#SitkinsIsTheSolution

Is Your Agency Doing The Limbo?

podcast Jul 29, 2021

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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 another episode, glad to have you with us. As always, the purpose of the Agent Leader podcast is to help you as an agency leader, gain clarity, build consistency, and make a commitment to become your best version possible. And today we're going to continue to encourage and challenge you to become your best version possible by simplifying certain areas of your agency and focusing. And the title of the podcast, and what we want to talk about is this: is your agency doing the limbo? Is your agency doing the limbo? We'll explain that a little more in a minute. And I do want to make sure I welcome our very special guest whose going to help us talk about this topic today. Roger Sitkins, CEO of the Sitkins Group. Roger, welcome back to the Agent Leader podcast.

Roger Sitkins:

Thanks Brent. I always enjoy being here. And it's always fun to share our experiences and knowledge, and hope people get some things out of this. They'll go back and actually do what they said they were going to do. They'll use them.

Brent Kelly:

Wonderful. Well, this topic came up for a couple of different reasons. One, that Roger and I were having a conversation earlier this week about this, but it really was spurred on from a mutual event that Roger and I were both part of. We were coaching and consulting with an agency in the mid south. And this is a few years ago, and going through some different areas, obviously of sales and leadership training with the agency. And at the end of our time together, and we had multiple events working together, the agency leader stood up to the entire group in front of Roger and myself and his entire team and said, you know what? The bar is pretty low in this industry, right? Most agencies, aren't doing a whole heck of a lot, but we're going to do a few things extremely well.

Brent Kelly:

And we're going to raise the bar and get very focused in a key area. And they did. And by raising the bar, and again, they did a number of different things, but laser focus in particular, in one area. And they raised the bar. And by doing that, they tripled their organic growth rate in nine months. And it was a really incredible story, and it was a lot of fun. But it just showed the power of when you simplify, and when you focus an area to raise the bar, it can do a lot of great things for your agency. So Roger, before I get into our conversation, anything you want to add to my story because you were there as well.

Roger Sitkins:

Well, it's a good size agency. I mean, they were right at 8 million of commission income. So it's not like we were dealing with a small agency. And it was so exciting to see the CEO stand up and say, look, here's what we're going to do because you know, we've talked about this before, somebody has to make a decision. And what really spurred his comments were towards the end there, where we were talking about the fact that the reality is that 80% of agencies, and 80% of producers, they're going to do okay whether they ever met us or not. And they accept good is good enough, and they were semi-successful as we talk about.

Roger Sitkins:

And so that's the bottom 80%. I said, the reality is the next 18%, they're really escaping the traps that the 80% get caught in. And then there's a final 2% that really have the best possible results. And you could just see that that comment there, I was watching him in particular, his eyes just lit up. And that's when he jumped up and said, okay, all right, the bar's real low, we're going to change it. Our organization is going to change. And that's when it starts. It's when the leader starts leading. It was exciting. And again, to go from 3% to 9% organic growth in nine months in an agency that size, that's pretty impactful to say the least.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah. It provided a lot of opportunities and options for that agency. And really it comes down to what I just said a little bit ago. They got simplified in certain areas and they just got laser focused. And you know, why we're talking about is your agency doing the limbo, is that sometimes you can kind of sleep walk right through life, through business, through agency leadership. And even though the bar is low, sometimes we find yourself, maybe are we doing the limbo, that we're still actually playing below the bar? So again, that's going to be our topic today. I do want to mention just the fact that our programs, and in particular, our all inclusive model, and our unique process around the all-inclusive model, we work holistically with agencies to help your entire agency build and develop that culture of greatness, to get buy in front of your entire agency team, to simplify and walk you through a proven process, and to partner you with other agencies across the country to network.

Brent Kelly:

That entire process, the all inclusive model, we're getting ready to launch off our next series of camps. It starts here in just a few weeks. And so if you want to be part of this exclusive group, in a group that's going to achieve greatness. And it's so fun to watch and share stories like what Roger and I just shared. Go to sitkins.com/aim. It's sikkins.com/aim. It's our all inclusive model, one low flat price for your entire agency, regardless of how many people want to be part of that program. And once every part of your agency, every member of your agency, gets the core training, the clarity that we're going to provide through a transformational scorecard, we then have now added 90 day deep dives. So, to pick one particular area. And the reason why I stress that is just the example that we gave with this agency. One particular area to go deep in, to get true transformation, to finally get the result that you've been desiring.

