I realize it may be a fine line, but I would much rather get beat than lose, at anything.
I am helping coach my 12 year old son’s baseball team this year. With the exception of a small core group of boys, this is a brand new team. We’ve been having batting cage practice for a couple of months now, but have only had one outdoor practice. Nevertheless, we signed up for a pre-season tournament. We did so to get in some game time, get a sense of what we need to work on, and to start playing together, as a team.
We lost each of the first 2 games by 2 runs, we won the third game, and got beat pretty handily the last game. At the end of the tournament, I reminded the boys, that as much as anything, our goal was to leave the weekend a better team than we started. Mission accomplished. I talked about baseball being both a physical game as well as a mental game, a team sport as well as an individual sport.
I also pointed out that, even though our tournament record was 1 - 3, we really only got beat once. The first two games we lost.
You may be asking, “What’s the difference?”
Well, as I see it, the difference is whether you take the loss because of your effort or that of your opponent.
In the game we got beat, their pitcher was lights out and their batters just kept hitting against our most dominant pitcher. It was definitely their effort that drove the outcome of the game.
However, we lost the first games because of the way we played. We were tentative at the plate and in the field, we swung at bad pitches, and we made both physical and mental errors. It was our effort that drove the outcome of those two games.
What about you? When you look at those situations you don’t win, are you losing or getting beat? Do you play tentatively? Do you prepare in advance? Do you “leave it all on the field”? Do you look at selling as just an individual, rather than a team sport?
Getting beat still sucks, but I’d rather get beat by someone else than lose because of my own poor effort.
Photo by snappybex.
I recently had the opportunity to spend three days with some extremely talented high school students, and they completely blew me away with their abilities, focus, presence, and drive.
Kevin has talked about recruiting a new generation into the insurance industry and based on what I saw, the talent is readily available, anxious to get started, and extremely well prepared to come in and shake up the traditional way of doing business.
My daughter is in the DECA club and they’ve been faced with nothing but obstacles this year. Having lost both their marketing class and their advisor, they took it on themselves to form a club, find a stand-in advisor, get ASB support, study business principles, bring in outside coaches to help, get registered for competition, and send 12 students to the state competition!
While this might sound like a nice story about high school students, think about what that kind of drive and determination looks like in your own agency. Do you have people on your team that feel so passionately about what they’re doing that they blaze right through all the “I’m sorry, we can’t do that” answers in order to make it happen?
If you don’t, you should find them. People like this transform not only companies, but also entire industries.
However, it can only happen if:
It wasn’t just getting there that impressed me. It was also the student presentations.
As former business partners, my fellow parent chaperone and I were really intrigued with the whole DECA experience, and quite unexpectedly, we found ourselves judging at the competition. It was an incredible experience that I would encourage every businessperson to try. You’ll find a whole new way of looking at “I can’t” excuses from yourself and your team.
The students entered the competition hall with only their nametags. They were given a role-play scenario and 10 minutes to prepare their ideas, notes, and presentation materials with only the paper and pencils provided on the tables.
I saw detailed notes pages. I saw 6 page presentations with agendas, talking points, charts, graphs, and business cards. I saw professional dress and professional level poise and presentation. I heard cohesive and well thought-through ideas. I heard discussions about the principles of HR management and how effectively managing employees can improve the overall productivity of the company, improve relations with customers, and attract better employees.
All prepared in 10 minutes. And delivered in a competitive setting to a judge they’d never met.
Impressive? I certainly think so.
Practicing can be intimidating because you feel like you’re being judged. These kids actually were being judged. We had to give them scores and feedback. Yikes.
Now think about practicing your own presentations in front of a mirror, or in your office with the door closed, with a partner, or even with your sales team. In comparison, it seems like a cakewalk, doesn’t it?
If these teenagers can put together a presentation and impress the hell out of me in 10 minutes, just think what proper preparation and practice can do for you and your producers in front of your clients. It’s worth every minute you put into it. Trust me.
And if you want to start judging and scoring your practice sessions, just let me know and I’ll make up a scoring sheet for you!
As you probably saw in a previous post, Kevin recently spoke at the 6th Annual Employee Benefit Adviser Summit in Dallas, TX. His message was about making changes in the broker model due to current and coming industry challenges.
Brian Kalish, with Employee Benefit Adviser, attended Kevin’s session and wrote up a great synopsis of the message. Follow the link below to read the full article.
