BECOMING A BETTER SALES MANAGER
By Roger Sitkins
"If the producer wants to earn $100,000 and the agency pays 40% commissions, the producer's book must generate $250,000. The challenge is to ... help the producer hit that goal."
As I planned this article during the Christmas holidays, I'm not sure I could have come up with a more boring title! Sales management is probablythe most overlooked issue in the total management spectrum of an agency's operations.
My research shows that less than 10% of independent insurance agencies have an effective sales management program/process in their firm. In this article I am going to take you through some of the basic duties and responsibilities of an effective sales manager.
Annual 80/20 Analysis--Those of you who have readmy articles in the past, or who have attended one of my seminar or training camps, know that this is foundational to everything I preach. Sales management must complete an annual 80/20 analysis on each producer's book of business. The key here is to determine if the 80/20 rule applies and to identify the "Vital Few" relationships on the producer's book of business vs. the "Trivial Many." Thisanalysis sets the stage for the continual trading down of accounts.
In addition to the 80/20 analysis, sales management must set up ongoing accountability and monitoring of the producer's Critical Indicators. The main Critical Indicators that I suggest be monitored are closing ratios, revenue per relationship, retention, and total book of business.
Sales management must also have an effectiveprogram/process for the establishment and monitoring of sales goals and objectives. These goals should be driven by the personal income goals of the producer. If the producer wants to earn $100,000 and the agency pays 40% commission, the producer's book must generate $250,000. It's really pretty simple. However, now the challenge is to construct a sales and marketing plan that helps, encourages, forces,etc., the producer to hit the goal.
Effective sales meetings are absolutely crucial to an agency's sales success. However, less than 15% of agencies regularly schedule and hold sales meetings. These meetings should consist of individual reports, market discussions, low risk practice of skills, and presentation rehearsals.
One of the most important lessons I've learned as a performance coach toindependent insurance agencies is that you cannot manage numbers!
The only things you can effectively manage are the behaviors that create the numbers. We call these the "Non-Optional Behaviors." These behaviors should be identified and documented in an annual Producer Performance Agreement. This agreement lists out the specific goals for the year and the Non-Optional Behaviors. Basically whatyou are doing is putting the "rules of the game" in writing. The expectations of both the producer and the agency are clearly laid out and become the baseline for all performance discussions between the sales manager and the producer. (If you would like to receive a sample agreement, send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Some of the absolutely best coaching happens when the sales manager goeson joint calls with the producers. Although most producers dislike them, they are crucial to personal growth. From a management perspective, you need to know what your producers are saying out there and how your agency is being represented. Keep in mind that these appointments are the producer's appointments, not the sales manager's. The sales manager is simply there to observe and to thank theclient for its business. Immediately after each call the sales manager should de-brief the appointment with the producer. Tell the producer the good things and the bad things you observed.
I would suggest that sales management go on at least three or four joint calls with your veterans and six to twelve with your rookies.
Sales managers must make sure the producers are following the relationship...
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