So much content, so little time.

I get it.

I look forward to the quieter days at the end of the year to slow down, catch up on emails, and read all the content I have bookmarked to come back to “when I have more time.”

I wish for you a little time to read some of the most-read posts on our Q4i Industry Blog this year. There’s a mix of articles written in 2023 and a couple of much older ones that continue to receive a lot of attention and reading time.

Which is an interesting topic – the age of an article. We tend to be dismissive about content that is older than a few weeks. Why? Is it less relevant? Perhaps, if it’s a news article based on a current event or compliance deadlines.

But the shelf life should be pretty long if it’s musings and advice around business and HR practices. Consider this as you create content for your company – have a mix of timely and evergreen content. Having content that resonates with your audience month after month and year after year is good for your audience and good for your business.

Read through the openings of the articles below and follow the “Read more” links on each to get to the full article.

We’re grateful you choose to spend time with us and bring us into your day. From all of us at Q4i, we wish you a Happy New Year and a prosperous 2024! 🥂🎊 

Death by 1,000 Clients

There is an old saying that "revenue cures all problems." It's easy to appreciate the spirit of that adage, but the "wrong revenue" often makes the problems even worse. The toxic relationship the independent insurance agencies have with revenue/compensation is the biggest contributor.

Here’s a breakdown of what I mean

  • Let’s assume an insurance producer has a $750,000 book of business.
  • The average account generates a little under $6,200 of annual revenue.
  • Therefore, it would be typical for the producer to have 120 accounts that make up that book.
  • As we analyze books of business by listing accounts in descending size of revenue and look at the bottom half (the 50% of accounts that are the smallest in the book), we see that the bottom half of a book generates a little over 6% of the total revenue. Read more… 

Do You Have Overachievers or High Performers on Your Team?

 "High-performer" and "overachiever" may sound like nuanced differences, but the results that come from these two mindsets can be quite different.

Overachievers operate with an intense desire to succeed and produce at a level above and beyond expectations. They drive hard with a focus on production of activity.

High performers act with a similar desire to succeed. However, their focus is largely on learning, the journey, and how they can create something better that produces superior results.

Overachieving personas 

Read through these descriptions of some familiar personalities in insurance agencies.  

The overachieving producer
  • Makes more calls
  • Holds more meetings
  • Manages more clients
  • Does more service work
  • Fields more emails
  • Needs to feel and appear busy to feel productive Read more…

What Does #Growth Mean to You?

I believe we’re either growing or stagnating.

I’ve had many interesting conversations with my son about growth and how many people stop learning new things. I hadn’t considered the “who is learning” concept, and I’ve done a lot of thinking about it recently. He took me snow skiing this winter, and except for trying it during my youth, this was a completely new activity for me. The most fascinating part was how intrigued other people were that I tried it! Another woman on the rope tow hill was also learning to ski, and she was 15 – 20 years my senior. Other than that, all the “learners” were kids.

The horror I felt that I might stagnate gave me a swift kick of motivation to think intentionally about learning and growing in all areas of my life, not just business. I’ve since made a commitment to continue trying new things and saying “Yes” to new opportunities that arise, no matter how much I may instantly react with the thought, “That’s not ME. I would never do that.” Well, why not? It takes getting over some self-limiting beliefs that have accrued over the years, and so far, the result has been enjoying myself a whole lot more!

We’ve written about growth a couple of times recently, as #Growth is our theme for the year. You can read about the theme here and how we’ve organized our #Q4Live conference around it here. We figured it was time to ask others what growth means to them, and I’m delighted to share various perspectives from our team and around the industry. Read more…

The Way You Spend Time and Money Reflects Your Beliefs and Values

We hold our values and most important ideas and people close in our hearts, but the true test of that belief is reflected in how we choose to spend our time, money, and resources.

We get into habits that carry across all areas of our lives and develop who we are. For example, extremely disciplined people tend to spend time focused on things of great importance to them both at home and in the office. People who lack strong discipline have a hard time following through and completing things and tend to spend time thinking about a project at home or at work but struggle getting it done.

