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The Rough Notes Company Inc.



November 07
09:45 2016

Winning Strategies

Replace the wrong things you’re doing with the right things you should be doing

Left to our own devices, most of us often end up doing the wrong things. Otherwise, we’d all be super successful, healthy, happy and wise, right? These wrong things prevent us from getting optimum results, so why do we do them?

Perhaps it’s because we don’t have to do the right things. After all, the independent agency is a great business model that allows the wrong things to still generate pretty good results. During our training programs, I often ask: “How many of you are making more money than you thought you’d ever make?” And, “How many of you are making way more than your friends and siblings?” And finally, “How many are making more money than you’d make if you had a real job?”

Every time I ask that last question, everyone in the room always cracks up! People realize that in just about any other business, they wouldn’t have the opportunities they have now. The reality is that most of us would be fired if we had real jobs. That’s because most business owners specify what they require and expect from employees, and hold them accountable to do it.

In our business, you can still get darned good results without doing specific, required things. Of course, being able to do the wrong things and still make more money than most people do creates a huge conflict. What if you decided that the wrong things are wrong and, moving forward, you would only do the right things?

That reminds me of something a friend of mine, who was an LPGA golf instructor for 26 years, shared with me. After a bad shot, some players would ask her, “Why am I doing that?!” Her response was always, “Why? Do you want to do it again?” Well, of course not! However, it illustrates how we tend to focus on what we’re doing wrong vs. how we can correct or improve.

In our business, that would be like asking, “Why do I have so many part-time customers?” (Why? Do you want more?) The better question would be, “How can I make sure that I have 100% full-time customers?”

So here’s a BFO—or Blinding Flash of the Obvious: “Wrong is Wrong and Right is Right!” Perhaps now’s the time for a personal reality check on Wrong vs. Right. What are some of the things that you should be doing that you’re not doing? More important, what’s the long-term cost of doing the wrong things?

Those of you who have heard me discuss this before are probably saying, “I already know what to do,” but if you know it and aren’t doing it, you don’t really know it.

Remember, doing the right things is not just about having the discipline to do so. Every one of us is extremely disciplined or we couldn’t survive in this business. Unfortunately, most of us are disciplined to do the wrong things—and we do them consistently.

Typical wrong behaviors

Here are some of the things I’ve seen people do over the years that are absolutely wrong.

Believing in Quick Fixes. You’re absolutely wrong if you think that a quick-fix scheme will get you superior results. I can tell you unequivocally there’s no shortcut to success; the quick fix is a total fallacy. It takes pig-headed discipline and unwavering adherence to your core strategies and behaviors to improve and get the great results.

Displaying a Mission Statement Without Reinforcing It. All too often, I’ve seen businesses post their mission statement on a wall and website, and then forget all about it. They never discuss or reinforce it. Even if it’s prominently displayed in their conference room, it’s little more than wallpaper. That’s wrong!

During a recent private training program, one participant was a young man whose previous career with Chick-fil-A involved traveling around the country and opening new stores. We discussed the need to constantly reinforce the culture of an organization and how he needed his team to focus on doing the right things. When I asked him how they did it at Chick-fil-A, he responded that everyone knew the company’s mission. He said they talked about it all the time and lived by it. I thought that was interesting, so I asked him what it was. Without blinking, he rattled it off verbatim! Furthermore, he said it with passion and conviction.

Obviously, the mission statement is a philosophy that Chick-fil-A employees are expected to know by heart and live by. However, when I asked the young producer about his agency’s mission statement, he hesitated and admitted that he didn’t know it as well as he knew his previous employer’s. Granted, he’d only been there a couple of years, but he was definitely embarrassed when I pointed out the agency’s framed mission statement on the wall behind him.

Focusing on Multiple Activities vs. Results. What you focus on, you will experience; so if you’re focused on the wrong things, your experience will yield the wrong results. What are you focusing on, and is it really what you want?

For example, are you focused on activities vs. results? Are you wasting time complaining? Do you spend way too much time staring at your cell phone or computer monitor vs. actually talking to people? Is your focus scattered in many different directions?

