“Good is the enemy of great. And one of the key reasons we have so little that becomes great.” Jim Collins
Why do some independent insurance agencies hunger for never-ending improvement and growth while others simple settle for good enough?
It’s a question that we ask ourselves all the time at the Sitkins Group. Our mission is to help independent insurance agencies become the best possible version of themselves and live a life with no regrets.
In our recent live and online trainings to our Sitkins Network members, we have consistently asked the participants to stop postponing their greatness to ensure that they maximize their full potential.
I think too many agencies sell themselves short of their true potential. In large part, because this is truly a great business model. If you give a solid effort, do a decent job in sales, and give your clients average service, you can still make a nice living. In fact, a much nicer living...
LOOK BELOW THE SURFACE TO SEE WHAT DRIVES YOUR SALES SUCCESS
We all know the tragic tale of the RMS Titanic, which sank in 1912 after it struck an iceberg south of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Of course, it was the mass beneath the surface that caused the lethal damage. That’s no surprise considering that only 10% of an iceberg’s mass is above the waterline, whereas 90% is below it.
In many ways, insurance/risk management is like an iceberg. Most people are familiar with only what’s above the waterline, which are product and price. Below the waterline are all the value-added services and risk factors that not only determine the product and price but also differentiate agencies and their producers from competitors.
Similarly, I see an analogy between icebergs and success in sales. The sale itself is what people notice because it’s above the waterline. It’s visible, which is why it’s so exciting! Conversely, few people consider the behaviors and...
HOW TO CHART A NEW COURSE AND STAY FOCUSED ON IT
After all these years of coaching independent agency leadership teams and producers, I’m not surprised by very much. For example, it doesn’t surprise me that the vast majority of agencies are simply drifting along. However, it frustrates me that this is a recurring theme at most agencies. They’re doing fine, but they’re just drifting.
I know this because whenever I ask prospective consulting clients specific questions about their business—their annual business plans, budgets, sales goals, financial models, training, etc.—most of them have nothing to say, because they don’t have any of the aforementioned items. (Maybe that’s why they’re calling me!) The reality is that you can be semi-successful in this great business without any of those things.
As you may recall, “semi-successful” means you’re doing really well financially (making more money than you’d make...
If you have been an insurance sales producer longer than 10 minutes, you know all about risk.
A risk is defined as “exposure to danger.”
Danger surrounds insurance producers every day. It could be in the form of a manager, company, prospect, client, product, or service. That list could go on and on, but the key point is that risk is clear everywhere you turn.
I believe you could categorize sales risks into three areas:
These three risks highlight that even though the sales profession is the highest paid industry in the world, only a small percentage of the population enters this line of work. Furthermore, an even a smaller percentage of sales producers survive.
I have dealt with these three risks consistently in my own sales career. Although the context of these three risks has evolved over the years, the consequences have not.
While the fear of failure, rejection, and financial hardship are...
We see that the average producer is a part-timer at best. Even though most of them will still do okay, they’ll never be great, and at the end of their career they’ll have tons of regrets.
According to the Organic Growth & Profitability Survey conducted by Reagan Consulting, agencies experienced 4.5% growth in 2017. People got really excited because it was an improvement over 2016’s growth of 4.2%. This concerns me.
To me, 4.5% is not exciting, nor should it be to any true sales organization! What is exciting is growth that is two or three times the national average. That would be either 9% or 13.5%.
I fear that many agencies are blindly following the 4.5% Model. Although they’re not doing this deliberately, that’s the problem—they’re not aware that they’re doing it. But maybe this model is exactly what’s holding them back!
Now before I expand on this, I realize there...
If I asked you to list some characteristics of great leaders, what would you say? Do words like courage, tenacity, compassion, vision, drive, authenticity, determination, empathy, understanding, and results-focused come to mind?
Those are all great characteristics of leadership, but how does one become a better leader? More specifically, what should emerging leaders in the independent insurance agency channel focus on to prepare themselves to move their organizations and our industry forward?
It’s no secret that our business has been very well served through the years with solid leadership, but we’re seeing a growing leadership gap develop. Current industry leaders are continuing to transition into their next phase of life. And younger folks are taking notice. An up-and-coming insurance leader recently asked me a very important question: “What are some of the things that I should be doing to prepare and develop myself to become a better leader?”
This got me...
FOLLOW THESE STEPS TO IDENTIFY, TARGET, AND WRITE YOUR BEST PROSPECTS
In organizing and presenting more than 100 producer training programs with more than 3,000 participants, I’ve recognized a highly predictable “producer’s improvement cycle.” Although I’ve mentioned this topic in previous articles, I believe it merits deeper discussion.
To summarize: The cycle starts with an improvement in the conversion rate and then the closing ratio, followed by revenue per sale and finally the quantity and quality of “at-bats.” Let’s take a closer look at each of these areas of improvement.
“If speaking is silver, then listening is gold” Turkish Proverb
Have you ever had a sales appointment where you felt like a rock star on the big stage or an attorney delivering a spellbound closing statement? You rattled off all the right phrases, terms, and filled all the coverage gaps.
You went back to your office and told your boss, “I nailed that one, it’s a done deal!” Only to find out later that the prospect that you just dazzled selected a different agent?
The person who talks the most feels the best, but the one who listens has the most information.
Top insurance producers have always been good listeners, but in today’s information filled world, listening is an art form.
I have taken classes on active listening. While it has helped me in the business world, my wife may tend to disagree! I often react or want to “fix...
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...
While asking great questions to our team members, clients, and other influencers is critical, the most important questions we can ask are the ones that we ask ourselves.
As a leader, you have undoubtedly learned that experience is an effective teacher. However, is experience the BEST teacher?
Have you ever met someone who said they have 20 years of real world experience, only to realize that what they really have is 1 year of experience doing the same thing for 20 years?
Experience is indeed a good teacher, but only evaluated experience creates greater awareness and positive change.
I am a natural risk taker and eternal optimist. In many ways, these tendencies serve me well. However, they can also cause me to forget to stop, reflect, and make necessary improvements. That’s why asking great questions is so important.
Recently I read a terrific leadership book based around asking great questions...
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