AVOIDING PRODUCER PLATEAUS
How to help producers live by the motto,
“I’m not done yet!”
All too often, an agency that is more of a “quoter and floater” … will plateau
because no one is actually leading.
By Roger Sitkins
My Professional Fitness Experience (ProFit) programs have three focal points: clarity, consistency, and commitment.
There is tremendous power in clarity if it is acted upon! But first, you must know what it is.
Clarity answers three very important questions:
- Where am I today?
- Where do I want to go?
- How will I get there?
To start, it’s critical that you tell yourself the truth. This means being brutally honest about your current situation and actual results.
When we help agencies become their Best Version Possible (BVP), we begin by looking at their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The typical KPIs that everyone in our industry should be using are gross revenues, organic growth percent, operating profit, revenue per employee, spread per employee, and retention.
Agencies that do a deeper dive also know their revenue per validated producer, sales velocity, closing ratio, and revenue per relationship. The best agencies also know their overall 80/20, as well as for each department and every producer.
While all of these KPIs are important to know, they are simply numbers that tell you where you are. They do not necessarily tell you how you got there.
Once you have clarity on the numbers, it’s time to deconstruct them in order to determine how you got there. As I always emphasize, numbers are the result of the behaviors and strategies that are part of your overall business model. Maybe they are unintentional, but they are part of your business plan.
I hope you’ll remember the following point that I made in a recent column: Your current business model is perfectly designed for you to achieve the results you’re currently achieving. Consequently, if any of your current results/KPIs are less than you really want, it’s because the execution of your business model is perfectly designed to achieve these less-than-acceptable results.
Having said that, there is a deeper level to reach when it comes to clarity and results. It starts with knowing where you are today. Some of the key questions you should ask yourself:
- What percent of your producers met or exceeded their sales goals last year?
- What percent of the time were your producers in the Green Zone, where they focus on sales, relationship management, continuation processes, and pipeline building activities?
- What is your current sales capacity?
Let’s take a deeper look at each of these.
Sales goals. When agency owners seek out our programs, one of the first things I ask them about is what percentage of their producers met or exceeded their sales goals last year. Most of the time, their answer starts with, “Well, I think it’s about … .” Right away I know I’m dealing with a CEO who doesn’t know their numbers. This suggests that not only do they lack clarity, but they also don’t have the foundation to change.
Over the last year or so, when I’ve asked owners about producer sales goals, an average of 41% report that their producers have met them. (In many cases, I suspect that’s the main reason they even responded.) While 41% may not seem that bad, it means 59% didn’t. That’s not an acceptable percentage.
Green Zone. Do you know how your producers spend their time? My programs focus on getting producers in the Green Zone 80% of the time. As you may recall, the four key Green Zone activities are sales, relationship management, continuation processes, and pipeline building. And when you think about it, these four activities alone describe the job of a producer.
However, when asked how much time their producers spend in the Green Zone, most owners admit they really don’t know that number but guess it’s approximately 30% of the time. That means their producers are spending (wasting) 70% of their only diminishing asset—their time—in the Red Zone! They are stuck in the service trap and are hiding behind activities.
Sales capacity. Questions about sales capacity normally stump agency owners. Why? Because no one has ever asked them about it or defined it. That is, until now.
In our effort to maximize time spent in the Green Zone, we have developed a tool known as the Producer’s Perfect Schedule. It defines Green Zone activities and distinguishes pay time from no-pay time. (Think of Green Zone as pay time and Red Zone as no-pay time). The basic structure specifies that producers have 10 appointments per week with clients, future ideal clients, and centers of influence. Appointments may be in person or virtual.
Sales capacity is based on the average number of producer appointments per week. Based on our experience over the last year, the numbers are not terribly impressive. Typically, agencies have reported an average of four producer appointments per week. That’s a sales capacity of 40% (four out of a potential 10).
Using a sports analogy, you score points only when you’re in the game. If your producers are in the game just 40% of the time, that might explain why only 41% of them are meeting or exceeding their sales goals. Obviously, if they’re not doing the things that score points, they’re not going to hit their goals.
The bottom line
If clarity is power, knowing where you are today and what got you there is the foundation. For example, if your goal is to simply replicate last year, keep doing what you’ve been doing. However, if your goal is to double or triple your organic growth rate, you’ve got to change the KPIs. To do that, you need to dramatically improve your behaviors and strategies.
In our recently published book, Best Version Possible, we challenge agency owners to begin a journey to their BVP. We also suggest they stop negotiating with their BVP and stop justifying why they can’t grow.
All too often, agencies realize there’s a BVP of them out there waiting to grow, but then they start making excuses for why they can’t: “It would cause a lot of conflict/It would be too difficult to get everybody to change/We’re still doing pretty well, so … .” The fact is, you’re still semi-successful and probably doing much better than everyone else.
Remember, your current direction, not your best intentions, will determine your destination. Therefore, if your goal is regrets, stay the course. But if your goal is to attain growth and clarity, do something about it. Identify exactly where you are today and then begin the journey to your BVP. As always, it’s your choice.
Roger Sitkins is the CEO of Sitkins Group, Inc. After over 40 years he has truly become an icon in the insurance industry having trained and mentored thousands of insurance professionals.
Roger was inducted into the Michigan Insurance Hall of Fame in 2017 and in that same year also received the Dr. Henry C. Martin Award from Rough Notes magazine. Roger is among only six people to have the honor of receiving this prestigious award.
Recognized as the nation’s top insurance agency results coach and renowned leader for improvement, he believes that if you improve the life of one person, you improve the world. To learn more, visit www.sitkins.com.