Ten Building Blocks of Producer Success

podcast producers sales Jan 25, 2023

Welcome to the Agent Leader Podcast. My name is Brent Kelly, your host. Thanks so much for joining me on this episode. I've had some great guests over the past few weeks, and I'm going to have some more guests coming up on the program here in the coming weeks. But today I'm flying solo and I'm excited to fly solo because I'm going to share with you today whether you're an agency leader who manages or leads producers, maybe you're a sales leader, maybe you are a producer or part of a production team. And what I want to share with you today is the 10 foundational blocks of producer success, 10 foundational blocks of producer success. And it's timely as just a couple weeks ago, we launched starting 2023, our next ProducerFit program. We're currently in the middle of that right now. So the ProducerFit program is the playbook, the training for producers to have great success out in the marketplace.

And what I want to do on this podcast is share something that we talk about early on in the producer program, and it's a bit of foreshadowing as we start off the program. What I'd like to have you do or ask you to do as a listener is just take a listen and say, "How well if I'm a producer, am I doing in this area if my best version possible, a producer," a term we use all the time, or, "How well is my production team doing as a best version possible production team?" As always, the purpose of this podcast, the Agent Leader Podcast, is to help you, the agency leader, regardless of your title or position, you're all a leader to help you gain clarity, build consistency, and make a commitment to become that best version possible. So today is going to be about the best version possible producer, and again, those 10 foundational blocks of production success.

Now, if you're an agency leader, you want to learn more about what we do with our agency growth partners. We go very deep with our agency growth partners. Not only do we run these programs like Producer Fit on an ongoing basis to all of our members. We provide coaching, we provide a playbook that you have access to. It's all part of the BVP experience. So if you want to learn more about that, see if it's a fit, schedule a strategy call, there's no obligation to a strategy call. You can learn more about some things that we do. More importantly, we can learn more about what you're looking for and see if there's a fit. Go sitkins.com/experience. So let's get into the best version possible producer, and I'm going to spend a minute or so on each of these key areas.

And again, I want you as a listener, I'm going to ask you as a listener to just how would you rate yourself? Are you a 10 in this particular area or are you a one? I don't even know what that is and we don't do anything and don't get overwhelmed by this. Everything that we teach and talk about is a process. But what I do want to give you is foundational blocks. Like anything. You're building a building, there's got to be a foundational block. And if you can imagine this, there's that pyramid that goes up. So at the foundations, these basic things that are vitally important to build upon, and at the top is the pinnacle of success. So I'm going to go through that.

In fact, if you want to imagine here, I'm doing a video here, but most of you listen to this podcast. If you start on the bottom, there's four at the bottom and then three, then two, and then there's one at the top. But bottom line, the 10 foundational principles or blocks of production success. And we're going to start off with something that is foundational of everything that we teach, is do we have a high performance team? If you're a producer or you're a production team and you have a high maintenance team versus a high performance team, and there's an issue. High performance teams are preparing and they are proactive in conversations both sales and service. This is not a solo sport or solo game or solo career. This is a team game. And success leaves clues.

The most successful producers that we have the opportunity to work with, those that get to one, to two to three plus million dollars of revenue, guess what? They continually build, educate, empower, and equip their teams. So it did a very basic level. Every single week we should be having a high performance team meeting. And we talk a lot about that in our camp and how to do that. But just ask yourself right now, one through 10, 10 is we have a great high performance team, our producers and service team are fully aligned. They're fully having conversations, they're prepared every week, they debrief every week, and they're making sure that they're both doing the things that they do the best. So that's number one.

The second foundational block is, it goes along with, this is a big part of the high performance team is getting the producers in the game. And if you've listened to this podcast, this is not the first time that you've heard me say this, but it is so important. So many things that we talk about at Sitkins are simple, just not easy. Simple. You got to be in the game to score points. I've got to get myself in the four money making activities, sales, proactive continuations, relationship management and pipeline development. As a producer, I should be spending 80% of my week in those particular areas. There's always going to be other stuff. That's why there's 20%. But anything else that's getting in the way of that 80% is keeping you off the court, off the field, away from the people that you need to be in front of to gain success.

