Have You Realized Your Potential?

Insurance Agency Leader looking to get better

Back in my football days, both as a player and a coach, there was one word that always drove me crazy: Potential. I think I’ve finally figured out why.

When evaluating talent, you rarely hear someone say, “Wow—that guy is achieving way more than his potential!” Also, the word usually is preceded by, “he’s got a lot of,” or “unrealized.” That seems like a negative to me, because it suggests the person is not living up to what they could or should be; they’re not quite doing their best. They clearly are not achieving their BVP (Best Version Possible).

According to Merriam-Webster, “potential” is defined as “having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.” It’s also used to describe “the latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness.” They fail to mention that those qualities or abilities may remain undeveloped.

In your agency, I’m sure you’ve heard someone talk about “a young producer with great potential.” (There’s a blinding flash of the obvious, or BFO. Why else would you have hired them?) Now, fast forward five or 10 years, and there’s a good chance you’ll hear that same producer discussed in the past tense: “That young producer had so much potential.” The operative word is had, as in unrealized potential.

Agency leadership has a responsibility to turn great potential into great results (a.k.a. realized potential, rather than unrealized potential). As we continually advocate in our CROFit program, your job as chief revenue officer (CRO) is not to improve sales. Your job is to improve your producers, who will improve sales.

The reality is, the vast majority of independent insurance agencies are living well below their potential. I’m sure you remember Jeff Foxworthy’s “You might be a redneck if …” routine. Well, here’s my take on Foxworthy’s schtick as it relates to potential.

You might have great potential if:

  • Your revenue per employee is less than $200,000
  • Your pipelines are dripping with suspects
  • Your revenue per validated producer is less than $750,000
  • Your closing ratio is less than 75%
  • Your organic growth rate is less than 10%
  • Fewer than 90% of your producers meet or exceed their sales goals this year
  • If any or all of these describe you, you’re living below your potential.

Possible vs. probable

When you start thinking about what’s possible, the sky is the limit. Unfortunately, lofty goals are meaningless unless you’re able to turn thoughts into actions. The key is to take what’s possible and make it highly probable. The following questions are designed to help you turn achievable goals (possibilities) into likely results (probabilities).

Is it probable that your producers could spend the majority of their time (their only diminishing asset) in the Green Zone versus the Red Zone? Yes, if they’re utilizing their time optimally. You may recall that our model calls for producers to spend at least 80% of their time in the Green Zone working on the four key money-making strategies (sales, relationship management, continuations, and pipeline development). The Red Zone is everything else—the service trap, preparation time and all the “stuff” that happens in the course of a day.

If you have high-performance teams that recognize and commit to having “the same goal but different roles,” it’s probable they’ll reach their common goal: to retain and obtain ideal clients. So, while the sales and service team members have different “positions” that they play on the team, their desired result is the same.

Is it probable that 90% of your producers can meet or exceed their mutually agreed-upon sales goals? Yes, if you establish an annual planning process that identifies the specific strategies and behaviors that create predictable and, in fact, guaranteed results. When the agreed-upon strategies and behaviors become non-optional, they act as guardrails to keep producers on the right track. Combine these strategies with Reverse Performance Management, which I’ve addressed in previous columns, and it’s highly probable your producers will exceed their sales goals.

Is it probable that your producers can have a 75-plus percent closing ratio? Yes, that’s highly probable if they are actively marketing to their avatars, or ideal prospects, and they follow a reverse referral process that gets them referred to future ideal clients. This would include taking only your super qualified avatars through your unique sales process. Otherwise, don’t waste your time on them if all they want is a lower price or a competitive quote to keep their current agent honest. Remember these three things: the best day to lose the sale is the first day, no practice quoting, and no unpaid consulting.

Is it probable that your producers will be relentlessly prepared for every event? If so, doesn’t this give your agency an unfair advantage? It’s highly probable if you prepare to work on avatars only, and agency leadership drives a culture that says, “We will never lose a sale to someone more prepared than we are.”

As every great athlete or performer understands, you win the days before you actually win. In other words, it’s all the work you do behind the scenes that yields the results the public sees. Just ask Tom Brady.

Fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were thrilled to watch them play in the Super Bowl and win last year. But what most of them didn’t see was the behind-the-scenes blood, sweat, and tears that went into every grueling practice for months before the big game. It’s probable the outcome would have been different had the Bucs not been relentlessly prepared.

In any arena or industry, outside observers only see the results, which are instantaneous. Conversely, what goes into getting results takes time. So, while it’s nice to get applauded for a big win or a big sale, the recipient of all that adoration must work for it. There’s no such thing as an overnight sensation.

Is it probable that your agency can dramatically improve your sales capacity (sales cap) almost overnight? Yes, but first let’s define sales cap. It’s the number of appointments—virtual or in person—your producers average per week with clients, future ideal clients, and centers of influence. At Sitkins, our Producer’s Perfect Schedule calls for 10 appointments each week. However, as our research over the last several months indicates, the average producer has just four appointments per week, which is incredibly low. Those four appointments (out of the 10 we promote) equate to a sales cap of 40%. Quick question: What’s your sales cap?

A sales cap of 80% or more is highly probable if your agency defines its expectations up front. For example, “We expect our salespeople to be in the game eight or more times a week.” Keep in mind, you only score points when you’re in the game.

In recent articles, as well as on our podcast, I’ve said that producer recruitment starts at home. I’ve also said that we need to get our current salespeople producing at a higher level. Simply increasing your number of appointments from four to six drastically improves your sales capacity by 50% on average. Of course, there’s more to it than just scheduling appointments. The quality of those appointments is the key to improving a producer’s sales cap significantly. Meeting the same group of friends for lunch two or three times a week doesn’t count!

The bottom line

Much of what I share in these articles are simple and straightforward approaches that actually work. They are not quick-fix gimmicks of the month, so don’t confuse simple with easy. If they were easy to do, everyone would be doing them!

Are you and your agency living up to your potential? Or are you living below it? Are you constantly striving for your Best Version Possible? If there’s a gap between your potential and your actual results, it’s time to close the gap. If not, you’re going to face some huge regrets in the future.

Remember, reaching your potential is way better than not reaching your potential. Are you willing to do what it takes to reach yours? It’s your choice.

The author

Roger Sitkins is the CEO of Sitkins Group, Inc. Roger was inducted into the Michigan Insurance Hall of Fame in 2017 and in that same year also received the Dr. Henry C. Martin Award from Rough Notes magazine. Recognized as the nation’s top insurance agency results coach and renowned leader for improvement, he believes that if you improve the life of one person, you improve the world. To learn more, visit www.sitkins.com.

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