Planning for producer success

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As we coach producers, there’s a common theme that holds them back: a lack of planning and accountability. It’s completely unnecessary and easily remedied. But for whatever reason, agencies seem to feel sales teams are off limits when it comes to setting expectations and monitoring results.

We hear, “producers have the ultimate accountability because they’re paid on commissions.” And I get that, but commissions are a lagging indicator and only tell you what has, or hasn’t, already happened. And if it hasn’t happened, there are many people in the agency who suffer. It’s not just the producer’s personal income on the line here.

New business keeps the agency energy high. It keeps new revenue flowing in. It keeps the competition on their toes. It provides internal team members new career opportunities. It provides more possibility for bonuses and/or retirement funding.

If a producer isn’t producing, it’s also the agency brand on the line. That person is out there representing your company and clearly not connecting with prospects in a compelling enough way to for them to say, “Yeah, I want to do business with these guys.”

Setting your sales team up for success is one of the best investments in leadership time you can make. Everything else that happens in the agency is completely dependent on production. So it stands to reason that producer development and production should be a top priority for leadership.

As we approach the end of the year, this is the perfect time to establish a planning habit with your sales team. Plan now for success next year and then spend the year following the plan you’ve set up. It will make the producer feel more confident in their activities and goals, and it will make leadership more confident in reaching the agency goals.

A good plan should include a few key items.

A review of where you are today.
· Take an honest assessment of what’s working and not working.
· Describe what you see and what needs to change to achieve goals.
· Do an analysis on the book of business. What do the numbers say?

A projection of where you want to go.
· Write a description of the ideal client you are targeting.
· Set goals for the sizes and number of these ideal clients you’ll write.
· Make projections for revenue, retention, conversion ratios, close ratios.

A plan of how to get there.
· Define the key results you need to hit and what the consistent behaviors are that will get you there.
· Identify specific prospects that fit the ideal target profile.
· Outline the accountability/coaching/mentoring that’s going to help you stay on track with the plan and meet your target goals.

It’s common to hear objections from leaders who say that producers don’t want accountability and oversight. But when we talk with producers, it’s common to hear they wish they had more accountability and coaching from their leaders.

Don’t put the onus on the producers for not wanting coaching as an excuse to not do the hard work and have potentially difficult conversations with them. They want it and need it. Your agency needs it. It may be uncomfortable to get started, but with a documented plan and consistent follow-through on the plan and the coaching conversations you have with them, you’ll start to see clearly improved results.

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