#SitkinsIsTheSolution

Coaches End of Year Review

podcast Dec 22, 2021
Agency Consultants end of year review

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 the final episode of 2021, that we'll be recording on The Agent Leader Podcast. So first of all, thank you for listening. Whether you listen to one episode or all of the episodes, I just want to thank you for being a listener in 2021. And certainly, if you were able to share or subscribe to the podcast, appreciate that as well. We're going to continue to grow this podcast, grow the audience, bring in some more guests throughout next year, in 2022 and just continue to up our game to you, to live out our mission. Which is the purpose of this podcast is to help you as an agency leader gain clarity, build consistency and make a commitment to being your best version possible.

Brent Kelly:

I mentioned this on last week's episode. If you are a viewer not just a listener, you probably see behind me some books. We are releasing our book, it'll be at the beginning of 2022. We were told that we should be receiving our first copies here, right around Christmas. I'm recording this just prior to that, so we should be getting those soon and we'll make an official announcement, let you know where to get them, how to get them. We want to get those all squared away. But, Best Version Possible, our book by myself and our very special guest today, repeat guest, Roger Sitkins. It will be coming out at the beginning of 2022. So, Roger, I'll let you say something about that in a minute, but I'm going to hold that thought just for a minute. But, I want to make sure that people know that the book is coming out.

Brent Kelly:

Also, there is going to be a premiere of a Sitkins documentary that both Roger and myself are a part of that. But more importantly, our clients, our friends, telling the story of the independent insurance agent in a way to help all independent insurance agencies, at least that truly want to commit to growth, to have an incredible 2022 and beyond. So be on the lookout for a world premiere of the Sitkins documentary for independent insurance agencies, coming early 2022.

Brent Kelly:

And without further ado, I mentioned his name, to wrap up 2021, I wanted to bring our very special and repeat guest, Roger Sitkins, back on with us to The Agent Leader Podcast, to share what lessons, what experiences, what advice he could give independent insurance agencies in 2022. So, Roger, did I do that justice? Welcome to The Agent Leader Podcast.

Roger Sitkins:

Well, thank you, Brent. It's great to be here again, and again and again. And more importantly, I hope we continue to bring value to agents across the country. We're very, very excited about the Best Version Possible, the book and the movie, so pay attention as Brent mentioned.

Brent Kelly:

Wonderful. Well, I wanted to get Roger to get on for this podcast, it's one of those things where I know there's a lot of year-end review things. Often times, it's looking back. And I mentioned that, on my most recent podcast, about the power of reflection and taking some time.

Brent Kelly:

But obviously, Roger, we've mentioned before, you've been in this game for quite a while. You have served a lot of independent insurance agencies. And, one thing that I love in talking with you is that, certainly, you reflect and learn but you're also looking forward, what's next, certainly for the independent insurance agency. So I want to just ask you some questions and get your thoughts around, first of all, looking back, what you've learned. And, the first moving forward, what you think is going to happen next, where do you see some things going.

Brent Kelly:

Let me start off with just the most obvious question. What did you personally, as a coach to independent insurance agencies, what did you learn most this year? About independent insurance agencies or just in general, what did you learn from this year?

Roger Sitkins:

Well, I got reinforced that it's a great business. It's a great business to be in. And we talk about this with maybe a little bit of tongue-in-cheek, but not really doing much of anything, you can be semi-successful in this business. And, the fear is that people will fall into this semi-successful trap. It's a phenomenal business. You're serving your clients, you're serving your colleagues, your communities, you're taking care of your families. So from that perspective, that all got reinforced.

Roger Sitkins:

Probably the singular biggest lesson that I've learned, and that we've been sharing with people, is the need in the two words, Brent, simplify and focus. There are always more great ideas, great squirrels, bright and shiny to chase, there are always more great ideas than there is time or capacity to execute them. So the ability to simplify and focus, do the basics. The things we talk about, as we always say, they're simple. They're not easy, but they're simple. If you can get it down to a manageable number of things that you're really focused on and have a laser focus on it, the results happen. They just happen.

