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  • Tue, March 26, 2013 10:39 AM | Billy R. Williams, PhD. (Administrator)

    Never forget this fact: “Where you are in life and in business today, are direct reflections of how you have handled your personal and professional weaknesses.”

    I'm going to say something that many of you will disagree with, here it is “Growing a successful insurance agency is easy when you have the right personalities, tools, and processes working effectively. Once those items are in place, all you have to do is locate the markets that best fit your carriers.” How can I be so sure, because I see it every day in my partner agencies, and in the member agencies of Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring

    Last week’s blog post was very well received and even plagiarized a few times, so please remember that this blog series is being created and written by Billy R. Williams, Ph.D., President of Williams Family Agency Investment Group, and Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring. Don’t have time to read the blog post? Click here and I will read it to you!

     

    Today were going to discuss the personality piece of the statement I said above.

    In business you need 3 types of personalities working at all times 

    1. Hunters - Aggressively pursue new opportunities – these are people, processes, and tools that locate  and drive your new business sales
    2. Gatherers – Passively pursue new opportunities – will gather all of the important information necessary to conduct business if it comes to them, and work best when working within clearly defined structure and processes.
    3. Nurturers – Avoid pursuing new opportunities, but enjoy servicing current relationships and like to keep current customers happy.

    While I use the word personality, a hunter, gatherer, or nurturer doesn't have to be a person, it can be a tool or process that you put in place to perform the specific function of that personality type. Within the Inspire a Nation membership we see all types, so pay attention to your agency’s dominant personality type and my suggested solutions.

    We all have a dominant personality type. When things are going good in our agency we tend to be a hybrid of our two strongest personality types, usually it isn't until we hit pressure situations or things go terribly wrong that our dominant personality type really takes over.

    Let's look at the strengths, weaknesses, and identify some solutions to cover the weaknesses of the different personality types:

    1. Hunters:

    Strengths: Aggressively pursue new opportunities, are always trying to locate new business, look for retention and referral opportunities, they always look for direct, pointed, solution driven conversations with customers and prospects

    Weaknesses: Hunters don’t wait for things to line up perfectly before taking action. They understand that taking action will force the situation to work out one way or another. They have to be careful as this way of doing things can often lead to rash decisions and impulse buys, if their ego is not “kept in check” hunters will over commit and under deliver as they believe they have the talent and skills to overcome any obstacle, hunters like to hunt and close but are usually bad at the small details like after the sale follow-up, they prefer to hand the deal off to someone else to do the paperwork and legwork.

    Solutions: Don’t clutter up your hunter with details and requirements that stop them from hunting. Hire a gatherer personality type, or put gatherer type tools in place to support your hunter(s), give them a specific amount of time each day to focus on hunting tasks, hunters like trophies, so make sure you are prepared to reward their positive hunting results with compliments, bonuses, and public acknowledgement. (Members – Review Green Time Tasks for Licensed Sales Producers – Process 3C, and The Top Producing Processes for an agency – Foundational Video 2)

     

    1. Gatherers :

    Strengths:  Passively pursue new opportunities, if the business is handed to them or falls in their lap they will work it effectively, work best when working within clearly defined structure and processes, they are very detailed oriented, you never have to worry about the T’s not being crossed, or the I’s not being dotted.

    Weaknesses: Gatherers want the prospect or deal given to them, they will close the deal if it is put in front of them, but they will not aggressively hunt down new business opportunities, gatherers like to see all of the specifics and details of a situation before they take action, this can often lead to paralysis by analysis, they keep track of all communications and records associated with the prospect or customer and can easily get bogged down in the details if left unchecked.

    Solutions: Give them a hunter person or tasks to support and let them fulfill all of the promises your hunter made to customers and prospects, (i.e., don’t try to make them a telemarketer, let them follow-up the leads the telemarketer drives to the agency) let them setup and create the mailings that go out, transfer x-sell or retention opportunities that come into the agency to them, but don’t expect them to ask every call-in or walk-in for a x-sell or up-sell opportunity, put tools in place that will start the conversation for them and let them finish the conversation (Members – This is why we use the Permission to Contact/Optional Coverage Form – Process 14A, and outsourced marketing programs if we have an agency filled with gatherers)

     

    1. Nurturers:

    Strengths:  Enjoy servicing current customers and relationships and like to keep current customers happy, they are very patient with problem customers, and will stay on the phone as long as it takes to rectify a problem. They are awesome when it comes to retention in the agency; they like non threatening or demanding tasks, and are very social when it comes to customers, prospects, and other staff members.