So what does all this say about us? The choices we make define us, not just who we think we are or would like to be. Read more…

You’re Freakin’ Kidding Me, Right?

I received a call from a client (let’s call him Joe) asking for some advice. Joe is a benefits broker, and he described to me a prospect he was looking to close but who had just called him with a question that had him shaking his head.

He first called on this prospect last year, a company with two separate business units. He was initially told he would be getting the BOR on the business, only to have it taken away because of a “relationship” one of the principals in the second business unit had with another broker.

Joe was left with a single line of coverage for just one of the units.

The high cost of a “relationship” decision

Fast forward to this year. The business units have combined into a single entity, and Joe got a call from the CFO asking him to, once again, compete for the business. The CFO felt the other broker had put them in a dangerous situation by failing to help them address even the most basic compliance requirements.

Upon further review, it was quickly evident that the other broker had COMPLETELY failed the client; they didn’t even have basic COBRA processes in place. The CFO asked Joe to “throw me under the bus.” In other words, he wanted Joe to come in and not hold anything back about the dangerous compliance situation they had been placed in by the other broker. Read more…

You in the Glass House! Put that Rock Down

 Our industry is under attack: in DC and state capitols, boardrooms, over kitchen tables, and in the court of public opinion.

We're also being attacked from within.

In all fairness, many attacks are warranted; the system is broken, period. It needs to be fixed. Those fixes won't come without criticism, debates, and a lot of freakin' hard work.

Unfair attacks

The collective industry can be broken down into numerous segments. It includes insurance carriers, pharmacy benefit managers, non-insurance solutions, third-party administrators, technology platforms—the list could go on and on. One larger industry segment works to pull all this together: employee benefits advisors.

Despite this, too many advisors unfairly attack other advisors as being a core part of the problem. These attacks go beyond healthy competition and cross into unfair and unsubstantiated accusations.

When the advisor community attacks itself, it validates and further deteriorates an already less-than-desirable reputation.

I'm talking about one specific criticism I have repeatedly addressed. I get pissed off when I see benefits advisors attacking other advisors. But it's even worse when the sole reason for the attack is that the competition receives compensation from carriers through commissions and bonuses.

This angers me for two reasons. Read more…

Teach, Tailor, and Control Throughout the Sales Process

We chose a theme each year, and in 2012, we chose to focus on the ideas of “Teach, tailor, and control." While they weren't new ideas for us or our members, we wanted to highlight them as critical for the continued evolution of the broker model and ensure salespeople mastered them.

We felt particularly validated when these same principles appeared in a series of articles published by Harvard Business Review. The articles were based on the book The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson, which shares the results of a significant study on selling performance.

The authors explain they conducted a study of over 6,000 sales reps where they grouped salespeople into five basic categories based on similarities of behavior attributes: Relationship, Hard Worker, Lone Wolf, Problem Solver, and Challenger. With the possible exception of the title category, most are self-explanatory.

Their study went on to show that while there is a fairly even representation of each category among salespeople, the distribution skews significantly when you start searching for the “high performers.” Read more…

Willpower vs. Self-Discipline

Regular readers have heard me talk over the years about the ongoing changes to the benefits industry. You know them as well as I do. You also know that those who aren't committed to keeping up and leading will have a hard time overcoming the challenges and surviving.

I also talk about the great opportunities for producers and agencies who successfully navigate the changes and step up to the challenges. My hope is that you desire those same opportunities and have made the commitment to make them happen.

Desire is a great start, but you also need commitment

When doing something new to you, you must prepare yourself to make that commitment - not just one time, but every single day.

Like a New Year’s resolution, it’s not what happens on January 1 that matters nearly as much as it is what happens the other 364 days. Let’s take a look at what I mean and how you can make it happen consistently.

Start by identifying your goal and be prepared to continually recommit to that goal. Now comes the hard part, and it is here where your previous successes are likely to become an obstacle.

Chances are you are as successful as you are because you have unbelievable willpower.

Unfortunately, there is a natural limit as to how far you can get on pure willpower. Read more…


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