Roger Sitkins:

We use the term and it's true, they're predictable and guaranteed when you do the right things. The two words, simplify, focus.

Brent Kelly:

I think I've heard those two words before.

Roger Sitkins:

Yeah.

Brent Kelly:

I certainly agree. Just quick thoughts, from my perspective on that, is this goes back for me ... I had mentioned this before in different areas. But for me, I pick a word for every year, to be my word for focus and intention. And in 2020, this is prior to the official pandemic so-to-speak in March, my word was deep. That really transpired and within that is what you just said. It's hey, wait a second. If I can, and certainly independent insurance agencies, can just take all that noise and simplify, and just get focused on the right things, the most important things and quit getting distracted, all these distractions. And we all deal with them.

Brent Kelly:

But, we see again and again, those agencies that do say, "Hey listen, I'm going to focus. I'm going to simplify all this stuff and we're going to focus," guess what? As you said, the results become predictable and guaranteed. Great thoughts there.

Brent Kelly:

One of the things we talk about, all the time, in our live programs that we run ... By the way, next programs are coming up the beginning of January, so go to sitkins.com if you want to see if you can be part of this. But, we always tell our agencies that success leaves clues. One of my favorite things that you say, Roger, and it's so true so I steal it and other people steal it. "Gosh darn it, it worked so well that we just stopped doing it."

Brent Kelly:

Just from your perspective, what did you see in this past year where agencies had the most success?

Roger Sitkins:

Something we can talk about, probably one of the most sticky things we've ever come up with and it's two-phase. Number one is that producer recruitment starts at home. We have enough producers, if they'd actually be producing.

Roger Sitkins:

The sidebar to that is the green zone concept. Green zone versus red zone. So the thing where I saw agencies have the most success is to realize, "Wow, time, my only diminishing asset. How am I using that time? And, am I spending 80% of my time, energy and effort in the green zone?" The green zone, hopefully some people will remember, is when we're doing those things that earn money, green. It's the selling process itself, continuation process, pipeline building and relationship management. When a producer can get focused and say, "80% of my day, my time, energy and effort, needs to be in the green zone." The ones that have done that are a phenomenal success.

Roger Sitkins:

I just got done with a coaching call from one of our members, 15.8% organic growth rate and about a 24% operating profit. Because they got focused, just doing a few things exceedingly well. I think that was just crucial this year.

Brent Kelly:

We've talked about that, I know even when I've had you on this podcast, Roger, but we hear it again and again. Just to piggyback on that, sometimes we share ideas and thoughts that we've learned, and that we want to implement with agencies, and sometimes they hear them and there's a little bit of stickiness. And other times, everybody just keeps talking about it and that's something, this year, we continue to hear is, "Green zone, green zone, green zone." Even in my own world, and I've shared some of this with you but I continue to update, I'm creating my own four activities that are green zone stuff, for my role at Sitkins, because it's the same thing.

Brent Kelly:

So for you, as an agency leader and whatever your specific role is, certainly if you're a producer and we've got specific four key money making activities, but whatever your role is go, "Hey, what are the things that are actually producing a result? And, am I spending, or a better word investing, the majority of my time there?" If the answer's no, you've got to ask yourself why. I think that that's been, I agree, a huge success we've seen agencies have this year.

Brent Kelly:

Let's flip the script a little bit and go from the highs to the lows. And maybe, it's just the reverse of this but I want to get your thoughts, Roger. What has been a mistake, or maybe multiple mistakes, that you've seen agencies, that prevented them? Talking about being your best version possible, but it's holding them back, they're trapped. What are some mistakes that you continue to see, Roger?

Roger Sitkins:

Well, one is just the craziness of being stuck running the business, and having your own book of business, and everything just day-to-day. It's hard to identify time where you're going to be building the agency, not working in it, but building it. And, one of the biggest things I see, Brent, is the Gimmick of the Month Club. Okay, the Gimmick of the Month Club.

