Agent Link - October 2019

AGENT LINK To empower those who change lives for the better

OCT 2019

INSIDE 1. Which Agents Are Ready to Take Action?

MARKET ASSESSMENT: PRODUCER STATE OF MIND Who’s Really Ready to Take Action

It became clear, however, that not all producers who were open to new opportunities were ready to take action. I also noticed that some of my clients were getting much higher closing percentages than others. So, I remained intrigued and knew much more could be learned along this line of research and market assessment. Years later, I stumbled upon the works and research of national bestselling author and business consultant Chet Holmes on this exact topic: What percentage of prospects is really ready to take action and buy across different industries? What he wrote left me stunned. It also sent me on an investigative frenzy that culminated in tremendous gains for my business, as well as for my clients. Not only did Holmes’ numbers confirm my findings, but they also pointed to an earlier study conducted by entrepreneur and author Jeremy Miller, a member of a North American recruiting firm in the 1990s and early 2000s. His study revealed what I had been looking for over the years. Inside this month’s newsletter, we break down these important findings and what they mean for you. 2. How to Create Great Content 3. How Henry Ford Innovated His Industry 4. Tips for Women Climbing the Business Ladder

fruit” before we circle back (if we ever do) to those who engaged with us but didn’t move forward with our proposal. I’m not referring at all to unqualified or ineligible leads, like agents who are retiring, agents who are licensed but not producing, or those who just don’t write the products you focus on. I’m talking about agents or advisors with the proper licensing in the markets you target but who manifest different degrees of hesitation from taking action. In other words, I’m referring to the prospects who aren’t ready to close. O pen vs . R eady to T ake A ction Many years ago, when I started helping people in the insurance and financial services industries, I wanted to find out the actual percentage of producers who were in the market for, or open to, a new opportunity. So, I conducted a quantitative study with the help of my staff and surveyed a few hundred active producers regarding whether they already had existing relationships with BGAs or IMOs and whether they’d be open to discussing a new relationship. It’s worth mentioning that I’m not a big believer in the accuracy of email surveys or quick, multiple-answer online tools. My team surveyed producers by phone to best capture their demeanor, attitude, and disposition — those qualities that only human interaction can elucidate. We discovered that 40% of active producers would be open to an opportunity with an IMO or insurance wholesaler. Based on the sample size of my survey, I determined that this tabulation had a +/- 5% margin of error.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “low- hanging fruit.” I’ve heard it many times in my career while collaborating with brokerage agencies, carriers, and individual recruiters targeting producers from a variety of backgrounds.The metaphor refers to the idea of focusing on the prospects who are in a more receptive frame of mind and are more apt to take action when given an opportunity to contract and write business through your channel instead of your competitors’. The phrase also means concentrating less on, or even excluding, less promising prospects — for example, agents who RSVP'd for your event but didn’t show up or prospects who jumped on a call to listen to your value proposition but seemed to be “kicking your tires” and not seriously considering a change. In the context of producer recruitment, we naturally gravitate toward the “low-hanging

1 +800 535 4545 -Stu Gramajo

What are your biggest desires? What are your daily frustrations? What trends have you noticed in your industry? These are some of the questions we ask producers in surveys and interviews to gain valuable insight into what their journey is like. For example, when we interviewed producers selling annuity products, we learned that their No. 1 frustration is finding high net worth prospects. Knowing both the demographics and the psychographics of your audience is crucial to knowing how to attract them. With this information, you can create great content that speaks to your prospects: the agents who will write business for you. Keep these three points in mind. Make it accessible. A Forrester study found that the average consumer looks at 11.4 pieces of content before making a purchase. Replace “consumer” with “agent,” and this concept can be just as easily applied to our industry. A prospect shouldn’t have to hunt for information. Within seconds of scanning your website or email, they should be able to find what they are looking for: the tagline or mission statement that tells them, “This is it.This is the organization I want to write business for.” Be specific. Show a producer how your organization will help ease their frustrations. Why are you different than the others out there? Why should a producer pay attention to you? Each piece of content you put out tells your story, your company’s values, and how you will address agents’ needs. Identify and address pain points. If your organization can address the daily frustrations agents feel, it’s going to put you light-years ahead of your competition. To create content that speaks to the producers you want to target, understand their dreams and frustrations and address them. We work in a very specific industry, and that’s where content can be the most useful. Because we have a targeted audience, we can use content to turn them into leads and then agents who write business in your channel. If your content feels like an intimate letter to your producers, they will find it worth reading. Don’t let this opportunity to engage with your audience go to waste. Bring More High-Quality Agents Into Your Funnel With Targeted Content How to Create Great Content

