know if you're a basketball fan or not, if you're listening to this. But my guess is you probably have heard of Steph Curry, who would be, if not the best player right now, certainly one of the top, who's a dynamic scorer. In my generation, Roger, seems like not that long ago, but it is, Michael Jordan was the guy in my entire teens, who was the best player in the world. I'll just ask you, Roger, what's one of the main roles of Steph Curry or Michael Jordan, these top players on these teams, these basketball teams?

Roger Sitkins:

Score points.

Brent Kelly:

It helps when they score points. Their team seems to do better for whatever reason. Maybe it's because it's their role and they're really good at it. At least that's where they put their time, effort, and energy. Just imagine for a second that it's the NBA finals. Whether you're a Steph fan or Michael fan, it's the NBA finals. This is the championship series. In fact, let's just go to game seven. This is the game that decides who the champion's going to be. The game starts, Roger. Agency leader listeners here, the game starts. I don't know how long into the game. Maybe it's five, six minutes into the game. Michael or Steph, they check themself out of the game. Here's the thing, they're not injured. They didn't get a bunch of fouls or not in foul trouble.

Brent Kelly:

They just had some other things on their mind that they needed to go do. They go to the bench. Roger, what they see on the bench is that some of those warm up jerseys that the team threw, they've got equipment managers, but they missed a few. Steph or Michael go over and they fold a few, put the jerseys back in the right place. In the midst of this, they also noticed that some of the players tossed some towels to the side. They weren't in the proper order. You got to tidy up. They folded some of the towels. In fact, they noticed that some of the players were a little bit thirsty, so they went ahead and they started filling up some of the water cups. They had the Gatorade, the big orange jug over there. They started filling those up and handing those out because they want to be helpful. They want to make sure they're taking care of the team.

Brent Kelly:

Then they noticed up in the stands that there were some fans up there that were waving, "Hey, Michael. Hey, Steph." Well geez, "We might as well just go up there." They walked up in the stands and just chatted with them a little bit, took a few pictures, shared some popcorn because why not? You got a reputation to uphold and you want to look good out there in the public eye. They did all these things. All of a sudden, they realized it was halftime. Oh my gosh, it's halftime. They went to the locker room and they talked about plays and strategy. They fired the team up a little bit, went back onto the court.

Brent Kelly:

The game started the second half. After a few minutes, again, they went to the bench to stretch and do some other things. I think you get the point. This is the idea, here's the bottom line of this, you can't score points if you're not in the game. We talk about Green Zone, Green Zone, Green Zone. It's very simple, but it's not always easy because just like... Again, you couldn't imagine the best player on a team or the person to score points not being in the game. Could you imagine your producers not doing Green Zone or producer stuff for the majority of the week and weeks and months? Then we wonder why we're not hitting our sales goals. Our producers aren't even in the game. Roger, I just had to chime in and share my story there because hopefully it relates. I don't know if you can relate to that, Roger, that you've seen with producers. Does that hit home to you?

Roger Sitkins:

Absolutely. They get caught in the service trap and they don't realize the importance of the service handoff. There truly is a marriage. It's not a division. It's a marriage of sales and service aimed at which we talk about all the time now. Agencies are really buying into it, we're working with. We have the same goal, but different roles. The goal is to retain and obtain ideal clients. The roles, there's an acknowledgement and an appreciation of sales and service have to be married. They have to work together with that common goal. When they get that, the first thing that starts happening, which we've talked about already, is that they educate the clients to deal with the service team.

Roger Sitkins:

They to deal with the service team on a day to day basis. The producers are only in service related activities 20% of the time. 80% of the time they're doing those things to where they're either in the game or doing the prep it takes to be in the game. The producer, when we do this service handoff, this marriage between the two, is now freed up for that 80%. They won't get there overnight. If they just got 80% of 80% pretty quickly, it would make a huge difference. One of the things we've talked about before is the world's greatest producer recruiting program. Get your current producers producing. Once we get them out of day to day service, the service trap, that's an activity we eliminate, now we can start a new activity of consistent prospecting activities, where the producers are always out there building their pipeline, knowing what a future ideal client looks like, having a reverse referral process that we talk about, proactively marketing to these people, and get their opportunities filled up.

Roger Sitkins:

When we say going from activity based service trap to results based Green Zone, we've got the service handoff, we've got producers that are actually consistently prospecting. Think of the greatest life insurance sales person any of our listeners have ever met. Maybe there's one in their own agency, but certainly they've met some. What do they do literally every day? They prospect. If we can now spend 80% Green Zone and our pipeline gets overflowing with more opportunities than time with future ideal clients and we have a differentiated selling process based upon points of differentiation, that's why we call it differentiated. I always love what you always say, Brent, "You can't have a differentiated selling system if you don't know how you're different."