    Weaknesses: Nurturers only wants to work with existing customers and try to avoid prospecting of any kind including basic cross-sell conversation, (an example of a nurturer process would be an agency that mails a policy review form  to customers to avoid having a sales or service conversation) Nurturers feel that they are harassing the customer if they try to cross-sell them or introduce new products to the customer, they fight any new processes or change to the status quo, will usually point out why something will not work before giving it a chance, nurturers will overpromise and under deliver also, but not because of ego, but because they want to get away from the emotionally uncomfortable situation as quickly as possible. They need a gatherer to support them as well.

    Solutions: Every agency needs nurturer type staff and/or processes; you just can’t grow your agency if this is the dominant personality in your agency. You must use outsourced marketing tools because you will never turn a nurturer into a hunter, the best you can hope for is to make them a hybrid of a gatherer/nurturer but even that might be asking too much. You also need a gatherer supporting them to finish what a nurturer avoids, nurturers are not motivated by money but by emotional comfort, so putting elaborate commission and bonus plans will not produce any more sales. They are there to support existing customers and keep your retention strong, let them do what they do, and hire gatherers and hunters, or outsource as much as possible in the agency. (Members – review Foundational Video 2 - Top Producing Processes and our Recommended Vendors)

    In summary: You need all 3 types of personalities working in your agency at all times, but you must cover the weaknesses that come with each personality in order to maximize your agency’s growth.

  • Wed, March 20, 2013 1:35 PM | Billy R. Williams, PhD. (Administrator)

    Don’t have time to read the blog post? No Problem!

    Click here to hear the audio version of the blog post and I will read it to you!

    Most small to middle size insurance agencies never track their business processes enough to understand how their agency could operate more efficiently, at an overall lower cost, and still grow.  Some of them have purchased tools such as CRM tools (customer relationship management tools) lead management tools, and use predictive dialers. These programs will give them the math they need to make sound marketing decisions but often they ignore the math and hope things will work themselves out, (Hope is not a money making process, but it is the #1 leadership tool used by weak leaders. How often do you hear or say this statement? “I was hoping that my staff would do what I needed them to do, but so far they have not.”) As president of Williams Family Agency group this is one of my most important roles.

    By using standard core processes and tracking the results of those core processes agencies can answer questions such as:

    ·         What is the best marketing campaigns for my agency’s sales personality

    ·         Which of my staff is overpaid and underpaid for what they do in the agency?

    ·         Where am I wasting money on marketing?

    ·         What is a real weakness within my agency versus us just being lazy or irresponsible?

     What are you tracking in your agency? Answering the following questions can help you determine if you are using effective tracking tools and processes in your agency. This short list is by no means comprehensive enough to build a business plan around, but it will give you a good idea of tracking based weaknesses within your agency. You see each question tells you something about the efficiency of the agency, staff, tracking tools, as well as pointing out training weaknesses within your agency.

    1. How many outbound prospecting calls occur daily in your agency?

    2. How many outbound prospecting emails go out daily in your agency?

    3. How many quotes does each staff person perform daily?

    4. How many sales does each staff person make per quote (Quote to close ratio)?

    5. What is the average premium per sale for each staff person?

    6. What lead sources produce the greatest volume of sales?

    7. How many up-sells and cross-sells occur per endorsement?

    Let’s look at some of the questions and the information you get from the numbers

    Q1. How many outbound prospecting calls occur daily in your agency?

    ·            Let’s you know if the agency and/or staff is focused on prospecting tasks (hunter) or a reactive tasks (Gatherer or keeper)

    ·            Identifies if the agency truly has dedicated Green Time (money making time) or if prospecting it hit or miss in the agency.

