Doing more with less
By Sean Neumayer
In response to our February 2009 column on how to make the best of this tough economy, I received quite a few messages from readers. Here are just a couple of them:
Q. I’m trying to help what’s left of my staff to work more efficiently. That translates into producers asking lots more questions to ensure prospects can afford products, and service people learning to be more adaptable. Any other suggestions?
A. In addition to having producers ask more questions of prospects, emphasize follow through. Statistics show that approximately 55% to 65% of salespeople do not conduct sales follow-up. They typically say they don’t have the time. But this is a vitally important activity, so producers need to make time. Ask open-ended questions: “What did you think of my proposal?” or, “How do you feel about the information I gave you?” Doing so will help break the ice, stimulate fresh conversation and keep you (not the competition) in the forefront of a potential client’s mind.
Encouraging service people to be more adaptable also makes sense. Just be sure the extra duties they assume are not too far outside of their comfort zone. Trust me. Trying to convince someone who is uncomfortable with the idea to make cold calls will cause way more trouble than it’s worth.
Q. My strategy for surviving these rough days is to place a stronger-than-normal emphasis on prospecting. I’ve set prospecting goals with each producer and created a point/reward system for each element of prospecting. A closed deal earns 6 points, a proposal earns 3, a completed presentation earns 2 and a scheduled presentation earns 1.
The producer with the most points within a given timeframe chooses from a short list of rewards. (The more points, the bigger the reward—recognition awards or merchandise awards.)
This system not only generates a spirit of competition but also helps my producers to work harder at bringing in new business.
A. Awesome idea! By breaking down a time-consuming process, like prospecting, into small, closely monitored segments, you’re helping producers keep better track of their progress. Kudos to you on two counts: 1) For offering choices when giving rewards—not every personality is motivated by the same perk. 2) For recognizing the importance of motivating staff throughout these difficult economic times.
Sean Neumayer has been a consultant with the Omnia Group for more than 10 years, helping agencies in several facets of selection, management, and retention of key employees. He also speaks to insurance groups regarding best practices. His contact information is (800) 525-7117, Ext. 1242.