MOTIVATING PRODUCERS TOWARD THE AGENCY'S GOALS
WHO CAN YOU MOTIVATE?
First, let me clarify the topic of Motivation – You cannot motivate anyone other than yourself (and it’s hard enough to motivate yourself!).
The best we can hope to accomplish motivation as managers is to identify the factors that motivate others and direct their activity to achieve the maximum goals that they desire for themselves.
There are many agency owners who will diligently disagree with the statements above. They are the “My Way or the Highway” group who believe that their staff will ‘to the line’ because they tell them to do so. I wish them all the best because they will lead very frustrated lives trying to get others to do what the agency owner desires instead of what the individuals’ desire for themselves.
W I I F M
I often state that the motivating factor for pretty much everyone who has lived on earth recently (except maybe Mother Theresa) is the WIIFM Factor (What’s In It For Me). This is not a disparaging or discouraging statement. It reiterates Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (see article on this subject in this issue of PIPELINE), the basis of motivational factors for just about anyone. The WIIFM (“wiffem”) Factor basically says that an individual’s personal needs and goals supersede those of an organization. The only problem for agency owners is that the employees will rarely tell you when their goals don’t match the agency’s goals – they just perform in accordance with their own goals unless they fear for their physiological or safety “needs” in the hierarchy (i.e. you will fire them if they don’t perform to your expectations).
Now look at your producers’ performance in light of what you’ve just read.
You may set goals or expectations of high production levels to support your WIIFM Factor as an agency owner. But if the producer is earning what he needs to live his lifestyle there is a strong chance that his/her performance may not match your expectations – regardless of whichever form of Producer Program you install in your agency.
THE ASSET PROTECTION MODEL OF RELATIONSHIP SELLING
Agency Consulting Group, Inc. has developed a wonderful Relationship Management program called the Asset Protection Model. It is supported by a Prospecting Suite that can identify four critical areas that agents and producers have asked about for years. First it will identify the size of accounts a producer must target in order to justify his compensation. Then the Suite will determine the maximum number of prospects that a producer can work in a year (assuming a multi-touch marketing program like Agency Consulting Group, Inc.’s 15 Step 3-Year Marketing Program). The third critical item created by the Prospecting Suite is the identification of the number of touches a producer “should” make on his VIP accounts and intermediate size accounts in order to maximize their retention and maximize the opportunity for cross selling and referrals to other prospects. Finally, the Suite will calculate the additional revenue generation (defining a producer’s goal) if the Prospecting Suite assumptions are adopted and implemented in the agency.
The Prospecting Suite dovetails perfectly with the Producer Validation Schedule that tells a producer how many physical (not phone call) sales calls he must make on average each week in order to accomplish his own (remember Maslow?) compensation expectations.
Many agents have adopted both the Prospecting Suite and the Validation Schedule and have had Agency Consulting Group, Inc. visit the agency to confirm the data and results and to train, coach and counsel producers through the process.
WHEN IT WORKS AND WHY IT SOMETIMES DOESN’T
However, we have noticed a trend that appears to be prevalent in the agency industry. The goal setting and work efforts to achieve those goals works exceptionally well in agencies that have active Sales Management and languish in agencies in which the producers are expected to motivate themselves to achieve agency goals.
Agency owners who recognize the importance and effectiveness of systems like Prospecting Suite, the Validation Program and the Asset Protection Model of Relationship Selling want to adopt the systems in order to enhance the agency’s performance. What many fail to understand is that the potential of sales may not be achievable if you have producers who have already achieved their goals and have little reason beyond earning extra income for working harder and making more sales.
Certainly every producer will say that they have time to write new business – if it is handed to them on a silver platter. I don’t know about you, but I ran out of silver platters years ago. We can certainly engineer prospecting to give producers all the opportunities they want – if they actually want to work to get them. And here’s where the problem lies with Agency Consulting Group, Inc. systems and with all other systems that can be implemented to increase sales – the producers must be both committed to growth and be managed to changing work efforts.
No matter how committed you are as an agency owner, if the producers are not similarly committed to increasing sales, no system or method will work for them. And, if you don’t manage them to alter their way of doing business, they will naturally shift back into the methods with which they are comfortable in short order even when trained to the new system.
Agency Consulting Group, Inc. acts as the monitor for our sales programs with many agencies who have chosen to adopt them. Unless the agency has active sales management and producers who are committed to growing the agency’s book of business, the new program will falter within six months. It is not the fault of the program. It operates very successfully where there are motivated producers. The fault, if there is any, lies with the agency owner not realizing that many of the producers are comfortable and would prefer to manage the book of business they have created and that is paying their salaries.
When an agency has no producers committed to the growth sponsored by an activation program like the Asset Protection Model, and its tools the Prospecting Suite and the Validation Program; the only way it can succeed is to hire new producers with no pre-existing book of business who must generate new business in order to remain viable with the agency. If the agency has producers who claim to want to grow through new business the Validation Program and Prospecting Program will quickly “separate the wheat from the chaff”. When a producer claims that he only has one day a week that he can devote to sales activities, how successful can you make him with any sales tool? When a producer claims that he can only see one prospect a day, how successful can you make him with any sales tool?
Almost every agency owner would like to see growth and a steady stream of new business in their agencies. I am confident that our systems (and others like ours) can be used to motivate much stronger growth of new customers in almost any agency. However, we insist on doing an analysis of any agency that wants our system in order to determine whether or not the existing producers and the culture of the agency would permit the system to operate properly. Otherwise we will frustrate the agency owner and ourselves as the progress of the system slows to a crawl with reason after reason that the process cannot be implemented.
If you wish for growth in your agency we recommend that you invite us to visit you for an analysis. We will either confirm and implement a program tailored to your agency for growth or will help you hire new producers who will enjoy the benefit of the growth that you are willing to support.