Roger Sitkins:

Once those happen, now everything in the agency is about results. Leaders talk about results. They're very open. They have a rhythm of internal communication where they're constantly talking about results. Activities are problems and those are tactical, but strategic, it's everything's strategic in the organization is about a results based organization. We know exactly what our business plan is, our business model, and we have a laser focus on it. Again, I have to say everybody knows their roles. I think two important words, which I've already said, acknowledgement and appreciation of we all play a different position. We all play a different position, but we're in this to win the game. We're in this to get great results. That's how everybody wins individually.

Brent Kelly:

Roger, you said that so well, describing what a results culture looks like. To go back to my silly analogy of the basketball team, again, there are important roles for that entire team to win the championship. There are certain things, you've got a PA announcer, the vendors, and all that. There are roles within the whole organization. But again, what you hit on is that you've got to know what your primary role is. If we're talking about Green Zone, I've got to be in those four money making activities 80% of the time. If I'm not, I'm not fulfilling my role. Roger, one of the things I see, to add to this is with producers in particular and agency leaders, I'm sure you can relate to this, typically, why are producers caught up in service?

Brent Kelly:

One is because maybe they really are. It hasn't been a clear definition or distinction of a service handoff or I have to say a service hand up, which is a better client experience. The second part of it is they're kidding themselves and they're hiding behind it. That's the other part. To my analogy, that's Michael Jordan or Steph Curry getting in the fourth quarter and going, "I don't really want that pressure. I think I'll go ahead and sit over here." I think just acknowledge what that is. I think the big thing, Roger, you said is, "Understand that we are a results based agency." We can't grow, we can't serve our clients, We can't serve our team members if we don't grow. To grow, shockingly, we got to have results. I appreciate you sharing that. You mentioned this a little bit, but could you go... The agency leaders listening right now are going, "Okay. Hopefully I get it. We want to head that way." What's the impact? What's the financial success? What's the relationships that build when we begin to move to results based agency?

Roger Sitkins:

Number one, whatever growth you are having currently. One of the things we talk about all the time and it hits home with people so much, we talk about your current business model's perfectly designed for you to achieve the results you're currently achieving. I'll say it again. Your current business model is perfectly designed to achieve the results you're currently achieving. I don't know that most people really have an intentional business model that says, "Hey, let's have our sales people spend 80% of their time in the red zone. Let's have a team that's totally out of line."

Roger Sitkins:

Rather than a marriage of sales and service, there's a conflict between sales and service. When we look at this and we say, "What we need here is an organization that says, 'First of all, what is our best version possible?' Then, 'What is the business model that gets us there?'" You talk all the time, and so do I, about clarity, consistency, and commitment. Clarity is, as we've already said, where am I today? Where do I want to go? How will I get there? In our model, as we're refining it, we're saying, "Number one, where are you today? Let's do an assessment. Let's find out where you are because all progress starts by telling yourself the truth."

Roger Sitkins:

Then number two, not only where do I want to go? I change the question and say, "What is the best version possible of my agency look like? Then what is my best version possible business model that gets me there?" Then we get everybody to understand we are results based organization. Those results are going to be driven by, fueled by our best version possible plan that at the core of it has a culture and a cadence of accountability. Again, everyone knows their role. Everyone knows what's going on. Everyone says, "I'm going to do what I said I was going to do." Something you and I were talking about yesterday that really hit home, I think a lot of times when people listen to us or others and they say, "We can't do all that." The reality is nobody can. First of all, you won't agree with 100% of what we talk about.

Roger Sitkins:

We've never had one single person execute 100% of what they said they were going to do. I think people get paralyzed by this or there's the fear of, "There's just too much." There is. If the attitude could become, "As a culture of accountability, what if 80% of our staff did 80% of what they said they were going to do? How cool would that be? What if 80% of our sales people following the plan then turn around and actually meet and exceed their sales goals?" In the average agency, it's less than 40% of sales people hit their goals. Although we had a new Chief Revenue Officer we were dealing with a few months ago. We asked the question, a polling on our Zoom call, "What percent of your producers hit their sales goals?" Then one guy said, "100%." Then I asked, "100%?" He said, "We don't have any sales goals."

Brent Kelly:

Makes it easy to achieve. They just don't exist.

