Starting without any customers, no markets, no office and no money in 1975, our agency grew from zero into a highly successful company that was purchased by a bank 30 years later. Developing and building a killer sales force made it happen.
All agencies share one thing in common: None can achieve exceptional success and sustained growth without a formal producer development and sales management process. If you aren’t willing to make this critical commitment, stop reading this column.
No agency starts out with a formal sales management process from day one, but those who become great embrace basic tools that work and evolve as the agency grows, while the others continue to follow worn-out techniques that are generally not very effective, such as cold calling, networking (you meet other sales people, not the folks who sign the check), direct mail (goes in the trash), offers of free gifts and “no obligation” teasers, nighttime/weekend selling, and buying leads or referrals.
The annual sales plan for many agencies is for producers to increase their revenue by X percent or a specific dollar amount. That’s not sales management — that’s wishful thinking. I tip my hat to the folks who say “Manage activities — not results.” Managing results gets the same results. Managing activities gets different results.
An established agency with one or more producers, including agency principals, can build a sales management plan geared to all levels of producers: new, intermediate and senior. A sales plan can even be adopted for those veteran producers wishing to slow down.
Every producer must have an individual annual business plan establishing goals and objectives for revenue, professional development, community or charitable organization participation, joint work with senior producers/principals and multi-line sales. Producers have strong egos and enjoy recognition, appreciation, challenges and competition, and all want to win. Here are some suggestions for developing producers at all levels: