Transform Your Agency into a Sales Powerhouse


Does your independent insurance agency have a named effective and repeatable selling process or system, or does your agency resemble more of a one man band? My name is Brent Kelly. Welcome to the Agent Leader podcast. I appreciate you being with me. The mission of this podcast, as always is to help you, the independent insurance agency leader, to help you be more educated, to be empowered, and be equipped to become your Best Version Possible. And today we're going to talk about set offenses or selling systems, selling processes, and of course, do you have one? If you have one? Is it effective if you have one? Is it repeatable? Can you teach others about it? And what competitive advantages will this give you? Anyway, why is this such a big deal? We're going to be talking about all of this on today's episodes. Have your pen and paper ready.

I know for some of you, you may go, we have a set offense, but we'll talk about that. Some of you go, I think we have a set offense, and for others, you go, what is a set offense? And wherever you're at, certainly I want to add value to you and your agency today. Just the simple concept of this, I think you can probably all grasp this, is that imagine a team sport, and if you played a team sport, you can definitely relate to this. But imagine a team sport like basketball or football or hockey or soccer, whatever it is. Imagine that there was no set offense, there was no playbook. You just went out to the field or the court or the rink, and you just kind of started playing, right? Kind of like when you were a kid, right? You get there and go, okay, you go over there and you go over there and I'll find you there.

By the way, you still play the game. You just don't play it very well. There's a bunch of chaos. What about music? I mentioned one man band, but imagine orchestra or a concert band or a concert choir that never practices or goes off sheet music or a score, they just get up and kind of all do their own thing. That would be chaos. In fact, I got to share with you, I've got this on my phone. I'll play the video. Of course, you'll hear the audio from a Christmas concert. This is a Kid's Christmas concert. I thought this was great. This reminds me often what we're going to be talking about today with agencies and this one man band that maybe you've got a talented producer, for example, on your team who can go out and do things pretty well. But when you try to integrate an entire team around it without a playbook, without a process, without a plan, maybe it sounds something like this. So have a listen. Here comes the band. By the way, this is the good producer right here.


Beautiful, right? Beautiful. Of course not. Hopefully had a little chuckle with that. By the way. As a father of five kids, I've been through, I can't even count how many holidays slash Christmas concerts over the past years, and they're entertaining, to say the least. But I want to share that with, I thought that was funny because again, you've got this trumpeter that's playing along sounding pretty nice, and then we integrate the entire team and not so good, not so good. So let's talk about this. I want to start off and I want to share a little bit. Why does this happen right in the first place? And again, maybe your agency, you do have some sort of set offense. Again, we're going to talk about ways to improve that and some of the impact. But for agencies that maybe they're inconsistent with a set offense or they simply don't have one at all, there's no unique selling process or unique selling system.

Why does it happen? Well, I think the first thing, I'm going to give three specifics or three questions I guess to think about this, but I think a lot of it happens based on what I just shared on the music there, the fact that oftentimes you'll have an agency, especially smaller agencies or growing agencies that have a top producer or maybe a couple producers who are very good, they're talented, they're skilled in different ways, they work really hard. And what happens oftentimes is that those producers or a producer becomes the sales leader or a defacto sales leader or a part-time sales leader because, well, you sold the stuff pretty well, so now why don't you teach it to others? And it makes some sense, right? In the sense of, well, obviously if you've done it, you now can help other people achieve it as well.

But let's face it, oftentimes the best producers are not very good coaches. And it could be for a lot of reasons, and again, there's exceptions to this, but just again, think of sports for a little bit. Think about sports. There have been some really the best of the best athletes and players who quite frankly were terrible coaches.. There's been some exceptions to that. There's also been some very average players. You've been great coaches. So why do I say this? Well, just because you can go out and do something really well doesn't mean you're hardwired, designed, effective, efficient in developing systems processes and be able to teach and train others and hold them accountable to doing it. In fact, oftentimes with some of the best producers, and you ask them like, well, how did you do it? They sometimes don't even know. They're just really good at it.