-Senia Gramajo

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REIGNITE YOUR PASSION Lessons in Innovation From Henry Ford

line, Ford lowered the price of cars and made them accessible for people outside the upper class for the first time. As long as you keep the consumer and their needs in mind, you’ll find ways to make their experience better and increase your success. Small Changes, Big Impact Unlike many companies today who sacrifice quality for quantity, Ford found ways to focus on both. He looked at how cars were actually made and found that, if he could build more cars within a certain time frame, he could pay less per car, per worker.Thus, the moving assembly line was born. When looking for ways to innovate in your industry, rethinking even the smallest, simplest details can make a huge difference for your business. You may not be able to reinvent the wheel, but who said you couldn’t reinvent the brake pads? Henry Ford may have changed the automobile industry forever, but you don't have to go to such lengths to innovate in your own.The next time you find yourself uninspired or stagnant, look to those who made your industry what it is today. You might just find the inspiration you’ve been searching for.

As entrepreneurs scale their businesses, there is a lot to focus on: hiring the right staff, creating the most effective marketing strategies, and setting up efficient operations. With so much to do, it’s easy to lose sight of your initial vision for your company. If you’re stuck in a rut, know that you’re not alone. Plenty of the most successful entrepreneurs have endured the same struggles and, with a little ambition and a lot of creativity, came out on top. Take Henry Ford, for example. Henry Ford made the automobile accessible and appealing for the common citizen.This ignited interest in the market from consumers and manufacturers alike, which led to innovations like air conditioning and other appliances we can’t imagine living without today.There were some key factors that played into his success, and, if you apply them to your own journey, you could gain a new perspective and be inspired to create and innovate in your industry. Consumer-Focused Ford realized cars were unreliable and unaffordable to most and set out to change that. After developing the first moving assembly

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‘WOMEN, WORK & THE ART OF SAVOIR FAIRE: BUSINESS SENSE & SENSIBILITY’

A Woman’s Guide to Corporate Success

While Mireille Guiliano is best known for “French Women Don’t Get Fat,” her book on healthy eating and balanced living, authorship is actually her second career. Before she took up the pen, Guiliano was president and CEO of the French Champagne brand Veuve Clicquot. She developed Veuve Clicquot’s reputation in America almost single-handedly over a 20-plus year career, and now she has chronicled that success in her 2010 bestseller “Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire: Business Sense & Sensibility”— a guide to climbing the corporate ladder geared specifically toward women. Just as “French Women Don’t Get Fat” upended the typical diet book format, “Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire” leaves the usual business book style behind almost immediately. As Guiliano writes in her introduction, “This isn’t another business book that tells you how to ‘succeed’ or ‘get the corner office.’ Yes, of course, you’ll find advice on getting ahead and getting promoted …but more than that, you’ll find advice on being happy and living a good life, even while you are making the biggest contribution you can to the workplace.That’s why I dare to talk about style, and clothes, and food, and wine, and entertaining, and LIFE in a business book. We don’t work in a vacuum.” Guiliano is true to her word. Between the covers, readers will find advice on topics as far-ranging as developing the perfect handshake, choosing catering for a business dinner, dressing for success, and putting together an effective presentation. Guiliano has plenty of experience to back up her counsel and shares amusing anecdotes about the food and beverage industry, French culture, and her own journey along the way.There are no easy three-step solutions here, only long-term goals and strategies. What really makes “Women,Work & the Art of Savoir Faire” unique is that it caters specifically to women in pursuit of high-powered CEO or CFO jobs. Guiliano covers circumventing prejudice right alongside choosing a dress and tips on being the perfect lunch date. Still, both men and women will come away from this book with ideas about how to achieve success without sacrificing the pleasures French women hold so dear. 4 www.agentlinkmarketing.com

A New Slant on Producer Recruitment: What Percentage of Producers Are Ready to Take Action?

