The Wedge: Top 7 Agency, Producers Problems Owners Should Solve

April 17, 2017 by

Agency owners with an entrepreneurial spirit want to grow their agencies, but staff makes it difficult. Many have said, “It’s like herding cats.” Here’s a list of producer problems:

Problem #1 – Producers are not motivated to go sell.

Problem #2 – Producers don’t like to prospect.

Problem #3 – Producers haven’t defined “real” differences and have low confidence as a result.

Problem #4 – Producers often sell “better price/coverage” and then get rolled by the incumbent.

Agency owners have problems, too:

Problem #1 – Agency owners conduct “spreadsheet liars club” sales meetings, which do very little to help build champion producers who win way more than they lose.

Problem #2 – Agency owners have never committed to a “sales protocol,” therefore it’s impossible to do meaningful “sales and prospecting” skills building.

Problem #3 – Agency owners do not have a method to find, hire and develop new producers, and with the current “growth culture” it’s difficult to attract really talented people.

As an optimistic and hopeful entrepreneur, you can hear the battle cry: “We’ll just keep trying,” but they are really thinking: “How do we work ourselves out of this mess?”

If we could eavesdrop on the conversation between two agency owners, they’d probably say to each other:

“Man, this shouldn’t be so hard.”

“I agree, I thought growing this place would be easier, but I’ve struggled with it.”

Talk about pipeline management quickly turns to a speech on single-entry:

“Here’s the answer to agency growth. Now you can get this fantastic pipeline management tool — and even more important: it integrates with your agency management system. Problem solved, you can now manage your contacts without the headache of double-entry.”

The intoxication hits just like the second martini. “No double-entry; this is something my producers will use. Now they’ll prospect more, sell more and we’ll grow.”

Within weeks you take the plunge, sign the agreement, gain access to the software and hope reigns eternal. It’s like any new toy; you want to play with it, see what it does. And for a couple of weeks, it’s intriguing. Then the newness wears off and the producers who weren’t motivated still aren’t motivated. The producers who didn’t prospect still don’t prospect. The producers who sold price/coverage and get rolled by the incumbent still get rolled by the incumbent. No differentiation is still no differentiation.

Expenses just went up while much time was invested, and producer problems still exist.

You are still running “spreadsheet liars club” sales meetings. You have no sales process that you can drive. You struggle hiring new producers. And, you have a service culture, not a sales culture.

You solved a problem, but maybe not the right problem.

If you flipped the problem on its head and thought about it like a workers’ comp problem, things would change rapidly. You know the experience mod won’t get reduced unless you go to the root of the problem and fix it. You have to find out how people are getting hurt. Then determine if it’s an equipment problem or a training problem. If you have employees that will not wear eye protection or use machine guards, then you train them first. If they still refuse to use the protection, you have to either re-assign them or let them go.

If you want to change your agency’s culture and move it toward a sales culture, don’t you have to do the same thing? A high X-mod is not that different from a low closing ratio. An empty pipeline, meaning producers are not prospecting, is not that different from having employees that won’t use the safety equipment. Growing a sales culture is a lot like creating a safety culture.

It’s easy to get lured into drinking from the fountain that “software will change your world.” In some cases it will help, but it will never be a replacement for the hard work we have to do as sales leaders.

Here is a proven formula for changing your agency from a service culture to a sales culture — called the EG5 Framework:

1. Commit to Growth: Sounds simple, but you will run into a lot of roadblocks. If you are not committed, you’ll quit the pursuit and go back to what was easy.

2. Install a Sales Playbook: You cannot drive an idea; you can only drive a process. Your sales playbook is your process. Once you install it, you can drive it.

3. Train Your Playbook: The secret to building skilled and confident producers is no different from creating skilled and confident athletes: Train hard and train often. If you don’t have a sales playbook, you have nothing concrete to train on.

4. Drive Playbook Behaviors: After you’ve built the skills through training, you still need to drive behaviors. The same is true on the basketball court or football field. That’s why there are coaches on the sideline driving the outcomes they want.

5. Drive Playbook Accountability: If there are no consequences for poor performance, you will have poor performance. Don’t get stuck saying: “No one had to hold me accountable; no one had to tell me what to do.” Set performance standards and hold to them. If producers don’t perform to those standards, things happen that are sometimes unpleasant. That’s how life works.

For a free copy of my book, Agency Growth Machine, which goes into detail about the EG5 framework, visit: