#SitkinsIsTheSolution

Consistency and Communication with Sales Leader Tim Hrehor

agency leadership podcast sales Mar 02, 2022
 

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Brent Kelly:

Welcome to the Agent Leader Podcast. My name is Brent Kelly, your host. Thanks so much for joining me on this episode, so honored to have you with me. As always the mission, the purpose of the Agent Leader Podcast is to help you, the agency leader, gain clarity, build consistency, and make a commitment on becoming your best version possible. And we use that term a lot, a best version possible. In fact, if you're on video, you can see behind me on my screen. If not, I'll tell you, we've got our new book out called Best Version Possible. You can go to sitkins.com/bvp to get your copy.

Brent Kelly:

And today on this episode, I have a very, very special guest. And I didn't tell him this before we started recording, but he really is one of my absolute favorite people to work with. And the reason why, for multiple reasons, is him and his team have gotten great results, but he's just someone who's truly dedicated as a sales leader to the growth of his team and obviously with that, the growth of the agency.

Brent Kelly:

And I always say, the number one job of a sales leader, what is it? To grow sales, to grow sales. Well, yeah, but really the number one job is to grow and develop your sales people. And I tell you what, if you lead people, if you got producers on your team, whether you are a true sales leader with that name and title, or maybe you're the defacto of sales leader, or maybe you're just trying to lead yourself better. This person I have today is going to be a great resource and have knowledge to share.

Brent Kelly:

So hopefully, I built you up enough there, Tim. But my special guest is Tim Hrehor. He is the Commercial Lines Manager, one of our great agency partners out in the East Coast. So Tim, welcome to the Agent Leader Podcast.

Tim Hrehor:

Your 20 bucks is in the mail. So thank you for that. I think you spoke more highly to me than my wife does sometimes, so I certainly appreciate that. I'm glad to be part of this and talk a little bit about our thoughts, your thoughts, and some of the things we've worked on, our agency has worked on as a team with some of your leadership and some things you talked about clarity and consistency and our journey together.

Tim Hrehor:

Some three and a half years ago, I remember sitting in the room together and coming out of that room and going, "What am I going to do first?" But really the reason why we got involved with you and Roger at that point was we needed some clarity on some of the things we needed to do to grow in a beneficial way for the agency. And then we wanted the consistency and that's not just my team, but also consistency around execution for myself. And three and a half years later, I'm glad to see the results that we've had. So I'm looking forward to this conversation, Brent.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah. Well, me too, Tim. Thank you. And again, we're going to get in a lot of the good stuff of your progress, your process, some of the really cool successes that you've had. And some of it, it's been successes, just again, with people development, but then certainly what that's meant for some of the results with the agency as well.

Brent Kelly:

My goal of 2022 so far, I'm off to a pretty good start, is to have, again, the many people that we work with and get the fortune of working with because we learn so much from you, Tim, and people like yourself that are committed to growth. It's one thing if I sit here and blab about stuff that we see, but it's another thing when someone who's in the field, every single day, they're doing the hard work, get to share some of your experiences.

Brent Kelly:

So I'll tell you again, believe me, listen in, get your notepad ready. Tim's got some great stuff. He's like many of our great leaders, he's humble. So he won't brag on himself, but I promise you, he's done some great things with the agency and you'll learn a lot. So with that, Tim, could you just give maybe the audience a little background, again, your specific role, how many people you work with, what it looks like, again, whatever you can share to give some perspective to the audience.

Tim Hrehor:

Sure. So financial services, insurance background, 25 plus years. Insurance took over eight years, managing large teams, producing both on the lending side and insurance side as well. So understanding what that takes on a day-to-day basis, in some aspect, and then the managing teams.

Tim Hrehor:

Currently, my team consists of on the commercial line side, P&C, got eight producers, roughly three to four states they call on. Face to face, we're a little bit different in that our COIs are mostly bank partners and there's a lot of time spent there. We're very fortunate in having that relationship and trying to add value and anchor those clients. And then also have two employee benefits producers as well, that cover the same territory.

