Insurance Industry Tips and Insights from Roger Sitkins and Brent Kelly
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...
Recently I introduced The Agency’s Best Version Pyramid (BVP). It was so well received that I’ve expanded on the concept and applied it to the all-important role of producers. Net new revenue may not solve all your problems, but I firmly believe that it solves most of them!
I continue to be very concerned about our distribution system, the Independent Insurance Agency channel. Even with organic growth rates climbing from 4.5% in 2017 to just above 6% today, there’s still so much unrealized potential among independent agencies.
“Potential” is a word I hesitate to use because I’ve always disliked it. No matter the endeavor—sports, music, theater or sales—that word is almost always attached to those who have fallen short of success or missed some great opportunity. Often, the word is associated with someone past their prime and usually is prefaced by the word “oh.” “Oh, they had so much potential,” suggests...
When I talk to producers who are frustrated with their results and overall balance in life, I think the real issue is that they’ve lost their freedom. Specifically, they’ve lost the freedom to do what they want to do, when they want to do it. Even the younger ones talk longingly about “the good old days,” when they had more freedom. But the reality is that with 24/7/365 access to data, people and products in today’s digital world, workdays seem to never end.
I recently gave a speech in Toronto to the Worldwide Insurance Network Group (WING), which included independent insurance brokers from 20 different countries. It was a great learning experience for me, and it reinforced my belief that the world’s best brokers love the collective genius of brainstorming with other super-smart individuals.
During my opening comments, I asked if any of them were experiencing some loss of freedom or...
HOW TO HOLD YOURSELF AND YOUR PRODUCERS ACCOUNTABLE
We’ve been doing a lot of research and improving our programs that address what creates great producers and what it takes to cultivate million-dollar producers. It seems that every agency and most producers want to increase their sales. At least that’s what they say. However, the recurring disconnect between what they say and what they do reminds me of one of my favorite Kenny Chesney songs: Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven. Of course, “nobody wants to go now.”
If you ask the average agency and producer how they’re going to increase their sales, their typical response is: “I’m going to sell more insurance.” Well, duh, I get that. But the question remains: How are you going to do that?
I’m sure you’ve seen the TV commercials for a certain credit card that end with: “What’s in your wallet?” My question to agency owners and producers: “What’s in...
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...
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...
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...
Several years ago, I heard a quote that challenged me. Looking back, I now realized that it also has changed me.
As a commercial lines producer for 15 years, I attended a variety of sales and product trainings classes from insurance carriers and associations. Most of them were very informative and did help my business, but I would often find myself falling back into bad habits.
Yes, I gained product knowledge and a new sales idea or two, but I wasn’t gaining momentum. That’s because most of my training focused solely on the technical side of the business.
- Technical sales training is important.
- Technical sales training has value.
- Technical sales training can help you sell more.
Unfortunately, technical sales training completely misses the emotional aspect of why people buy.
So why is it that most companies offer solid technical sales training, but completely miss...
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