Roger Sitkins:

I just see that, because there's so much information out there now, more than we can ever consume, that people get trapped by, "Here's another gimmick, here's another gimmick, here's another gimmick." So they're always chasing the trivial many ideas, the trivial many things that they might want to do. And here's a bright and shiny, there goes a squirrel, and there's a rabbit and they're chasing them. I refer to it as the Gimmick of the Month, because they're going shallow versus our concept of going deep.

Roger Sitkins:

The minute that they can resign, quit their membership in the Gimmick of the Month Club, or the Week Club, or the Day Club and say, "Look, these are the things we're going to do exceedingly well." And when they go deep, that delivering excellence in every process, that's where they're getting great results. So rather than chasing 100 things, chase one thing but do it really, really well. That's where we're seeing the best result.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah, I 100% agree. I do want to add, as you were saying that it's hitting me, because I want to make sure I'm asking you the questions but I do have a thought on this one. At least, something that I see quite a bit from my coaching experiences. This is part of one of the things why agencies really enjoy working with us, certainly enjoy working with a coach and having mentors and peers, and why maybe others stay away.

Brent Kelly:

If you really want to get honest about it, it's because are you willing to take absolute personal responsibility to your results, to your success? I think one of the mistakes, again there could be a multitude of this within this overall mistake, is not being honest with yourself, not being truthful. And, the word that you said, Roger, I loved this, is justify. "Well, it's this, it's this," or maybe pointing fingers. Versus just saying, "You know what, we've got to own it. We're better than this, we know there's more to accomplish, we know we've been holding ourselves back." It could be, again, a number of things but just that overall concept, that mistake or an excuse of just saying, "Eh, it'll be okay."

Brent Kelly:

I don't know if you agree with that? Anything you want to add to those thoughts?

Roger Sitkins:

Well, you know I absolutely do because justify is just a lie. You're lying to yourself. One of our favorite sayings from Dan Sullivan is that, "All progress starts by telling the truth." And getting people to say, "Okay, here's where I really am. And yeah, we're doing okay but we're not great yet, we're not that best version possible." So when they can stop justifying, when they start telling themselves the truth, when they look in the mirror and say, "Okay, what's the reality of the situation?"

Roger Sitkins:

And by the way, are you okay with it? If you are, then one of the things we talk about a lot, if your goal is regrets later in life, stay the course, you'll be fine. You'll be semi successful. But, let's get serious about it. Let's take advantage of these great gifts we have, make an impact.

Brent Kelly:

Well, just one more thought because it just hit me, it's very recent. I didn't watch any of the game, but I saw a clip this morning from the Bucs game last night. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with Tom Brady. Obviously I think he lost a streak of touchdowns and they didn't score a point. All I saw was Tom Brady on the sidelines, taking his Microsoft Surface, the videos they look at to review the last play, and just whipping it into the garbage can out of disgust.

Brent Kelly:

And part of this, because I think, Roger, what you say and why I bring this up, is so many agency leaders and agencies, "Ah, we're good enough, we're doing pretty good." And then, you see someone like Tom Brady who has been fairly successful in his career, is that safe to say?

Roger Sitkins:

Yeah.

Brent Kelly:

Multiple Super Bowls, has more money than he could ever ... He's got plenty of money. But, just that idea that's not good enough. That's just that mindset that comes back to it, is once you begin to let complacency creep in, you're going to get in trouble. You just don't see that with the highest level athletes, and or business leaders and certainly agencies we work with. None of the agencies we work with are perfect, they all make mistakes, they all have shortcomings. They all mess up on strategies. But, guess what they do? "I own it and we're going to get better. How do we fix it?"

Brent Kelly:

All right, a couple more questions I want to ask you, Roger, on the recap here. We looked back a little bit, but let's begin to look forward into next year, if you had your little crystal ball. I know things change, I know we can look at every year and go, "I never saw that one coming." But, when you look at 2022, which is right on the horizon and we're starting to get out of the pandemic discussions that we've had. We know it's still around, I get all that, but just starting to move forward out of this into this new era that we're in. What do you see? What does 2022, do you believe, Roger, what does that look like for independent insurance agencies?