    ·            Identifies if the agency leadership tracks important math based items such as quote to close ratio (How many qualified quotes does a staff person have to complete in order to get one sale?), Calls to contact (How many calls on average does it take to reach a prospect?), and the best times to outbound call.

     

    Solutions: Set aside one hour of uninterrupted time for staff to make outbound prospecting calls, start with x-selling current customers, make the use of a predictive dialer mandatory (for tracking purposes), and use a quote tracking tool. (A spreadsheet will work fine to start with if you don’t have a lead management program. Members – several tracking spreadsheets are provided to you in the library) If you honestly can’t or will not perform outbound prospecting, use one of the available outbound telemarketing services listed on the recommended vendors page of our website. Members – Review the Income training of I.C.E.C.R.E.A.M., review Green Time Tasks for Licensed sales producers (Process 03C), review Predictive Dialer Training (Process 10)

     

    Q2. How many outbound prospecting emails go out daily in your agency?

    ·         A value based drip email campaign for your agency is an important tool to have in place. It works on behalf of your agency without you having to micromanage it. The key words I used were value based. Send emails that are more important to the customer or prospect than they are to the agency, such as birthday wishes, wedding anniversary wishes, policy weaknesses your agency is focused on addressing this month such as: lack of jewelry protection, no pet insurance with the agency, or no life insurance with the agency. Set up a drip email campaign that touches your customers and prospects about once a month. I know that email marketing companies will tell you to send more often, but surveys from our customers show that once a month is enough without it becoming too much.

     

    Solutions:  Take the email addresses that you have in your database and set up birthday email campaign to customers and prospects, and a monthly policy weakness campaign. Members – review the suggested email templates and timelines in the video library (Process 08)

     

    Q3. How many quotes does each staff person perform daily?

    ·         You can’t sell insurance if you are not quoting! By tracking how many quotes are completed in the agency weekly, you can see the sales trends coming a mile away. If all of your quotes are coming from one staff person, you are building the foundation of your business on that person. That is ok if the agency principal is that person, but if it is a key staff person, what happens to your agency if they decide to leave? Tracking your quote to close ratio will help identify prospecting weaknesses, sales training weakness, and lead source issues within your agency.

     

    Solutions: Use a spreadsheet or an automated tracking tool to identify your quote to close ratio over a one month period. Review your lead sources; do you need to concentrate on more business referral partners, reenergize your customer referral program, or look at different lead sources? Members – A full business tracking log spreadsheet is provided to you on Process 5 Daily activity and sales log, also review Creating Business referral Partners (Process 11C)

     

     

    Q4. For the sake of space and time I am going to combine several questions into one overview question. Is my agency offering additional protection to my customers when they are servicing them?

    ·         We have one job as professional insurance agents: To offer the coverage that will best protect our customer’s quality of life should a claim occur! It is not to try and get them the cheapest insurance we can, or to cut out important coverage they need because we have to make a sales goal. I can tell when my staff is doing a great job of having value based conversations because I will see added coverage such as: increased rental car coverage on customers with new cars, lock and key coverage on a renter’s policy, increased building property coverage on condo policies, business interruption insurance on commercial policies, etc., This lets me know that the staff within that agency is spotting a weakness on a customer’s policy and more importantly they are pointing it out to the customer. All customers are price sensitive because no one wants to pay for coverage that will not protect them when a claim occurs. If your staff is only quoting apples to apples and they never point out a policy weakness when servicing a customer, they are not building agency value in the customer’s mind.

    All things being equal a prospect will always go with the lowest price.  What type of sales and service training is occurring in your agency so that your conversations are not equal to the cheaper competitor down the street?

     

    Solutions:  Role play at least once a week on how to spot policy weaknesses and how to bring them up to the customer when doing an endorsement or a policy review Members – review the DecisionFlow Handout on Process 01C, and continue to role play in your agency.