Tim Hrehor:

So, our team is a great swathe of individuals with great experience. I think the average, if we put all those folks together is probably 23 plus years of insurance. I talk a little bit about my background in insurance. I'm a baby, I'm just getting wiped behind the ears really with insurance. So the technical stuff, not just the relationship stuff, my team's been able to bring me up to speed on some of that over the last eight years. So I lean on them as much as they lean on me.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah. Well, I think part of that too, you're a baby and all that, as far as the technical side of things, and again, you know your stuff. But I think what's really fascinating and interesting, and hopefully we'll get some in the conversation is I'm just a big believer and I think most people are, I guess, I say that out loud. But it's not about just knowing, it's about doing. It's the behavior change.

Brent Kelly:

I think with any team, when you've got people who are experienced on one side of it, you're like, "Wow, great. They're experienced." On the other side of it, since you're laughing, their experiences means they have a lot of habits over a lot of years. And some of them may be good, but some we can improve upon.

Brent Kelly:

And I don't want to lead you into this question, but if you go there great. But it just, it comes in, what I'd like to know for you as a sales leader, what are some of your biggest challenges or frustrations that you deal with every day, every week, every month, or just some that come to your mind, Tim?

Tim Hrehor:

Yeah. So it's a good question, because we can often go down a rabbit hole and the problems versus the things that are really good. But I would say the challenges that I face probably is really just... is making sure those relationships both, first of all, on our team between our sales and service, that we have one voice for the client.

Tim Hrehor:

Part of our journey really was, how do we communicate better behind the scenes? How do we all buy in to that BVP that you talk about? And so at an elementary level, we had to get really good at that. That's a challenge as you know. And we're a little bit different in the approach that we take as in a one-on-one, it's a one team approach. So there's a lot more producers. They have a lot more interaction with account specialists.

Tim Hrehor:

So really that would be an example kind of a challenge of communication, obviously managing the carrier relationships, managing the bank relationships as well. I look at it as a three-pronged type of approach. And right when two of those prongs seem like they're pretty well in alignment, one of them goes way out of whack. And it all goes back to communication and consistency. And it's about having a plan and a process in place and really just expecting, or people expecting, what you expect. So if you expect something from somebody, you better give that to them first and foremost. So I'm a big believer in that.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah. That's great. I have to just because of our relationship together and some of the work. I mean, you alluded to after that the first time I came out to you guys personally and did a camp, one of our producer camps, and we had some discussion. That's when you got back into your vehicle, and were like, "Where do I start with this stuff?"

Brent Kelly:

I have to share a story, and I think you'll nod and can elaborate on this. But one of the things... And here's why I want to share the story. Well, you sort of mentioned that I wrote down was that, if we're going to communicate really well externally to our clients and people in the centers of influence, in your case and bank partners, all that, if we're going to communicate well externally, we have to communicate well internally.

Brent Kelly:

And so, one of the concepts that we talk a lot about and Sitkins is very well known for it because it's so important is high performance teams, that internal communication. And I just have to share, I know every agency we work with when we start, they're at very different places. Some have been like, "Oh, I've heard this for 15 years and we started doing it on our own." And some go, "I have no idea what you're talking about."

Brent Kelly:

And I just had to laugh because we got into high performance teams. And I will just tell you, your sales team was giving me the look of like, "What? How in the world are we going to do this? Because I don't know if we can trust them." There's a variance of things there. So could you speak on just some of the challenges that you dealt with and then maybe what you guys did internally in that area?

Tim Hrehor:

Sure. I'd be glad to. So first of all, it's a recognition of everybody thinks they communicate pretty well, but what service... and again, there's always a process to it and you just taught us that. So what is the real service? What do you do really well? What are the things where you need to have improvement? What are the roles and responsibilities of everybody?

