If producers are not ahead of goal and aren’t getting the desired results, then we need to closely examine the strategies and behaviors that are creating the numbers.
Even though fewer than 15% of agencies practice true effective sales management, someone still has to hold producers accountable. Traditionally, they report to whoever is wearing the sales manager’s hat that day. But there is a better way.
The method that we find works best is Reverse Performance Management (RPM), which involves reporting up, not down. It’s not management coming to producers to have a discussion with them about their numbers. It’s about the producer reporting to the manager. This requires relentless preparation from the producers.
As I was writing this, I flashed back to the days when I had my Own agency in Michigan. I’ll never forget a comment one of the producers made right after we had instituted sales reports. He told me that as much as he hated filling out the reports, he loved doing them. My response was, “What?!” He was quick to explain. “I hate doing them because they’re so detailed and, frankly, details are not my forte. But at the same time, I love doing them because they force me to face the truth that tells me where I really am. I can’t kid myself or feel good about myself if I shouldn’t. It’s better when I face reality.”
The words of that producer still ring true today. I firmly believe that all progress starts by telling the truth. When they’re done properly, sales reports are a way for producers to face the truth. This brings to mind another of my favorite old sayings: “The truth shall set you free, but first it will make you miserable.”
If you’re serious about making producers accountable, you really should have producer performance agreements. These are not employment contracts. Rather, they’re a formal identification and outline of performance expectations in the coming year. These agreements should include different sections for each of the following:
This includes the sales goals, as well as the outcome stats and the performance stats. Unlike numeric reporting, this is an account of the goal vs. the actual. As such, it indicates whether a producer is on track or off track.
There must be an agreement on the specific strategies and behaviors that the producer commits to in order to achieve better results. Some examples of strategies include:
These are the activities that are tied to the strategies that get results. For example:
The producer performance agreement really becomes the agenda for RPM meetings, which should be held every month. In preparation, the producer should develop an agenda to review the numbers, the strategies and the behaviors, and rate their performance on a scale from one to 10. Did they do everything they said they would do? Did their results match their goals? If not, how closely were they aligned? How did they rate on each of their strategies and behaviors (10 = followed it perfectly; 1 = didn’t even think about it; 5 = average)?
With RPM, the manager’s job is really pretty simple. Their primary duty is to make sure the meeting is held! Hopefully you remember me mentioning the owner who joked that his agency was “very good at having unheld, scheduled meetings.” Listen, if the sales manager doesn’t think these meetings are important, neither will the producer.
During the RPM meeting, the manager becomes the producer’s coach and the mentor—not the sales ogre who berates the producer for numbers not delivered. Instead of focusing on the numbers themselves, a productive coach and mentor will focus on the strategies and behaviors that result in the desired numbers. Together, the coach and producer can then identify the areas that need improving and formulate a plan to do so (joint sales calls, for instance).
British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once said, “The secret of success is constancy to purpose.” I love that and often cite it because it’s true. Whatever your purpose, be consistent about it. The best self-managed producers have that “constancy to purpose.” They are constantly focusing on their behaviors and strategies— that’s their purpose.
So remember, the future great producer that you personally want to become, or your agency wants to develop, is a matter of choice not chance!
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