At one of our CEO programs earlier last year, Brent Kelly, our vice president, asked me what it takes for an agency to be the best it can be. But it was what he asked me next that changed how we approach everything we do and has become the catalyst for massive, rapid improvements for everyone who attends our life-changing events, including our CEO, Sales Leadership, Producer, and Account Manager programs.
His question: “If you were having a conversation from your heart, using your almost 40 years of coaching the highest performing agencies and producers, what would your message be about becoming the best version possible (BVP) of yourself and your agency?”
This is important for agency owners, of course. But I also believe it’s something all of us as individuals should be asking ourselves. I can tell you it’s had a major impact on me personally, as well as everyone we’ve shared it with.
After Brent first asked me that question, I literally could not...
“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...
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...
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...
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...
In a recent article, I discussed what I would do if I were an agency sales manager. It got a phenomenal response, prompting a huge number of questions and comments. Although producers weren’t so crazy about it, most sales managers loved it; they said it gave them a blueprint to follow. I also heard from several readers who wanted me to revisit the topic, but on another level. Their question: “What would you do if you were our CEO?”
That’s a great question! And it got me thinking about my “perfect vision” of an agency. How would I create the agency that exists in my mind and make it a reality?
If you’ve followed me at all, you know that I’m always preaching that numbers (your actual results) are the end result of the behaviors and strategies you have in place. Subsequently, the best behaviors and strategies become the “non-optionals” that...
By Brent M. Kelly
One of my favorite resources that we use with our Sitkins Network members is the 80/20 analysis.
I am guessing that you are at least vaguely familiar with the 80/20 principle, commonly known as the Pareto principle, named after Italian Vilfredo Pareto, who discovered this principle when studying land ownership.
The 80/20 principle is true in many areas in life and business such as:
· 20 percent of the roads produce 80 percent of the traffic jams
· 20 percent of drinkers consume 80 percent of beer
· 20 percent of students generate 80 percent of classroom discussions
· 20 percent of your clothes are worn 80 percent of the time
Are you an effective leader? Turn around and see if everyone—or anyone—is following you. If no one is there, you have your answer: You’re not an effective leader!
Not surprisingly, the best leaders in our CEO programs are the ones who achieve the greatest results. They’re the ones who identify the behaviors and strategies that become non-optional within their agency. Further, they demand accountability. They agree on what they’re going to do, and then they hold themselves and their team members accountable. That’s a leader!
Having said that, I believe it’s time that agency owners and producers make true organic growth a non-optional result. The reality is that the average agency is only achieving around 3% to 4% organic growth. I hope that you (as one of our readers) and your agency find this statistic to be unacceptable. Personally, I think it’s too low. However, it’s...
Like many industries, the insurance industry has been influenced by both positive and negative leadership over the years. Today, with the rapid pace of new information, changing technology, and younger workforce, strong leadership is needed now more than ever before.
What is true leadership?
For much of my life, I thought leadership was about power, experience, or position. What I have come to realize is that true leadership isn’t really about any of those things.
After 17 years of insurance industry experience, both from the inside and outside, I have seen countless examples of both strong and weak leadership characteristics from agency leaders, company personnel, producers, and administration.
Let’s discuss what I’ve discovered to be the 4 key principles of authentic and effective insurance leadership. I believe that by...
By Brent Kelly:
Several years ago, I heard a quote from leadership expert John Maxwell that caused me to stop and pause. He said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”
I think the word that caused me to stop and pause was EVERYTHING.
I believe that leadership is important in business growth and development, but EVERYTHING rises and falls on leadership? That seems like a bit much.
Over the past few years in my own coaching business and now as an executive coach for The Sitkins Group, I can confidently say that John Maxwell is 100% correct. EVERYTHING rises and falls on leadership.
Recently, our entire team at the Sitkins Group started to make a list of the scariest trends facing insurance agencies today. After internal discussion and getting feedback from insurance leaders across the country, we discovered 8 common scary trends. They include:
· Low organic growth
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