Super Agent

3 Ways to Reduce Stress & Improve Performance

One of the most important factors to being successful is to make sure that you’re continually improving. Benjamin Franklin said: “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” The problem is, it’s easy to let your goals slip away without a good plan in place to minimize stress and better your performance.

When was the last time you evaluated your path to success? If it’s been a while, here are 3 things to consider doing in order to help you get there:

#1- Execute a Plan to Protect Your Existing Book of Business

This is one of the biggest stressors that producers face—ensuring that their clients are still feeling connected, engaged and working in alignment with the agency. We often hear, “I’m so busy managing my book of business that I don’t have time to develop new business opportunities.” So, in order to prevent this from happening we suggest that you plan ahead. Determine which accounts drive 80 percent of your revenue, then calendar regularly scheduled meetings with them in order to conduct assessments, establish action plans, and measure the improvements to their business.

#2- Identify and Monitor Your Key Performance Indicators

A few examples of these are research calls, face-to-face meetings, COI meetings, and marketing emails. Most producers don’t block out time on their calendars for anything other than meetings. For example, many will use a free hour here or there to make phone calls, but nowhere on their calendar is there time to follow-up with those prospects…the time spent calling becomes time wasted. So make appointments with yourself to develop thought leadership, send out messaging, and make prospecting phone calls. Just be sure that you are treating the appointments you make with yourself with the same level of importance as those you make with others.

#3- Modify to Stay on Track

Don’t be afraid to modify your plan if it’s not working. Schedule your own performance review time to ask yourself if you’re meeting your goals and what activities should be increased or reduced. And, don’t forget to reward yourself for any growth and improvement that you see.

Apply the Power of Brain Science

In a recent article on Inc.com, Geoffrey James talks about ways to use neuroscience in order to improve presentations. He says that all of the effort and money put in to understanding how the mind works is good news for every business person, because there are significant insights that can be used to make business relationships better.

We’ve talked about the science of decision making before, and the huge impact it has on driving successful sales meetings. But, this article offers a few additional pearls we thought were worth breaking down:

- The first tip is to customize your presentations. Although the way we process information and make decisions is the same, each individual (even within the same organization) has a different set of objectives, goals and desires. In other words, don’t have the same conversation with the CEO that you have with the CFO. Do your research on what might be important to them and on what unique challenges they may be facing and tailor your stories and questions for each meeting.

- Next up, show and tell. James explains that “the latest neuroscience research has revealed that human beings process words and pictures in different physical areas of the brain.” In order to really engage people, it’s best to try to access both areas. If you do, they will be more likely to remember your message.

- Lastly, stick to the basics of your message. Don’t provide confusing and complex information or data up-front. Humans are naturally drawn to stories, and are likely to dismiss what you’re saying if it’s presented to them before they’ve become emotionally engaged and invested.

How are you applying the power of brain science during your sales conversations? Let us know in the comments.

Discovery = Opportunity

What kind of producer are you? Do you search to find what most prospects think they want—the lowest price—or do you help them discover what they didn’t know they needed?

Seth Godin recently wrote an excellent blog post on the difference between search and discovery. He said: “Search is what we call the action of knowing what you want and questing until you ultimately find it…discovery is what happens when an organization, or a friend help you encounter something you didn’t even know you were looking for.” He argues that helping your clients find something they didn’t know they needed is a huge opportunity, and we agree.

Most employers are satisfied with where they are; they have no idea that their business may be at risk or that their process for engaging with insurance agents is putting up barriers to their own success. The good news is, the majority of agents aren’t leading prospects through a process of discovery. So, if you do, you’ll not only help the prospect along the road to better outcomes, you’ll also differentiate yourself.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “We are all inventors; each sailing out on a voyage of discovery…the world is all gates, all opportunities.”

6 Questions to Ask CFO’s

Many of the agents that we talk to, especially those working with larger accounts, struggle to drive sales conversations with CFO’s. The good news is, part of the role of the CFO is to have a long-view of the success of their organization, and so managing risk is often of special interest to them. But, most CFO’s want risk to be clearly identified and defined, and managed with specific responsibilities assigned. So, if your dialog with them is jargon-filled and vague then they’re likely to lose interest and take you back to price.

In order for a CFO to see the value of engaging with you, it’s necessary that you bring strategic ideas, data connected to strategy and, most importantly, thought-provoking questions to the table. Dialog is the pathway to discovery and change behavior, so here are 6 questions you might consider asking a CFO in a sales conversation:

How confident are you that…

1- …your risk profile and risk management strategies are in alignment with what you want to achieve as an organization?

2- …you are using non-financial information (along with financial information) to build your organization’s risk profile?

3- … you’re adequately assessing how risk events can potentially affect your business strategy?

4- … you’ve identified the smart risks that will create opportunities for success?

5- … risks are well integrated with operational management goals?

6- … risks and performance indicators are being continually monitored to gauge progress toward business objectives?

