THE FOUR ESSENTIAL BELIEFS OF SUCCESSFUL INSURANCE PRODUCERS
Beliefs drive behavior
You won’t achieve unless you believe—in yourself, your agency,
and the carriers you represent.
By Brent Kelly
It’s frequently said that beliefs drive behavior. I believe that’s true, having witnessed it with the professionals we work with. But I also believe it’s important to recognize what types of beliefs drive behavior, and also understand where our blind spots lie.
Underperforming producers tend to let negative, self-deprecating thoughts dominate their beliefs, thereby undermining their opportunities for success. Conversely, I’ve found as a producer and a coach that the most successful producers embrace four essential beliefs.
Belief in oneself
As a producer, the first sale you must make is to yourself. However, this can also be the hardest sale to make because insecurity, fears and other self-limiting beliefs often hold us back. If you don’t believe in your heart of hearts that you’re the best person to deliver what you’re selling, neither will your future ideal client (FIC).
In many cases, the difference between $100,000 producers and million-dollar ones is how they think of themselves. It’s not that million-dollar producers necessarily have a superior strategy or are smarter or harder-working; they just have a different mindset. They think of themselves as being million-dollar producers and they’re committed to realizing that idea. By refusing to indulge in self-doubt, they project a winning image.
Do you fully believe that you’re the best person to solve a client’s problems or help them move forward? If your answer is “maybe” or “I think so,” then I’d say you don’t have a full belief in yourself.
What can you do to overcome this way of thinking if you’re struggling with that concept? You can start developing a belief in yourself by addressing several key areas:
- Preparation/confidence. Confidence isn’t something people automatically possess; it’s something that must be developed. For a producer, confidence comes from being prepared in a way that convinces you that you deserve a client’s business. Before meeting with a FIC, have you researched the prospect’s company and its underwriting concerns? Have you rehearsed your presentation? Have you practiced and role-played? Doing this makes you better, which in turn boosts your confidence.
- Bread for the head. Motivational speaker and author Jim Rohn is famous for using the term “bread for the head” as a metaphor for what we feed our minds. His point is, what you put into your head will determine what you learn, how you grow, and whether or not you improve. What are you putting in your mind to get better? When you’re not selling, what are you reading/learning to get better? Are you ingesting the right things to cultivate knowledge? Or do you consume a steady diet of garbage? If you’re not continually reading or watching something that enhances what you know and makes you better, you’ll never improve.
- Your network of peers and coaches. Be mindful of your environment, namely the people in your network. Who are you around during the day? Who do you spend time with after hours? Who are you learning from? You need to raise the bar mentally by surrounding yourself with the right people—those who provide care and candor. Who is challenging and encouraging you to be your best? You’ll never improve if you surround yourself with people who tell you only what they think you want to hear, regardless of reality. Remember, if you’re the smartest person in the room, you need a new room!
Belief in the agency
While no agency is perfect, you must believe that your agency is the best choice for your clients and FICs. You want to build relationships because of your agency, not in spite of it!
Bigger isn’t necessarily better. It’s a matter of your agency’s culture, and how it reflects your beliefs and values. For example, do you align with your agency’s mission? Do you believe in what the agency does? Do you agree with what it stands for?
Further, do you align with the agency’s vision? If you’re looking for new challenges and growth, you need to know what direction the agency is going in. If you’re not sure where it’s heading, you should ask your agency leader. After all, don’t you think it’s important to know if your goals are aligned and whether you’re part of the journey? Is it building long-term relationships with its producers as well as its clients? It’s hard to believe in an agency whose goal is to maintain the status quo if yours is to be part of a high-growth team committed to building long-term relationships with clients and producers alike.
Believing in your agency doesn’t mean you always have to agree on everything. But you should agree on the following key areas:
- Leadership. What does leadership expect from producers and how are those expectations defined? Is there a producer performance agreement? If your goal is $50,000 in new business and you reach only $30,000, what happens? Are there clearly stated consequences and rewards? Agreed accountability is vital for producers and agencies focused on improved performance and growth.