Roger Sitkins:

That's right. But when we start looking to this and saying, "Don't beat yourself up. You won't do 100%. Design your business model. Know what your best version possible looks like. Let's just get 80% execution." 80% execution leads the pack. That's industry leading.

Brent Kelly:

Right.

Roger Sitkins:

People just get so overwhelmed, I guess is the right word. They get overwhelmed with there's too much to do. They're right. It is too much. Boil it down, get a simple plan.

Brent Kelly:

I love that, Roger. I think one of the huge powers of the Green Zone is that it is so simple. There's not a complication behind it. The problem is that agencies fall or slide into that and sometimes don't even know it or, again, like I said, it wasn't like I said... I love when you said that. I think what we should do this year is we should spend 80% of our time not doing the things we should do. No one's saying that. But all of a sudden, it just happened. You could use this analogy for, again, physical fitness. No one goes, "I think I want to gain 100 pounds this year." It's one of those things where one habit leads to the next and the next. All of a sudden, you look back and go, "How did I get here?" I think that happens a lot with agencies. It's like, "I didn't intend to have the majority of my producers be part-time producers who aren't doing the things they should be doing and not be accountable. But we fell there." Roger, did you want to add to that?

Roger Sitkins:

A big part of this something, again, we preach and I hope people are hearing it, it's the semi-successful trap. The more you're in the red zone, you're accepting that trap. Maybe we should even call it the red zone trap instead of the service trap because producers get in there. They're not spending their time doing their primary job. Here's another blind flash of the obvious, what do producers love to do?

Brent Kelly:

Get out there.

Roger Sitkins:

They love being out there, whether it's in-person or Zoom, whatever. But they love being out there talking to clients, future ideal clients, centers of influence, networking in their community, networking in their niche, whatever it may be. They love doing that. When we look at this and we say, "As an agency or as a producer, I can be activity based or results based. What do I want to be? I don't want to be in the service trap." Here's a blinding flash of the obvious, fire yourself from service. Fire yourself from that role because first of all, you're not good at it. You don't love doing it. You don't, at the end of the day, go, "What a great day. I spent the whole day doing service stuff."

Roger Sitkins:

Yet our service partners are the marriage of sales and service. The service team loves doing this. That's what they do. That's their unique abilities, their God given skills and talents as Dan Sullivan talks about. Then let's all do what we do best. In a true results based agency, I'll use the 80% factor again, 80% of the people are spending 80% of their time doing those things they are uniquely qualified to do. They really like doing it. It gives them energy, it gets great results, and the clients have great experience. Guess what? Everybody wins.

Brent Kelly:

You're getting me fired up on this. Again, it's one of those things where when you say it, and this is a lot of our coaching calls and our training, you're like, "Oh, yeah. Exactly." One of the things, and I wrote these words down because my last official question to you, I want you to think about this, for the agency leaders out there listening, what's an initial step or a next step that they could take? I want you to think about that. As you're thinking about it, what hit me, Roger, is I think a big part of why we love to do what we do is I think we can help to get those... Again, it's why we're talking about clicks, these shifts where maybe an agency or a production team has slid into a rut or some bad habits. We can help you refocus, recalibrate, reignite, whatever word it is.

Brent Kelly:

You go, "Wait a second. We're too good and too talented to be getting the results that we're getting because we're doing activity stuff." I'm going to give a very unshameless plug because I believe so much in what we do, is the fact that the next step if you're an agency, an agency leader, and you're going, "Why are we caught in this activity trap?" We'd love to have a conversation with you because we've helped agencies, so many agencies. One of the key indicators is just saying, "Get in the game. Let's increase sales capacity. We are going to show you and give you a process of how to do that." It is a process. We could all go, "Ra, ra, get in the game." But there's got to be a process. You've got to be able to get buy in from your producers and your service team.

Brent Kelly:

Roger, one of the things that you talked about, that relationship of sales and service. This is not a, "Hey, producers, you sell, give all the really bad stuff, and present it in a really bad way to your service team so they get really mad." That is in no way what happens or what we teach and talk about. In fact, I get the opportunity to work with so many service teams. With the service teams, when this is done the right way, and we talk about a high performance team, they become empowered and they become equipped. There's a better education with them and their clients where they go, "I get to finally do what I love to do and not feel like I have someone looking over my shoulder every minute that's going to get in the way," and as you said, Roger, oftentimes cause more problems than solve more of the problems.