Having conversations with CFO’s around growth and sustainability, more effective and efficient use of their premium dollars, improved outcomes and a future based on their vision for their business is something that most agents aren’t doing. So, assess your prospect list, talk to your current clients… take advantage of this opportunity to differentiate and grow your business.

Who Is Your Biggest Competitor?

We say it all the time: many agents make the mistake of thinking that their biggest competitor is the agent down the street. In reality, it is the status quo creating the biggest obstacles to their success. The majority of prospects you meet are following an ineffective process to manage risk and buy insurance, but they’re unaware of the dangers they’re in and too risk averse to be actively considering making a change.

It would be nice if there were a large number of prospects in the “action stage” of change. But, most need leadership and a push in order to get there. In a recent Forbes article, Tim Riesterer of Corporate Visions was interviewed on this subject. He talks about the need to engage a buyer’s emotions in order to get them moving toward the action stage and offers these three tips to do it:

  1. Context- He says: “if a tornado siren sounds on a sunny day, most people don’t take action. But, on a cloudy windy day that same siren can lead people to take action. A simple change in context makes all the difference.” For agents, this means asking thought provoking questions and bringing forward new ideas in order to help prospects see the problems and challenges of the status quo
  2. Contrast- In other words, bring a sense of urgency to the conversation. If you create a stark enough contrast between what is and what could be, they’ll want to know more.
  3. Concrete- As we’ve discussed in the past, in order to engage the emotional centers of the brain that lead to change behavior, skip over talking about complex “features and benefits” that require heavy mental lifting. Talking about your capabilities should come later on, after agreements have been made to move forward and around existing issues in need of being addressed.

How are you taking on the status-quo? We want to hear your stories! And, if you’re interested in attending a unique conference for insurance professionals focused on overcoming the status-quo, you can check out more information here.

I Hear and I Forget; I See and I Remember

We recently came across an interesting article that talks about the “Achilles’ ear—a weakness that lies not in a mythical hero’s heel, but in the real-life way the brain processes sound and memory.” According to the findings of a University of Iowa study, auditory memory lags far behind both visual and tactile memory (and the gap only increases over time).

The study comes as a reminder that engaging multiple senses is your best bet for making a strong and memorable impact on employers during sales conversations. This is not to say that what you say isn’t important. Engaging in a consultative sales process, asking thought provoking questions, and gaining verbal agreements are vital to successful meetings. But you’ll likely be even more successful if you remember to engage a few other senses.

For example, consider using graphic overviews in your meetings to represent your sales process, an idea or other detailed information. Even better, allow prospects to interact with the graphic on an iPad, or leave them with a hard copy at the end of your conversation.

The brain remembers what it sees and feels more than what it hears, and taking advantage of this by utilizing visual and interactive tools not only positions you in a unique way it also helps you to stay in control of your process.

Leading By Example

We often talk about how to deal with and change the minds of today’s decision makers who are opposed to veering from the status quo—who make a change only after producers put in the hard work to lead them to discover the problems they’ll face if they don’t, and to see a future with better outcomes if they do.

But, what if you haven’t made it to that step yet? What if you’re dealing with a team putting up barriers to changes you’re trying to implement within your agency? Maybe you’re implementing a new sales process or you’re gaining new capabilities in order to focus on targeting larger accounts…but you’re not seeing the level of engagement and adoption you’d hoped for.

It might be because you haven’t addressed the emotional fears of your team or other likely barriers, but it could also have something to do with the leadership.

Are sales managers on board and committed to the changes? Do you have your own doubts about implementation? As Albert Einstein said, “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means.” If you don’t believe in what you’re doing with certainty and if you’re not engaged, excited and available to address challenges when they arise, then your team won’t be able to transition wholly and successfully. Even worse: they may have embraced the change and are ready to become better, but when a sales manager or leader has not then their motivation and their ability to be successful will be stifled.

So, if you’re thinking about what the barriers are that may be preventing a successful transition or evolution within your agency, don’t forget to consider leading by example as an important factor.

Are You On Cruise Control?

Sales strategist and expert Jill Konrath linked to an excellent video on her blog recently about how to be an invaluable sales resource. She said, “prospects have so many options — and they know it. When you tell them, “We’re special” — they don’t believe you. If you say, “We have a passion for excellence” — they don’t care one little bit. Tons of companies have the same passion for excellence… I bring this up because lots of you are on cruise control. Believe me, I’ve been on cruise control before and had my whole career wiped out because of it.”

Are you on cruise control? Are you engaging in the bid-and-quote cycle that is ineffective and dangerous to employers, are you scrambling to fill your pipeline because you haven’t spent enough time on prospecting activities, do your marketing materials still highlight your agency’s features and benefits?

There are a lot of people on cruise control in our industry, but that only means that there are big opportunities for agents who take back the controls and drive against the wind. Jill’s advice is to be constantly growing and learning, to be students, “to make more connections, go to a conference, sign-up for newsletters, learn more.”

If you haven’t done anything recently to increase the value you provide to your clients and to increase your own success, now is a great time to start.

Check out the full video here and let us know what you think.