They're really good at selling insurance. And you'll say, well, how did you do it? I mean, they can explain some things, but it's just like, well, I just did what I did. I just did it. I just did stuff. So why don't the other people do it? I did it well, because they're not like you, right? So that's one of the things that happens. And oftentimes we have producers who start off producing and next thing you know, they're running or leading a team, and that's not what they started doing. So there's some disconnect there. That's a whole separate podcast I could do, but I wanted to set that up because I do think that's a big part oftentimes of what we see with agencies. I also think these three other things that I want to share here, and these are, again, these are kind of higher level thoughts, but I'll break them down also, are very powerful reasons why many agencies don't have a true named effective repeatable selling system or process.

And here's number one, taking notes. Here's number one, again, maybe relate to all three of these. Maybe relate to one of them, maybe relate to part of them, whatever. But here's number one is they don't really want to have a selling system or process or a set offense. And again, by the way, if you don't want to, you don't have to. I get that. But oftentimes the reason why they don't want to is because, well, we have a way that we do it that's very transactional, and we're okay with it. We don't really want to do some of this unique stuff out there. Have a unique system. We're going to do as we talk about Sitkins, the "Look, copy, pray process", which is we're going to look at your policies. We're going to copy what you have. We're going to get some quotes from our carriers, and then we're going to pray that you go with us or pray that you don't take this back to your current agent.

It's a quoting and floating mentality. It's a transactional philosophy. And for some agencies, although I would say very few of the independents do this, well, quite frankly, most of them, but for some of them, maybe they do okay, but most agencies, they struggle with this, but it's their way anyway. It's how we do it. So we're not going to change it. So why would we want to go through a set offense or a different way? But at the end of the day, it's about quotes anyway, right Brent? It's about quoting business, as many quotes as we can get. Then the more opportunities we're going to have, and of course the term that I said earlier is that they're quotas and they're floaters, right? So that's the first reason that jumps out. Number two is that we don't have to, now this kind of goes in conjunction with number one, but we don't have to.

Meaning that even if we don't have a set offense or a selling system or unique way of doing things that we can integrate throughout our entire agency, whether it's two people, 20 people or 200 people, we don't have to, because guess what? We're doing okay. We're doing okay, and we've seen this for a long period of time. I mean, the great thing about the independent insurance agency business is that if you put some time and effort into this, you're going to do okay. You are. It's a great business. It's a great business model. But part of this is that, especially in today's world in particularly the last year or two, and I think it's we're going to see in the coming year, is that we can be fooled very easy, especially today. There are some agencies right now that are doing pretty well, or they're looking and going, we're doing really well.

We've had exceptional organic growth. But when you factor out a couple things, number one, market conditions, when you take out the rate that's being increased right now in this hard market, and then you take out inflation, which we know has been a real problem, right? In the last year or so, you take out market and inflation, all of a sudden you realize maybe it's not so good. And it reminds me of the Warren Buffet quote that I love. "When the tide rolls out, we'll find out who's been swimming naked." When the tide rolls out, we'll find out who's been swimming naked. And I don't say that as a fear monger or any of that, but just a matter of fact, I mean, if you listen to this podcast, go back and find an episode. I don't have the exact number, but I interviewed Harrison Brooks of Reagan Consulting, and he talked about that specifically.

They look at numbers all the time. In fact, he said in many cases, the numbers would actually be negative growth if you factor out market conditions and inflation. So we just need to be aware of that. But many agencies will just say, well, I don't have to have a set offense because again, we're doing okay without. And then number three, I think this is probably where most agencies stand, whether you don't have any system as of today, or maybe you have one and you've been sporadic or it's just still not been integrated throughout the agency is the frustration is this, here's the question or the thought. We don't know how, we don't really know how to do it at the highest low because it's one thing to say, this is our agency plan or process. This is it. Let's write it down on paper, for example.