DALLAS – It is time for brokers and consultants to face the much talked-about upcoming challenges head on and move forward “first, faster and stronger” than their competitors. The goal is to make clients understand that the cost of doing nothing might be the “most expensive, more detrimental thing to a business,” a former adviser said Monday.
Photo by ptooey.
Independent insurance and benefits agencies face pressures from changes brought about by healthcare reform.
September 21, 2011 - St. Louis, MO - Kevin Trokey, President & CEO of Benefits Growth Network, has been selected to speak at the 6th Annual Employee Benefit Adviser Summit. He will present on the pressures benefits and insurance agencies are facing as a result of healthcare reform and what they can do to successfully navigate the transition.
Trokey believes that the current changes facing the industry may look familiar, but are actually quite different than the challenges the industry has seen in the past decades. He will explain the differences, explore the challenges, and offer ideas on how to modify the agency business model in order to compete in a new environment.
“There are unprecedented opportunities for growth in the benefits industry as a result of the healthcare reform changes being forced on agency businesses. However, without a purposeful plan of how to make a successful transition, many brokers and agencies will find themselves victims and casualties of reform,” says Trokey.
In the session, brokers will get an idea of how to create a new vision and strategy for their agency that takes a different marketing approach and value proposition to clients. Through this new model, agencies focus on helping clients build more successful businesses by improving the investment employers make into their staff.
The 6th Annual Employee Benefit Adviser Summit will be held in Dallas, TX September 25 – 27, 2011. The conference is focused on building businesses by providing the basics for broker/adviser staff, as well as advanced marketing and management techniques.
About Benefits Growth Network
Benefits Growth Network, based out of St. Louis, MO, is an international membership-based consulting firm specializing in growth strategies for independently owned employee benefits agencies and brokerages. Through the exclusive Benefits Growth System™, members get individualized planning, coaching, training, use of proprietary systems and access to a network of thriving benefits agencies. For more information about Benefits Growth Network, visit www.benefitsgrowthnetwork.com.
Kevin has been selected to present at the 6th Annual Employee Benefit Adviser Summit in Dallas, TX. The conference starts this coming Sunday, September 25 and runs through Tuesday, September 27.
His topic is about the pressures that benefits and insurance agencies are facing as a result of healthcare reform and what they can do to successfully navigate the transition.
While the current changes facing the industry may look familiar, there are significant differences from the challenges the industry has seen in the past decades. He will explain the differences, explore the challenges, and offer ideas on how to modify the agency business model in order to compete in a new environment.
Also of note, one of our BGN partners, Jen Benz, Chief Strategist & Founder of Benz Communications, will be a Key Note speaker on Monday morning. If you’re there, be sure to attend that session, as well.
One my favorite things about working with producers is the absolutely competitive spirit with which they approach each day. That spirit is energizing and has to be used to its fullest. Unfortunately, they are so competitive and have such high expectations of themselves that winning is always the expected outcome. As a result, it is all too rare that they celebrate appropriately, much less stop to celebrate the incremental successes along the way.
When you go to a sporting event, you don’t wait until the game ends to cheer for your team; you cheer and celebrate the incremental successes that will lead to the win. You cheer for first downs, for completed passes, for the second inning home run. You know that will build momentum for your team and that they will draw from the energy of the crowd. Besides, it makes the game more fun.
It’s the same for your internal team. Cheer the new opportunities put into the pipeline. Cheer the successful renewals/continuations. Cheer the successful presentations.
Yes, save the biggest celebration for the final WIN.
Just don’t make that the only celebration.
I know the need to celebrate is obvious, but it isn’t always easy for those who automatically expect to succeed. While winning should always be the expectation, all the steps along the way need to be celebrated, as well.
What are some of the things you celebrate? How do you celebrate?
Photo by schipulites.
"You Suck at PowerPoint" - that was quite a title that originally caught my attention when I went to SlideShare.net one afternoon in early December last year. I was compelled and had to see why I sucked. And guess what? I definitely did.
Everything Jesse Desjardins (jessedee) said was wrong with presentations, I was guilty of doing or having done. I didn’t mean to. I just didn’t know any better. I didn’t get how to make them not suck.
No bullet points!
No blocks of text!
Make it visual!
Make it interesting and memorable!
Okay, that’s great, but HOW do I do that?? Well, Jesse managed to show me what I was doing wrong and how to make it right all in one easy presentation.
