By Justin Brown
Are you getting all the things on your to-do list done each week? If not, the problem may have a lot to do with your time management skills.
People who are prone to distractions, and those who tend to work on too many projects at once, often get little or nothing done during the day. They are also prone to overload which can lead to all kinds of problems.
A 2006 study done by the University of California at Irvine found that chronic workweeks of more than 51 hours lead to all kinds of health problems, including insomnia and high blood pressure. Working too hard can also triple a person’s risk of developing hypertension.
You’ve no doubt heard the phrase, “Work smarter, not harder” but putting that into practice can take some time. As an insurance agent with a great deal of responsibility, what can you do to improve your work-life balance? Here are five tips that should help you make your workday, and your insurance business, more productive and help with your time management:
1. Make a list of goals you want to accomplish. When you first come into the office, don’t just jump into work. Take about a half hour to plan your day by listing on paper everything you would like to get done. But be realistic, and realize there’s no way everything on the list will get done. As you complete a task, check it off and be comfortable with the idea that whatever doesn’t get done can get carried into the next day. Remember also that any goals you will be focusing on for the day are only ideas until they are written down on paper.
2. Prioritize. As you make your list of daily goals, be sure to assign a time to any activity or conversation that’s critical for the day like meeting with or returning your clients calls. As to-do lists get longer and longer and managing your time gets more difficult, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, but if you schedule the things that must get done, they will. Of course, you must have the discipline to keep these appointments.
3. Focus on each goal individually. Take five minutes before every call or task to decide what result you want to attain and write it down. This will help you know what success looks like before you start and focus on the task at hand.
4. Record your thoughts throughout the day. Carry a schedule book around and record your thoughts, conversations and activities for about a week. This will help you understand how much time is actually spent producing results and how much time is wasted on unproductive thoughts, conversations and actions.
If you set a goal of spending at least 50 percent of your time engaged in the thoughts, activities and conversations that produce most of your results, you’ll soon find yourself getting more done.
5. Ignore distractions. When the phone rings, do you answer it every time? If so, you’re doing yourself a disservice, as starting up conversations unrelated to the task you are working on will surely serve as a distraction.
When you’re hard at work on a task, you need to block out other distractions, which include the phone, email, Facebook and other forms of social media. Starting today, schedule a time during the day to answer email and return phone calls and stick to it.
Remember that it’s impossible to get everything done. However, proactive time management enables you to try. Also, remember the odds are good that 20 percent of your thoughts, conversations and activities produce 80 percent of your results.
About The Author
Justin Brown is an insurance marketing expert working as the Marketing Content Manager for the Bankrate Insurance companies NetQuote, InsureMe, AgentInsider, and InsuranceAgents.com. He provides insurance agents and risk management advisors with the latest news and marketing tips to help them grow their business.
“More companies are discovering that an über-connected workplace is not just about implementing a new set of tools — it is also about embracing a cultural shift to create an open environment where employees are encouraged to share, innovate and collaborate virtually.”
– Karie Willyerd & Jeanne C. Meister, HarvardBusiness.org
Culture change is something that must occur first in order for your agency to understand that change is forever part of the process of growing the overall business.
When it comes to social media, getting everyone at the agency to buy in can be difficult for some. Here are some ways to get your entire agency excited about helping out with social media and contributing to agency efforts:
1) Have employees contribute during weekly meetings. Have all agency staff bring social media and blogging ideas to the weekly meetings. Require them to have at least one social media posting idea and one blog post idea, plus references. This way the agency blogger has multiple ideas to look through. The ideas can even be insurance related topics the CSR’s or Producers are seeing in relation to the current season.
2) Start an office competition. See which employee can get the most customers to LIKE your agency Facebook page, or share your agency page with their friends and family. Track the results on a large white board where everyone can see it. This way everyone will be reminded of the results.
3) Allow employees to create agency Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. This way, the agency staff can promote and share agency blog posts, connect with clients, and even search for prospects and new business.