That's great. That's a huge step. It's another thing to be able to teach and train producers, for example, to do this, to utilize it, to make it more effective, and to continue to work and refine it and get better at it and go back and practice again. Because let's face it, agencies are really good at selling insurance. They're not very good for the most part of developing people, of training people in this particular context, not their unique skillset. It's not what they do. That's why we exist. We help educate, empower, and equip agencies to do some of these things. In fact, yes, this is a shameless plug, but it's a reason why I share it because it's one of the most important things that we do and we help agencies with. In fact, this past year in January, it was released officially, been working on it for a while, we released an entire sales playbook for all of our agency partners, those that are part of the Best Version Possible experience that work with us on ongoing basis, have access to a sales playbook, and it walks you through A to Z all through the phases that we talk about.

In fact, it's integrated with tools and resources, so there's links to videos to learn how to do things better or to understand the concept better. There's resources that are attached, so forms that you can utilize. So everything is built in, and quite frankly, a lot of agencies would like to do that. They just go, we don't have the time, effort, and energy to do that at that level. So having a sales playbook is critical. So if you don't know how, I'm going to again, give the shameless plug, find someone like Sitkins, and we believe we do it at the highest level with agencies. We love what we do to help agencies have something they can utilize. So to take the next step of this, if you don't have a sales playbook, what are you missing if you don't have a set offense, a unique selling process or proposition system or whatever terms you want to use, but something that your team can rally around, what are you missing?

Well, outside the fact that we'll get to it, that it's about results. There's a lot of different ways we can look at results. To me, it starts with just having a plan just to be able to have a plan. I love this quote though by Dwight Eisenhower. It relates to plans and planning, and I think it's really important when in terms of a sales playbook, he said this. He goes, "I have found that in preparing for battle, the plans were useless, but the planning was indispensable." Now, think about that. Now, he's talking about this in terms of battle, right? In war that you could have the best plans, but things change. It's not necessarily the plans. The plans are good. It's the planning that makes the difference that we're sitting as a team, for example, for an insurance agency or a group of sales professionals and producers, and we're talking about planning.

Why? Because we have the plan so we can do the planning around it. It certainly makes a huge difference. And by the way, when you get into that, just like, again, I'm going to use sports one more time. My frame of reference that I can understand, when we would go in and look at a set offense, for example, in football, we would have our playbook and we would practice off the playbook, which I'll get to in a minute. But when we have our playbook, not every play went according to script. I mean, you write every play for a touchdown for the most part. I mean, that's the goal in football. Why would you write a play and go, well, this play is designed to get a yard and a half. I mean, maybe you get some short guard plays, right? But I mean, it's designed to make a big play.

Not every play, as we know is going to be a big play, but the planning was indispensable. So when things happen, you're prepared and you're able to take action, which leads by the way to my next one of why this is so important. And what you're missing if you don't have a set offense or a playbook, is preparation. It definitely gives you a competitive advantage when you have this, it gives you something to prepare for. We talk about preparation as the ultimate competitive advantage. One of the things that we love in working with agencies is that they prepare at much higher levels, at deeper levels. Whichever way you want to look at it, they're more prepared and because of it, they have a competitive advantage out in the marketplace. Also, it allows you to practice these all lead together. This all makes sense, but here's what I found.

It's really hard to practice winging it, right? How do you practice? If you have one producer who's got their own thing they've kind of done, and they go, I don't know, practice that. Practice what? Not just practice what I did. What did you do? I don't know. Just do it. It's really hard to practice that. So to be able to have skills that are being built around practice is critical. Oftentimes, I'll talk to producers and agencies. I'm like, what skills are you working on developing? What skills are you currently developing to be better in three months, six months, nine months, one year, two years from now? The skill of selling insurance, but how are you building specific skills to do that? Right? You get the point, right? You get the point. So practice is critical. And then of course, it all comes down to performance.

