The most consistent problem I hear from agencies and producers is the struggle to keep their prospect pipeline full. The reason it is such a consistent problem is that it is rarely a consistent activity.
Prospecting cannot be allowed to be an activity of last resort, performed only when we are in panic mode. Instead, prospecting needs to be the top priority in every agency. And, as selling models become more consultative and buyers more sophisticated, producers need, and deserve, help navigating and staying on track.
And it shouldn’t only be the responsibility of producers. It is an activity that needs the support of the whole agency. There either needs to be a sales leader charged with helping producers develop goals or, if that isn’t realistic, resources need to be provided to enable producers to self-manage. Either way, both annual revenue goals and formal prospecting goals (with quantifiable milestones) have to be in place to measure and eventually manage to the desired results.
As with most activities, it all starts with role clarity and assigned responsibilities.
Producer Prospecting Responsibilities:
• Use consistent agency messaging
• Fill pipeline with viable prospects
• Keep prospects moving through sales process
• Maintain a full and consistent pipeline
• Develop annual prospecting and sales goals
• Block out weekly prospecting time
Sales Leader Responsibilities:
• Bridge the transition between marketing and sales
• Help producers create strategies for prospect accounts
• Provide accountability – monitor and measure behaviors
• Help producers plan and use time effectively
• Hold productive and educational sales meetings
I realize that not every agency has the luxury of having a formal sales leader, but that doesn’t mean that those responsibilities don’t need to be picked up by someone else. Perhaps it’s an agency principal, producers who do this for one another, or producers doing it for themselves. Bottom line is, these are responsibilities critical to the sales success of the organization.
Pipelines are the key to agency revenue, and they take time and effort to cultivate and maintain. You just have to decide how badly you want it.
Photo by Andre Chinn.