Brent Kelly:

Hopefully you can sense my passion, excitement as we get ready to kick these off. It's just so fun to see agencies who go, you know what? Now I'm finally beginning to achieve something that I've always wanted, which is freedom. So go to sitkins.com/aim to learn more about that program, to see if it's a fit for you and your agency. So with that, Roger, you ready to talk about the limbo?

Roger Sitkins:

Absolutely.

Brent Kelly:

Okay. So, as I introduced us and we talk about this, this is not in any means to sit here and say, oh, you know, your agency isn't very good in this or that. But I will tell you, it's going to create some awareness as we talk about some of these things. What I want you to do as an agency leader is to say, is this maybe an area that maybe we are kind of doing the limbo? We're kind of sleepwalking, or are bending ourselves to get below the bar versus finding ways to hop over the bar to achieve excellence.

Brent Kelly:

And there's three key areas that I want to talk to you about Roger, and get your opinions, and your take. One is, where do agencies limbo in their mindset, in their focus, in their attitude? However you want to describe it. I want to ask you, where do you see agencies that do the limbo, and maybe in their strategies, or their behaviors, or specific actions? And where do you see agencies do some limbo as far as the results they are getting, and the results they could be getting, which is pretty exciting? So I want to start with mindset, just keep this real simple, Roger. Where do you see, where do you think agencies are limboing below the bar in terms of mindset?

Roger Sitkins:

In a lot of areas. But I would say so much of it is just the thought process on mindset. How you think, how you interpret things. And I see that too many agency principals and producers have self limiting beliefs. They say, well, I know that agency is growing by 12% or 15%, but that's not us. And the minute they say that's not us, their brain says you're right. It's sort of like in golf, don't hit it in the water and the brain says, hit it in the water? What a great idea. At least that's what happens to me. Okay. The thing is they know certain things. And again, it's not just self limiting beliefs, but they hear things, they know things. And they say, yeah, but ... Example, the 80 20. We talk about it all the time. And yet what we see is those agencies that are playing below the bar playing too low, doing the limbo go, yeah, that 80 20 might be true, but that's not us, or we're okay.

Roger Sitkins:

And their attitude is well, every account is a great account. Every account is a great account. That's not true because agencies don't realize that so many of them have profitable accounts, subsidizing unprofitable. But every account's a great account. So rather than having a mindset of ignoring 80 20, and we talked about this recently as a result of our elite 50 program, our sales mastery program, one of the biggest producers in there, where he said, you know what? Not only am I going to embrace 80 20 instead of ignoring it, I'm actually going to embrace 20 80. I'm going to know those 20% of my accounts that are 80% of my revenues. And I'm going to know the 20% of things I do personally that get me 80% of my results, because one of the things Brent, and I haven't even had a chance to talk to you about it because it came to me this morning during my workout listening to a podcast about high performers, the best performers.

Roger Sitkins:

And there were two words that were used that were truly our mindset, and actual flow in to help a whole bunch of other areas. But the two words were routines and processes. That the best have a mindset of what's my routine? And then what are the processes that in our vernacular, we're going to go deep on, we're going to master? So the mindset of the best, not the ones doing the limbo, are no self-limiting beliefs. I've got to think bigger. I got to stop thinking small plays, playing small ball. And I've just got to find out what are those things that when I get a laser focus on, and I'll allow 80% of the agencies, as a competitor, let them be quoters and floaters, And that's fine.

Roger Sitkins:

But I just know that I've got to take my game up. What's that next level look like? And those are the ones that are curious for learning. And they're the ones, I realize I'm preaching to the choir here because they're listening to your podcast, but the people that are really committed to it. There's this saying, there's a better version of me out there. And what am I going to do to make sure I've got a great future as an agency owner, as a producer, et cetera? So those are some of the things I see in mindset.

