#SitkinsIsTheSolution

The Best Version Possible Process

best version possible book podcast Jan 19, 2022
Best Version Possible book cover

Brent Kelly:

Welcome to The Agent Leader podcast. My name is Brent Kelly, your host. Thanks so much for joining me on this episode. Hoping that you and your agency are continuing to have great success. And for us, I know at the Sitkins group, we are in a new year, just like you are. And there's some really exciting things that are happening with what we're doing and work with independent insurance agencies, all tied to our mission. And you've heard me say this before, if you've been a listener of this podcast, is our mission is to help you gain clarity, build consistency, and make a commitment to become your best version possible. And we have been teasing, myself and my very special and returned guest. I'll go ahead and give it away, it's Roger Sitkins, my very special guest today. We've been teasing this for a while that we have a book coming out.

Brent Kelly:

We also have a movie to help independent insurance agencies coming out, both titled Best Version Possible. I know we've got some people that watch the podcast first and listen, you see behind me, you'll see behind Roger, some of our screens of the Best Version. I actually have the book, Roger's got the book, in our hands. We just finally got them officially. We've been chopping at the bit. There's been a little bit of a delay. There's this thing called COVID that's been happening for a while, made some delays in some of the shipping and all that, but we officially have it. And what I want to do today with Roger, obviously bringing Roger on for a couple reasons. He's the co-author of the book with me, wrote this together. And also, I guess we're co... I don't know if I use the word co-stars Roger, but we're co-actors, so to speak, co-players in the movie as well.

Brent Kelly:

And so I just want to talk and take some time for you, the Agent Podcast listener, to understand why did we do this project. And of course, what is it going to mean for you, the independent insurance agency owner, and the impact that it's going to have? And just to help you to get ultimately freedom. And we'll talk more about that in a little bit. But before I get into talking to Roger, I want to have Roger hit some opening comments. I'm going to go ahead and give you the links. And they'll be in the show notes, as well, around the podcast. You'll be able just to click them. But if you now go to sitkins.com, obviously our website, sitkins.com/bvp, best version possible. That will take you to the book. And then if you go to sitkins.com/vip, it'll take you to the movie.

Brent Kelly:

As a podcast listener, you'll be our VIP movie watcher, but sitkins.com BVP and VIP. Go check those out, take a look at the book, watch the movie. I know you'll really enjoy it and what we're doing. And I think it's not just a tactical lesson, but emotionally what, again, some of these things will mean for you as the independent insurance agency owner. So Roger, welcome to the podcast. Any opening comments before I talk more about what we're doing and the impact that it has?

Roger Sitkins:

Well, we're excited about the impact this can have on agencies and certainly for us. Yeah, it's a marketing piece. There's no question about it. But more importantly, it's a way that we can reach more people with our message about being the best version possible. We've talked about it on the podcast, certainly it's core foundation in all of the programs we do. And people for years, Brent, as I shared with you, and we started the project, people for years, "Oh, you should write a book. You should write a book." Okay. But I never felt that I had a strong enough topic that could have the impact that this has had. And since we started using the term "Best version possible," you know it's working, if it becomes sticky. And since we've started using it, we're getting so many people go, "Okay, I'm working towards my best version possible."

Roger Sitkins:

Then when they start using BVP, I'm on the way to my BVP. We knew it was sticky. And we knew there was something there that could have a major impact on literally thousands of people. So we went ahead with the book and then on top of that, we said, "Well, where else can we go?" So we did a video documentary and it shares a lot of the intellectual capital, intellectual property we have. But even more importantly, it shares experiences of agency owners and producers, and what they get out of the program. So the minimum, there'll be some tremendous learning for people when they get the book and, or the movie. So we're really excited about it. We want to impact people. I look at impact, and gosh, we talk about this so much, but one of the things we know, and I think we've probably mentioned this on one of your podcasts before, but when we look at the independent agency distribution system, we all know it's a great business.