And something that we see again and again, and I tell this to those that attend the ProducerFit program, if you just get these first two foundational blocks. Understanding the importance of a high performance team, having preparation and proactive conversation with your high performance team, alignment in that area to get you as a producer to spend 80% of your time in sales, continuations, relationship management and pipeline development. You're fully focused in the game, we see time in, time out, a 25% increase in production, just those two things. So that's why they're foundational. Regardless of how good your process is, which we're going to talk about, regardless of how good a questions you ask, we're going to talk about, regardless of how well you're prepared, regardless of how your future ideal client, the list that you're going to put together, if you're not in the game, it doesn't matter. Because you're not in the game. So again, that's why it's a foundational block.

Number three, and I mentioned this as part of the green zone continuations, not renewals. This is a continuation process. And one of the things that we strongly believe in and see that has great impact in success is that we've had to move away from the mindset and the strategies of renewals. Every agency renews accounts. Now, some do better than others. Every agency renews account, we've got renewal dates, we have anniversary dates, we have X dates, whatever term you want to use. We have renewals. Here's the thing, renewals are one day on the calendar, one. Now are the things that go on before that, of course. But if we approach it as a renewal versus a continuation that we are defining upfront client expectations, documenting those expectations so that both the client, the producer, and the service team are all aligned in that.

And we can deliver upon those and what we use as a stewardship or promise report. Hopefully you're doing some of that. Then it's hope. And by the way, it's a great business, as you know, you could not do a continuation process and still renew the majority of your counts, 85, 90% in many cases. But how many of those renewals are generating referrals? And if we do the right things, not only are we exceeding the client expectations because we've defined those, we've earned the right and we're prepared to ask for referrals to get more great clients. That sounds pretty simple again, but not always easy.

And part of this is my fourth foundational block. So I've got three already I've listed. Here's number four, it's relationship management. Producers I ask leaders, I ask service teams all the time in our programs. Is this a relationship business? I think 100% they answer yes. It's a relationship business, obviously it is. And I think most of us have good intentions to deepen the relationship, to be proactive in these important relationships. But do we have a relationship management strategy or as we use a relationship management calendar to make it easy. To make sure this would be the goal of the deposits that we need to make in this relationship with our client. Let's make sure so that we do it. Not that we look back and go, "Yeah, I should have done that. I should have done that."

And great example of this, we have one of our top performing agencies we work with, and just last year I was talking to four of their sales leaders and success leaves clues, that every one of their producers that was having a great year, exceeding their goals, big numbers, all had a proactive relationship management calendar that they were consistently following. So if that's important, why would you not be doing it? So I haven't asked you to rate this, but just think about that. How well are you as a producer or are your producers teams, do they have a relationship management calendar or system in place to be proactive versus reactive?

So those are the foundational things. And if you can see here, those are the first four, and this would be the bottom block, so to speak, of a pyramid. And again, it's understand the importance of a high performance team, getting producers to spend more time in the green zone or time spent selling sales capacity, being focused on continuations, not renewals from beginning and relationship management. That's the first level. Well, let's go one more up and get the next three.

The next of a foundational block of producer success is do we have pipelines that are comprised of future ideal clients, not suspects and prospects? As the insurance business, as business owners, and even in personal lines becomes more complex, there's a greater depth to that. We have to have future ideal clients that we've identified, that we've targeted, that we can very quickly explain our points of differentiation and what makes us different and unique, that we have a story to tell that's very interesting, and that we know that we're making a significant impact in helping move their business or their lives forward, not a database of hope. So often there's, "Well, I have 400 people, 100 people, 175 people in my pipeline." What does that mean? Are they names in a spreadsheet or do you have a specific plan around future ideal clients?

And there's some terms out there in the industry or other industries as well. And this idea of account based marketing, we often see if you can visualize the funnel... You see a sales funnel, it's a big funnel at the top. And hey, just get any name, any lead, anybody you can, and we'll move them down and see how that goes. Can that work? Sure, it can. Is it most effective, I think in today's world for the highest level producers? No, it's not. In fact, you could flip the funnel saying we have specifically know who we want. We're going to target that. Are there going to be as many? No. Are they going to be more specific to who we want and how we can obtain them? And do we have more value to provide? And because of that, are we going to earn the right to have longer relationships and referrals? Yes. Yes. So future ideal client pipelines is absolutely critical.

All right. So next one, having a unique selling system. And this goes along these few that we're talking about with being differentiated and future ideal clients. But I'll tell you, most of the selling systems for producers that we see initially that don't work with us is something around look, copy, quote, and pray. Let me look at your policies, let me copy what you have. We're going to quote your insurance to all these different carriers that we have and hopefully we get lucky. And then we're going to pray that you don't take this back to your current agent. Look, copy, quote, and pray. And we've got to do better than that.

