Author: Brent Kelly
This article originally published on the Sitkis Group Blog and it is reproduced here with his permission.
Ask most insurance producers how their day was and it’s likely that you will receive an answer that revolves around the words, “I was really busy.”
In most cases, that is true. Insurance producers are often very busy. The problem is that they are often busy with activities that do not directly correlate into results.
One of my favorite personal development books is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by the late Steven Covey. This book outlines the 7 key habits that separate successful people from all the rest.
Over the past many years, both as an active producer and consultant, I have found that high achieving producers focus their time and energy in 8 key areas. In this post, I want to discuss these 8 key habits to help all insurance producers move from “too busy” to productive.
Activity vs. Results
I can recall many days as an insurance producer when I would leave the office feeling like I had accomplished a great deal. I would come home and my wife would ask, “How was your day?” I would respond “really busy.” Then she would ask a far more challenging question, “What did you do?”
If I had to answer honestly, it would have mainly consisted of checking emails, returning basic phone calls, a client meeting or two, and putting out whatever fires happened to start that day.
I began to realize that although I was undoubtedly busy, I was not productive. I was an activity-based producer, not a result based producer.
Unfortunately, activity-based producers are all too common.
Just because you are busy doing something, doesn’t mean you are accomplishing anything
The first step in moving from an activity-based producer to a results-based producer is understanding and executing specific roles. As Sitkins Group CEO Roger Sitkins states, “Activities are the agencies/service teams’ responsibilities. Results are the producers/sales leaderships’ responsibilities.”
Too often producers are doing activity-based work that is not only unproductive, but work that they are not highly skilled to perform. Here are some examples of activity-based tasks that should be handled by the agency and service team.
· Basic renewal work
· Claims reporting
· Audit questions
· Accounts receivable
· Policy changes
I know what some of you are thinking. “How can a producer be successful if they aren’t responding to all of the client’s needs?”
High-Level agencies and producers understand that sales and customer service is a team sport.
I have never watched a basketball game where one person inbounds the ball to himself, dribbles it himself, passes it to himself, shoots it himself, and then plays defense by himself.
However, in many insurance agencies, that’s what many producers try to do. Instead of trusting and working with their team, they try to do everything themselves.
Great insurance producers focus only on the key results-based functions that lead to winning results. They realize that if they focus on functions that other team members are better equipped to handle, they are not only doing a disservice to their clients but missing out on results-based activities.
So, what are the 8 habits of highly successful insurance producers? Here you go:
1. Client Relationship Management
Insurance producers are often “so busy” dealing with routine activities that they miss out on the most critical habit of every successful producer… relationship building.
I learned this lesson the hard way several years ago as a producer. I insured a large contractor that had been with our agency for over 10 years. Our team did a good job of taking care of their basic insurance needs, but I did a poor job of maintaining the relationship. The result was one the most painful BOR letters I ever received. It a true lesson in the power of client relationship management.
2. Sales Activities
Duh! It almost seems ridiculous to say this, but it’s true. A producer’s job is to PRODUCE. Guess what? When you are doing any activity that can be handled by another member of your service team, you are not producing.
The average producer spends only a small percentage of their week prospecting and presenting. I challenge you to track your activities for an entire day or week. What percentage of your tasks are sales-based activities and what percentage is other? The numbers may be a huge awakening.
3. Referral Marketing
If I asked 100 producers if receiving referrals is important to their business production, 100 hands would go up. However, when I ask producers how many of them ask for a referral every time they are with a client, future client, or center of influence, only a handful of hands go in the air.
Referrals are non-optional. Highly successful insurance producers always ask for referrals. They understand the gap between knowing and doing and take consistent action. In addition, high achieving producers earn referrals due to ongoing relationship management. If you are nervous to ask for a referral, it is a powerful indicator that your current relationship is flawed.
4. Insurance carrier relationship management
I am flabbergasted on how many insurance producers never consider the importance of developing positive relationships with their primary insurance carriers. The relationships with your underwriters, marketing representatives, and other carrier executives is the lifeblood to consistent business growth.
There are two sales in every insurance policy transaction. The first sale is with your underwriter/carrier. Until you make that sale, the sale to the client is unachievable. Successful producers invest time and energy into developing these key relationships.
5. Niche Marketing
I believe that it is the producers job to know more about their clients and future clients than anyone else. That starts by identifying a key industry or demographic that the producer can focus a great deal of their time and energy on.
There is a reason why specialists earn more than generalists. Specialists have a greater depth, knowledge, and provide specific solutions that generalists are not equipped to provide. High achieving producers spend time and energy getting to know a specific market and/or industry to become a true trusted advisor.
6. Active Prospecting
Highly successful insurance producers have one thing in common. Their pipelines are always full. That’s because active prospecting is a consistent habit. They never wait until their pipeline is dry. Active prospecting is a process that is part of their daily schedule.
Highly successful producers schedule prospecting times on their calendar just like a prospect or client appointment. Prospecting isn’t simply picking up the phone and cold calling, but finding events where their ideal clients gather, using online resources like LinkedIn to build relationships and connect, and creating custom content that adds value to their ideal clients. How much time are you spending each day adding value your future clients?
7. Leading Through Emergencies
Yes, there are times when proverbial “yogurt hits the fan.” These are called emergencies and producers must quickly and proactively deal with these emergencies.
My mentor says, “A problem left unattended becomes a crisis.” While I believe every insurance producer should be proactive, there are times when you must respond accordingly when a difficult situation is encountered. Those are the moments where the insurance producer must step up and lead with confidence. When you lead in times of crisis, you earn credibility, trust, and in many cases, a client for life.
8. Proactive Renewals
At the Sitkins Network, we don’t teach agencies how to renew accounts, we teach agencies how to continue relationships. That starts by being proactive on every renewal.
When does the continuation process begin? As soon as your future client becomes a client. Your job as an insurance producer is to make the renewal a non-event. This occurs by agreeing on expectations up front and then delivering on your promise. When you set clear expectations, and deliver on those expectations through a stewardship report, you proactively earn trust and long-term clients.
The Bottom Line
So, there are the 8 habits of highly successful insurance producers. High level producers spend 80% or more of every day in these 8 activities.
You can choose to be accidental and let things happen to you, or you can become intentional and make things happen. High achieving insurance producers focus on consistent and proactive habits that lead to exceptional results. You can do the same.