Roger Sitkins:

And the reality is that 80% of agencies don't have to do what we talk about. They get to that semi successful trap, really. It's not a bad trap, but they get semi successful and they're making pretty good money. And it's a lifestyle agency and they... I don't know if they need us, I think they need us. But more importantly, they don't really want... They're happy where they are. And again, what a great business that you can do that, be an entrepreneur and build a nice business. The top 2% of agencies don't need us. They've got it nailed. And so what we're really aiming at with the programs and helping agencies become the best version possible is that middle 18% of agencies that have said, "Doggone it, there is a better version of us waiting. And if we can commit to continual and never ending improvement, that we're going to get better all the time." That's really what this is about. So I'm really excited to share this today.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah. Roger, as you know very well, that we do ongoing training programs and we just kicked off all of our training programs in this January. And it's fun. It's so neat to see new faces. There's some returning faces and all that. But one of the conversations that came up is just this continual quest for learning and growth. And obviously that's what we're about. And one of those things that we talk a lot about, in fact, we give, I don't know how many, book recommendations in some of our programs, but a lot. We give resources, to here's our recommended reading list and all of that. And it always kind of makes me chuckle. In fact, I think I had this conversation this week was that people are like, "Yeah, it looks really good, but I don't think I want to spend 15 or 20 bucks to get that book."

Brent Kelly:

And it's like, you've got depending on what the book is about, but certainly, these growth, these business books, sales, marketing, you name it. You've got people who invested blood, sweat, tears, failure, failure again, right. And they're saying, "Hey, here's some things that I really took away. I want to share with you." And it's like, "Wow, what a great gift." And I'm going to speak for you a little bit here. We co-oped this book, I shared some of my experiences and things that we talk about and teach, but I'll just tell you, I know you're not going to say this, Roger, but I will. 40 years of working with independent insurance agencies. It's in a book, read the book. Again, I can say this because you won't say it, Roger, but I will and I just want people to understand the value of that.

Brent Kelly:

And again, why we did it and you're right, Roger, people have asked even me, "Why don't you write a book? Why don't you write a book? Why don't you write a book?" And now it's like, "Here you go.' So we're really excited about that. Same thing with the movie. I will just add this too, as a why, I mentioned the mission, but we use the word catalyst. I want to be a catalyst. We want to be a catalyst to help you get that BVP. And certainly we talk a lot about organic growth and profitability, and you talk, Roger, in the book and in the movie a little bit about your agencies losing millions of value, it's true. But it all starts with this quest of, "What is my BVP?" And I think that's what people have really connected with.

Brent Kelly:

Even we had that conversation many years ago now in Atlanta, and I asked you about "What is your best version?" And you were up all night and you've told this story before. And it's like, "What does that mean? What does that look like?" And now we have agencies that are going, "I know we want growth. I know we want profitability. I know we want better relationships and better culture. Where do we start?" And I think not only has BVP or best version possible... What's been neat is it's transformed from this mentality, which is so important, this attitude, which is so important. And I want to be the best version of me. But now in the book, and we talked about this in the movie, we've turned this into a process. There's an actual process of a best version possible. And so what I want to do for the listener's too, Roger, and I'll take a couple of these, and maybe you can take a couple of these.

Roger Sitkins:

I will go to page 47.

Brent Kelly:

But yeah, when you get the book, go to page 47 and you'll get it. You're thinking, "Hold, I don't have the book yet," again, you can order and get your book as soon as possible. But in the book and we talk about this is that really there's a... It's a simple, but not easy process. And we talk about that a lot. It is simple. There's really four basic steps to this. Most agencies aren't committed to really understanding, being aware of going deep in these areas. And so the four steps, the best version possible process, and if you're a listener, you've heard, I'm sure, aspects of this before. But number one is alignment. And we've done a whole podcast on this, Roger, of alignment. But it's so foundational, but so missed is that, well, I want the producers to go produce and we want to go achieve this and do X, and do Y, do Z. Well, have you communicated as a team of what that means and how you're going to work together?