And part of this is a unique selling system that from beginning to the end differentiates ourself. And one of the things that I say all the time is this, "You cannot have a differentiated selling system if you don't know how you're different." And this again goes back to the future ideal clients I just talked about because it's much easier, not easy, but easier to be differentiated in the marketplace when you've identified future ideal clients. And that could be a niche, that could be a type of business, things you've sure you've heard before, but what is that unique selling system? What is your unique process? This is how we do business.

For our private client members at Sitkins Group and the Sitkins Network, we have the Risk Concierge Program, which our agencies have taken that and adapted that, and it's become their unique selling system. It's very, very powerful. When you're meeting with a client and the first thing you say, the first appointment versus, Hey, thanks for the opportunity, we're going to come look at some quotes and see if we can find some gaps." First is saying, "Hey, the purpose of our meeting today is I want to better understand how you and your company manage risk. I'm going to share a little bit about our unique process called Risk concierge. And at the end of this meeting, we can see if there's a fit for us to have future conversations moving forward." Fair enough. Now again, I'm spitballing that a bit, but that's different. That's a unique selling system. And of course we have to be able to explain that. And by the way, if you don't have one, don't make it up. But think about it, how important would that be for you and your agency? So unique selling system.

All right. Go to the next one. We're going to talk about relentless preparation. Relentless preparation, again, this all next foundation. You can see these all tied together as well. Having a selling system, having a future ideal clients, and then be relentlessly prepared. This is the ultimate competitive advantage for producers. And it seems like it should go without being said, but the truth of it is that most producers don't truly practice their craft, which is always mind boggling to me. Someone who played sports growing up, I just couldn't imagine not practicing before you had a game.

And I don't mean it has to be a five-hour practice, but practicing the initial questions, the risk-based questions that you're going to ask when you're talking with a future ideal client. To practice on how to ask for a referral because most people don't do it or not comfortable doing it. To practice of how you present yourself on a networking event. If someone says, Hey, tell me about yourself and what you do. Are you unique? Are you compelling? Are you prepared? Or do you just wing it?

So relentless preparation is the ultimate competitive advantage for producers. It's why it's one of the 10 blocks. In fact, that's the seventh block if you're keeping track at home of what I've gone through. So relentless preparation. All right. There's three more left, three more left I want to get into. Now we're starting to build our way up. And this is something that's one of my favorite strategies. Why? Well, because it works. And number two, it's not complicated, but as you've heard me say, what three times already on this podcast, just because it's simple doesn't mean it's easy. But if you move up, it's this, the ultimate marketing strategy. The ultimate marketing strategy and you go, "Well, what is that?" Now, this is something we teach our members and our producers at a deep level, but it's really simple and it's like, "Well, maybe I'm already doing this," but how well are you doing this?

We've got to round out and retain and replicate our A and B customers at the highest level. When I say A and B, we look at that as a top 20%. And of course, if you've heard any of my podcasts are familiar with Pareto's Principle, a Pareto's rule, the 80/20 rule. We know that in looking at books of business with producers, the top 20% of clients of the book of business for the majority of producers contain about 80% of the revenue. Where your focus goes, your energy flows. So taking that top 20% and saying, "Listen, number one, are these full-time clients? Do we read 100% of this client's insurance policies?"

Retaining. We believe in effective retention with your top 20%, done the right way, and using some of the things that I mentioned, the continuation process. Effective retention, it means this, the clients you want to keep and can keep, we believe you should have a 99% effective retention. And we see producers and production teams that have that, 99%, the clients that you want to keep, you may not want to keep everybody, and you can keep. Sometimes businesses go out of business or get merged. We understand that. But of those that you can keep and want to keep, if you have a true relationship management, a true continuation process, true exit barriers set up, and you're focused around the top 20%, 99%.

And then here's the thing, replicate. Just on our session last week with our producers, and we had 90 some people that are part of this program and talk about what is the closing ratio when you get a referral? When you get a referral and earn a referral and ask for a referral from one of your top clients. And by the way, your best clients want to help you. When you get a referral, what's the closing ratio? Typically, the answer we see is somewhere between 70 and 90%. So let me get this right? You have your best clients who already like you, they want to help you, they refer other best clients, and you close 70, 90% of those. But that is not one of your key strategies every single week, what's more important than that?