We had an upcoming webinar where we were going to use a bullet pointed presentation and decided to overhaul it at the last minute. It took a huge investment of time because it was changing our thinking, learning a new skill, and re-working something all at the same time. There’s nothing like a little pressure to make it all come together, though, right?!
We did it and were thrilled with the result. And since then, our audiences have seemed to appreciate our efforts, as well.
Are we now design experts? Certainly not, but we sure enjoy creating presentations now rather than dreading putting more bullet points and logos on slides and trying to decide how many lines of text we can fit on each one.
As Jesse points out, “Your slides are there to support you, and unfortunately if they suck, so do you.”
We’ve made the commitment to not suck, and think you should too! Of course, if you’ve already got this figured out, then good for you and your audiences.
Do you have some great presentations or some tips to share & show us your skills? We'd love to see and/or hear about them!
Most producers I know are extremely competitive. Not just in sales, but in everything they do. It is not unusual at all to find the best performers in sales still are, or once were, athletes. It’s in their DNA, it’s the way they’re wired, and it’s what drives them to win. That’s probably why there are so many sports analogies used in sales.
While good producers draw on those naturally competitive juices to drive professional success, it is the exceptional producer who takes the similarities between success on the field and success in the office one step further. Just like exceptional athletes, exceptional producers realize that the game isn’t really won on the playing field.
My daughter is a captain for her high school lacrosse team. At the recent team banquet she was awarded the “110% award”. I was telling her how proud I was of her and she said, “Thanks, but I’m not sure that it’s entirely a good thing.” I thought her comment was strange and asked her what she meant. She explained that there are only four end-of-the-year awards given out: the 110% award, Best Defender, Best Offensive Player, and MVP. She seemed to understand that giving the best effort doesn’t necessarily equate to giving the best performance.
It’s the same in selling, we can go in to a sales presentation and give 110% of our ability, but if we haven’t given 110% in preparation to improve our abilities, the 110% game effort may not be enough. It’s easy to get excited and pumped for a finalist presentation. In fact, if that doesn’t happen automatically, you might want to consider another career. However, it’s much harder to give 110% to building your business acumen, to learning new approaches, to practicing your presentation skills when there isn’t anything immediately on the line.
Athletes who go out and wing-it on the field will still win occasionally on sheer will, effort, or due to a less talented opponent. However, it’s the athletes who play just as hard (maybe harder) on the practice field who can complement their effort on the playing field with a well-deserved level of confidence. In sales or sports, that’s a difficult combination to defeat.
Photo by Bill Brine.
As hard as it is to believe, every producer I have ever known practices his/her presentations. Unfortunately, instead of practicing with their teammates in the office, most don’t practice until they are in front of the prospect. That just boggles my mind. We all know how hard it is to get in front of prospects, and then, to not give yourself every opportunity for a successful meeting just doesn’t make sense.
When it gets right down to it, most producers don’t practice because they’re afraid of being embarrassed. They’re afraid of getting it wrong, fumbling over words, or making mistakes. Guess what?! You will and that is the very reason you want to make sure that happens in the office where nobody can get hurt, rather than in front of the prospect when you have everything to lose.
- The various elements of your sales system
- Handling objections
- 30 second commercial
- Asking for referrals/introductions
- Question asking skills
- Cold calling scripts
- Ambushes – At the beginning of a meeting, without notice, ask to hear someone’s 30 second commercial.
- Small group practice
- Large group practice
- Video tape for self assessment
- Speed dating – Have someone be the producer, someone else the prospect, and an observer. Practice one of the topics and then rotate.
- Open gym – Set aside time for anyone interested to show up in the conference room to practice anything on which they want to improve.
The thought of practicing in front of your peers may make you uncomfortable, but that is a temporary feeling and one that passes surprisingly fast. What doesn’t pass is the feeling you get from opportunities lost as a result of not being as prepared as you could have been.
Photo by Homini:)
CEO, Benefits Growth Network
Kevin Trokey is a coach and an implementer of business strategies. He works with agency leadership, department managers, and producers of benefits agencies to craft strategies and lead them to successful transformations by breaking down the complexity into manageable steps.
He regularly speaks about the role of HR within an organization and working with agencies to help them work with their clients on benefits/HR issues. An important aspect of this is addressing the changing role of the broker, especially in light of healthcare reform. At BGN, we focus on the overall management of agencies and tightly integrating the sales system into the operations and culture of the company, so topics along those lines are fair game as well.