As I coach producers, I see one common theme that really seems to hold them back: a lack of planning and accountability. It's a shame, and completely unnecessary. For whatever reason, producers within agencies seem to be off-limits when it comes to setting expectations and monitoring (the right) results. I always hear, "As a producer, I have the ultimate accountability because I am paid on commissions."
I get that, but by the time you can measure production, it's too late. Production results (versus behavioral results) are a lagging indicator and only tell you what has (or hasn't) already happened. If you hope to have an opportunity to make adjustments, you have to identify the behaviors (leading indicators) that drive the production results.
To make matters worse, many of the same personality traits that make producers successful, at a certain level, also become an impediment to even greater success.
Producers tend to approach their days, weeks, even the year in too random a fashion. They wander into the day or the week and just wait to see what finds them now. While the good producer will stay busy, and probably even hit their sales goal, they will miss an opportunity to become a great producer because they aren't purposeful enough about how they are spending their time.
The answer is really simple, or at least part of the answer. If, as a producer, you would take time at the beginning of the week, plan for those critical "have-to" tasks you need to accomplish for the week, and then make yourself accountable, you will become that great producer. If you will do the following for four straight weeks, you will see the results, behavioral and production, I mean. Before the week starts, identify the top two accomplishments you need for the week in the following areas:
* Sales development. Example: Develop a new 30-second commercial, role play my presentation, or attend a seminar to further my business acumen.
* Prospecting. Example: Schedule five new opportunities, make X number of cold calls, or ask for X number of referrals.
* Centers of influence, or COIN. Example: Set up a lunch with a potential COIN or take a list of targeted prospects to a specific COIN.
Now, share your list with someone who can/will help hold you accountable (your support team, your sales manager/leader, other producers). Tell them that you want them to "ambush" you from time to time and ask about your progress. You'll do this if you really want to move from being a good producer to a great producer.
As you share your to-do list for the next week, also report the success/failures you had from the previous week. Reporting these past errors can be as simple as "did it" or "missed it." This does not have to be super detailed and it doesn't have to be time consuming. In fact, once you have done this for a couple of weeks, you should be able to do your week's planning and the prior week's reporting in less than 15 minutes.
The bottom line is if you plan for your week once and then spend the week executing on your commitments, the week - and you - will be a success.
Trokey is president and CEO of St. Louis-based Benefits Growth Network. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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