     

    Want to know more about Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring? Check out our testimonials page: http://inspireanation.org/testimonials

  • Tue, January 01, 2013 12:20 PM | Billy R. Williams, PhD. (Administrator)

    Here are the facts in 2013 before you take the short quiz below:
     
    • It cost more money now to acquire and keep a customer than it did 3 years ago;
    • Auto insurance customers have more companies actively seeking their business than in the past and are constantly bombarded with "Shop for the cheapest rate" commercials;
    • Homeowner insurance customers have higher rates, fewer companies competing for their business, and more underwriting guidelines to contend with;
    • Technology has made it easier for a prospect to shop for insurance;
    • Technology has made it easier for an agency to communicate with prospects and customers;
    • Captive carriers are terminating what they consider to be under performing agents;
    • The independent agencies are starting to see more production requirements imposed from companies they represent;
     
    Why are so many agencies still doing business the same way they were 20, 10, even 5 years ago? Don’t they realize that if they don’t start to adapt to the changing landscape they will become extinct? Last I heard the dinosaurs were the largest creatures to ever walk the earth, and I don’t see any of them around anymore, so the "we are too big to fail" excuse might not hold water.
     
    Who is holding the agency hostage when it comes to adapting and changing the technology, conversations, and marketing you use in your agency?
     
    • Is it the agent that goes to a workshop and hears great ideas and then sits on those ideas and never shares them with the staff members?
    • Is it the staff member that refuses to change the way they are doing things and continues to try and compete on price and "apples to apples" comparisons?
    • Is it lack of financial planning on the part of the agent and now there isn’t enough money to do what the big agencies do?
    • Is it the overall culture of the agency to be content with minimum standards and minimum production
     
    Here is a short quiz that will help you determine who (or whom) is holding the agency hostage: We will measure the number of yes answers.
     
    Q1. Does the agency follow a daily tasks schedule or at a minimum set aside two hours per day to concentrate on "Green Time" tasks? (Green Time = tasks that produce sales or increases retention)
    Q2. Does the agency have set processes in place to communicate with customers and to recycle prospects?
    Q3. Does the agency use social networking, text messaging, or QR Code marketing campaigns?
    Q4. Does the agency use other business professionals, agency campaigns, and social networking campaigns to drive referrals?
    Q5. Does the agency have at least 10 in-house and 10 outside of agency prospecting and marketing processes working?
    Q6. Does the agency have daily role play on processes and conversations that will help increase new sales, cross-sells, and up-sells?
    Q7. Does the agency have local business referral partners and a customer referral program that is actually driving 8 – 10 new sales to the agency per month?
    Q8. Has the agency doubled or tripled the geographic area that they normally market to in the last 3 years?
    Q9. Has the agency doubled or tripled the amount of quotes it does monthly compared to 3 years ago?
    Q10. Does the agency have a dedicated marketing assistant that understands and implements the 20 agency tasks a marketing assistant should be involved in?
     
     
    Okay, let’s look at the results:
     
    • 8 – 10 yes answers = The agency is doing a very good job! Keep it up
     
    • 5- 7 yes answers = The agency is doing well, but could definitely improve. Usually at this point it is the staff that keeps the agency from adding any new processes
     
    • 2 – 4 yes answers = The agency is not doing well and usually it is a combination of the agent not being actively involved in the growth of the agency, and staff not being committed to growing the agency. There is probably a complacency issue
     
    • Under 2 yes answers = The agency is in trouble! If you are a captive agent you can rest assured you on the radar as an under performing agent. If you are an independent agency, you are missing out on the money you should be making.

    So now I have identified the problem how can I help?
     
    Visit our website at www.inspireanation.org
    and check out the Agency Mentoring memberships and resources we can provide to you. We have helped 100’s of “ready to make a change” agencies take their agency to new heights.
     
