Are you committed to being the best in the world?
Even “the best” think in terms of becoming better
By Roger Sitkins
Are you really committed to being the best in the world at what you do? I’m not talking about global domination here, but the universe in which your agency operates. For most agencies, your world is simply your marketing territory.
Going on that assumption, do you have a top-of-mind positioning in your territory that says your agency is the best in the area? Does the public consider you to be the best in your industry?
I know that all of the members of the team here at Sitkins Group are absolutely committed to being the best coaching and intellectual capital company in the world—and frankly, we think we are! At the same time, we’re constantly working to improve.
I’d like to explore in greater depth how to know if you’re really doing the things it takes to be the best in your “world.”
Research suggests that it costs somewhere between $300 and $500 to get in front of a potential client. When you have that sort of investment in a prospecting appointment, doesn’t it deserve your very best efforts? Whatever it costs you to dedicate the appropriate resources, are you determined that your appointment will be the best that your prospect or client has ever seen?
Saying, “Tell me about your business,” is a standard line among average producers. You should never have to ask that question. If you want to be the best in your world, you’ll make it your business to know everything about the prospect’s business going in the door.
First, you should have done exhaustive Web-based research and investigative legwork to find out everything about the prospect before meeting face to face. Based on what you find, you should be able to walk in and ask valid, leading questions about the prospect’s business. For example: “On your Web site, I noticed that your company manufactures widgets for the medical industry. Tell me more about that.”
By investing the time up front, you’ll not only be able to function at the highest possible level in front of your future client, you’ll outshine the competition right off the bat. How much are you investing to be the best?
How much practicing are you really doing? The best producers put in the most time rehearsing and preparing for their appointments. How much low-risk practice time are you putting in? For every hour you’ll be in front of a prospect, you should be spending at least one hour getting ready for it.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani lived by the 4-to-1 Rule, which he was taught early on. A judge told him that for every hour spent in the courtroom, he’d need to spend four hours in preparation. Isn’t the case you’re pleading in front of a prospect worth at least one hour of time preparing for it? It is if you hope to be the best in the world.
What do you take with you to your meetings? Do you have professional-looking promotional materials, or just walk in with a legal pad?
Do you have a standard presentation that you make to prospects? Do you walk in and ask the client, “Tell me about your business”? That goes back to the Look, Quote, Copy and Pray sales method, which is not the way to establish yourself as different from your competition, and certainly not the best in the world.
When you go in to meet with a client or prospect, do you have a standard meeting agenda? You should know what you’re going to discuss and have a goal for the meeting ahead of time. The best in the world do!
Agency on time
If you’re really the best in the world, you’ll spend time working ON your business, not just IN your business. But all too often, that’s not the case. Over the years, I’ve seen agency owners meet with other agencies to learn to work on the business, which is great. They’re thinking strategically vs. tactically.
However, once they return from these meetings and get back to the office, they tend to go right back to the same old routine. They get caught in the service trap and buried in other day-to-day activities IN the business.
Now if you look at the very best in the world, they have a very specific schedule of how often they work on the business. For example: the CEO’s monthly state-of-the-agency meeting; monthly senior leadership team get-together; and quarterly off-site management retreat to evaluate the effectiveness of the agency plan.
Even at agencies that do a great job of planning strategically, it’s what happens after the planning session that leads to actual implementation.
How many times have you met with a prospect or client, agreed to do something and then failed to follow up with some sort of communication? The best in the world always send a note or do some type of follow-up. Do you have follow-up meetings? Do you do what you say you’re going to do, or is your planning process an annual event that you’ll follow up on at next year’s event?
Producer on time
Average producers often are too busy to get better. They don’t start the week ready to play the game. On Monday morning, they’re immediately immersed in “hysteri-cal activity” because they’ve spent no time preparing for the week ahead. They have no idea what they need to accomplish or what is going on that week.
At a minimum, the best producers in the world absolutely plan their week. They’re always investing time to improve their skills. It’s sort of like the difference between joining a gym and scheduling time to work out with a personal trainer. The very best producers make a weekly appointment with themselves to get better—and they keep it.
