At the end of the day, it’s all about results. It then stands to reason that, as a producer, it is all about sales results. Unfortunately, when results don’t meet expectations, we are often at a loss as to why.
When you really look at why sales goals are missed, it is usually because behaviors are not in alignment with the goal. If you are behind on your goal, or would just like to improve your results, honestly answer the following questions to determine if your behaviors and goals are in alignment.
1. …stay out of service activities, or any other activity that doesn’t generate revenue?
If you don’t…you will be busy, but you won’t be productive. There are some service issues in which the producer needs to be involved, but these should be limited to those emergency issues that could be relationship threatening.
The producer’s job is to produce new revenue; it isn’t to take care of the day-to-day service issues of the existing book of business. In fact, taking care of the day-to-day service issues is part of what you “pay the agency to do” for their share of the commission split. The producer gets paid to generate the business; the agency gets paid to service the business. It’s pretty simple, really.
2. …keep a pipeline filled with the right kind of opportunities?
If you don’t…you will lose control of your sales process and find yourself building a book too slowly and with the wrong type of clients. For whatever reason, producers don’t find a sense of prospecting urgency until the pipeline is empty. At that point, it’s too late and they will be sucking air for the next three to six months (or whatever their particular sales cycle happens to be).
Consistent prospecting is the key to keeping the pipeline full. If producers aren’t blocking out time for effective prospecting each and every day/week, there will be too few opportunities to pursue.
3. …practice your presentations in the office, not in front of the prospect?
If you don’t…your performance will suffer. Despite what you may think, every producer practices. The best producers practice in the office with their sales manager, account manager and other producers. Unfortunately, most producers practice in front of their prospects. I don’t think I have to spell out how dangerous and foolish it is to practice in front of your prospects. Can you imagine Payton Manning showing up for the first game of the season not having practiced or prepared for the game? Of course not! As good as he is at what he does, it would be a sure recipe for a loss.
Your efforts aren’t any different. As good as you are at what you do, winging your presentation will produce inconsistent results at best. And, I’m not only talking about practicing the presentation itself, but also, and maybe more importantly, how to answer the inevitable objections that will come.
The only way you can approach a sales opportunity with a deserved level of confidence is if you have anticipated and practiced for every conceivable situation the opportunity will bring.
4. …know the prospect’s business, how they make money, and how you can help them make more?
If you don’t…the prospect will struggle to ever see you as more than another vendor selling a product. While knowing insurance and employee benefits is critical, it is also expected that you have this knowledge. Because it is expected, chances are vey slim that you will earn a prospect’s confidence just by meeting their minimum expectations.
What they are really looking for is help in becoming better at what they do. I will challenge that it is impossible if you haven’t developed the business acumen and done the research to understand how you can make that happen.
5. …never lose because the competition was better prepared for the opportunity?
If you don’t…well, I think this one speaks for itself. Just know that being better prepared doesn’t mean having a better spreadsheet, it means having a better business solution.
6. …work every day to be smarter and more informed than you were yesterday?
If you don’t…you start losing ground the very day you stop pushing yourself. What was exceptional yesterday, is acceptable today, but will be completely inadequate tomorrow. You have to work every day at remaining exceptional.
7. …use the strength of the entire team and not try to play the role of Lone Ranger?
If you don’t…you will find yourself spread too thin and increasingly ineffective. Specialists are always more in demand and able to deliver more value than generalists. If you don’t leverage the support and expertise of an entire team, you are relegating yourself to the role of generalist. Besides, your prospects and clients are going to find much more confidence in knowing you bring an entire team to support their needs.
This goes back full circle to question 1. If you don’t use the strength of your entire team, you will allow yourself to be pulled into service issues, out of sales activities and find your book of business prematurely plateaued.
You owe it to yourself, your clients and your team to ensure that you are getting sales results. If you couldn’t answer “yes” to every question, your results are either lagging behind your goals, aren’t predictable – or both. If that’s the case, something will need to change. You will either need to change your current behaviors, or you will need to change your goal. I hope you choose the former.
About the author Kevin Trokey is President of Benefits Growth Network, a firm specializing in growth strategies for Employee Benefit agencies, departments and producers. He can be reached at Kevin@benefitsgrowthnetwork.com.
© 2010 Zywave, Inc.