- Service. Ideally, sales and service have the same goals—to obtain and retain ideal clients—but different roles. Think of a football team, with each team member uniquely qualified to play a specific position. While the entire team works together to advance the ball and score points, you won’t see the quarterback doing the job of the wide receiver. The same is true of an agency’s high-performing team. The producer’s job is to produce. Do your sales and service departments have clearly defined roles and responsibilities, or are the lines blurred?
- Administration/finance. Do you have heated disagreements over trivial matters? As an example, are you fighting the accounting department over expense reports? Commission splits? Referral splits? As silly as that may seem, those sorts of things can create real friction within an agency.
Belief in carrier partners/products
At most agencies, the 80/20 Rule applies to carriers, with 80% of agency revenue coming from 20% of carriers. That 20% probably represents just a handful of carriers. You know which ones they are. If not, you should identify those with whom you have the deepest relationships and/or work with most often. Once you’ve determined the best carriers to help you move forward, what are you doing to sustain and strengthen your relationship?
- Joint planning/discussions. How deep are your relationships with your carriers? What are their unique offerings or key products and coverages that most affect your clients? Are you talking with your carriers about your plans and goals, and discussing ways to realize them? True partners understand one another’s businesses, which enables them to make plans and come up with solutions together. If you’re not sure how you can work together or you don’t have a plan that you can discuss with your partner/carrier, then it’s time to have a conversation about it. There may be specific target markets that you can work on together.
- Proactive appreciation. Producers rarely express their appreciation to their carriers, probably because they most often communicate with them indirectly through the underwriters. In many cases, the producer-underwriter relationship is a tug of war between the producer’s need to get the best coverage at the best price and the underwriter’s need to provide comprehensive coverage while minimizing the carrier’s risk. Although the back-and-forth can be frustrating, a little gratitude can go a long way.
As a producer, how often have you proactively picked up the phone or written a letter expressing your gratitude for what the underwriters do? Better yet, have you ever contacted an underwriter’s supervisor to sing their praises? When we describe the insurance business as a relationship business, we’re usually referring to the producer-client relationship. However, our relationships extend to the carriers as well. They’re critical to your success, so don’t take that association for granted. Make ongoing deposits with your carriers, including showing how much you appreciate what they do for you.
Belief in value
Do you believe in your value? You do if you’re a top producer!
Although “value” is a word that can be difficult to quantify and define, here’s my definition: the belief that your FIC is better off after doing business with you. This is a core belief of the best producers I know. They’re fully committed to helping their clients succeed, and they believe that they’re uniquely qualified to help them move their business forward.
Believing in your value is a mindset, not a sales pitch. Great producers know without question that they, their agency, and their carriers have the tools to better their clients’ business and protect their assets. What’s more, they would rather walk away from a potential sale than try to close the deal if they think it’s a bad fit.
Before telling a FIC that your clients really are better off after working with you, you must be able to quantify your value and its impact on others. This is the perfect opportunity for you to change the conversation from transactional (providing quotes) to relational (offering risk advice). Rather than tell them how great you are, allow your client stories and testimonials to do it for you! You’ll also want to ask questions about how they do business and what’s important to them. For instance, if you’re discussing property and casualty coverage, you might ask, “How are you currently calculating your true cost of risk?” Once you understand—from their perspective—how they operate, then you can tell them about all the great things you can do for them (that no one else in the market is doing). As an example: “We find that most people focus on price and product, but here are some of the things we look at that actually affect price and product.”
The bottom line
When working with producers, I find that some expect me to have a specific process or strategy to help them achieve their goals. They’re always disappointed when they discover that the root of their problem lies within; it’s all about what they believe in.
You won’t achieve unless you believe—in yourself, your agency, and the carriers you represent. But if you cling to beliefs that hold you back, you’ll never reach your full potential as a producer. After all, if you don’t believe in what you’re selling, why should they?
Brent Kelly, president of Sitkins Group, Inc., is a motivating influencer, coach and speaker who has a passion for helping insurance agencies maximize their performance. To help your agency gain clarity, build confidence, and improve culture, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Sitkins.com.