Too many years ago, when I was in high school, I played sports like basketball and volleyball for the school teams. As much as I loved playing the sports, being 5'9" made it quite a challenging to succeed in tall people sports. In spite of this, I found some success and even made varsity.
However, as I played on these teams, I never truly felt the sense of “team”. Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of fun. But many times, it felt like we were several individual players playing the same game, instead of a team trying to achieve a common purpose.
The activity that brings me the fondest memories and also taught me the most about teamwork, mindset and winning, was not playing sports, but being in the marching band
For a new and growing insurance agencies, increasing sales is of utmost importance for both survival and expansion. Everyone knows the more leads, the more sales you will have. The challenge is, how do you get more leads? The problem for many agencies is they do not have a consistent plan for lead generation. When I screened new agencies for direct appointments, one question I always asked was, “what is your sales and marketing plan for new business?” The most common answers I got were, “we network,” or “cold calling.”
Don’t get me wrong, networking and cold calling are valid methods of getting leads, but they should not be the strategy, but rather a tactic within an overall strategy. They should be part of an overall lead generation plan.
Imagine a large a city like Los Angeles or New York. How many roads lead into that city? Your goal for lead generation is to become that city. You want to build several roads for customers to reach you and for you to reach your target customers. Unlike the city, heavy traffic is a great thing for your business when it’s filled with qualified leads.
One of my favorite TV shows is Shark Tank. In fact, my kids watch it with me religiously. They still don’t quite get concepts like valuation and equity, but they love cheering on the entrepreneurs, and critiquing their businesses like the sharks. Even though the show is designed to entertain, there are always good core business lessons in every show.
The fundamental flaw of every entrepreneur, myself included, is that we fall in love with our business. Why not? We put our heart and soul into the business. It doesn’t matter if you are starting your agency or have been in the trenches for decades; it’s your blood, sweat and tears. It's your baby.
Almost 15 years ago, I walked into the sales office in Los Angeles of my new employer on a warm and sunny March day. I was enthusiastic, wide eyed, and eager to take on my new job as the new district sales manager for the struggling sales team.
I knew the team finished at 58% of quota the previous year and was ranked second to the bottom in the nation of over 160 teams. However, I was confident I could turn things around. After all, that was what I was hired to do. When I walked through the door, all of the enthusiasm and energy I had all morning almost immediately left my body. My first day nearly became my last.
“If I can show you a way to increase revenue and retention by asking one simple question, would you do it?”
For several years, I would speak in front of a room of 30-60 insurance agents utilizing that opening as my “pitch” and presentation for the insurance program I was running. The reality was that it was that simple. I was not stretching the truth on the sales process of this program. However, after I did a handful of these seminars, I knew my metrics and expected results.
When your insurance agency is starting out, culture is not something you really have to worry about. For most new agencies, it’s just you and maybe a friend, family member, or colleague you’ve known for some time. However, as you start hiring additional “outside” staff, the agency culture will shift and change over time. This is also true for established agencies. The culture you started off with may be drastically different 5 years later.
Everyone starts a new year with the best of intentions. Aside from the unfulfilled resolution of “I will go to the gym every day,” goals often go off track as the year progresses, even with the best of intentions. I once read the Apollo mission to the moon was off course over 90% of the time before arriving at the moon. Adjustments had to be made through out its mission to ensure it arrived safely and on target.
The same is true for your personal and agency goals. We all wish we were always on track with our goals. However, the realities are we often need to make course corrections along the way so we hit our goal by yearend.
As we reach the mid point of the year, it’s the perfect time to re-evaluate, adjust, and refocus on the goals we set at the beginning of the year. But before we do so, we need to ensure the goals we set at the beginning of the year had all of the components necessary to ensure their success. Let's look at a fun way to ensure we have everything we need.
Let's plan a vacation!
“Don’t confuse activity with achievement” – John Wooden
Have you ever said the following to yourself?
“What happened to my day? I was busy but got nothing done.”
This is the trap John Wooden was referring to. Just because we are busy doing things, it does not mean we are actually accomplishing anything. We’ve all been there. Busy all day, putting out fires, responding to requests and when the day ends, nothing we actually wanted to get done was accomplished.
Unfortunately, many times those other distractions end up costing you money, time and added stress you simply don’t need. In order to achieve more, you need to have strategies to help you get focused on what you really need to get done and avoid overwhelm.
Here are 11 hacks to help you achieve more and stress less. Of course, adapt this to your own environment and situation.
“Detail Schmetail! Who cares? Salespeople aren’t detailed oriented.”
Throughout my career of leading sales teams, I’ve heard a version of that sentence from various salespeople. They just want to go out and sell, and not worry about the details like metrics and numbers. So I wasn’t too surprised when I met some agency principals and producers that were also not well versed with their agency’s numbers and metrics. They too wanted to focus on selling and other top priorities.
The irony is that while I've heard "Detail Schmetail" throughout my career, I’ve also heard this common statement about sales.
“Sales is a numbers game.”
So how can you play a numbers game when you don’t know your numbers?
“Back in the day, I used to be talk to my friends on the phone for hours...”
This is was a snippet of the conversation I had with my nineteen-year-old daughter a few months ago. I was feeling old that day when she shared with me she mostly texts or “Snapchats” her friends when they want to talk. They rarely ever get on the phone to talk. It almost seemed like a foreign concept. She doesn’t even have phone numbers for some friends, just Snapchat and Facebook info. If you have teenagers, you probably know what I am talking about.
For business and the insurance industry, the same shift has been happening as well. In the digital world of social media, client self help portals, instant online quoting, and other digital trends, it has become more difficult to build and maintain relationships with clients.
So is building relationships with clients that important if the world is becoming more digital by the minute?