Brent Kelly:

Roger, just to get my thoughts on this too, when it comes to mindset, because I'm just a huge believer in it. It's not just a believer in it, I see it. And you made the comment on a previous podcast you were on, I think earlier too, is that at some point, you got to make a decision. And you know, whether it's agencies that work with us, and certainly Roger, in your history, you've seen agencies who have three X, four X, their overall revenue of their agency over several years. Or if it's an agency that went from 5 million to 10 million, or 5 million to 7 million, whatever it is, I have other people that go, wow, that's them. Well, why? What's the difference? Are they smarter than you? Do they have all these extra resources?

Brent Kelly:

Do they have that magical pill that people joke? No. They just decided that that's what they wanted to do. And it's a mindset issue. It's easy to say, but it reminds me of my favorite quotes that said this, if you don't place a high value on yourself, rest assured the world's not going to raise the price. And I see so many agencies like, well, this is just kind of who we are. Now again, that's a decision that you want to make as an agency leader that you're, Hey, I'm just good with it. I am so happy in my life, my business that I don't want to make any improvements, well then, that's your world. And that's okay. You got to make your own decision, but it's the agencies that go, we would like to be, wouldn't it be neat.

Brent Kelly:

I hope. And by the way, Roger, there's that drug out there, remember? Hope-ium. I hope that we grow by this amount or whatever the case may be. And the other thing too, you mentioned 80 20, and we talk a lot, obviously about 80 20, and oh yeah, this is to talk about 80 20, but so few agencies actually really implement or execute 80 20. One of the things that I always tell producers in particular is, as you get better in your craft, and this is a mindset issue, as you get better in your craft, and I always say, let's stop for a second and go, now you do think you're going to get better, right? Of course, yeah. Well, as you get better in your craft, shouldn't your clients? And people are like, oh yeah, maybe they should. So why are you working with the same type of clients you are today that you did five years ago?

Brent Kelly:

Is it a mindset issue? And so those are things to think about. So the last thing I want to add, I know I'm going a little long here on my response, but you mentioned best version possible. And my guess, if you're listening to my voice right now, and you are, is that you've had times where, whether it's been before you fallen asleep, or early in the morning, or some point, you can see or visualize the best version of your agency, working at its highest caliber, the best relationships, the best processes, the best strategies.

Brent Kelly:

And then, in the blink of an eye, it's over. And then you go back to what you're always doing. Well, I would challenge you to really examine what that looks like as your best version, and identify what are the traps, the gaps, the roadblocks, what's that bar that's preventing me from getting there, and say, how do I begin to eliminate that? And that's a big part, obviously we do Roger, with our clients, is beginning to really have them understand that. Let's identify the areas that are keeping you below the bar that shouldn't be. And a lot of it is we call head trash. So some of my responses, Roger, anything you want to add to that? Or do you want to get to the next part?

Roger Sitkins:

No one thing to add is just that the people that have that internal self-talk, that they're justifying why they're average. And what they're really doing, they're accepting their own excuses. Here's why, here's why. They get as crazy as, well you know, I just can't get those people to do this, or they won't return my phone call, or atmospheric conditions are not conducive to selling today. They do all these excuses. At the end of the day, the end of the week, the end of the month, the end of the quarter, or whatever they go, oh yeah, that's why. But I'm still doing okay.

Roger Sitkins:

Why is okay good enough? That just that's always baffled me, I guess just because the industry is so good. But it is time to take your game up a whole lot of notches, and not be in that the limbo. Actually, when we said we're going to talk about this, I looked up the original song, and one of the big phrases there is, let's go lower now, let's go lower now. Why don't we just go higher? I don't want to win the limbo match, okay. So let's move on.

Brent Kelly:

Well, yeah, as you say, let's go lower, here's the thing. We challenge agency leaders on this in some of our private coaching calls and in some of our masterminds, the fact that you're either growing or you're not. You don't just stay where you are. So you got to make a decision in that. And so when you say just go lower, go lower, sometimes that happens and we don't know it because it happened so slowly. I want to get to strategies and behaviors. So when talking about the limbo, what are some strategies and behaviors? And I guess the question I would ask is, where do agencies act below the bar in their actual strategies, their processes, their behaviors? And I do want to kind of tee something up, Roger, because you said it so many times, and maybe you were going to say this anyway, but I want to make sure you get to it, is the fact that this, your current business model is what, Roger? It's perfectly designed to what?

