Which Zone Are Your Producers In?

In most independent agencies, producers typically operate in one of two zones. They’re either in a Red Zone or a Green Zone.

As the name suggests, the Green Zone is all about earning more green (a.k.a. money!). Those in this zone participate in activities and execute strategies that create and retain revenue. It all comes down to Selling More, Retaining More, and Earning More. It’s pretty simple and straightforward.

The Red Zone is about constantly reacting to what we call the inbound arrows—everything that comes at you that distracts you from what’s important. You start most days with good intentions, but at the end of the day you wonder what happened and what you have to show for it. This tells me you spent too much time in the Red Zone.

Assuming you’d like to spend your days productively, you must first understand the difference between Green Zone and Red Zone activities. It’s significant. The Red Zone is focused on No-Growth activities, and the Green Zone is all about Growth activities.

Red Zone activities

Let’s start with the negative side, the no-growth Red Zone. If you find yourself routinely engaged in the following activities, you’re probably operating in the Red Zone way too often.

  • The Service Trap. This occurs when there’s no service handoff or high-performance team (HPT). Instead, all requests from clients and carriers go through the producer first. This is where things tend to get stuck, resulting in a bottleneck. Without the support of a team, the producer has the perfect excuse not to sell—they’re “too busy.” The truth is, they’re just hiding behind activities.
  • Hysterical Activity on the Way to the Grave. I know that when I take the time to plan my day and write down specific things I need to do, they get done. Conversely, those in the Red Zone have no plans for the day, or the week; everything is reactive. Every day, week, month, quarter and year all look the same. Unfortunately, if you have no plan, you just react to things all day. It’s no-growth hysterical activity.
  • Transactions. The producer’s focus is on handling transactions, not managing relationships. They just haven’t committed to the fact that this is not a transaction business, especially since transactions increasingly are being digitized. To build your book of business, you must build relationships. This means picking up the phone, networking and not waiting for that roast duck to fly into your mouth. Keep in mind that if the only way you do business is through emails, a robot can replace you.
  • Too Busy to Get Better. Often producers sitting in the Red Zone will be given advice on how to sell more and retain more. Typically, they’ll respond with, “I know, I know” or “Someday I’ll do that,” but they never follow through. There’s just never enough time to improve. Because they’re not investing in themselves, their Best Version Possible is still out there somewhere, waiting for them to arrive. And at the end of their workday, most of them will lament, “I was so busy today!”
  • The Trivial Many. People in the Red Zone are always looking for an easy way to get out of it. So they search relentlessly for the silver bullet that will solve their problems. Consequently, they’re easily sidetracked by the newest bright and shiny thing because they go shallow, not deep. Every idea is a great idea, but before they can explore it, they’ve moved on to the next great idea. Unfortunately, there are always more great ideas than the time or capacity to implement them. In reality, all those supposedly great ideas are just distractions.

Green Zone activities

If you’re operating in the Green Zone, you probably are engaging in the following growth activities.

  • New Business Sales. This is your unique sales process, a set offense, that separates you from all other competitors. And you’re not keeping it a secret! You’re out there telling your story and attracting new business.
  • Continuations. As I’ve said 10,000 times, this is not a renewal process that is driven by going to the marketplace every year for additional quotes. It’s about a year-long continuation process: the delivery of the best possible client experience. This positions you as an indispensable risk partner and trusted advisor to the point that you can’t be replaced.
  • Relationship Management. As mentioned above, our business is not a transaction game but a relationship game, in which relationships are managed and enhanced. These are the relationship categories that we always focus on: clients, future ideal clients, insurance carrier key contacts, team members and centers of influence. The key is to be purposeful about making relationship deposits, not handling service items. Know your top relationship categories and make sure you’re regularly making deposits with them (i.e., reaching out to them and doing something for them). What are you doing on a regular basis to stay in touch with your clients and future ideal clients? What are you doing to help them?
  • Future Ideal Client Pipelines. I know you’ve heard this one before too, but it’s critical to maintain an overflowing pipeline of future ideal clients who have been referred to you. These pipelines should be filled with more opportunities than time. Keep in mind that you only get enough hits if you’ve had enough at-bats.
  • Going DEEP. One of the most valuable things I’ve learned recently is the idea of going DEEP in all key processes of your agency. DEEP stands for Delivering Excellence in Every Process, whether it be new business, continuations, relationships, claims, technology or something else. You and your team must design what excellence looks like for your agency, and then hold yourselves accountable for delivering it. Furthermore, it must be specific. For example, what does your continuation process look like? When does it start? What do you deliver? What do you expect from everyone on the team? As the best agencies will attest, going DEEP keeps them in the Green Zone.

The goal of our Professional Fitness Experience® is to have the strategies, processes and structures in place that allow producers to be in the Green Zone 80% of the time. How are you and your producers doing with this? Is your time truly spent selling? Are your producers actually spending 80% of their time in the Green Zone? Based on the average work week of 40 hours, that would be 32 hours per week that producers are spending/investing in the Green Zone. If not, you have a bunch of part-time producers. (Gee, I wonder why the average organic growth rate is only 5%!)

Now, assuming that 80% of your time is spent in the Green Zone, that leaves the remaining 20% for the Red Zone. It’s not a perfect world, stuff happens, and sometimes things are simply out of our control. Don’t panic! That’s life. You’ll always have meetings, client emergencies and other situations that pull you away from your Green Zone. The key is to schedule your Red Zone activities, rather than sit around waiting for them to happen. Just be very specific and intentional about identifying those activities and differentiating them from distractions.

The bottom line

As an individual producer, challenge yourself to maximize Green Zone time every week. Make sure your high-performance team members understand and buy into the two zones. Get their commitment to keep you in the Green Zone and out of service (which they’ll gladly do because you mess up service items the majority of the time you get involved anyway). And when they do, remember to make deposits with them. It’s extremely important to show them how much you appreciate their support, which keeps you in the Green Zone. You’d be surprised how far a gift card or some other thoughtful token of gratitude will go.

If you’re a sales leader, constantly remind your producers about Red Zone vs. Green Zone. Make it a topic at every sales meeting. Challenge them, remind them, and then celebrate with them.

Do you plan to commit your time and energy to the Red Zone or the Green Zone? Where do you think million-dollar producers invest their time?

As always, it’s your choice.

The author

Roger Sitkins is chief executive officer of Sitkins Group, Inc., and developer of The Sitkins Network and The Better Way Agency program. Roger began his career by working in his parents’ insurance agency in Wyandotte, Michigan, and after nearly 40 years has truly become an icon in the industry. He has trained and mentored thousands of insurance professionals. Producers, CEOs, and sales managers with diverse levels of experience have benefited tremendously from his training and leadership.

Roger was inducted into the Michigan Insurance Hall of Fame in 2017 and in that same year also received the Dr. Henry C. Martin Award from Rough Notes magazine. Roger is among only six people to have the honor of receiving this prestigious award.

Recognized as the nation’s top insurance agency results coach and renowned leader for improvement, he believes that if you improve the life of one person, you improve the world. To learn more, visit

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