There are literally scores of strategies and behaviors that agencies can implement in their quest to achieve great results. However, I’ve found that the greatest results come from focusing on a few selected strategies. The opposite is also true: The more things you chase, the fewer things you catch!
Chasing too many strategies certainly doesn’t provide clarity and focus for your team. Too often what they’re chasing becomes the “flavor of the week,” prompting the staff to think, “Don’t worry, this too shall pass,” because they know you won’t stick with it.
During a private presentation to a group of agency principals recently, I was asked to identify the traits I see in the best agency leaders. Because it’s such an extensive list and because I believe that less is more, I narrowed it down to the Key Core Commitments of great agency leaders. In case you’re wondering, my definition of a great agency leader is “one who achieves consistently great results.”
As simple as that sounds, what does it really mean? A few favorite quotes come to mind:
“Execution beats talent every time!”
“Don’t complain about that which you allow.”
I’m especially fond of the latter one, which is from John Burroughs, an American naturalist and nature essayist who spent time here in Fort Myers with his friends Henry Ford and Thomas Edison.
What are some of the behaviors in your agency that you allow and yet constantly complain about? You continue to tolerate these behaviors despite the fact that they inhibit great results. What commitments have you made but never followed through on?
With the ongoing commoditization and digital disruption in our industry, it’s more vital than ever to commit to results-oriented strategies and behaviors. Here’s what I believe are the top core commitments of great agency leaders.
To find out, here are some questions to ask as part of your agency checkup at your next sales or general meeting:
As mundane as it may seem, I’ll bet the vast majority of agencies would fail this checkup. Furthermore, I’ll bet that most agency leaders couldn’t answer those questions!
I’ve often said, “Never ask a question that you don’t want to hear the answer to.” Well, here’s my question for you: “Have you and your agency focused on mastering the mundane, or are you still looking for that magic pill?”
Just think about the role of the average agency today. Most are little more than middlemen who take risk from their clients and pass it through to the insurance carrier (e.g., risk transfer). The average agency simply assists in the purchase and placement of insurance and provides reactive client service. Ultimately, these agencies add little value to the transaction, as consumers are starting to discover.
These days, technology is handling many of the transactions that used to be handled by agency staff, and it’s multiplying dramatically every day. That’s why you must become a risk advisor. That’s the true “value-added service” you provide. What’s more, it may be the only way you get paid in the future. (Can you say “digital disruption”?)
In defining the client experience, how do you want them to feel after you’ve spent time with them? Have you documented this? Have you conducted training around it? Have you made any “secret shopper” calls to discover how your clients or future clients experience your agency? For example, has a client ever shared with you a piece of correspondence sent by one of your employees, only for you to discover that it’s poorly written and rife with grammatical errors and typos? How do you think that reflects on your agency?
In the unlikely event that you really want to shock yourself, take a look at your Super A clients, the top 2%. Don’t be surprised that they represent approximately 33% of your commission income. Also, don’t be surprised that the top 20% of your carriers generate 80% of your commission revenue. Talk about the Vital Few vs. the Trivial Many! It’s time to take action in these areas.
The bottom line
There you have my top core commitments. These are the strategies and behaviors that will allow you to sell more, retain more and earn more. As always, it’s your choice.
Roger Sitkins, CEO of Sitkins Group, Inc., is the nation’s number-one “Agency Results Coach.” He established The Sitkins Network™, a territorial exclusive network of high-performing agencies, and The Better Way Agency, a web-based training program that shows agency owners ways to make significant improvements in all areas of the agency. To learn more, please visit www.sitkins.com and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
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