You always say that what you see when the lights are on, so to speak, is all derived from what happened when the lights were off. And this comes back to the planning, the preparation, the practice. It leads to greater performance. It leads to more wins. It leads to better results, right? Better results. And I'm going to add one to this as well. It also helps you be able to debrief, learn from. You're not going to win every time, even with great plans and planning and practice, you're going to win more. But it also gives you something to debrief, to debrief on, to learn from. Here's a problem we see without having to set offense or a plan or any of the systems I'm talking about, is that you lose an opportunity and you never really know why. I mean, maybe you do, but you're guessing sometimes, right?

When you have a plan and a process, you go, in this area, we didn't do the things that we normally do. We missed an opportunity here, and we're able to fine tune those things. It makes a huge difference. Of course, in your performance, and I'm going to give a bonus, this one is so critical. I've talked about this in different areas in the podcast, but this idea that we know that finding, developing, keeping our best talent is not easy. The analogy that I think is very relevant for all my college sports fans out there is the fact that we've got recruiting and now, NIL - name, image, and likeness in college recruiting. What does that mean? It means, first of all, we've got to go out and recruit still. We got to find the best people and give 'em a reason to come to our school, in this case, our agency, but we also have NIL, meaning that some other agencies are going to start offering them more money.

They're going to want to take and poach our talent. So how do we find, keep, develop our best talent? Well, one of the things that we continue to find is that the agencies that have a set offense, a playbook, a system, it gives them advantages in different areas, not just with their clients, which we've talked about to get more wins in the marketplace, but to get more wins in finding great talent. When you have a set offense, a playbook that you go, we've got something that other agencies don't have that we run off, that's going to help you be more successful, they're more likely to be interested in what you have to offer. When you've got producers on your team and they're being poached, and someone says, Hey, listen, I know you've been with them for a while and all this, but we got all these.

Yes, there's resources in their markets, but we also have some unique systems in a playbook that helps us stand out, that gives you a competitive advantage. Would you be interested? You can win more sales. You can make more money come with us, right? So there's a lot more to this, I understand. But the bottom line is it gives you a competitive advantage in the marketplace competing not only on writing accounts, but in finding, keeping and developing the best people. Bottom line is this, we could go a whole lot deeper on this. Bottom line is this, is that if you're looking for a differentiator in your agency. Now, again, I said at the beginning, if you've got no playbook at all, well, let's see where we can get started. If you've got something that hasn't been consistent, it's been an idea, it's been a thought, but it's never been executed, what's next for you?

And if you've got one that's working really well, I would just say this. This seems pretty obvious. Don't forget what's working. Don't lose momentum in this area. Because one of the things that can happen, we always joke about this in our programs, is that has anybody ever done something so well that they stopped doing it, right? We've seen agencies. Yeah, we were using a playbook. We have agencies that were with Sitkins Group years ago. Oh, yeah, we used to run those playbook and his offense. And I mean, I remember back when Roger, he talked about his 10 great plays, and oh man, we were killing it. We were doing great. And then we just kind of stopped doing it, and we thought we'd be okay, and we'd like to do that again. So stay consistent. Keep your momentum if you have it. Also, as a reminder, I've mentioned this on a few podcasts.

We want to give you all a tool and a resource that's super simple for you as an agency leader or your agency team to look at. If you go to, so, that's our website by the way, slash scorecard. They'll take you to a scorecard, a 10 question survey to rate your agency to see where do you sit? Are you in the green? Are you in the yellow? Are you in the red? And no, there's not any trick questions. We've had some agencies already. A lot of agencies start to take this. I'd love to see where they're at. And then we'll give you a report right away and you can see where you're standing. Give your agency to give yourself more awareness and clarity in the marketplace. So thanks again for listening. Go create that set offense. Run the set offense, own your set offense, and go out and make a true difference. Get those results you're looking for. With that, I appreciate you listening. I wish you all the best and your success go be that Best Version Possible. Thanks.


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