Researchers have discovered (and are proving) that multi-tasking is a myth and creates up to a 28% loss of productivity. Their studies show that the idea of being able to do many things (adequately) at once is a lie. You might be able to tackle several projects simultaneously, but it’s doubtful you’ll accomplish much of anything unless you address each task individually.

I’ve visited many agencies where each of the service people will be monitoring several different computer screens at once. One might be for email, another for a document they’re working on and another for their agency management system. Like a dog with too many squirrels to chase, employees can’t fully focus on anything when multiple tasks are vying for their attention at the same time.

Rather than multi-task, the next time you’re faced with 100 things that need your attention, narrow your focus to the most important things you need to accomplish. Always concentrate on the handful of items that will yield the greatest results. Then determine the one thing that must be accomplished first and do it. I promise you, this concept works.

Saying vs. Believing. We’ve all met the salesperson who spouts the company line or the telemarketer who reads the script from his or her computer monitor. They don’t believe what they’re saying; they’re just going through the motions. Instead of going “head to mouth” (repeating what you’ve been told to say), the best producers go “head to heart to mouth.” They embrace the agency’s core beliefs.

For example, when producers say it’s not about selling only on price, but they don’t really believe it, it shows. They only talk about how they can save you money. On the other hand, producers who honestly believe their job is to help people control their total cost of risk will tell you that insurance is just one of the solutions they offer—not the only one. You can always tell when someone is speaking from the heart and not from a script.

Competing on Price Only. The old apples-to-apples quote is absolutely wrong. By the way, do you know how many varieties of apples there are in the world today? Over 7,500! How can you possibly compare apples to apples? Besides, competing on price isn’t even a fair fight in today’s world. One of our ProducerFit attendees, who is also a competitive shooter, shared these words of wisdom from his instructor: “If you’re in a fair gunfight, you’ll probably lose.”

Selling Policies, Not Process. Many producers use their unique process as a way to sell policies. Instead, they should be focused on selling the unique process itself—what makes them unique in their marketplace. Again, providing policies is one of the things you do, but it’s not the only thing. In fact, policies (i.e., the risk transfer mechanism) are the easy part on most of the accounts you’ll work on. That’s because carriers not only have identified that as a class of business they like, they can provide customized coverages and they offer competitive pricing.

The tough part is differentiating in a commoditized world. And the only way to do that is to sell your unique process: Here’s what we do, how we do it and why we do it. Unfortunately, far too few producers can explain as much and basically resort to the “Look, Copy, Quote and Pray” way of selling. That’s not a process! It’s just wrong!

Not Practicing for Fear of Looking Stupid. You’re going to look stupid someplace, so it had better be in a low-risk practice setting within the agency. In our training programs, we always emphasize that every opportunity deserves your very best. Therefore, you must be relentlessly prepared for any chance you get to be in front of a future ideal client. You can’t give your best without extensive preparation, which includes ongoing skills practice.

In addition to practicing your skills and rehearsing presentations, it’s equally critical that you understand your prospect’s business. This means researching the company as well as the industry, and knowing the insurance carriers’ underwriting concerns on that type of business.

Looking at Emails First Thing. Reading your emails first thing in the morning is so wrong because it starts your day in HAWG—Hysterical Activity on the Way to the Grave. Looking at 50 emails that aren’t important is counterproductive. Instead, start with a list of the three most important things that have to be done—not should be, but must be accomplished today.

Look at the emails you get from clients, prospects and insurance companies that you really need to read. What percent of those emails require your personal response and which ones could have gone directly to a member of your team? I’ll bet that 80% of your business-oriented emails could have been directed to someone else.

The bottom line

I’d like to challenge you to make a list of the wrong things you are doing and then make a list of the right things you’ll commit to doing immediately, if not sooner. Wrong things are wrong and right things are right. It’s really that simple and, as always, it’s your choice. n

The author

Roger Sitkins, CEO of Sitkins Group, Inc., is the nation’s number one “Agency Results Coach.” He is the creator of The Vertical Growth Experience™ in addition to establishing The Sitkins 100™ and Sitkins International. His latest offering is The Better Way Agency—a web-based platform in partnership with Zywave designed to help independent insurance agency owners move from a commodity-based business model to a relationship-based model where every customer is profitable for the agency. To learn more, go

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