It all starts with explaining the changes that the agency will be going through. When it comes to social media, the best way to get started is to offer training from an insurance marketing professional. After the agency staff is trained, the next step is the implement a plan!
By Cheryl Fessenden
It’s a tactic all independent insurance agencies should be using: cross-selling to the consumer. Any agency can repeatedly practice this act as a way to ensure they’re doing their best to offer all the varying services they have to their customers. While many insurance agents may see this as a way to just sell additional policies, we at Barber Insurance view it as an opportunity to sustain lasting connections with our customers.
To successfully cross-sell, or “pivot” as we say, to your customers, you need to know the two main objectives:
• Protect the relationship with your client.
• Make sure you put the needs of your client first. Don’t focus so much on trying to sell additional policies.
Pivoting is a way for you to ease into approaching your customer as you go about offering them a secondary product from your agency. For example, when discussing a homeowner’s policy with the intent to ask a customer about their auto coverage, you can bridge that gap with a single question: Really? What kind of car do you have? This way, as the agent, you’re able to counteract any question or objection your customer may have! By doing this, you’ll then have the confidence to get them the info they need and present them with a better auto policy from you.
Go ahead – test this theory out right now within your own office! Just by having a casual conversation with one of your fellow agents you’ll be able to experience firsthand how this method really works.
I’ve had Allstate Auto Insurance for a while and I’ve been pretty happy with my coverage.
Really? What kind of car do you have?
I’m ok with the payments I’ve been making and am not sure I could find a better price right now.
Really? What kind of car do you have?
I’ve been working with the same, great agent for over 20 years. I wouldn’t want to leave him.
Really? What kind of car do you have?
There are so many driving discounts I already get with my current agency.
Really? What kind of car do you have?
You can see how you’re able to take control of the conversation and steer it toward the services your agency can offer and then show your customer why going with you is the best option for them. Remember: The initial objection (without them coming out and saying it) is around the length of time they imagine it will take for us to shop it. This could have been someone just calling to correct their zip code or something, and we are suddenly asking them for another line of business.
They don’t have their declaration sheets in front of them, and weren’t in that mind set. So by asking that one simple question, they are easily drawn in to the remaining questions, realizing it can be just a few simple questions to start a fairly simple process.
Trying out this technique lets you sustain that relationship with your customer that you wanted to keep all along. You’re not coming off as demanding, nor are you being obvious that all you care about is selling another policy. Playing it this way makes it very clear that you’re interested in the needs of your customer and providing them with the absolute best coverage for whatever kind of policy they could need from your agency.
Who would have thought that such a simple question could help you become a master at cross-selling?
About the Author: Cheryl Fessenden is CFO of Barber Insurance, a California-based insurance agency that offers a number of personal and business insurance solutions to residents throughout Santa Rosa, Sand Francisco, Berkley, Napa, and all of Northern California.
By David Siekman
No matter what type of company you are managing, the importance of shared goals and teamwork is imperative to success. As an independent insurance agency, Encharter Insurance has worked diligently to embrace technological advances and innovation in way that works well for our team here. However, without communication, shared goals and a sense of comradery amongst our team here, we would not be able to do all of that successfully. Without a focused and charged team, our efforts to serve our customers would be worse off.
How do we work to build that? Annually, we have a company meeting. The purpose is simple: we want to re-focus and re-charge our team. In this day and age, the importance of blending sales and marketing is imperative. Customers are looking online for their insurance, and without a blended strategy, we would be missing the mark on how to best service these consumers.
We spent a day and a half out of the office – our belief is that in order to re-focus, our team should be off-site and away from the daily grind of work. We want people to really get in tune with our purpose for the meeting, and let go of the other stuff.
Here’s what we focus on:
• The direction of the agency and each department: Is everyone on the same page?
• The vision and goals for each department: Do we all understand what everyone else is doing to contribute to the greater direction?
• The process: Are the procedures clear? Do we want to make changes to the process at our agency?
• Team building: An important foundation to working cohesively is trust. Cohesion is what drives success, and we want that at our agency – and so should you!