Tim Hrehor:

We have this thing called the G-Drive, and Julia, my counterpart or service manager, always calls it. She calls it the Sea of Gee, because there's just a sea of information that nobody wants to find that's out there, but nobody knows how to get in and find. So one of those things in there was our so-called roles and responsibilities that had been built out 10 years ago over, what role is it of who, and how do we communicate both internally and with a client, with new business and renewals?

Tim Hrehor:

And so, it was a good structure, some of, I would say the foundation for us, but were we following that? And we really weren't. I mean, I think in some ways we were, but everybody was doing it in their own way. So, that was the first point. And what we really had to do is get together and as leaders talk about what is our expectation? And as you know, that can get messy because thousand service doesn't, it was the same way in banking as it is in insurance. It's the push and pull. It's your role, it's your role. And a lot of times, especially when you're talking a lot of different people, that's a different expectation in everybody's mind.

Tim Hrehor:

So we had that communication piece. We started out very early on, very meaningful conversations. We had folks from our team that were involved in, "Okay, this is the outline. This is what the new business looks like. This is what renewal looks like. This is what it looks like with each other, in terms of high performance teams. And these are kind of the rules of engagement." We were pretty in depth with what that looked like. Now to put it into practice is one thing. I mean, theory is one thing, putting it into practice is another.

Brent Kelly:

Right.

Tim Hrehor:

And that's a continuation. I mean, you and I always talk about it. I think the thing I struggle with as a leader is, I want everything to be finite. We see goals as... I played sports in high school and college, and you look at it and you go, "I see the scoreboard, game's over, this is what the score is." These types of things, it never ends. And so for somebody that's driven a certain way, it makes it a little bit more difficult.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah, you're right. I mean, and certainly for sales people, or just, I mean, again, certain personalities of people, you're right, the scoreboard... And even sales like, "Okay, my goal was X and that's my number." Communication is, I guess, ebbs and flows and there's highs and lows, right?

Tim Hrehor:

New people on the team, right?

Brent Kelly:

Yeah.

Tim Hrehor:

There's new people, new approaches, there's new experiences. I mean, there's all a myriad of things that are involved in that.

Brent Kelly:

My joke, and you probably have heard this before. I said leadership wouldn't be so hard if it wasn't for the darn people because they change. I mean, they're not static. So it's interesting. We weren't using this term back when you guys were kind of starting this process and again, you committed to it too, because it wasn't easy.

Brent Kelly:

And the easy thing is, "Ah, we're all right." But it's like, "No, we know we can get this better. We know we can be better." And we talk about now all the time is same goal, different roles. That we're aligned with a similar goal, which really helps to unify some of those conversations. But within that, we know that we have different roles. And it's not that one is more important or less important than the other, they're all important. But we have to understand what those roles are, what they mean for us, what they mean for our clients. And again, kudos to you and your entire team for are just taking that on, and it'll continue. You'll continue on that journey.

Tim Hrehor:

And it evolves, because one thing that seems great when you're first learning out about... It's all about, one thing it's theory, the other thing is practical experience. And again, to your point, it's about serving the client in a way that's meaningful that wants them to keep doing business with us. And we don't want them to see the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain of what's going on with all the levers.

Brent Kelly:

That's right. Again, talk about some of the challenges, again, I could share several success stories that you've shared with me and I've seen just working with you. And again, this is to your hard work and your team's hard work.

Brent Kelly:

But share a success or two, I mean, whatever you want to do, Tim, that's something that's jumped out of you that's really working well. Something that I say, we want to replicate our successes. What's the success that you're having that you want continue to replicate that's working well for the agency?

Tim Hrehor:

Yeah. For us, it's working on the accounts we want to work on. And then what that does for us, average revenue account size and it allows you to start really digging into niche building as well, right?

Brent Kelly:

Right.

