Super Agent

Posts Tagged ‘success’

Why “Showing Up” Isn’t Enough

Seth Godin recently asked his blog readers, “What’s your job?” and ended the post by saying, “If your only job is “showing up”, time to raise the stakes.”

Is it time for you to raise the stakes?

We often talk about the importance of finding your “Why” and gaining a real understanding of your purpose in order to remain motivated, to be successful, and mostly, to stay fulfilled in your professional life. The good news about our industry is that we are doing really important work. We’re facilitating better care for workers who are injured on the job. We’re creating big opportunities for our clients to improve their outcomes and their business.  We’re helping employers drive innovation, mitigate risks and enhance efficiency. So, if you’ve been simply “showing up” recently, we encourage you to think back on a time in your career when you felt most engaged, connected and excited about your work.

If you get back to that place, we’ll bet that you’ll be more successful moving forward.

Reject the Status Quo

This is what the skeptics said: California Chrome is the product of an $8000 mare and a completely undistinguished (at the time) $2500 stallion.  His trainer is a 77 year old man who pushed him too hard at Churchill Downs before the race. No California-bred horse has won the Kentucky Derby since 1962. Except the skeptics were wrong, and California Chrome is looking at a possible Triple Crown win after winning the Derby and defying the odds.

So, what does this have to do with you? The most interesting element of this underdog story was described in a New York Times article. It said: “there are few rules in racing, but one that is considered inviolable is never to turn down a suitcase full of cash. Steve Coburn and Perry Martin understood that, but two months ago, when one of the sport’s far wealthier owners offered them $6 million for 51 percent of the first horse they had bred, the offer did not sit well.”

Instead, California Chrome’s owners decided that they wouldn’t fade into the background of their own success story. They wanted to make history, and they trusted in their own research and their own instincts in order to make it happen.

So, commit. Go for the win. Take risks. Do the thing that you believe in and that you know is what’s best for employers even if it means rejecting the status quo.

“Kites rise highest against the win, not with it.” – Winston Churchill

Everyone’s Plan

In a recent conversation with a producer and an account executive, they told us how they were moving through the sales process with a large account. And what they had to say about their approach is worth sharing with you here.

To start, the two of them conducted 3 separate meetings with 3 different groups of people within the organization—the feet on the street, middle management (including HR) and finally, the C-Suite. Each conversation was tailored to the needs and wants of the groups and assessments were made about the state of the company.

Then they made an interesting decision. Before going back to the C-Suite to deliver their proposal, they created a draft of it to take to the other groups. In that meeting, they presented their plan with the intent to not only gain agreements but to also collaborate. They said, “Here are our recommendations….did we miss anything?”

The result was enormously powerful.  The feet on the street people and the middle managers became invested in the plan, and everyone at all levels of the organization eagerly anticipated the next step—the meeting with the C-Suite. It became everyone’s plan, and everyone had a stake in it being received well.

Too often, we see producers trying to get around this person or that person in order to get to the people at the top who really make the decisions. But that’s a mistake. Engaging with teams of buyers at all levels is becoming more common, and, as this story demonstrates, if you can get the entire organization on board so that they are invested in the success of the proposal, you win.

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.

Who Is Your Biggest Competitor?

We say it all the time: many agents make the mistake of thinking that their biggest competitor is the agent down the street. In reality, it is the status quo creating the biggest obstacles to their success. The majority of prospects you meet are following an ineffective process to manage risk and buy insurance, but they’re unaware of the dangers they’re in and too risk averse to be actively considering making a change.

It would be nice if there were a large number of prospects in the “action stage” of change. But, most need leadership and a push in order to get there. In a recent Forbes article, Tim Riesterer of Corporate Visions was interviewed on this subject. He talks about the need to engage a buyer’s emotions in order to get them moving toward the action stage and offers these three tips to do it:

  1. Context- He says: “if a tornado siren sounds on a sunny day, most people don’t take action. But, on a cloudy windy day that same siren can lead people to take action. A simple change in context makes all the difference.” For agents, this means asking thought provoking questions and bringing forward new ideas in order to help prospects see the problems and challenges of the status quo
  2. Contrast- In other words, bring a sense of urgency to the conversation. If you create a stark enough contrast between what is and what could be, they’ll want to know more.
  3. Concrete- As we’ve discussed in the past, in order to engage the emotional centers of the brain that lead to change behavior, skip over talking about complex “features and benefits” that require heavy mental lifting. Talking about your capabilities should come later on, after agreements have been made to move forward and around existing issues in need of being addressed.