are more passive and will require more effort on the part of a recruiter to close and get them to write business. The remaining 90% split into three segments of 30% each. The First 30% The first 30%, the middle segment in our infographic, actually have a need, but it’s not the type of pressing need that triggers change .These include your so-called “tire-kickers” who are open and willing to talking about your value proposition but who could be perceived as a “waste of time.” The fact is, these prospects have a tendency to keep to their status quo.This segment may have a problem your services could solve, but again, they are not ready to act on it yet.This can be a particularly frustrating segment to recruiters, which is why some recruiters prefer to not do much follow-up with leads and concentrate on low-hanging fruit instead. We will return to this middle segment because knowing how to work with them could help you boom your recruitment and your business. The tendency to not follow up on this type of prospect is especially true when recruiters are not just responsible for bringing in new business but also for getting existing producers to write more business, as is the case with many IMOs and BGAs. As humans, we’re sometimes like drops of water and follow the path of least resistance. It’s always a bit easier to go back to already established relationships and procure more business there than it is to work a lukewarm prospect just beginning their buying journey. The Last 2 Segments The next segment in a market is composed of the 30% that are content and definitely won’t change because they don’t have a need. Finally, the fifth and last segment is composed of the people who are just not interested in your company, period.These two bottom segments are producers who aren’t clicking on your emails or answering your calls. So, when you really look at it, this means that while 40% of people may engage and discuss an opportunity, 60% either do not have a need at the moment or are outright not going to do business .

As I shared on the cover, my deep dive into the actual percentage of producers who are ready to take action, rather than just those who are open to an opportunity, led me to some incredible research and findings. Based on work done by Chet Holmes, Jeremy Miller, and my own surveys and analysis, we have a clearer understanding of the subject that directly guides how we recruit. Here are the illuminating findings I discovered. The 3% Rule As measured by research, there seems to be a pattern where only 3% of individuals in any given market are “buying now .”These top 3% have made a decision to change, are actively buying, and are likely to take action. An additional 7% have the need for and an intention to change, but for various reasons, they are not proactively looking for change . It will take some type of sustained effort and salesmanship for them to buy, but research shows that they are “closeable.” The 3% and the 7% described above combine into the upper 10% of higher disposition.

This 3% was the “low-hanging fruit” I’d been hearing about for years. Nevertheless, effective marketing and sales may motivate other segments. While the top 3% may be searching for answers on Google, for example — or, in the case of producers, they may have a case in front of them and be quite open to a new relationship — the other 7%

At AgentLink, we define marketing as the strategy to get your prospects to know you, like you, and trust you enough to become a client. Positioning your brand in front of producers requires more than just one recruiting conversation. Strategic Producer Recruitment When it comes to producer recruitment, especially when you’re targeting the big producers and more sophisticated advisors, the money is in the follow-up. Successful recruitment also has a lot to do with timing. The right time to make a good impression in front of the producers you want to recruit is before they even have a need for your company. Multiple positive interactions focused on delivering value to them will make your brand well-known and trusted prior to when they have a need. As a result, you can gain a competitive advantage over other organizations who are exclusively targeting low-hanging fruit and are too tactical to gain the traction of the big players. COMING NEXTMONTH ... Up next, we begin the recruitment journey. To put these findings into action, you must put your organization and services aside and think completely from the point of view of your targeted producer. In our next issue, we will address: • Mapping a recruitment journey and creating effective campaigns • Finding a hidden treasure inside your list of producers • Discovering how 19th-century Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto brings an outstanding contribution to producer recruitment that you can implement right away Stay tuned! -Stu Gramajo

Are YouTooTactical and Not Strategic Enough to Act on This Data? The most successful organizations and their executives never “just wing it.”They have a plan, and they follow it. But there are different types of plans: strategic and tactical. The words strategy and tactics have almost become interchangeable, but they’re very different. Strategy is the long-term and big-picture planning to achieve your vision: It is your purpose. Tactics are derived from strategy, and they are meant to achieve shorter-term goals that forward the purpose. What I’ve come to find is that some of us have a tendency to be much more tactical in how we operate and not strategic enough. It’s only natural to be tactical as we deal with what is happening at the moment. It is more challenging to be strategic because that takes long-range vision, commitment, and good market data. By the nature of how organizations are built, some team members are required to deal with the tactics on the ground, but executives and boards must deal in strategy and bring tactical and strategic actions into alignment. If we go back to our “low-hanging fruit” metaphor, it’s only logical to focus first on the top part of the segment, the 3%. Frankly, the tactical mind can only deal with that 3%. However, concentrating exclusively on the 3% and not at all on any other segment with an appropriate strategic approach is not only misguided and short-sighted, but it also happens to be a common and very large hole in the funnel for a majority of brokerage general agencies and IMOs. Not to mention, it’s a critical point for huge revenue loss. If you take that triangular breakdown of five segments and invert it, you will see a funnel.The reality is that producers in the five different segments could be producers at different points of their journey. To build your brand, you must strategically position yourself in front of each segment using a customized approach .

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