Roger Sitkins:

Oh yeah. Your current business model, and maybe you don't purposely have a business model, but your strategies and behaviors you follow on a regular basis, that's your business model. And your current business model is perfectly designed for you to achieve the results you're currently achieving. If you look at your book of business as a producer, and you say, gee, I wonder why it's like this. It's because of your business model. If you say to yourself, as you're for the agency overall, gee, I wonder why we've only got a three or 4% growth rate. It's because of your business model. It's those things you've allowed to become normal. And so if you don't challenge yourself on, Hey, what's my business model, because whatever I'm doing today is perfectly, perfectly designed for me to get the growth that I'm having, for me to get the profits, for me to have people buying at the level they should? It's your business model. And again, unfortunately Brent, for so many people in our industry, it's not a purposeful business model. It's just what's evolved over time, we're doing okay. We're doing okay.

Brent Kelly:

Yep. All right. I hear that. You talked about the business model, is there anything that jumps out at you, Roger, as far as specific strategies? I think you mentioned the 80 20. That's a philosophy and strategy, but anything else, as far as behaviors that jump out, that agencies are continuing to do below the bar.

Roger Sitkins:

The two words I said earlier, the routines and processes. When you just challenge yourself as an individual, whether you're the leader, whether you're a producer, account manager, whatever, but just challenge yourself on what are your routines. And one of the ones that we talk about all the time and preach on it, I personally am at about 98% execution now, it's the Sunday review. Debriefing last week. Pre-briefing this week, looking at my calendar, looking at the events, looking at the routines. You know, what time do I get up in the morning? What's the meditation, and what's the workout, whatever. Are you in a great routine? And do you have your core processes nailed, where you've mastered them? And what we see for average, or less than average agencies and producers, is one of our favorite acronyms, HAWG. It's hysterical activity on the way to the grave.

Roger Sitkins:

And then it hit me recently that actually, we have some cane hawgs. So another acronym cane, CANE, continual and never ending hawg. So continual never ending historical activity on the way to the grave. We're really, really busy. Where are we busy? But we're just getting average results. And so I'd much rather have people be exceedingly purposeful, exceedingly deep on a few things such as, let's just look at pipelines. Do you know what a future ideal client looks like? Do you have that avatar? Do you know exactly who they are? Are you identifying them? Are you marketing to them? Have you completed a targeted account strategy plan? How to get in the door? How are you going to get referred to them? Or are you doing what I just see so many people below the bar, and I use this term and people always laugh when I say it, when we're doing either virtual or in-person events, I say, are you aggressively waiting for the phone to ring?

Roger Sitkins:

Are the clicks, pings, rings, and dings happening where you have an opportunity to chase an unqualified prospect? And then the other thing is just that so many people today, whether it's service, sales, leadership, have forgotten one of the best tools out there. It's called a phone. And they're trying to communicate everything electronically, which I'm a huge fan of. I mean, we adapted so many things digitally through the years that we use as part of our business. But one of the best things we can do is pick up the phone and talk to somebody because it doesn't ring anymore. But people are just waiting for other things to happen. And again, aggressively waiting, versus aggressively getting out there and saying strategically, these are the things I have to do. Behaviors. These are the things I have to do.

Roger Sitkins:

Good example. Below the bar? You don't have to rehearse your presentations. You just got there and wing it, and you'll you'll do okay. Really? I don't think so. If you get an opportunity within a future ideal client, that's an A or B potential client, and you're not practicing it, you haven't rehearsed it three or four times with an accountability partner, practice partner, you haven't filmed yourself doing it ahead of time?. Gee, I wonder why the closing ratio is so low in the average agency.

Roger Sitkins:

Because they're just absolutely going so shallow in their preparation. Whereas the ones that get it, the ones that are playing above the bar, their attitude is that every event, every opportunity to serve my very best, and I will be relentlessly prepared for every opportunity. And this gets back to, am I prepared for the week? Do I know what happened last week and lessons learned? Am I prepared for this week in my meeting with my high-performance team? Does my team know that we have the same goal, but different roles? Which you've talked about so much recently, the goal is ROI retaining and obtaining ideal clients.

