Super Agent

Posts Tagged ‘goals’

The “Value-Added” Problem

Speaker and innovator Simon Sinek told a story on his blog about a Groupon deal from an auto center offering headlight restoration. The catch? The deal was only for one headlight. He explains: “What the company appeared to be saying was ‘Come get a great deal on headlight restoration!’ What I understood was ‘Come let us take care of half of what you really need…’”

How are you engaging with prospects to offer value? If you’ve ever said “If we’re close on price and you go with us, we’ll give you ____ for free” during a sales conversation then you may want to think about whether or not your prospects are having a similar reaction to Simon’s.

Are you offering value-added services to try to influence transactions? And, even if you’re landing a few accounts this way, what does it say about your genuine interest and capabilities to help employers get better?

We’ve said it before: it’s not your services that differentiate you, its how you engage, and how you collaborate. It’s your process.

If your goals are to grow your business, build mutually beneficial business relationships, help your clients uncover problems and achieve the best outcomes, don’t undermine these goals by offering empty incentives or services that aren’t connected to employer needs.

The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back

In an excellent article from Bain & Company, the writers point out something that we hear all the time from producers. They said: “When we ask communication executives what causes their customers to defect, they often point to the last thing that happened before a customer left. Often, that’s a competitor’s offer.” But the important thing to point out, and what the writers go on to say is that although “competitive offers do sometimes lure customers to switch…typically [its] after a long period of eroding trust that results from a series of misadventures.”

Assessing only the last few problems or bumps in the relationship won’t lead to a full understanding of why you lost the business. Instead, consider asking yourself:

  • Was the client a right-fit to start with?
  • Were the agency’s goals, your goals and the client’s goals all in alignment?
  • Were you able to communicate your value, and consistently evaluate where you might bring new value to the relationship over time?

Most agencies invest a great deal of time and effort in building initial client relationships, but the biggest mistake they can make is to let those relationships go unattended over time. The enemy here isn’t the competition, its complacency. How many of your clients are sticking around because their fear of change is bigger than the impact of your value? Are you focusing enough time, energy and resources into your current business relationships in order to ensure your long-term profitability and prevent a “series of misadventures” from building into the straw that broke the camel’s back?

Move Toward Your Fear

Are you afraid to move up stream because you believe large companies already have the best answers or an agent with better capabilities? Are you afraid to pursue a meeting with your dream account because you don’t feel 100% prepared? Are you being asked to step out of your comfort zone because your agency’s goals and objectives are evolving?

Seth Godin recently wrote: asking “How do I get rid of fear?” is the wrong question to ask. “Fear is not the enemy. Paralysis is the enemy.”

If you wait until you feel absolutely prepared for a big meeting, or for the perfect conditions to act, opportunities you could be capturing will be lost. So, rather than moving away from your fear and avoiding opportunities because of self-doubt, choose to believe in what you have to offer and be bold enough to go down the more difficult path.

3 Ways to Reduce Stress & Improve Performance

One of the most important factors to being successful is to make sure that you’re continually improving. Benjamin Franklin said: “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” The problem is, it’s easy to let your goals slip away without a good plan in place to minimize stress and better your performance.

When was the last time you evaluated your path to success? If it’s been a while, here are 3 things to consider doing in order to help you get there:

#1- Execute a Plan to Protect Your Existing Book of Business

This is one of the biggest stressors that producers face—ensuring that their clients are still feeling connected, engaged and working in alignment with the agency. We often hear, “I’m so busy managing my book of business that I don’t have time to develop new business opportunities.” So, in order to prevent this from happening we suggest that you plan ahead. Determine which accounts drive 80 percent of your revenue, then calendar regularly scheduled meetings with them in order to conduct assessments, establish action plans, and measure the improvements to their business.

#2- Identify and Monitor Your Key Performance Indicators

A few examples of these are research calls, face-to-face meetings, COI meetings, and marketing emails. Most producers don’t block out time on their calendars for anything other than meetings. For example, many will use a free hour here or there to make phone calls, but nowhere on their calendar is there time to follow-up with those prospects…the time spent calling becomes time wasted. So make appointments with yourself to develop thought leadership, send out messaging, and make prospecting phone calls. Just be sure that you are treating the appointments you make with yourself with the same level of importance as those you make with others.