How are you taking on the status-quo? We want to hear your stories! And, if you’re interested in attending a unique conference for insurance professionals focused on overcoming the status-quo, you can check out more information here.

Leading By Example

We often talk about how to deal with and change the minds of today’s decision makers who are opposed to veering from the status quo—who make a change only after producers put in the hard work to lead them to discover the problems they’ll face if they don’t, and to see a future with better outcomes if they do.

But, what if you haven’t made it to that step yet? What if you’re dealing with a team putting up barriers to changes you’re trying to implement within your agency? Maybe you’re implementing a new sales process or you’re gaining new capabilities in order to focus on targeting larger accounts…but you’re not seeing the level of engagement and adoption you’d hoped for.

It might be because you haven’t addressed the emotional fears of your team or other likely barriers, but it could also have something to do with the leadership.

Are sales managers on board and committed to the changes? Do you have your own doubts about implementation? As Albert Einstein said, “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means.” If you don’t believe in what you’re doing with certainty and if you’re not engaged, excited and available to address challenges when they arise, then your team won’t be able to transition wholly and successfully. Even worse: they may have embraced the change and are ready to become better, but when a sales manager or leader has not then their motivation and their ability to be successful will be stifled.

So, if you’re thinking about what the barriers are that may be preventing a successful transition or evolution within your agency, don’t forget to consider leading by example as an important factor.

Are You On Cruise Control?

Sales strategist and expert Jill Konrath linked to an excellent video on her blog recently about how to be an invaluable sales resource. She said, “prospects have so many options — and they know it. When you tell them, “We’re special” — they don’t believe you. If you say, “We have a passion for excellence” — they don’t care one little bit. Tons of companies have the same passion for excellence… I bring this up because lots of you are on cruise control. Believe me, I’ve been on cruise control before and had my whole career wiped out because of it.”

Are you on cruise control? Are you engaging in the bid-and-quote cycle that is ineffective and dangerous to employers, are you scrambling to fill your pipeline because you haven’t spent enough time on prospecting activities, do your marketing materials still highlight your agency’s features and benefits?

There are a lot of people on cruise control in our industry, but that only means that there are big opportunities for agents who take back the controls and drive against the wind. Jill’s advice is to be constantly growing and learning, to be students, “to make more connections, go to a conference, sign-up for newsletters, learn more.”

If you haven’t done anything recently to increase the value you provide to your clients and to increase your own success, now is a great time to start.

Check out the full video here and let us know what you think.

It’s All About the Conversation

A common practice that we see during coaching calls with producers is that many of them are using language that creates push back or resistance from the prospect. They have the capabilities necessary to help employers get better, and they want to engage in a consultative way but they’re too quick to revert back to agency focused assertions rather than having an open dialog. So, they’ll say “we have this unique process”, “we don’t go out for bids”, or “the way you’re engaging is flawed and puts you in danger.”

These statements may all be true, but a more effective approach is to invite the prospect into the conversation with conditional language. Conditional language means you’re not telling the prospect what’s wrong or what you do differently. Instead, you’re asking pointed questions that help them to gain new insights about their current state, self-discover risks, and move toward that “Aha” moment that leads to change. Think about using phrases like, “Let’s assume…” or “What if it were the case that…”

The RAIN Group says this about the power of conditional language: “Open-ended sales questions are great for helping us to find out what’s going on in our prospects’ and clients’ worlds. They help us connect with buyers personally, understand their needs, understand what’s important to them, and help them create better futures for themselves.”

Here is an example of a question that uses conditional language to achieve a better response and effect than “we have a unique process”:

“What if you were to discover that the process you’re engaged in is actually creating barriers to what you’re trying to achieve?”

Changing the conversation in this way can make a big impact when you’re goal is to lead a prospect to see a future that you’re a part of. We challenge you to try out this approach during your next sales meeting. Did you see better results? Let us know in the comments.