Roger Sitkins:

And what do we have to do as a team to do that? That's our goal. What are our roles? And I could go on for hours on this, obviously, but at the end of the day, understand this whole thing. Again, your current business model, better known as the way we do business, it's perfectly designed to get you what you're getting. I guess the business model needs to change if you want to get above the bar and get that 2X, 3X, 4X , 5X growth rates, because they're doable. We have people doing it all the time, once they make a decision to change the way they do business, to change their business model.

Brent Kelly:

Well, let's talk about that last part you just said. Because I think a lot of agency leaders that I speak with, when you start talking about results, now again, we've mentioned the thought process, the thinking, the attitude, and just understanding that the current model of processes and strategies, those have to be aligned. In many cases, obviously they have to be changed or improved to get the results that you want. But I do think, and you mentioned results, that a lot of agencies just kind of assume that, again, because the results are pretty good, even at the bar below the bar.

Brent Kelly:

But I guess my question to you, Roger, is what's possible? If agencies really do simplify and focus, and we talk about and say, you know what, we're going to make a decision gosh darn it. I'm tired of being just good, because I want to be great. I want to be elite. And I'm willing to focus in on a couple of key areas and really make these significant changes. What's possible from the results of these agencies? If they want to go from below the bar to jumping way above it, what does that look like?

Roger Sitkins:

Well, it's doing the things we've talked about here so far. But there's this whole concept of what's possible, we challenge producers and agency leaders with that question all the time. And we say, is it possible that there's a best version of you sitting out there waiting for you to arrive? Oh yeah. What does that look like? Well, let's see. They have fewer accounts paying them more money each. They have a very high closing ratio. They have overflowing pipelines. The producers are spending 80% of their time in the green zone versus the red zone. All those things we talk about. Well, those are possible. Here's the key thing, Brent. And for all the listeners, if somebody else has done it, it's possible. It's possible. Now, they may have certain unfair advantages you don't have, but you could still get close to it. It's always crazy to me.

Roger Sitkins:

I remember the story, Joe Polish talked about, the guy from Genius Network who I've had an opportunity to meet. And he talked about the days when he was in a carpet cleaning business and he met this really successful entrepreneur and he just wanted to ask him questions. The guy was huge in real estate. And they were just talking about where he wanted to go. And Joe said, I really want to get my business up where I'm doing, I can't remember the number, X amount of dollars per month. And the guy looked at him and said, Joe, is anybody in that carpet cleaning business in our marketing area, doing that today? His response was, yeah. And then the guy said, then I guess it's possible. Tell me what they're doing you're not doing. And that changed his life. And every time we've told that story, you could just see the light bulbs come on. Producers go, oh.

Roger Sitkins:

So the reality is that most of the people that are listening to this are saying, yeah, that makes sense. That makes sense. The key to this, and I had a session yesterday with 73 producers on the line, and we talked specifically about this. I said, look, that best version possible view that, that business model that you really want to get to, when you make those behaviors and strategies repeatable, not sporadic. They're something that this is what I do. It's part of my routine. It's part of the process I follow. When you make those repeatable versus sporadic, when you make them systematic versus sporadic, what happens is your results are predictable and guaranteed. When you don't do it, guess what? Your results are predictable and guaranteed. So it absolutely is doable, but the mindset has to be there. The strategies and behaviors have to be in place.