    Need more validation? Read some of our comments and testimonials: http://inspireanation.org/testimonials

  • Fri, December 28, 2012 11:00 AM | Billy R. Williams, PhD. (Administrator)

     

    1.      They understand that it is the discipline of working a process that makes it effective. An average process worked consistently is better than a great process that is barely worked
     
    2.      They understand that insurance is a contact sport. If you and your team are not willing to regularly contact customers, prospects, local businesses, and individuals that refer prospects to you by using a variety of live outreach and automated contact tools, you will never be a winner in this profession
     
    3.      They hire staff for their ability, not their availability. They hire staff that has the right mentality and personality for the position that they are filling
     
    4.      They don’t let their personal issues, or the personal issues of the staff sidetrack the agency’s processes
     
    5.      They set aside time to make sure the best people for making the agency money, have the time to do it
     
    6.      They don’t “Step over Dollars to pick up Dimes.” They don’t jump at every opportunity to spend money that comes along, or spend too much time and effort on things that offer no value to the agency
     
    7.      They don’t try to do it alone, they have a large referral source or multiple medium size referral sources made up of businesses and individuals
     
    8.      They delegate and empower their staff to make important decisions
     
    9.      They have a business savings plan or line of credit that allows them to have money available when a really good marketing or business opportunity presents itself
     
    10.  They have defined data management processes that everyone in the agency adheres to
     
    11.  The agency sales staff presents and clearly explains the coverage that will best protect a customer’s quality of life should a claim occur, even if it is not always the lowest cost option
     
    12.  They have a mentor (or multiple mentors) that they use to help them make the best decisions to grow the agency
     
    13.  They make sure that the agency utilizes modern, effective, efficient, technology that allows the staff to be more productive in the agency
     
    14.  They don’t allow their ego, arrogance, insecurities, and emotions to get in the way of them making good business decisions. If they see these things getting in the way, they get the hell out of the way and delegate the decision to someone with clearer judgment.

  • Mon, March 12, 2012 1:45 PM | Billy R. Williams, PhD. (Administrator)

    It is crazy how many individuals and companies are misinterpreting the new FCC rules on auto-dialers, robo-calls, and text messaging, so let me clear some of this up for you!

     

    The new rules:

     

    1. Require prior express written consent for all auto-dialed or prerecorded telemarketing calls to wireless numbers and residential land lines even if you already have an established business relationship. (Telemarketing means a sales call).

     

    2. A company can make a purely informational call (not sales) to a landline as long as the consumer's phone number is not DNC registered.

     

    3. A company must have prior express written consent to make any business call, (telemarketing or purely informational) or send a text message to a consumer's wireless phone. (This is because consumers complained about unsolicited calls eating up their minutes, or they were being charged for the calls and text messages)

     

    4. Express written consent can be received multiple ways including paper, e-signature, phone opt-in, and website submission.

     

    Click below to see a form that we created and use in our partner and member agencies. This form can be emailed or used as a paper copy:

     

    Click here to see our permission to contact form

     

    5. Attend our free general public webinar where will explain even more info on the new 2012 FCC telemarketing rules. Click below to register

     

    Register for the webinar by clicking on one of the dates below

     

    Fri, Mar 16, 2012 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM CDT https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/967873298

     

    Tue, Mar 20, 2012 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM CDT https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/504412106

  • Mon, August 29, 2011 10:37 AM | Billy R. Williams, PhD. (Administrator)

    The Annual Insurance Industry Vendors Review - Webinar/Conference Call

    Thursday September 1, 2011 (1:00 PM EST, 12:00 PM CST, 11:00 AM MST, 10:00 AM PST)

    Your agency has 3 months (September – November) to make the bulk of this year’s production!

    On this free webinar/conference call we will walk through the list of recommended vendors that our research, real world use by our 23 partner agencies, and recommendations from our 100’s of member agents have revealed as the top vendors to use in over 17 different categories related to an insurance agency.

     

    To attend the webinar: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/526075842

    To only attend by conference call: (773) 945-1011 - Access Code: 690-207-528

     

    While this webinar is focused on insurance agencies, most of these tools can work in any business or company.

    This is not a sales pitch webinar, but a no B.S. look at many of the top tools and vendors an insurance agency should have in place. No vendors will present on this webinar.

    This is an unbiased look at the vendors. We will look at 17 categories including: agency management systems, lead management tools, internet lead companies, lists providers, social networking tools, text messaging tools, email tools, and more.

    Join Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring as we reinforce and remind our current members of the tools they should have in place, but may have let slip through the cracks, or stopped using effectively.

    In addition this is our time to introduce to our non members some of the wisdom and insight that has propelled our company to become one the top insurance mentoring companies in the world.