Roger Sitkins:

Well, for the average one, it's going to be fine. It's going to be fine. Not much will change. The advent of technology, it'll continue to impact the distribution system, as far as personal lines, small commercial lines, small benefits, although we're seeing that, of course, going up also.

Roger Sitkins:

For me, Brent, I think the biggest thing is that those that are really committed are going to say ... I'll use our book, Best Version Possible. But, "What is the best version possible of myself as a leader, of our agency overall, what does it look like? And, how do we get total buy-in and total accountability to that?" Because the ones that do that realize, "You know, as great as we are, this can be so much better." And, just taking advantage of everything they have and saying, "Okay, it's been a tough couple of years, no question about it. How did we improve as an organization?"

Roger Sitkins:

One of the most important ones, just from a pure sales perspective, is to understand based upon a recent study, and you and I have talked about this on the podcast before, that 78% of business-to-business buyers prefer that their meeting with their salesperson, whatever they're selling, be virtual. They don't want to waste the time. And yet, most agencies haven't even come close to mastering virtual. They've not practiced it, they're not reading and studying about it. They don't have, gee, a green screen. They don't have a green screen, just all the little things. So when I look at the best, they've made a commitment to the virtual.

Roger Sitkins:

Plus, here's the other big thing. The viral, some of those we've talked about sales capacity. What percent of the time are the producers actually out there selling? If the perfect schedule says they should have 10 appointments a week and they only have four appointments a week, they're at 40% sales capacity. How do we up that, by strong service hand off and all the basics we talk about. But then, how do we use virtual, how do we use technology to basically double our number of appointments in a year. That's just basic as it gets and people aren't doing it, Brent. They haven't made a commitment to it.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah. And, what I continue to see too and look forward, and again this is not necessarily a new trend but it'll just continue to accelerate, but I think more importantly is how are agencies, and in particular producers, going to shift their mindset and strategies to what you just said. You mentioned the virtual. But, we've said it for years, the idea that technology's here to stay, we know that. That's not a new thought. And, it'll continue to rapidly accelerate.

Brent Kelly:

The question I would ask independent insurance agencies into 2022 is how are you actually utilizing it? What I mean by that is, is technology in your mind, with your clients, trying to replace the relationship or are you trying to leverage and enhance the relationship. And, I think there's a distinct difference. Because we'll see sometimes, "Oh, well technology's got it all, I can go back and just do whatever." Well, no. What you can do is allow technology to take the place of certain areas, to allow you as a human being, to understand the power of relationships, to understand how you can be more proactive. The fact that you can use this thing between your ears called your brain, to add value, to ask the right questions, to position yourself as an expert in a certain area. And that, to me, is such an opportunity for independent insurance agencies into 2022.

Brent Kelly:

Some of them are beginning to do this, others continue to think, "Oh well, I'll just get by." And guess what? It's getting more and more challenging out there in the marketplace.

Roger Sitkins:

You know, Brent, one of the things just to add to this, one of the books we've talked about is Humans are Underrated. It's such a strong read. But, if you think about with what's happened, with the information explosion, if you look at spectrum of where an agent can really do well in their agency, and if you start off on the left hand side and go to the right. The left hand side, it's all about data and information. And on the right hand side, it's knowledge and wisdom.

Roger Sitkins:

What we see happening is that the data and information, that's all over the internet, you can get that. And even now, most of the knowledge that you need, or somebody would need to make an informed decision, they can get on the internet. What they still can't get, especially in the larger accounts, is the wisdom. It's the risk advice, it's being a trusted advisor to your best clients. If an agency can be honest with itself and say, "Hey, are we in the left hand side of the spectrum here, just data and information? Or, have we totally moved to the right side, knowledge and wisdom, and that we truly are risk advisors?" And guess what, advisors get paid a lot more money than commodity brokers. It's pretty simple.