Brent Kelly:

And of course, Roger, something that we'd love to say because it's sticky is do we have the same goal, but different roles in the agency. So step one is alignment and you think about it and you think about a car and you use this Roger, because it's such a good analogy. A car going down the road, if you got one wheel that's out of alignment, it's... And eventually you got a major problem. And so we talk a lot in the book, in the movie, and of course in our programs about how do we truly get aligned. So that's step number one, Roger, I don't know if you want to add more to that and then get into step two, but I'm going to turn over to you.

Roger Sitkins:

No, I just think everybody envisions the bouncing going along, and I bet a lot of them are going, "It might be my agency right now because we're not all on the same path." And the second phase is the green zone, which we've talked about in the podcast before. And it's one of the really, really sticky things that we really articulated over the last 18 months or so, the fact that producers are either in the green zone or the red zone. The green zone is when they're doing the four things that earn them green, earn money. Sales, the continuation process, not the renewal process, relationship management and pipeline building. Those four things are the producer's job. And what we want is we want them and our programs drive them into that green zone, 80% of the time. The sad news as we talk about this on the movie too, is the average producer spend an 80% of their time in the red zone.

Roger Sitkins:

They're caught in the service trap. They hide behind activities. They might even be lying to themselves, but they're not doing the things that get great results. And so the green zone winds up being one of the key performance indicators we measure, TSS, time spent selling. So the goal, again, let's go 80%. Now what if we're only at 29 and we get to 40, we've doubled our sales capacity. What if we get to 60, we've tripled it. And it's just a matter... And here's the thing about mindset. It's a mindset, that as an agency we're working towards best version possible. As an agency, we're going to be aligned. As an agency, our producers are going to strive for 80% in the green zone. Tell them the next one, Brent.

Brent Kelly:

So yeah, alignment and you'll, again, see this in the book and the movie, but alignment, then green zone. And then we've got a retain and refer, right. I mean, there's a retention strategy. It's like, "Oh, well of course we got to have a retention strategy, but are we really utilizing it?" And Roger, you already used the term with one of the four key money making activities. Do we have a continuation strategy or continuation process versus just all the renewals coming up and all those kind of things. I mean, I know I overuse sports analogies, but gosh, darn it, Roger, they're easy to understand. You think about step number one is, are we calling the same play together and do we have people in the right positions, right. It's that. Number two is, are we actually getting on the field. Now number three, and then maybe you want to use football or any sport, but it's like, "We got to play defense to create our offense."

Brent Kelly:

And I think they both go together. And the continuation thing that I always talk about is... First of all, let me back up a second, and this is something that we talk a lot about, Sitkins. Isn't it interesting that what a great business this is, that around 90% or so, most agencies, that's the retention rate. It's pretty good. Now it can be better. And a few points can make a huge difference. And we talk about that. But then way less than 10% in many cases, more like three to 5%, actually do a good enough job to earn referrals. And, Roger, you say this a million times, I echo it, your best clients, they want to help you, let them. And create a process around that to make that more feasible, to make that more of something that's not just a, "Oh yeah, but that's the way that we do it at our agency. We do such a good job on that."

Brent Kelly:

So step three is, again, the idea of how do we retain at a higher level. And how do we do such a good job that we're not just asking for referrals, but we're earning referrals. And we're very focused upon that. So that step three, Roger, I don't know if you want to add anything to that. 

Roger Sitkins:

Well, I absolutely do. I can't leave that one because a lot of people are going, "That's old school." Everybody knows that. That's simple. Now, why aren't you doing it? So many times I've heard so many say that and I'll say, "I'll tell you what, ask me for a referral right now. Share with me your referral process. Just walk me through it." "Well, you know anybody who wants to buy insurance?" That's not it. There's a very specific process. It's simple. But as you said earlier, Brent, it's not easy. If it's easy, everybody would be doing it. One of the things we've been challenging people with, even the group that started this week, we had 80-some producers in the program. I asked them a question. I said, "If the 80-20 rule is real for you, and it is a 99.9% of the time, top 20% of your customers are 80% of your revenue, if you don't believe that, look at your own numbers."

