“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.
In a room of 30 agents, 5 to 7 agents will come up to me afterwards to get more details and get my business card. Out of the 5 to 7 agents, 3 to 5 would actually follow up. Out of the 3 to 5 agents that followed up, 2 to 3 agents would actually take action.
What always perplexed me was the number of agents that didn’t take action on something that’s so easy to implement. Sure it’s possible that they simply weren’t interested in the program. But everyone in the room raised their hand when I asked that first question.
The reality is there were certain agents that simply weren’t interested in the program even if it’s a “no brainer.” However, the bigger issue with the lack of agents following through had to do with one word, “implementation.”
Implementation is taking action and following through. However, implementation is time sensitive. It is human nature to procrastinate and the likelihood of following through drops tremendously with each passing minute.
How's that New Year’s resolution of exercising daily going for you? Chances are if you put off that first or second gym visit, you probably never achieved that goal. But if you did start and consistently followed through, you are probably pretty happy with the results. Remember that old rule? It takes 21 days of consistently doing an activity or changing a behavior before it becomes a habit. So, if you are going to put off implementing any strategies or tactics for your agency, chances are you will be in a similar position a year from now with your business.
When I was 24 years old, my brother took me Moab, Utah to go camping and white water rafting. One recommendation, if you don’t like the heat, don’t go in August. I was both excited and scared the day we went rafting. After all, you hear many stories of people falling out of the rafts and injuring themselves, or worse. However, I was excited and ready for the adventure. The six of us got into the raft along with the guide, I was in the back left corner of the raft.
We started our journey down the lazy part of the river. Enjoying the view, enduring the one hundred degree heat, we laughed and traveled down the river. Out of the blue, our guide started yelling at us. He yelled at us in a very loud, drill sergeant like tone.
“I am yelling at you because this is the only way you will hear me when we get into the rapids! We will spend the next mile of the river reviewing everything you need to do when we hit the rapids. You will do everything I tell you to do, exactly when I tell you to do it. This is for your safety.”
As we began our journey down the river, the guide drilled into our heads what he wanted and needed us to do.
“Left!” is when everyone on the left side of the raft had the paddle.
“Right!” is when everyone on the left side of the raft had to paddle
“Bail!” is when the person responsible for the bucket had to bail the water out of the raft.
While all of that seemed to make sense, there was one thing he said to this day, that I will always remember because it seemed counter-intuitive at the time.
“When we hit the water, hold on to your paddle and dig deep into the water! Don’t try to grab onto anything on the boat or you Will fall in! Digging into the water and paddling will help you sink lower on your seat and keep you in the boat. Just hold on to your paddle and dig deep into the water!”
As we hit the first set of white water, we were all scared and exhilarated at the same time. It was then that we realized why we spent so much time working on the basics before we hit the rapids. When we hit the white water, the ride suddenly got very rough. The raft went upwards, sideways, turned and angled in whichever direction the rapids came from.
We were soaked and could barely see anything in front of us because of the volume of water coming at us. As I felt myself losing balance, I heard the guide’s voice screaming in my head. Maybe it was actually him screaming, since it is all a big blur. Regardless, I did what he drilled into our heads. I held on to my paddle and dug deep into the river. It was difficult but, sure enough, my body sank lower onto the raft and I gained control of my balance.
When he shouted "left", we paddled left. When he shouted "right", we paddled right. When he yelled "bail," the designated person bailed the water out of the raft. We avoided all of the rocks and hazards that would have been disastrous due to his clear instructions, training and commands. We were disappointed when the fourth and final rapid came and went. We were a well-oiled machine, all in sync with each other and the guide.
Best of all, we didn’t lose anyone off the boat, just one paddle—my brother’s.
So, why the story about my rafting trip? The rafting guide clearly laid out for us what to expect, what we needed to do, and how to do it. We all understood what to do to have a fun and safe experience. However, what if one of us didn’t implement any of his strategies or guidance? What could have been the results of our journey if we delayed or failed to implement? We may have created a very dangerous situation, not just for ourselves individually, but for everyone on the raft. We could have fallen off the raft or crash into a rock. But because we implemented what we were trained on, and executed our plan successfully, we were able to have fun and stay safe at the same time. The same principle holds true for your insurance agency.
While there may not be physical hazards when you are running your agency, you will run into challenges and experience many “rapids” along the way. If you are reading this blog, this means you are someone who’s always looking for ideas to improve your agency and yourself. However, learning new ideas and tips about marketing, sales, or anything else relevant to your agency’s success are a waste of time without implementation.
No matter what the idea is, take action today. So when you hit the “rapids” during the course of business, you will be able to hang onto the paddle and dig in because you took action. Instead of getting spun around or running into hazards, you will navigate your way through them and maybe even have fun along the way.
We will do our best to be a guide along the way.
“The Journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step.” – Lao Tzu