Roger Sitkins:

That, to me, is a huge challenge to say how do we become the wisdom people? How do we help impact people's business? How do we help impact their life? If we can get there, wow, what a difference.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah. That's really good points there. I think it also ties into, and again this isn't a new thought, but it's so important, we see it more and more, it's not just the IQ, it's the EQ. It's that emotional intelligence. Part of that, as Roger says, is wisdom. It's being able to understand relationships and people. But again, taking all that data and technology, and allowing you to go deeper, to ask better questions, to build deeper relationships, to be the wisdom provider, as you just said. I love, love that. That's a great point you make.

Brent Kelly:

All right, my final question and we'll wrap up our final podcast for this year. You can answer this any way you want, whether it's personally or professionally, or both. What are you, Roger Sitkins, most excited for, for 2022?

Roger Sitkins:

Well, those that are watching us on video, if you turn around and look behind you, Brent, that would be it. I'm really, really excited about finally coming out with the book. For years, and years and years, people have said, "Why don't you write a book? Why don't you write?" Ah, I don't want to.

Roger Sitkins:

So fortunately, having you as the president of our company now, it's helped free me up to do some things. And the two of us going together in the book, I'm really excited about that because it's common sense. Although as Voltaire said, "The only thing wrong with common sense is it's not so common." But, it's truly the common sense of what do you have to do to become best version possible. I'm excited about that. I'm certainly excited about our documentary movie that's coming out, that's going to provide a lot of great information for people.

Roger Sitkins:

And on top of all of that, I'm just excited about the clients we're working with and clients we will work with. Because we're going to transform their life and their agency, that makes for a great year to me.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah. Well, I appreciate you sharing that. I echo, certainly from the book and the movie side of things, and I've mentioned that. That word that just keeps coming to my mind, it's relationships. Yeah, I'm excited about developing new relationships. I'm excited about deepening some of the relationships that we have. Certainly, with some of the things that we're doing, both virtually and now some of our in-person events that we're going to be putting back in for this year. It's just neat to see.

Brent Kelly:

I say, when the movie comes out, there's this part of the movie, I think it'll stay in there. We watched the rough draft, Roger. But, it's just the idea, the word I said is impact. The impact that we have the opportunity, the fortune really to be able to do what we do. And, to be able to see agencies that say, "Thank you." Or, be able to do some of the things that maybe have been holding them back, whether it was a mindset issue, a personnel issue, a training issue. It could be a number of things, a strategy issue. They go, "Wow, we had a breakthrough." And, what it's done for our agency and for our lives has been so, so cool to see. That's me. It's not a generic answer, it's a real answer, it's an authentic answer. There's just a lot more to come.

Brent Kelly:

Roger, any parting words you want to share with the audience here? As we wrap up our final podcast.

Roger Sitkins:

Well, just thank you for listening. Thank you for all that you do, as an independent agent because you impact your communities, as we've said. Let's just make sure that 2022 is the best year we've all ever had.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah. I will steal one more thing, my last line. I got this I think, Roger, from you talking about a producer you work with, because someone said, "Is 2022 going to be a better year than 2021? Or, what's been your best year?" Sometimes you hear that, too. I love one of the producers that said to you, "What's the best sale you've ever made? Or, the biggest sale you've ever made?" You said, "Well, I don't know. I haven't made it yet."

Brent Kelly:

So often, I have people that ask me, "Well, is 2022 going to be better? What's going to be your best year? Or, what has been your best year?" I don't know. We haven't had it yet, but it's coming. So just that aspiration, that continual never ending improvement and excited for that.

Brent Kelly:

So with that, I echo Roger's thoughts. Thank you again for being a listener. So excited to bring some more guests and thoughts into 2022. Certainly, as I mentioned before, I want to learn more about what we do at Sitkins, just go to sitkins.com. From the homepage, you can learn about our programs, have access to our resources. Certainly, if this podcast added value to you, subscribe, share, tell someone. We want to continue to help serve our purpose, our mission, to help independent insurance agencies like yourself.

Brent Kelly:

So with that, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and we'll see you back again in 2022. Thanks, Roger and thanks to the listeners.

Roger Sitkins:

Thank you.

 

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