Tim Hrehor:

Instead of chasing business, which is very easy in our business, because you could have bank referrals coming in. Every one of our bank customers clients is their best client, but it's not always a good risk client, right?

Brent Kelly:

Right.

Tim Hrehor:

So you can go down a rabbit hole real quickly. So it goes back to the success is really driving out with your guidance, yours and Rogers guidance is a particular sales process that differentiates us. And so, when I talk about that success, it leads to those things, the average revenue account size. Pipelines and stuff you want to work on. The ability to start to niche yourself because you're starting to work within a specific industry because you're spending more meaningful time there instead of, again, going down the rabbit hole, those would be the success.

Tim Hrehor:

And the success is led from having those differentiators and really following... And again, I don't want this to seem like we are closer to the finish line than we are at the starting line, but we've seen those first three years and even in years in COVID, where just that little sales behavior coaching from you all on things to a reminder, the monthly sales meeting with your team practice value statements, those types of things.

Tim Hrehor:

One of the specific examples of that would be, we had, I think three out of the six had record years, last year in new business. And the year prior, they had made a couple of folks that way too. And you spoke to experience could be great, and it also can be old dog new tricks.

Tim Hrehor:

And the one thing I'm really proud about our team is they understand that's that 1% better. I remember that's the one thing that stood out to me. When I mentioned that first day and you talked about, if you do something 1% better each day, not drinking all the Kool-Aid because it's never going to happen.

Tim Hrehor:

Long way there, but I think the success of that all drives into building that program, the disciplines of some of the sales behaviors. Again, we're probably 10, 12% better than we were three years ago. But it shows in our revenue, in our average revenue per client, those types of things, and retention as well.

Brent Kelly:

Well, I appreciate you sharing that too, and we've talked before about that. We know there's a lot of things you can do and we have a lot of things that we talk about, but what I really appreciate you from a sales leader and a clarity perspective is, number one, you said there is that we're going to become more intentional about who we want, why we want them, why it matters. Part of that, it goes back to clarity that you talked about. It seems simple, but oftentimes it's just missed, it's just overlooked, it's brushed by.

Brent Kelly:

And the other thing is, and I love this is that 1%, it's something... A lot of that is just a mindset to go, "Listen, I don't have to solve all the world's problems today. I just got to be better than I was yesterday." And hopefully, that's a little bit liberating.

Brent Kelly:

Because I know for me, I've got just like you, Tim, and any growth minded person, I got thousands of aspirations of things that I want to do. But you can set yourself up from failure from a mindset standpoint pretty quickly when you're like, "Well, gosh, I don't know why I didn't lose 30 pounds today." I mean, come on.

Brent Kelly:

But it's just getting yourself in the right mindset and just starting to build some of those consistencies. And all of a sudden you look back and you go, "Gosh, we've come a lot farther than I thought we have." And what's really exciting is I know we can go a lot further. So you want to speak to that? I don't know if you wanted to comment on that.

Tim Hrehor:

Yeah. I mean, I think it's the reality of it. You can't swallow something whole, you got to take bites out of it. That's again, the approach I think that we've always had really talented people on our team, there's no question. It was about, again, the clarity and consistency of both their work ethic around trying to drive some of those new behaviors, the communication, how you spend your time, being in green during the week versus red, and those types of things.

Tim Hrehor:

And then also, for me, as a sales leader, just our one-on-ones, it gives me clarity in terms of, am I working on the right stuff? What have the results been since the last time we talked, did you really work on that?

Tim Hrehor:

And then in the midst of that, there's all these other things that are going on that just remind you that it could be just that 1% and it could be just that one behavior or simple as a thank you. You talk a little bit about that, thanking your best clients or your best referral partners, or again, that's a behavior and that's 1% better day. Maybe you didn't take the time, six months to do that.

Tim Hrehor:

Yeah, it's really just establishing some of that.

