It's The Little Things

I talk with Agency Owners every single day. Some are doing extremely well, some are doing ok and some are really struggling. All of them are wanting to improve, some more desperate than others. There are LOTS of things to work on and we discuss a wide variety of topics. But I want to emphasize one thing – The vast majority of the time improvement will come from constantly tweaking the little things while truly caring about your people. The way you recruit, your onboarding process, how you hold people accountable, your training, the talk paths people use, how you coach your team, etc. It’s rarely a situation where you have to rip everything up and start all over. It’s literally the little things that you do every day and your personal commitment to making everyone better.

So, what should you do?

Pay attention. Pay attention to your people and what is important to them. Pay attention to what goes wrong and take action on how to keep it from happening again. Whether it is a hire that does not work out or a new business prospect that will not call you back. Chances are, it’s the little things that were not done correctly and once you start paying attention to those things, you will see improvement.

A few examples…

An LSP is having trouble getting people to call back. They are making 80-100 dials a day but can’t generate enough quote volume from the calls. How do you handle it? Do you just tell them to try harder? Do you get upset? Do you ignore it? Do you fire them? The best place to start would be to actually listen to one of their calls and see what kind of message they leave. Is it too detailed? Are they even leaving a message at all? What about a hand written postcard? Is she mailing 5-10 of those a day? There are so many “little things” that can be done to improve contact ratio, they just need to be done. We as leaders are responsible for making that happen.

An LSP has very low activity. The call volume and talk times are low and as a result the quote volume is not nearly high enough to produce enough sales. How do you handle this? Well, first of all, did you discuss activity levels when you were interviewing and going through the hiring process? Did you CLEARLY explain the standards and expectations regarding the process? If so, did you hold this person accountable from day one? Or, did you skip those steps and just hope that the person did well? Maybe you explained everything well but have yet to hold them accountable. Maybe this is a tenured person and there is something going on in her life? Have you had a conversation? Again, it is all about taking action.

Your direct mail is not producing the results you were expecting. Is it really that the vendor is not doing a good job? Maybe it’s the process. Are you mailing them too late? Is the quote way too low or too high? Are you spending too much money mailing to the wrong zip codes and need to spend more in the better ones? Maybe the reason that you are getting a low return is that your team does not know how to handle the leads correctly? Are the calls even being answered or are they going to voicemail? Are they able to overcome the price objection that many of these prospects are going to have? Your team members need to truly know how to pivot to value and execute an assumptive close. 

Your service team is not generating any or enough business. Are you listening to the calls? Do they truly know how to pivot from an inbound transactional call to a relational conversation that results in additional revenue and business? It is important that they sound like an advisor leading with recommendations and advice rather than a sales pitch. This requires training and role play. It is critical that your service team members understand what your expectations are.  It is equally important that as leaders you research the workload of your service team members to understand if what you are expecting is reasonable and attainable.

Your people simply can not close. They are doing lots of quotes, but the sales just aren’t there. How much time are you listening to calls? What level of commitment do you have to help them get better? Are you meeting with them weekly, daily, or not at all? If you are meeting with them, is the time productive or are you just meeting to meet? How much improvement have they made in the last 6 months? If you don’t see any, you are probably missing something when it comes to your training.

Struggling to lead? Please understand that I was a terrible leader the first 10 years I owned my agency. You probably won’t find anyone who has made more mistakes than me. I was going through staff left and right. My sales ability was the only thing keeping me afloat. Many of you are much further along than I was at the same point in my career. The worst part for me was that I did not care about my people. All I really cared about was getting my agency as big as I could, as fast as I could. It took something very personal for me to look at people differently.

When I changed my approach and made it all about improvement and developing people so THEY would benefit, that’s when things took off. And looking back, it was all about the little things. To this day, it’s still about the little things. If you will pay attention to the little things and help your team get what they want, you will get everything that you want. You just have to put in the work.

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