I live in St. Louis and, while I’m not the biggest hockey fan, I do try to keep up with how the Blues are playing. The season did not get off to a great start. In fact, the head coach lost his job and was replaced with Ken Hitchcock.

Since Coach Hitchcock took over, the Blues improved to the point that, as I write this, they have the best record in the NHL. While I could certainly write about how having the right leader in place makes all the difference, I will instead focus on something I heard the coach say on the radio one morning this week. While talking about a recent win, he made the comment, “We’re not the most talented team, but we are a team.”

Of course, he wasn’t talking about being a team in the technical sense, but rather a team in the way they execute. I know that the whole idea of “team” becomes a little tired and cliché, but once you peel back the cliché, there is a lot of substance.

While his statement got my attention, it was a question I received at the end of a webinar this week that really got me thinking. The title of my webinar was, “Redefining the Role of the Broker”. I made the case for what insurance brokers and agencies need to do to both survive and even thrive in face of our current challenges. I was asked, “How can a small agency compete with the big boys in this model?” There are many ways of course, but perhaps none more obvious than what Coach Hitchcock credits their success to: Play as a team.

What it looks like to play as a team

Right players playing the right position – This means that it is clear and organizationally understood who has what strengths. Who is the best door opener? Who can best articulate the technical aspects? Who is it that can best connect with a new prospect? Who is that loves to organize and create processes? Who can smooth over an unhappy customer? Who can always get the carrier to make an exception?

The team who takes time to recognize individual strengths and use them at every opportunity will find the synergies to be powerful.

Strength in numbers – The glory isn’t in winning alone, the glory is in winning. Producers who are wise enough to take someone else along on a sales call – another producer, an account manager, an agency principal, wellness coordinator…you get the picture – will find their winning percentages climbing, just like the Blues.

I’m not suggesting that extra bodies be taken along just to fill seats, they need to have a purpose. But if you prepare for the game by studying your prospect, you will know what additional knowledge will best compliment your own.

Recognize the value of coach/practicing – Even the best athletes (maybe especially the best athletes) constantly practice their skills and are always anxious to get feedback and direction from their coach. This should be the same for you. Practice presentations, role play how to handle objections, do whatever it takes to improve your sales/service skills. And, go to your manager to get feedback on what you are doing well as well as the areas that are in need of particular help.

It’s not the equipment, its how its used – I don’t know about you, but I could go out and buy the absolute top of the line golf clubs and it wouldn’t change my score a single stroke. Now getting some golf lessons with my current clubs could make a huge difference.

It’s the same with the services you take to our prospects. The fact that you have the services isn’t nearly enough. Your prospect/client is even more interested in hearing about the implementation strategy and potential results for your value added services than they are in the service itself.

Accountability for actions – The best teams have individual players who point the finger at everyone else when they win and point the finger at themselves when they lose or a play goes bad.

So, it may be cliché, but I guess clichés develop for a reason. Modestly talented people playing as a team will beat a group of superiorly talented individuals almost every time.


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