In this episode of The Digital Broker, Steve and Ryan talk about the challenge of holding producers accountable to a process. By listening to this episode, you will learn:
- Why producers are inclined to resist any process
- Where the interests of producers clash with those of everyone else at the agency, and where they converge
- How to get producers on the same page as everyone else
- When it’s wise to let producers do their own thing
Any talk of sales and marketing inside an insurance agency must involve producers. There can be no sales and marketing reform without their approval and participation. If you’re serious about integrating your sales and marketing processes into your operations, which we’ve recommended doing in a previous episode, you’re going to have to hold your producers accountable to a process.
This is going to be a challenge. Producers—the great ones, anyway—are naturally resistant to any process. You can think of them as jazz musicians: ready to part from the script in order to riff in such a way as to delight the listener (or in this case, the client). Producers aren’t details-driven individuals. They want to be out on the field, talking, shaking hands, having lunches, etc. The last thing they want to do is enter data into a CRM for the sake of a “process” they do not understand or follow.
You could argue that a process helps a producer become great in the first place, but Ryan disagrees with this too. A process can make a mediocre producer into a good producer, but no process can make a good producer into a great producer. Great producers are different. They have a hunger and a drive that aren’t replicable. They also tend to know they’re great, and usually, so does the agency. People who deliver get to set their own rules sometimes. Are you really going to tell the $250,000 a year producer to stop what they’re doing so that the $50,000 a year producer can catch up?
But if you don’t hold every producer to the same process, then what good is the process?
It is the job of the leadership team to decide where to give producers some space and where to assert the agency’s interests. Certainly, producers are great. But they’re not in charge of the agency. It is unwise to let any producer loose on any account they want. The agency should monitor which producers are chasing which prospects. The best way to enforce this is to hold everybody accountable to some process. This isn’t just in the agency’s short-term interests. The survival of the agency depends on whether new, incoming producers can adapt to a time-tested, delineated process.
Producers don’t have to be at odds with everybody else at the agency. We can’t think of a producer who wouldn’t like to come into 500 leads that the agency has generated through consistent, dependable processes. But producers know a thing or two about what to do with those leads, and they don’t like to be overruled about something they know to be working. Your $250,000 a year producer is doing something right. Maybe some of it is irreplicable, but what about the rest of the process? Can the producer disclose it for the benefit of everybody else at the agency? The path to operational excellence is paved with conversations such as those.
As for the more practical challenges, they are not the end of the world. A big one concerns data entry. Producers simply don’t have the time to enter everything they’re doing into a CRM. Even when there is time to spare (and there usually isn’t), producers tend to put it toward what’s most immediately conducive to new sales. If data could be recorded as a byproduct of their work, with minimal effort on the producers’ part, maybe that would be an improvement. Fortunately, a technology of this kind is emerging; Steve gives it a good overview beginning at 15:25. Not only do such platforms save producers time and energy, but the automated data they capture tends to be more accurate than data recorded manually. Many CRM’s are also becoming more mobile-friendly, allowing producers to enter data on the go—which is their default state.
But we come right back to the importance of a process. Even the best-designed technology is useless if your staff is refusing to use it or doesn’t know how. That’s why you should meet to discuss, and do so regularly. Figure out what’s working, what isn’t, and how you’re tracking it either way. This alone is a daunting process, we know. If you need somebody to hold you accountable to it, come introduce yourself to the Digital Broker LinkedIn group. We talk about this stuff all the time and give each other ideas. Are you at your wit’s end trying to figure out how to coexist with producers? Are you a producer and exasperated by something we said? We want to hear you weigh in and call us names. Have at it here.
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