I am so fortunate to be doing what I am doing, for SO many reasons. But one of the coolest reasons is that, given the role I fill with our member agencies, I get to see salespeople at their most vulnerable. By vulnerable I don't mean weak and frail, I mean open and completely honest.

If you are a producer, I have a strong suspicion you have a distorted perception of many of your competitors. You think they are: smarter than you, more experienced than you, more articulate than you, have more resources than you, are more qualified than you, have better agency support... the list goes on.

When you compare this perception you have of them to what the voice inside your head tells you about yourself, it's amazing you muster up enough courage to compete.

And, because of the role I fill, I happen to know what that voice inside your head is telling you. I know because I get to hear producers open up and share those thoughts.

  • I'm intimidated by the thought of asking my clients for referrals.
  • I'm not sure how to effectively cold call.
  • I don't really know if my clients think I do a good job.
  • I'm not sure I really deserve the success and income I have achieved.
  • I don't know how I will acquire the knowledge and skills to compete in the future.
  • I work "hard," but seem to tread water, and I don't know how to start moving again.
  • I can see the industry changing around me, but I'm not sure what to do about it.
  • Sometimes, I feel like a pretender.

Well, guess what? That "intimidating" competitor has the same voice inside her or his head. I know because sometimes that's who I'm talking to. Yes, you are the "intimidating" producer to many of your competitors.

During my first meeting with a producer, I ask four questions.

  1. What is going well for you right now?
  2. What is challenging for you right now?
  3. How do you define your success over the next 12 months?
  4. What can I do to help you the most?

It is trying to answer the first three questions that brings out the vulnerability I mentioned above.

Here is another cool thing about this role I fill with producers: by just having someone who is genuinely interested ask the questions and help them start talking through their answers, I can immediately see the relief on their faces and the hope and confidence start to build.

It's the answer to the fourth question that would likely surprise most agency owners and sales leaders. When I ask what it is that I can bring to our relationship that would benefit them the most, the most consistent answer given is "continue to push me to do the right things and then hold me accountable."

The very thing agencies fear putting on their producers the most is the same thing those very producers most desire.

By pushing a producer and holding her accountable for results, confidence is bound to replace the insecurity. And we all know what happens when a salesperson competes with justifiable confidence.


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