Well, I want to do some cold calling. If you're brand new in the business and you got to pick up the phone, God bless you. That's part of it, especially early on. But as Roger Sutton says, and I love this, "Not earning and asking for a referral." I mean, a cold call is God's punishment for not earning and asking for a referral, a cold call for. If you've been in the game for a while, a true cold call is God's punishment for not earning or asking for a referral. We all know referral business is the best. Yeah, Brent, everyone says that. I know that. I know that. I know that. I know that I know. But how well do you do it? Because it's right there in front of you. You just got to do the work upfront. So the ultimate marketing strategy, round out, retain, and replicate.

All right. Next one, having a sales playbook. Now, this is similar. I talked about having a unique selling process. That's the actual process. This is the playbook. I'd ask you as an agency leader, "Does your agency have a set offense?" If you're a producer, do you have a set offense that you follow? How prepared are you to play the game at every level as you go through this? How do you actually play the game? What is that unique selling process that I talked about? How do you walk them through? And what is the process for staying in the game a long time and taking some of these things I mentioned in heaven, this is our playbook. This is the way that we do business, versus this person does it this way, this person does it this way, I do it this way. You do it that way. There's always going to be some flexibility, of course, as there needs to be, but we can't dilute a sales playbook. That is the agency's way of doing business.

So as a producer, do you have your sales playbook? Going back to sports, at least in my time playing, I never played a team sport that we showed up at practice and we never had a playbook. Now, maybe some were thicker than others, but we never... There was always some way of doing things that we would look at in our business. All right. So that's the first nine. I'm going to get to number 10 here. And this is something that it's foundational. It's it. It's the pinnacle because it is truly the capstone of everything. And it's the one thing that most producers don't want to talk about. And it's personal accountability. Personal accountability. And one of the concepts that we teach around is this concept of me inc. That you as a producer own your own company, which is part of the agency, which is We Inc. But what does Me Inc look like?

And if you're running your own company, and so often producers, because it's a great business, have little to no accountability, but it starts with being accountable to you. What is it you really want? Are you going to do the things you said you were going to do? And one of my favorite terms, this is not annual percentage rate, APR is absolute personal responsibility. Are you going to take absolute personal responsibility to yourself, to your team, your high performance team, your leadership, your clients. Take full responsibility to everything that you do. Not always easy, I understand that, but the best producers, one of the things they see time in and time out is that they don't make excuses. They don't. They lose, they get beat up, they get kicked in the face too. It's part of life.

But versus saying, "Well, it's his fault, it's her fault. I didn't really want to do that. It wasn't that big of a deal. I wasn't really feeling it." They say, "You know what? I own it. I should have done it. This is what I set out to do." Now, only you can decide what you're going to be accountable to, but you got to be very clear on what's important to you, why it's important to you, and then setting those metrics, those behaviors, those strategies in place to say, this is what I'm going to be accountable to. And here's the biggest thing to this. You need to be accountable to yourself, but if you don't have a great sales leader that's going to help you with this, find an accountability partner. Sounds like simple one-on-one stuff. But is there someone you're going to be accountable to every single week? And it could be a 10, 15 minute call, but have some accountability partners in place.

So that's the 10 things. I went to those fairly quickly, but 10 areas of building that best version possible producer, those foundational blocks that you need to have to be a high level, a best version possible producer. As I said at the beginning of this, I just gave you 10 things. You might be going, "Oh my gosh, I don't even know where to start. Or I'm only doing some of those things." Well, fine. The whole concept of how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. I just take one bite at a time. And as I go back, some of these things I talked about, it starts through high performance team, it goes into the green zone. You talk about how do we retain and replicate, and then we get into the playbook.

So wherever you're at, build that foundation for you to be your highest level, your best version possible producer. I mentioned at the beginning that we are continuing to look for agency growth partners. We've had a fantastic '22 and excited about 2023 and what's to come. And as we continue to reach out across the country to agencies, and we have our current agencies that have been great advocates for us, and we're looking to add some growth partners. We want to continue to build the network of Sitkins so that we can be a true community of agency growth leaders across the country. That not only are you going to get the foundations of coaching and ongoing specified training and leadership and sales and service, but we're going to build and collaborated team of agencies that truly desire growth at the highest level. I'll be very clear here. This may sound bad, but I don't care. If you're an average agency, you're good, you don't want to improve, we're not going to be a great fit for you.

But if you're an agency that wants the highest level results, the highest level strategies, proven processes that work and accountability around your results, then we'd love a chance to talk with you. Go to sitkins.com/experience. Hey, thanks for listening. Appreciate it. We'll continue to have guests as we move forward, and I wish you and your agency all the best in your success. Thanks.


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