In addition to that agenda, we also have guest speakers come to the meetings with varying views. It is important to get outside perspectives from different companies. This helps us generate ideas on how to implement innovative strategies for our agency, and continue to do what is best for the customer.
Overall, the point is to get everyone interacting and sharing ideas. Although not everyone interacts on a daily basis, we are all part of a team working towards a goal. It is great for team members to get an understanding and perspective of everyone else’s role in the company and how that works towards our common goals. Holding annual meetings such as this are a great way to build morale and get everyone focused on the mission of your agency. We highly recommend it! Just look at what our team said about it if you don’t believe us!
About the Author: David Siekman runs the Sales & Marketing Departments at Encharter Insurance, an insurance agency with offices in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
By Wayne Partee
As an independent insurance agency, it should always be a priority to staff your team properly. Having the right salespeople on board is half of the battle! Without a team of strong salespeople, you may be missing out on business left and right. Today, let’s talk about finding the ultimate sales ninja for your agency. Everybody wants one, but they are not the easiest thing to find!
How do you go about finding these ninjas in a sea of applicants? You must ask the RIGHT interview questions and look for the RIGHT answers. Go ahead and outright ask this simple question: “So tell me, why do you think you are the best?” This is a way to challenge a perspective sales person to SELL THEMSELVES to YOU. You may get a couple different answers…
If you get a wishy-washy answer and are not hearing superstar or top producer right off the bat, this candidate may not be the best choice. A ninja sales person will take over the room. Many times, an applicant will not have a commanding presence. If the candidate cannot sell themselves to you, they certainly cannot sell insurance to the public.
On another note, a candidate may seem fairly self assured but when challenged, he or she may back down. The person that you hire HAS to believe that they can bring home the bacon. They HAVE to believe that they are the person who is going to make your agency whole.
If a candidate comes off as indecisive or unassertive, they are most likely NOT a good fit for your agency. You may wonder: How can improve and truly find those who will complete my agency? I have a few books that are MUST READS in the industry.
#1: Selling 101 by Zig Ziglar. Ziglar is one of the best mentors of all time. This is a small book. Make sure you read it!
#2: No BS Ruthless Management for People and Profits by Dan Kennedy. This book addresses one of the many mistakes that we tend to make. We hire people TOO FAST and we fire them TOO SLOW. You cannot make this mistake when you are looking for a ninja producer. If he or she cannot produce and show you that they are the right candidate in a short period of time, you must let them go.
#3: Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes. Strongly recommend you read this book and have your sales ninjas read it, too.
#4: Question Based Selling by Thomas A. Freese. This book is a must read! It touches a variety of issues. For one, if your people are talking too much, they’re not going to make sales. They need to ask questions to find out what the buying points are in the public’s mind.
Grab these books off the shelf or on your Kindle to expand your mind and business!
I hope that you have found these tips helpful and find the sales ninja that you are searching for. Just remember: Unless you challenge candidates or unless they’ll stand up, they are not the person for the job. Best of luck!
About the Author: Wayne Partee is President/CEO of Partee Insurance, an independent insurance agency located in Covina, CA, proudly serving the entire state!
This week’s insurance sales tips are from Highpoint Insurance Group and Main Street Insurance. If your agency is looking for what works from a sales perspective, check out these videos. These are real-life agencies employing tactics that work.
For Highpoint, the agency has found success having one dedicated person in charge of helping producers stay on course with their lead measures. Lead measures are tasks – either weekly, monthly, or quarterly – that help producers meet their goals by the end of the year. If a producer wants to sell two new accounts per month, for example, his or her lead measure might be making 20 phone calls per week for new business.
The dedicated producer partner encourages and supports the producers in meeting their goals by scheduling any necessary business stops or phone calls. The agency also creates a board that visually displays how well each producer is doing at meeting his or her goal — creating a little healthy competition. Watch the video here!
For Main Street, the agency has found success by setting goals and getting the whole team rallied behind those goals. In their video “Southern Style Sales” they parody the southern way of doing sales. At the end, they share some serious tips that could help any agency get on the path to a more sales-focused culture.
Check out the video here!