The GOP: The "game on" plan
If you want to win, prepare to play the game
By Roger Sitkins
Whenever I'm challenged, I adopt an approach that I call the GOP (and I'm not referring to the Grand Old Party). I'm talking about the Game On Plan, as in: “You've got it, game on—let's play!”
As an agency principal or producer, what's your Game On Plan? What would you do if you really challenged yourself? What would you do if you absolutely had to do it?
That's what I think is one of the biggest problems facing agency principals and producers today. They don't have to do it. They don't challenge themselves at a meaningful level.
Here are some key steps in the GOP for agency owners and producers who are tired of not getting the results they should.
• Sales approach. Before you say “Game On,” you must have a truly unique and differentiated sales approach. This means you have to deliver a message that doesn't sound like what prospects hear from 99% of your competition.
•Eloquent message. Whatever your message is, you must be able to articulate it in a 30-second commercial or infomercial. Here's a challenge for you: What would you say if someone came up to you and asked: “What do you do?” Would you tell them that you're an insurance producer or that you own an agency? That's not what you do; that's just the vehicle for it.
The best in the business understand that it's not what you do or how you do it, it's why you do it. Most people can answer the “what” and the “how,” but they can't answer the “why” because they don't know what the outcome is for their clients.
• Your 80/20. This is a matter of knowing vs. guessing. Do you know what the 80/20 analysis is in your personal book of business or your agency overall? Have you finally figured out that it's really all about the vital few vs. the trivial many? By now, after reading and hearing about countless studies, we all know that 20% of our clients generate 80% of our revenue. But do you truly realize how critically important the vital few are to your ultimate success? Or do you keep getting buried with the trivial many and hiding behind trivial activities?
• A higher bar. To get ahead, you must constantly raise the bar on the size of your accounts. As part of your GOP, what do you have to do and learn so you can earn entry into the larger accounts and write them?
First, you must increase your business acumen. Second, you must be a serious student of the industry you're serving; and third, you must network with the right people at the right level.
It's absolutely true that “birds of a feather flock together.” The next time you're at a social or business gathering, look around the room. Chances are you'll see people of similar income levels clustered in groups. Would you rather be on Millionaire's Row or Skid Row? If you're always hanging around with people who aren't achieving at the highest level, you probably aren't doing so yourself.
• Your plan and schedule. You must follow your own version of the Producer's Perfect Plan and the Producer's Perfect Schedule. Where are you spending your time? What kind of return are you getting? Make sure you are using your unique talents (doing what you do best and delegating the rest) at least 80% of the time.
• Ideal prospects. Don't wait for your ideal prospects to call you or hope that you run into them someplace. You have to know who they are and target them. Envision what your perfect prospect would look like and then identify people who fit the description. Once you've done your research on each prospect, purposefully go after them! They don't know you yet, so they don't know that they need you. That's why you must pursue them!
• A Big no-no. Never say “no” for the prospect; make them say no. If you call someone you've identified as an ideal future client and they don't call you back, you call them back. All too often, we hear underperforming producers lament when a prospect hasn't returned their call. They give up much too easily. If a prospect doesn't call you back, call them again—and again! Continue doing this until you get the results you want or until they tell you no. I guarantee they'll do one or the other.
• Walk-away power. For years, one of our consistent themes has been “No practice quoting!” Yet even today, far too many producers continue to practice quote, mainly because they don't have the power to walk away. Walk-away power is a vital key to success. Those who possess it have a prospect pipeline that's overflowing and consequently have more opportunities than time. I'm amazed at how often producers waste their time and their agency's resources quoting prospects who are just trying to keep their current agents honest. Producers with walk-away power have better things to do with their time and can easily distinguish a serious prospect from a casual shopper.
• Personal brand. Previously when we've discussed how the best producers get better, we've noted that one of the keys is to specialize because specialists will always make more money than general practitioners. As a specialist, it's important to manage your personal brand so that you'll be the best known and most respected within your specialties. You do that by showing up at a networking event dressed appropriately, drinking moderately, if at all, and introducing yourself to people who look like your ideal prospect.
What does your personal brand say about you? In managing it, are you attending the right events? Are you taking care of your personal appearance? Are you able to articulate your message in a way that will make a positive impression?
• Preparation and practice. As I write this, the summer Olympic Games are just wrapping up in London. Weren't you impressed by every Olympian's athletic ability? Think about how much training and preparation went into getting there, how few made it that far, and what percentage actually won medals. Medal or no medal, Olympic athletes are still among the best in the world. If your GOP included practicing and preparing like an Olympian, how far could you go?
• Do your best. Using the Olympics example again, I'm sure that at the start of each game or event, every athlete has a laser focus on doing his or her very best. What about you when you meet with a prospect, a client, or a center of influence? Each time you participate in an event that's part of your overall plan, how prepared are you? In order to succeed, have you trained relentlessly or are you just showing up, throwing up, and blowing up?
• Non-optional behaviors. To make your non-optional behaviors truly non-optional, you must have an accountability partner. This person will check in with you on a regular basis to make sure you've done what you said you were going to do. Once you reach that point, that's when the game is on.
Now's the time to gear up for the last quarter of the year because what we do now will catapult us into 2013. Do you have a GOP that will prepare you to bring home the gold?
As always, it's your choice.
Roger Sitkins is founder and chairman of Sitkins International, a private client group and membership program for some of the top independent insurance agencies and brokerages in the United States, Canada, and Latin America. Members participate in training, advising and networking opportunities focused on innovation, sales, growth, profitability and value. Sitkins International is inventing the future of the independent agency system by providing intellectual property that empowers agents and brokers to become the innovators.