If you have been reading our blog for a while, you know that we focus on a theme each year. A couple of weeks ago, we introduced our theme for 2017, INTENT.
As we explained, we chose this theme as a result of watching too many agencies operate in a very accidental manner. Sure, agencies have survived in this accidental manner for decades, but, given the current challenges and threats we face, that same laissez faire attitude has left the industry vulnerable.
It is time to take intentional actions in everything you do: intentional with your insurance agency development, planning, prospecting, marketing, sales conversations, client experience, and, well, everything.
But, where to start?
Intentional organizations are filled with intentional individuals focused on achieving intentional results.
Your journey from accidental to intentional will not be easy and will not be quick. However, there are some quick-win successes you can achieve to experience just how rewarding intentional actions feel.
We encourage you to share the following 6 suggestions with your team and make intentional behaviors a team activity in your agency.
Intentional Behavior #1 – Intentional learning
Constant learning is one of your two greatest, most sustainable competitive advantages (the other is closely related, your ability/willingness to change). We all claim to be professionals and professionals never quit learning.
If you will commit to always be learning something new in the following three areas, you will find yourself having more impactful conversations with your clients and creating greater separation from your competition.
- Technical part of your job – Study self-insurance, SPD compliance, etc.
- Strategic HR – Employee Engagement, Attraction/Retention, Communication, etc.
- General Business Acumen – Marketing, Brand Management, Finance, etc.
Intentional Behavior #2 – Intentional interest; focus on THEIR story
When a prospect is willing to take time out of their day to meet with you, it’s not because they have some strange desire to learn about insurance brokers. They don’t really care about how long you’ve been in business, what status you are with carriers, the bios of your leadership team, or about the list of stuff you give away for free. Yet, how many of your websites and sales presentations focus on that very thing, YOUR story. Get over yourself, they don’t care about your story.
They are willing to meet with you because they have a problem and they are looking for someone who can improve THEIR story. This is what you need to emphasize. Be intentional in taking the time to understand their story and then be equally intentional in explaining how you can help improve their story.
Think about instances where you have already improved the stories of other clients. Maybe it was a benefits communication strategy that resulted in employees having greater confidence in the decisions they make regarding their benefits and placing greater value on that benefit program.
That is the type of success story you need to bring into sales meeting to dissect, analyze, and to figure out how to replicate. These are the types of success stories you need to be intentional in telling on your website, via social media, and during your sales conversations.
Intentional behavior #3 – Intentional success; every week
Nobody else is responsible for your success. It’s not up to the government; it’s not up to the carriers; it’s not up to your clients. Your success is your responsibility.
Chances are, as a salesperson, your primary definition of success is your annual sales goal. And, that’s definitely a good start. However, if you want to truly take control of your success, you will be very intentional about what success looks like on a weekly basis.
Start each week by defining what success will look like in 4 key areas. Ask yourself, “What will I do this week to bring value to . . . “
- My prospecting efforts?
- My current clients?
- My centers-of-influence?
- Myself through personal development?
These don’t have to be big, over-the-top to-dos. It could be as simple as making enough calls to generate a new prospect, sharing an insightful article with a client or center-of-influence, or taking the time to practice your sales presentation.
But, take the 10 minutes to define a successful week and then spend the next 5 days executing on that plan. Do that every week and your annual sales goal will likely be hit by the middle of summer.
Intentional behavior #4 – Intentional discussions
Do you have anybody who does any kind of work for you without you knowing exactly how much you pay them?
That idea seems kind of crazy doesn’t it? But, do you have any clients for whom you work who have no idea of how much they pay you? I’m guessing you do and this is just as crazy!
Pretty soon, every client will know how much you get paid; it’s only a matter of who has that conversation with them. You need to get up the courage to sit down with your clients and discuss (1st critical discussion) exactly what you do that brings value to their business and also (2nd critical discussion) how much you get paid for delivering that value.
If you aren’t having these discussions, guess who will? Your desperate competitor. But, of course, they won’t discuss the value you deliver, only how “over paid” you are.
If you are intentional in discussing all the ways you deliver value, your clients will know what they would be giving up if they switch to that new competitor who offers some bright and shiny new solution. And, if you are intentional in discussing your compensation, they will also know how much “free” really costs when that same new competitor promotes their services as “free”.
Intentional behavior #5 – Intentional service
Businesses get built in one of two ways. By far, the most common is for an agency to depend on a product to serve its needs.
The agency finds a product they really like and then searches for as many people to buy that product from them as possible. This approach only works until one of three inevitables happen: 1) A better product comes along; 2) Someone offers the same product at a cheaper price, or 3) The ability to distribute the product is taken away.
Once any of those three things happens, the agency goes into panic mode searching for a new product and then for new people to buy that product from them. It is a very exhausting and unpredictable way to build a business.
Instead of depending on someone else’s product to serve your needs, be intentional about serving the needs of your clients.
Sit down and have serious business conversations with them, ask them what they need to be more successful at what they do. And, then commit to developing, or simply finding, solutions to meet those needs.
If, over the course of your working relationship, you keep having these conversations and asking these questions, your clients will tell you at every step of the way what they will buy from you if you simply bring it to them.
Intentional service is a much more rewarding and predictable way to grow your business.
Intentional behavior #6 – Intentional reflection
Before you can help anyone else improve their business, you have to truly understand your own. As we have learned from Simon Sinek, there are three things we need to understand about ourselves before we can attract others of like-mind.
Intentional Purpose (AKA your “Why”) – Why do you exist as a business? No, not to make money, that’s simply a result. What is your purpose, your belief, your cause? What is it that drives you and gets you out of bed in the morning excited to run out the door, because when you do “this” it will make a meaningful difference for someone in your business life?
Intentional Execution (AKA your “How”) – This is your differentiating value proposition; your unique process. This is the way in which you work that gives you a genuine advantage over those against whom you compete.
Intentional Answers (AKA your “What”) – What are the various solutions you have at your disposal to address the varied needs you are able to address on behalf of your clients.
As you sit down and answer these three questions, if you don’t get fired up, if you aren’t ready to run out the door to tell your story to someone, then you have work to do.
But that’s okay, most of us have work to do. The key, as we hope you now agree, is to not leave your story to chance. It’s up to you to be intentional in writing this next chapter. Just be sure to make it a chapter others will want to read and emulate.
May 2017 be your most successful and INTENTIONAL yet!
Photo by Denboma