Roger Sitkins:

And everybody's, "Yeah. We know, okay." What if just half of the top 20% of your customers gave you a referral? What's your closing ratio on a referral, especially if you get into some of the other things we're going to talk about and do them right. Most agencies, if you take the whole agency overall and the top 20% in each part of the agency, if half of them gave a referral, the agency couldn't handle the new business. But we waste so much money on other marketing things versus saying, "Let's get back to the basics." So it's crucial. It's crucial. Of course, the fourth step is Obtain. What are we going to do to obtain future ideal clients? So you notice we don't necessarily get into a whole bunch of new selling activities until we get aligned, until we get our time spent selling, our green zone where it needs to be, where we're taking care of our best customers, which are great experience.

Roger Sitkins:

And we have a very specific, three or four options in it, but a very specific referral process that works 80 to 90% of the time when you follow the process. Okay. So now you're looking at it saying, "Okay, how good or how cool would it be? Would it be best version possible in my agency if 80 to 90% of all the new business we wrote in the coming year, our best year ever, came from a referral?" I mean, how cool is that? And these are, again, basic things for the 97th time, but also it's not just getting the referral. It's, what's the unique selling process you have behind it? How do you differentiate? One of the things we talk about so much, are points of differentiation and quite frankly, it's simple, but it's one of the toughest things to get people to do. So pay attention if you're listening.

Roger Sitkins:

And Brent, one of the many things you've added to our programs, I just love this saying, and they've heard it before, "You can't have a differentiated selling system, if you don't know how you're different." And if you're hearing, "You guys are all the same, you go ahead and we quote it every three years, give us a quote, whatever." You're not different. What is it you're doing to literally just get to the point where the prospect, which we don't even use the term "Future ideal clients" says, "Gee, no one's ever asked me that before. No one's ever shown me that before. I was not aware of that before." Well, that's what obtain is all about. So when we get to the point of alignment, green zone, retain, referrals and obtain. That's the whole process.

Roger Sitkins:

Now within every one of them, of course, Brent, we're talking about what's the best version possible. Because there are a lot of processes within that. But as long as we're always working towards that, this continual and never ending improvement... One of the phrases, it's in our movie a couple times, "The results are predictable and guaranteed."

Brent Kelly:

Yep. Yep. And I'm with you too, Roger, it's like, "Oh yeah, I know that." This is a question I ask producers, in particular, all the time. It's like, "If you're telling yourself, I know that. Well, you're doing yourself a disservice. Ask yourself the question. How well am I doing that?" Right. That's the question. Because within these layers... And they go, "Oh yeah, I know that we should be aligned. I know that we should have the producers producing. I know that we should be doing things to have a more specific and repeatable continuation process that earns and delivers more referrals. I know that we should be focused on future ideal clients and having a unique PODS that we talk about, I know." And then everyone just go rate yourself.

Brent Kelly:

How well are you doing? What's the performance level? Well, it's not so good. Okay. Well, let's start something. Again, and this goes back to just the impact that we really want to make and use that word with agencies is because it's just so fun to see. And obviously from our end as coaches, but from the agency side, obviously. That we talk about what's the result of all of this stuff, right. When you begin to see agencies and you'll see this in the movies, some of the testimonials and the books, some of the success stories, what does it mean? Well, there's one word that really jumps off top of the page for me, freedom. Right. Getting agencies to have some freedom. And I want to wrap up and, Roger, you can add some closing comments here from what you think. But I look at there's four freedoms that agencies are looking to get.

Brent Kelly:

And number one, it's freedom with their time. I know some people and some agencies that are doing pretty well financially, but boy are they stressed. And boy are they like, "You know, it's great that we're doing all right and we have some growth, but I'm not having any fun or I'm stuck. Or I got to get out of... I got to figure out somewhere to enjoy some of this." Well, it comes back to time. And so we talk a lot in our process of what we can do to leverage that at a better level. And again, as you say so about, Roger, it's not about time manage, it's about situation management, put yourself in the right situation. There's a freedom of time, freedom of relationships.

Brent Kelly:

And this is just in working with the right people internally and externally. I mean, I know agencies that are doing pretty well, or at least that I first start talking to, "Yeah, we're doing all right." And they don't like anybody on their team. Their days are miserable. That's no fun. Hopefully if you're listening, you're not at that point, but it's like, there's friction, there's conflict, there's uncertainty, there's lack of clarity. And then of course they're working with every single client they could get their hands on and they go, "I don't know why, back to running out of time." Well, because you've got the wrong relationships. So freedom of working with the right people internally and externally. Obviously, freedom of money, that's where a lot of people start. I want to make more money. By the way, Roger, as we say this, revenue doesn't fix all the problems, just most of them.

Roger Sitkins:

Well, net new revenue. Yeah, net new revenue doesn't solve all your problems, just most of them.

Brent Kelly:

Net new revenue doesn't solve all your problems, just most of them, right.

Roger Sitkins:

Because you're doing the right stuff to get a high net new revenue, and you're not falling into the trap of this 5 or 6%, like everybody else. Your two X, three X on your organic growth rate.

Brent Kelly:

And it's just the financial freedom of that, just gives you opportunities to do the things that you want to do with who you want to do them, when you want to do them, how you want to do them. It's just that freedom. And then the last one, I think this gets missed and some people are like, "Ah, Brent, that's a touchy feely thing," but I'm telling you, it makes a big difference. Freedom of purpose. Going back to doing what you love to do and knowing what you do really matters. In fact, I had a conversation yesterday with a group of people in our training and I was just talking about that. People say, "Well, I'm just an agent or I'm just a producer. I'm just a service profession. I'm just a whatever." And maybe they don't use the word just, but you can just tell it's like, "Yeah, just getting through stuff."

Brent Kelly:

Well, no, what you do really matters. There's a purpose behind it. You got to go back and live it and own it. Because when you do that, you wake up every day with intention, excitement, and it all goes to that best version possible. So those are the four freedoms that I know, Roger, myself, our team, we want to help agencies get to. So with that, I know I've been talking here quite a bit, Roger, and I want to get it to you for any final words, thoughts, that you'd like to share.

Roger Sitkins:

Well, it's been 40 years. It's actually been a little bit more than 40 years now. And I've learned a lot of things. And I've been very blessed in my career to have great clients that become great friends, have great team members like you, Brent. And this was just a chance for me to get it into a package, filter out all the stuff that may or may not sound good and just say, "Okay, let's get down to the basics. What does a best version possible look like?" And when people started mouthing it back, I said, "You know what, maybe this is a legacy issue. Maybe it's a legacy issue." But I do know this, that when people commit to best version possible, it's amazing how the mindset changes and when the whole team says, okay, are we being our best version possible?" And by the way, everybody's different. It's not a cookie cutter or a rubber stamp that this is exactly what it looks like.

Roger Sitkins:

But it's a way to guide agencies. I think that maybe the most important word of all of this is alignment. Because when we get everybody aligned, like you talked about, the beauty of it is that then, and I absolutely love the statement, you said it real quickly. Then we're in a situation where we have the same goal but different roles. And the goals are real simple, retaining and obtaining ideal clients. The roles are all different, but let's get them aligned. That's a how best version possible agency operates. And that's what the book and the movie are about. And then more importantly, that's what we do with the clients we work with. It's not for everybody. There may not be a fit. But at least take a look at the book and you'll learn some things you didn't know before.

Brent Kelly:

Yeah. Well, thanks for sharing that, Roger. And again, it's all of this, again, your knowledge, about our team's knowledge and experiences, and just take it and be able to give something back to people out there, independent insurance agencies in the marketplace. And so I want to thank you for listening. I know this was more of an announcement, but hopefully, I think you did get some values, just thinking about some things. And of course we want to invite you to go get the book. We want to invite you to check out the movie. So again, sitkins.com/bvp is the book, and sitkins.com/vip to check out the movie. And again, they're going to be in the show notes, as well. As we'll continue to roll out podcasts this year, as always, if you can like it or share it, subscribe, whatever podcast platform you're listening to. We'd appreciate that. We want to continue to give value out there in the marketplace. So with that, wish you all the best in your success. Thanks for listening. 

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