Roger Sitkins:

And then you have to look at it and say, you know what? The whole concept of being semi-successful, that good is good enough, is no longer acceptable to me. That what I'm going to do, is I'm going to determine what my business model is going to be moving forward. I'm going to make a decision to stick with it. Not the shiny new, there goes another squirrel, oop, there's a rabbit, but clearly having, the words that you use so much now that I absolutely love, simplify and focus. Simplify and focus. Because again, when you do that, it's predictable and guaranteed what happens. It's a choice people have to make, Brent.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah. I have nothing to add to that because I think that was so well said. I just want to ask all the agency leaders as we kind of wrap up this podcast today, is this. I'm going to ask you a very simple, actually two questions. Number one, I said earlier, what's what's really possible for your agency? What's possible? And the second question that goes along with that is, are you ready to transform? Are you ready to transform? And you know, we talk a lot about transformation. And even at Sitkins, we teach and coach, said it's not about the information. And there's an abundance of information. And you've got some information from the podcast today. That's good. It's helpful. But that doesn't mean that you're transforming, that you're really making the changes. So couple of things I want to share with the audience, and I mentioned this on a previous podcast and do it again, is that we have an agency transformation scorecard. And this is a scorecard for your agency.

Brent Kelly:

There's 10 areas that you're going to rate yourself. And I've got a video on there to explaining what it looks like and how to best rate yourself. But if you just go to sitkins.com/scorecard you can go on there and give yourself a rating. Because the big part of it, if you're going to transform, you have to know where you are to where you really want to go. And I'm a big believer, and Roger, you've heard me say this so many times, that to create the right actions, we have to have the awareness. And so this is going to help you as an agency, really identify 10 key areas that we see that the best version possible agencies achieve, and just see where you're at. This isn't something to beat anybody up, but it's a way for you to have awareness to take the right actions.

Brent Kelly:

And then as you complete this, it's on our page, you can sitkins.com/scorecard, you'll get a PDF back identifying your key areas, and give you a great awareness tool. And with that, depending on where you're at, or what you really want, or where you want to go, I want to invite you again, as we kick off our programs here in the late summer, early fall. And we get in going back to the agency transformation process and this experience with agencies to have access to all of our programs, and be able then to take deep dives from there. Transformation, and Roger, as I wrap up any additional thoughts you want to share, please do. But you know, part of transformation, one of the biggest challenges of transformation for agencies is getting buy-in with your team. And we know that. The fact is, is that you're going to have people on your team who may resist changes of any kind.

Brent Kelly:

And so what we want to do at Sitkins is help facilitate and make it as simple as possible for your agency team to say, you know what? This excites me. This gives me energy. And it's kind of that new, more oxygen, right? You're pumping oxygen and go, okay, you know what? I'm excited about this because now I can see what this really means and where we're going. So we're going to help you with that. We want to help you build consistency in your agency. That you have a repeatable process that works, and to help you stay focused. And the last part, this is what Roger said, is to help you execute. Actually execute by simplifying and focusing in the right areas. And get very deep in specific areas because the biggest inhibitor of agency success when they try to grow and change is distractions.

Brent Kelly:

There's always the next thing to do. And it helps to keep you focused. And you look back and go, wow, I can't believe how far we've come. So again, that's sitkins.com/aim. You want to check out that model, that process that we have for you. And again, we're going to be kicking off in a few weeks. So time is starting to run short. And as far as the transformational scorecard, sitkins.com/scorecard, where you can complete your own survey on there and get started with that process. So Roger, before I wrap up, anything you want to add to that?

Roger Sitkins:

Well, the beauty of the scorecard is really cool because what it does, is it gives you a base to work off of. We always say transformation's moving from where you are, to where you really want to go. And when the scorecard's completed, and I didn't realize this when we first created the tool, but the feedback we're getting from people is they're saying, "oh, so, that's why we're getting the results." That's what the scorecard really does. It allows you to see, be totally open with yourself and honest with yourself. It allows you to see what your current business model is. And it becomes pretty clear the areas that you need to improve to get the results you really want. So it's a choice people have to make, Brent.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah. Well, thanks again, Roger, for taking time to be with us and the audience. And again, I'm hoping you took some notes and I got some nuggets today. And again, this is really a session to hopefully encourage you, but also challenge you. And that's, I think, as coaches, Roger and I are natural coaches, it's just in our blood. And that when we see people, when we see agencies, we see professionals, there's just that opportunity to be elite, to be great. We don't want anybody to miss that opportunity. It's what we do, it's what we love to do and want to help you in any way that we can. So if this podcast has also provided a value to you, please leave a review, or share it. We're looking to grow and help more agencies like yourself. So with that, I wish you all the best in your success. Thanks for listening.

 

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