Some of us are old enough to remember the days of buying gas at the “service station.” You’d drive up to the pump and an attendant would say, “Fill ’er up?” Well, the days of full-service gas stations gave way long ago to self-service. The same is true of pipeline building—you’re going to have to fill it up yourself.
As we often discuss, keeping their pipelines filled remains one of the major problems producers face. How many hours a week are you committed to filling up your pipeline? Or is it something that just happens whenever?
I recently saw some research that the best salespeople in all industries spend between two and three hours per day working on building new prospects. Are you doing what the best in the world do? How much time do you devote to pipeline building? Is it two to three hours per week? Per month? Per quarter? Over the last year?
If you’re not investing enough time in filling your pipeline, or if you’re doing it reactively, as an afterthought, you can’t be the best in the world. To be the best, you must be proactive, always asking for introductions, constantly networking and meeting new people, getting referrals without fail, and so on.
Think small, stay small
When you think a certain way, you stay that way, whether you’re an agency or a producer. The best in the world have the best, most confident attitudes about what they do. And they don’t think small.
Conversely, if your agency thinks and acts like a small agency, it will remain a small agency. The same can be said for producers who think of themselves as average. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So how do the larger, best-in-the-world agencies think? First, they’re always thinking ahead and investing in the future. They know where they want to be and how they want to be positioned in a year, three years, five years from now. More important, they understand the investments in intellectual capital, people, systems, automation and training they’ll have to make in order to see their vision a reality.
Where do you envision yourself and/or your agency in coming years? If you’re not the best in the world right now in your marketplace, look at your top competitor and identify what they’re doing that you’re not. What is it that made them so good? What should you be doing to become the best in the world?
The best in the world never let obstacles get in their way. Not so for average producers. They accept obstacles as roadblocks and then use those as excuses for failing to reach their goals. To them, every tiny bump in the road looms ahead like Mt. Everest, blocking their path. That’s not how the best ones see things.
The best in the world turn obstacles into strategies for success. They don’t deny when there’s a roadblock or run from those that appear unexpectedly. Instead, they examine the roadblock and strategize ways to eliminate it.
Life is full of obstacles. If you look at the people who have no future and aren’t doing so well, typically it’s because they’re too busy living in the past. They’ll tell you how good they used to be and offer a million reasons why that’s no longer true: the economic downturn, shrinking territory, overly demanding prospects, and so on. But these are just excuses for not dealing with the everyday problems of life. The best in the world tackle life’s obstacles head on, removing them from their path to success.
The best in the world are great speakers and presenters. Over the years, I’ve found a strong correlation between presentation skills and income. Regardless of whether they’re giving a formal presentation or offering some impromptu words in a social setting, the most confident, polished and engaging speakers are usually the most affluent of the group.
If you study the best producers in the world, you’ll find they are well trained and highly skilled presenters and speakers. I’m not necessarily referring to people who are born with the “gift of gab,” because merely being able to talk doesn’t automatically mean a person is a great presenter or speaker. These are people who have spent considerable time and effort perfecting their ability to present themselves and their message to a crowd.
But what if you’re not the best in the world at presenting in front of a group? If you’re committed to being the best producer, there are steps you can take to improve. Do you belong to Toastmasters? Have you taken a Dale Carnegie course? Remember, speaking is a skill you have to build and practice continually to be the best in the world.
Are you committed?
What are you committed to? Do you really mean it when you say you’re committed to being the best agency/producer in the world? That you will differentiate/continue relationships/provide training? Are you absolutely committed to earning an operating profit and increasing the value of your firm? Are you committed to having fun?
As always, it’s your choice. *
Roger Sitkins, president of Sitkins Group, Inc. offers his Vertical Growth Experience™ programs exclusively to his client group, known as The Sitkins 100™. These programs focus on continual improvement of agency operations, thus providing members with ongoing development and strategies that literally force vertical growth in the agency’s critical indicators of Closing Ratios, Revenue per Employee, Revenue per Relationship, and Revenue per Producer.