Brent Kelly:

Fantastic. Yeah. It's awareness and again, we're all going to deviate from that best version map sometimes because we're human.

Tim Hrehor:

Absolutely.

Brent Kelly:

But it's just to say, "Hey, listen, I know we're going to get back on the right path." And it's just those subtle reminders, and they're really important. And again, you as the sales leader, we always joke that the chief revenue officer or the sales leader also CRO, the chief reminding officer. You keep saying it again and again, and again, it's like, oh my gosh. But I had a mentor years ago and I think you've heard me say this, Tim, that he said this, "The minute that you think that you've communicated too much, you're finally getting close."

Tim Hrehor:

I know you and I have had a lot of conversations about that. And there's times where I've asked you, I'm like, "I feel like I'm beating a dead horse." And you got to remember to look at the results from it though too. I mean, the results show the consistency of that, and you helped me with that. And certainly, I think folks on my team probably hear me and probably roll their eyes at different times.

Tim Hrehor:

And I just try to remind them that, number one, what's in it for them, what's in it for us as an agency to continue to grow, to continue to do the things we want to do. And so some of that, the drumbeat that you talked about, about the consistency and communication and communication, and communication. I think if I think about anything, that's probably... We started this conversation with that, and we're still with that and it still sticks with me in my gut. And I think that's probably the biggest takeaway from working with you all.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah. I was going to say, sometimes we try to get too cute to your smart. I know I've done it. I had a coaching call earlier today with one of our clients like you. And it was like, "Man, we started doing this and got more focused on it, and we're really starting to get some traction results. Well, now what do we do?" And I was like, "More of that. This is not the time to turn away from what's working, it's time to double down on what is working because you're just starting to get traction."

Tim Hrehor:

That's hard. It's hard as a sales leader though, because we're pulled in a hundred different directions. You look at it and you go, okay. Exactly what you're saying, I've been there where I'm like, "I'm just starting to get traction." And all of a sudden I'm going to go, "I'm going to start working on this now with them." And then I wonder why this starts to fail, the stuff we were getting traction on and I have to go back to it. So do it right the first time. Was it measure twice cut once, kind of type deal?

Brent Kelly:

Yeah.

Tim Hrehor:

I think that's probably a fair statement. But essentially, I mean, we do get pulled a hundred different directions. Our producers are pulled in a hundred different directions, and it's just those subtle reminders around the consistency and the communication piece.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah. Good stuff. All right, Tim, I've got one final question for you. Are you ready?

Tim Hrehor:

All right.

Brent Kelly:

All right. Well, it's my favorite question. And the podcast listeners, if they've heard me talk about it, know that I've mentioned this all the time. I believe so much in mentorship. And so the question basically is, how would you mentor your younger self? So if you could give one piece advice for the young Tim Hrehor. And I don't know how long ago you want to go back, let's say 20 years ago, I don't know, somewhere in there. And you can see him, you see the younger version of you sitting there and he looks up at you where you are today and says, "Hey, older me, share some wisdom. What should I know?" What would you say?

Tim Hrehor:

That's a good question. Where you're at right now is never where you're going to end up. And what I mean by that is, whether it's family, whether it's life, and again, we do this for a living to provide for our family, right?

Brent Kelly:

Right.

Tim Hrehor:

You tell a lot of great stories about how you got involved, why you got involved being at a gas pump and trying to understand what was important to you and where you were going to make decisions. So I would say to my younger self is, be patient, be kind to yourself too, don't be too hard on yourself. I would say relationships are important, both personal and business. There's always going to be somebody in your corner.

Tim Hrehor:

I always tell you this story at the same time. I think Lou Holtz was the one the big Notre Dame fan. So Lou Holtz says 90%, don't care. The other 10%, glad you're in the situation you are. So if you're going to go Boohoo, again, those folks probably aren't going to matter. But at the same time, when you've got a lot more friends and people that are pulling for you that want to help you, it's no different asking for referrals with your best clients. I think sometimes we feel guilty because of that.