    There are a lot of great vendors in the insurance space and if you are using a tool or vendor that is not on our list it doesn’t mean that they might not work for you, it means that we have not been exposed to them or they have denied our request to research them using our research methods and questions.

    To attend the webinar: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/526075842

    To only attend by conference call: (773) 945-1011 - Access Code: 690-207-528

  • Wed, August 10, 2011 10:21 AM | Billy R. Williams, PhD. (Administrator)

    The Birthday Contact Process - 200 years of proven marketing success 

     

    Every agent wishes they could find THE magic marketing process. The one process that will keep new prospects flowing into the agency and current customers happy and referring their friends.

     

    Ever since postage stamps were commissioned in the early 1800's, birthday mailings have been used to keep in touch with customers and prospects.

     

    Technology has made it much easier and more affordable than ever for businesses to reach out to their customers and prospects in a variety of ways, postal mailing is no longer the only option, yet less than 5% of all agencies have a consistent birthday contact process.

     

    Technology is also increasing the overall effectiveness of a personalized birthday contact process, especially with younger customers. Many customers are using on-line technology to shop for insurance, pay their bills, and make changes to their policy. A call from a live person on an important day like their birthday could be the only real human interaction some customers have with an insurance professional for years at a time.

     

    As we all know, the more assets you acquire the more detailed the conversation becomes with those that help support and protect your assets. Having the birthday wish conversation could be the very reason they call you or your agency when they are ready to talk versus calling someone else.

     

    If you talk to the top sales people from the last 50 years you will hear one common conversation: their best sales year was also the year they worked their birthday process the best.

     

    From Zig Ziegler, to Tom Hopkins, to Joe Gerard (According to the Guinness Book of World Records he was the world’s #1 salesperson for 12 straight years) they all give credit to a consistent birthday contact process as one of the major tools in their marketing arsenal.

     

    A good captive agency closes somewhere around 20% of their qualified prospects. Without a good birthday contact process the 80% that they don't close will only hear from the agency when it is time to try and sell them a policy, and that is only if they have a good re-quote process

     

    A good independent agency has a close rate somewhere around 40%.  60% of their prospects walk out the door without a product.

     

    A good birthday contact process gives the agency another opportunity to put their name in front of not only their current customers, but the prospects that they did not close.

     

    Here are just a few of the benefits of a good birthday contact process:

     

    —  Keeps your  agency’s name in front of a large audience of customers, prospects, and contacts

    —   It’s a proactive, value based, out bound campaign

    —   Shows your agency takes a personal interest in it's customers, prospects, and contacts

    —   Shows your agency is efficient and organized

    —   Helps SEO – many people Google you or your agency after they receive a birthday message

    —   Is a comfortable call for the agent and/or staff to make

    —   Can give the agency an emotional lift

    —  If properly automated it usually has a tremendous ROI

    —  Often the conversation leads to a quote or sales opportunity

      

     Now is the time to get your agency's birthday contact process in order!

     

    __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

     

     

    Current Inspire a Nation Members -The Birthday Contact Process video with training aids and attachments is posted in the Video and Document Library - Biweekly Training 08/08/11.

     

    Starting 08/01/2011 a complete table of contents and access to the the Video and Document Library can be located on our new www.inspireanation.org website.

     

     

    Non Members - You can purchase the Birthday Contact Process as a Pay Per Training Video. This is a great way to access individual training videos, job aids, scripts, step by step checklists, and more. www.inspireanation.org

     

    This comprehensive training video teaches you how to make the Birthday Contact Process a marketing tool with a tremendous ROI. It teaches you the: benefits of the process, how to automate the process, how to manage birthday data, the best automated tools to use, the contact time lines, what scripts produce the best results, how to use it with social networking tools, and step by step screen captures that show you how to setup of an auto-dialer campaign, predictive dialer campaign (live call campaign), auto responder – drip email campaign, text message campaign and more.

     

    Click here to purchase 'The Birthday Contact Process"

     

    Only 50 Non-Inspire a Nation members will be allowed to purchase the Birthday Contact Process training, so order right away!

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