Agent Link November 2018

AGENT LINK To empower those who change lives for the better



Part I

After much analysis, we stumbled upon a startling fact: The leads the campaign had generated had been allowed to sit without contact from my clients’ personnel. In some cases, quite a long time had elapsed between the lead delivery and a recruiter following up with the lead. Upon realizing that the metrics were pointing to a lead follow up “bottle neck,” we began inspecting more closely. We found that my client’s recruiters had spoken with most prospects only once . Contracting proposals had been sent to prospects without the kind of tight control a recruiter keeps on a good prospect. It wasn’t that recruiters had carelessly or lazily neglected to call the leads, but it was clear that recruiters were tasked with bringing in new business, managing existing producers, and procuring production. And it appeared to be a case where priority levels had caused new leads to sit untouched for some time. Even though in the eyes of the client I had fulfilled my end of the bargain by delivering a voluminous number of leads, naturally they weren’t happy due to low contracting numbers. So my staff and I began a handling which involved additional delivery — only this time we provided consulting and coaching in addition to simply delivering leads, which involved methods of converting lead traffic. Much to my fortune, I had been provided earlier with the kind of experience that allowed me to develop some benchmarks and effective methods of lead conversion. As you might have guessed from the title, I happened to have another client, another carrier — we will call this client Carrier B — in the same marketplace offering a different value proposition but still holding many similarities in terms of target demographics, product, rates, and a brand recognized by independent producers. Upon conducting a yearly campaign with Carrier B, and assessing impressions, response, leads, conversations, contracting numbers, and business written, they decided to continue and come back for more. Curious what the outcome of Carrier B’s campaign was? Stay tuned for next month’s newsletter to read Part II and find out the vital lessons learned from “A Tale of Two Carriers.”

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (we were located in a different office at the time), I was preparing for a large recruiting campaign on behalf of one of my clients. My client’s name won’t be mentioned; I’ll just say they are a prominent carrier whose core product is quite competitive in their market. There was excitement and anticipation at my client’s home office and at our office as the marketing campaign deployed and promotional communications were sent. I had been working with regional outfits for this client, and they kept coming back for the satisfactory results I provided.The product hadn’t changed, nor had there been significant new trends in that market. Surveying and research had been done; all the T’s were crossed and the I’s dotted. The campaign launched on schedule and, as is customary, our proprietary web-based lead management platform recorded the kind of activity you want to see after the initial deployment — timely promotional impressions, great responses, and leads pouring in. My campaign manager kept the finger on the pulse with the client, periodically checking in to see how things were going, and the feedback was positive. Everything seemed to be going well. However, sometime after this, during one of the customer service calls, the carrier’s marketing executive overseeing the campaign surprised us with the feedback you never want to hear as a marketing agency: “The campaign is not going well. We’re not seeing the results we expected.” It felt like a bucket of ice water being poured down my back, and not the kind a football coach gets after they win the big game. Naturally, we rolled up our sleeves and began assessing the situation to solve this for our client. Like every great executive knows, a great handling and tactical implementation is completely dependent upon the quality of the data that led to your tactics. Metrics are vital. You need promotional impressions, response rates, number of leads, quality conversations, follow up, contracts — the works. You want to have metrics for every aspect of the marketing effort so if it bottle necks, you’re not left without a way to diagnose the situation, or even worse, being unaware of where to look for what went wrong.

-Stu Gramajo

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Getting the Most out of Internal Communication

Maintaining the flow of ideas and information between team members is as necessary to a business as the nervous system is to the human body. Internal communication (IC) is what determines how flexible and responsive your company is to everyday challenges. In today’s fast-paced, decentralized marketplace, leveraging the right tools and strategies to make IC engaging, effective, and fun has never been more important. Here are a few tips to help you get there. MORE CHATS, FEWERMEETINGS Making IC engaging from a leadership standpoint means taking the time to use the right medium for your message.The last thing you want is to have team members sitting through a meeting thinking, “Couldn’t this have just been an email?” Recognizing what you want to communicate and why are important steps in deciding the best way to deliver information. Saving in-person meetings for big, collaborative projects and important announcements will add more weight to those moments while allowing communications of lesser magnitude to be handled quickly and efficiently over email and instant messaging. INTERNAL, YET GLOBAL Remote work is becoming more and more common — and it’s a good thing. Research conducted by IBM suggests that remote workers are, on average, more engaged and effective than those who come to the office from 9 to 5.With group messaging apps and cloud-based software, you can keep your team on the same page no matter where they are in the world.The best tools to make this possible will depend on your business, but keeping everyone under the same umbrella of programs, such as Google’s G Suite, is a great strategy to start with. MEMES AND GIFS GALORE A company’s culture exists within the ways its team communicates. Having avenues available for employees to blow off steam, share funny stories, and stay abreast of each other’s lives is an important part of improving retention and company morale. Even spicing up a companywide email with a well-placed GIF or pop culture reference can do wonders to give your IC a voice unique to the culture and values of your company. Finding the styles and methods of communication that best fit your company takes time, but it’s worth it. Not only will creating your own communication style ensure that time and resources are used effectively, but it will also ensure that your team has a voice. Nailing this key aspect of your business will allow everything else to run far more smoothly.