Tim Hrehor:

So I would say, be patient, it's a marathon and it isn't a sprint. Make sure you spend the quality time with your family because I've had some losses in my life at an early age that it's important and it really builds a character of what's important to you. And really, again, your work family is your work family. I think of them as just as important.

Tim Hrehor:

Building that character with those people, showing them who you are, learning who they are, it's going to get you a long way, and that's never going to change whether you're 15 or 70. I came from a big Irish, Catholic Slovak family, five kids a year apart. And again, I started this with treat people the way you want to be treated, and it really is the golden rule. That's probably what I would just continue to tell myself. I don't know if that helps.

Brent Kelly:

No, that's fantastic. I mean, there's not a wrong answer to that question. And everybody's got unique perspectives. But it's funny, I've done enough of these now. I don't often hear, ever have I heard, just make a bunch of money because it's all just about the money, which there's nothing wrong with it. But then again, the reason why I ask that there's depth to that of what really is meaningful. And I think what you said, and again, it's your answer. I don't want to summarize your answer.

Brent Kelly:

But just for me, as I listen to this because I always try to learn. And Tim, you've been a mentor to me in different ways, just having conversations. But we always say, just because it's simple doesn't mean it's easy. And with that being whether it's family or relationships or deposits and things that you talked about, we also say it's easy to do and it's really easy not to do. I think of this and I don't know if there was underlying theme in this conversation, but what I mean, everything you talked about was, just be intentional.

Tim Hrehor:

Yes, absolutely.

Brent Kelly:

Be more intentional. So any last words you want to share, Tim, with the fine Agent Leader Podcast audience before we depart?

Tim Hrehor:

No. Your relationship and the relationship with Sitkins has been very important to our growth. Our personal relationship, I feel like we've got a connection obviously. We spent some time even before our call talking about family and all those other good things. But I just can't thank you guys enough. It's given me some direction, gave our agency some direction on some of the small things.

Tim Hrehor:

And again, it really has been about 10% better, but it's probably been an undertaking that I can't imagine the day you got out of the car. If I were to know what I had to go through to get to this point, I probably would've said to your point, I'm not going to be so intentional anymore, I just want to let it be the way it is. Joking, of course, but...

Brent Kelly:

Right.

Tim Hrehor:

But I just want to thank you guys, Sitkins, Chrissy, Janie and Bethany. I mean, just, it's been a great relationship. Those little things that you guys just remind us of. And again, we're not great at it all the time, but it's reminders and it's a kick in the pants to just go, just be better.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah. Last thing I'll share, I've shared this with the audience before. But I mean, the title of our book and what happened, I mean, this idea of best version possible, we honestly weren't necessarily the word intentional about a title or that's this new thing. We kept talking about it.

Brent Kelly:

I kept asking questions and it's like, "Listen, so it's not like Tim versus another sales leader or this agency for this agency." It's just, "Hey, what is you and your team's best version? What does it look like?" And guess what, we're never going to attain the best version. I mean, it's never going to be perfect, but are you at least in the game? Are you giving yourself a chance? Are you pushing yourself in that direction?

Brent Kelly:

Because listen, this idea is that we all know this and it's a cliche, life's short. And you just don't want to look back and be like, "Well, I gave it a pretty decent effort." No, live all out. And part of that comes back to do it to where you could experience some of those freedoms. And whether it's time and money, but relationships, as you said, and purpose, like what I do matters.

Brent Kelly:

And by the way, this business can be a ton of fun. It's a challenge, but it can be just such a great opportunity and fun. So Tim, thank you for being a partner. Thanks for coming on the podcast. Certainly appreciate it and the relationship. As a reminder, again, we've got our book Best Version Possible out there. If you go to sitkins.com/bvp, you can order your copy today. So with that, Tim, thank you. And everyone else, all the best to your success. Thanks for listening.

 

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