#3- Modify to Stay on Track

Don’t be afraid to modify your plan if it’s not working. Schedule your own performance review time to ask yourself if you’re meeting your goals and what activities should be increased or reduced. And, don’t forget to reward yourself for any growth and improvement that you see.

Producer & Agency Alignment: Gain Clarity Around These 5 Things

It makes sense that one of the most important aspects of an effective sales plan is that the agency and producers have a common understanding of their goals, motivations and capabilities. But, it’s not uncommon for us to see producers attempting to write business that can’t be profitably serviced, or agencies not allocating resources to purchase important business development tools like a CRM or email marketing software.

As you’ve likely seen, this disconnect often leads to frustration and gets in the way of an effective approach to acquiring new business. So, how do you ensure that you aren’t missing out on opportunities because of a lack of alignment? Start by gaining clarity around these 5 things:

(1)    Who is your perfect client?

(2)     What level of account complexity is best served by the agency?

(3)    What constitutes a profitable account?

(4)    What class of business does the agency have the greatest success in attracting and servicing?

(5)    What’s your story– what clear, effective message do you want to convey to prospects?

Agency principals, do your producers have the same answers to these questions as you do? Brian Tracy said: “Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you [also] perform better.” In order to shorten sales cycles, increase retention and boost the probability of success, consider taking the time to align agency and producer strategies as part of your overall strategic sales plan.

Know These 3 Things About Potential Hires

Most agency leaders have been frustrated when a new hire doesn’t work out, or fails to produce. But hiring practices within many agencies are usually pretty similar: typical hires include a friend of a friend, relative, an athlete with a competitive nature, a son or daughter of a colleague, and recent graduates who are great self-marketers and eager to jump into the work force… but these characteristics are often unreliable as indicators of success, and don’t tell you anything about whether or not the potential hire will be a productive and effective team member.

If the scenario I described sounds familiar, it’s probably time to step back and assess your process for pursuing and hiring new producers. Do you know these three things about your potential candidates? 

-          Can they sell? Selling requires the ability to navigate sometimes uncomfortable situations, keep your head about you when confronted with a challenge and be able to manage multiple stakeholders.

-          Will they fit into the culture? Hiring a right-fit producer is important because one lone-wolf whose value proposition, goals and objectives aren’t in alignment with the agency’s can disrupt years of work developing and honing a brand.

-          What is the likelihood of high turnover? Often, an agency won’t see the fruits of its labor for 18-24 months, so if a hire fails or doesn’t work out thousands of dollars, time and resources have been wasted.

Hiring a right-fit producer takes time and a process. For example, it’s important to utilize assessments that may give you insight into who is the best possible match, and to use role-playing to find out who can demonstrate strong abilities on the spot and adapt to complex demands. Marketing guru Seth Godin explains: “Isn’t the entire point of a hiring process to separate the people who will be good at the job from those that won’t? Why is “clever cover-letter writing” or “willingness to travel across town on spec for an interview” a leading indicator of that?”

If you’re interested in learning more about our tips on solving the hiring puzzle, download our article on the subject here:

Shiny New Penny Syndrome

We often talk about the importance of subscribing to a process that will allow you to help your prospect see what they hope to accomplish. Doing so can help agents attain a competitive advantage and differentiate in the marketplace—two things that are often among their top objectives. But, there are many agents who are so willing to try new things to succeed, learn new information, and use the latest resources that they end up throwing out a process that works, skipping steps, or abandoning it all together before it has had the opportunity to gain traction.

If this sounds familiar to you, you might have “shiny new penny syndrome”, and it may be time for you to take a step back and assess. Agents are often adaptable, innovative, and excel when they’re put on the spot. These are all great characteristics, but they could also get you into trouble if you’re constantly changing your sales strategy.

For example, we recently spoke with a producer who was seeing early success in the sales process. As a result, he started feeling comfortable enough to skip steps in the hope of shortening his sales cycle. Instead, he missed out on the next several opportunities. It’s like a doctor deciding that things are going well, so he stops washing his hands before examining or treating patients. Not only does the quality of care decrease, but the risks increase.

It is important that you do have the capabilities to assess and adapt as needed, but it’s also important to do so with intention. Don’t spot fix issues and climb aboard quick-win bandwagons. If you believe in your process, stick to it.

“Process is your ace in the hole when your intuition stops working. If process makes you nervous, it’s probably because it threatens your reliance on intuition. Get over it. The best processes leverage your intuition and give it room to thrive.”- Seth Godin