An Innovative Approach

The Power of OKRs

If we called you up today and asked how many agents you’ve converted in the last 30 days, could you find those numbers? How about how long does it take to get an agent to write business? If just thinking about these questions leaves you scrambling, you might find success from developing KPIs in the way companies like Google have done, to their immense benefit.

As Stu highlighted in “A Tale of Two Carriers,”metrics tell you what’s going right, and they can also highlight what’s going wrong.With the long sales funnel in our industry, knowing where (and when) something is getting stuck or falling through is important if you want to contract and convert more agents. In the book “Measure What Matters,” engineer and venture capitalist John Doerr shares a “sharp-edged tool


What We Live For “We tire of those pleasures we take, but never of those we give.” –J. Petit-Senn This quote really captures the sentiment of this season, doesn’t it? Jean Petit-Senn wisely understood that life is about giving and that we always get more out of giving than taking. John Kralik, author of “Simple Acts of Gratitude,” is someone else who knows a lot about the topic of giving and the practice of gratitude. On New Year’s Day in 2008, Kralik was at a low point: His business was failing, he was going through a divorce, and he had little (or so he thought) to feel thankful for. On a hike in Echo Park that day, Kralik had an epiphany: “I needed to learn to be grateful for the things I had, rather than to focus on the things I wanted, or the many things I felt I had lost.” He made a resolution to write 365 thank-you notes in the coming year, and the experience changed his life. Inspired by Kralik, I want to take a moment to thank you. We are so grateful to work with people like you.Thank you for being part of this journey with us. Hearing that the connections we fostered made a big difference is what we live for. When we hear that we made a difference in your organization and created a positive impact by connecting you with the right producers, and in turn, you were able to make a positive impact in those producers’ lives, we are for world-class execution” that has helped the likes of Larry Page and Sergey Brin evaluate and then increase their progress when Google was in its infancy. The system uses Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to define and measure success. Objectives are what you want to accomplish, like contracting more agents. Key results are a quantitative measurement of how you’re going to get there. For example, you could implement a five-time follow-up policy for leads to obtain those key results. Doerr calls the system “deceptively simple,” as the process of defining objectives and key results forces companies to seriously evaluate what their goals are and how the numbers will show that they are making progress. Applied in tandem with OKRs, the tool that brings them to life are CFRs — conversation, feedback, and recognition. Because they are numerical, well-defined key results give you clear markers of your progress. It is not just about the numbers either — it’s about measuring the right ones.Though your objectives might stay the same for years, key results can be adapted, modified, and even rejected if they are found to be ineffective.There’s another benefit to OKRs that addresses the challenge of getting business from Producers. You can get every agent (and not just employees) to write down their objectives and key results and publish them for other agents and you to see. Doerr says they’re “a collective commitment to the few things that matter most.”To see how your Producer Recruitment and Activation Funnel stacks up, go to

thankful to be a part of that. I believe human beings are wired to help. And this is why we got into this business in the first place: We wanted to help! We all want to help, and you can actually observe that things start going downhill when we can’t. When an agent connects with an opportunity that’s going to change his or her life for the better, that agent has an impact on more lives on their end. We’re all about those win-win situations, and you are part of this.This industry is innately all about helping, and we are thankful that we get to be a part of that. I encourage you to take a moment this month to express your gratitude to the people you work with: your employees, coworkers, agents, and the people you interact with — spread that joy.Thank them for how they impacted your life. You may be surprised by the results. As a thank-you for you, please accept a study done with 164 IMOs over a two-year period. We’ve uncovered some interesting things that can hopefully help you in positive ways in your organization.


o Metrics

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-Senia Gramajo

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1. A Tale of Two Carriers

2. The Key to Effective Internal Communications

– Thank You

3. Measuring Success the Way Google Does

– Have a Laugh

Experience vs. Potential What Matters More in New Hires?

of their craft can provide a sense of security when hiring. With new employees playing such a pivotal role in growth, many employers want to limit uncertainty and ensure they aren’t gambling with their company’s future. But experience doesn’t equate to competency, which is why some employers elect to hire for potential. POTENTIAL The argument for hiring based on potential centers around two concepts. One is that by hiring someone with a bright future and helping them achieve their goals, you could gain the loyalty of that person and thus retain that employee for a longer time.This comes with the caveat that those who have potential also look for potential, so as an employer, it’s important to provide opportunities for advancement.The other argument is that potential combined with training can equate to a more effective employee in the long run. In truth, the disagreement that transpires is a moot point. You can hire someone with experience or an individual with potential and strike out just the same. All successful employees will have one important trait: passion. You can’t teach passion, but you can hire for it.

Scaling a business is one of the most complicated challenges for entrepreneurs. Developing a model that allows for consistent growth while maintaining profit margins and effective systems is a substantial task for business owners. But once the proper blueprint is in place, a new test presents itself, and how well you perform will undoubtedly define the future success of your company. Hiring plays a significant role along a company’s path to success. It’s not a landmark or a checkpoint on the map; it’s the vehicle that takes you to your destination. Your business is only as good as the people who propel it forward. You need individuals who fit into your culture, possess the necessary skills to be effective, and have a desire to continue learning best practices if you’re ever going to achieve your goals. Some qualities are universally known to be linked to good hiring practices, but there’s still one important question that divides the masses: Do I hire for experience or potential? EXPERIENCE A degree- or trade-specific education can certainly lay a foundation for an employee to be successful, but experience provides specialized training that cannot be found anywhere else. An employee who has a working knowledge


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