Brent Kelly:

Little bit of my soapbox rant there, but it's just important because I think what we do, it's such a huge part. It's one of the critical areas of what we do, help agencies do that. Now that I've led that up, Roger, what would be a first step or next action you would tell an agency to move away from activities into results?

Roger Sitkins:

Probably a reality checkup for themselves. If nothing else, just start observing what's being said, what's being focused on in the agency. If people are always talking about being busy, then you know you've got an activity based culture. If you're hearing people, primarily the producers or anybody to say, "I'm too busy to do my main job," wait a minute. That's like Steph Curry not being in the game. "I'm too busy helping out..." He's folding towels and stuff. But it's every function in the agency, are they too busy to do their core function? This comes back to the fact that after all these years of working with agencies and learning so much as we go and working with over 5,000 producers and over 500 agencies, we look at this and the reality is that people simply always confuse activity with results versus saying, "Wait a minute. What's the simplified, proven process we should go through as an agency to become our best version possible?"

Roger Sitkins:

Ask your team, ask your producer, "How much time are you spending in sales and sales related activities?" Tell them about the Green Zone and the red zone. Just that litmus test right there. What are people talking about? What's your red zone versus Green Zone ratio, that TSS as we call it, time spent selling in the Green Zone?` That's a reality. That's a reality checkup. Once you get that, then you say, "Okay, where to go?" Obviously, we would love to have a talk with them. We're not for everybody, we know that. But when an agency finally says, "Best version possible, what does it look like? Let's go get it. How do we compress time, accelerate results, period?" That's mine, Brent.

Brent Kelly:

I love it. Something I was going to say earlier, and then you just hit on it, one thing that I would ask an agency leader, "If your agency could talk, what would it say?" What you ask, Roger, and I think is a great next step, is for the next week, the next 30 days, whatever time period you want, just really listen to what people in your agency are talking about and, of course, what they're doing. But just understand the language of what's really happening. Is it a language of busy or activities or is it a language of results, how we're growing, what we can do to solve problems, or all those kind of things? There's a distinct difference in that.

Brent Kelly:

Roger, part of that is there is depth to this. There is. It's simple, it's Green Zone. But understanding, what does a high performance team look like? What agreements need to be in place? What are the roles and responsibilities? What does a producer's perfect schedule look like? How can they get there? Are we running meetings that are about improvement, not meetings of complaints? These are part of the things that agencies go through and will help you accelerate that. Again, I don't say these things because yes, do I believe what we do? Heck yeah, I do. I would love agencies that want help in this area, for us to be part of their success. But we're not for everybody. But those that we are that really want to take it serious will find themselves truly moving towards that best version possible. That's my last thought. Roger, any last words for you before we wrap up?

Roger Sitkins:

You made me think of something, which is nice by the way. What are you celebrating as an agency leader? What are you celebrating? I remember saying to somebody, this was at a speech I gave. It wasn't a client, and by the way, never became a client because they weren't committed to getting better. But I said, "What do you celebrate in your agency?" I was, again, speaking at a state association. A gentleman in the second or third row raised his hand and he said, "Nothing." I said, "Why?" He said, "We don't have much to celebrate. We're just putting in our time." The old time to make the donuts thing rather than saying, "What do you celebrate? Do you celebrate the continuation, a renewal of the top 20% of your accounts? Do you have a bell that you ring when you continue an account? Do you have a bell that you ring?" As goofy as that sounds, people love to celebrate. Everybody looks for a reason to celebrate. I don't think they go, "Hey, can we celebrate?" But they like that. Where's the excitement? If you're celebrating activity, you better start celebrating results.

Brent Kelly:

Now I've got to say one more thing. I got to go back my last time to my silly analogy. But I just had this vision, as you said, I love it. What do you celebrate? All of a sudden I was like, "You got one team celebrating the championship trophy." They won the finals. We got the other one, Steph Curry's over there pointing to his nicely folded towels going, "Look at that, baby. Let's celebrate that." Anyway, Roger, thank you again for being on this session. We've got five more clicks. We're going to get into... These are all important clicks, but really get into some of the ideas of what's the vital few? What's the trivial many? That's a huge click. We're going to get into that.

Brent Kelly:

We're going to talk also, got upcoming clicks about, is it a renewal or is it about referrals, some of the clicks that come with that and what that really means. These are huge clicks coming up that we're going to be sharing. Stay tuned, more episodes coming, all delivered through the summer of 2022 or whenever you listen. Thanks for being a listener. We'll talk to you soon.

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 Other "Clicks" in this Series:

Click #1 - Small Thinking

Click #2 - Teams

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