Even the greatest basketball point guard will never carry his team to the national championship unless he and his teammates are effectively guarding, passing, running, shooting and rebounding under the seasoned guidance of their head coach and assistants.
For the very same reasons, in successful insurance agencies I work with, I find top sales performers absolutely understand their sales results cannot be maximized unless office team members are constantly coached and trained to help them succeed. Let me share an excellent example of what “constantly coaching your team” looks like.
Recently, I was in San Francisco delivering a seminar to a group of agents. An enthusiastic new agent named Angela approached me after the program and said, “I don’t know if you remember me, but I attended your workshop eight months ago, and I’ve got an exciting story to share with you.”
Here’s Angela’s story:
“Before I became an agent, I owned a successful deli. We did a lot of catering and I made good money. Yet, while I’m a college graduate, I felt like just a deli girl. So I decided to reinvent myself. I wanted to do something more important. I wanted to make a difference, so I decided to become an insurance agent.
“When I made the shift, I was very nervous. It was a whole new business and a whole new industry for me. I went through nine months of training, but was STILL nervous. I didn’t know how I was going to get people to understand the importance of protecting themselves from everyday risks. Then, I decided to invest a few dollars and hours in your Eight Secrets of the Top-Performing Agents seminar.
“I heard you tell the story about the college professor. At that moment, I started to relax. I knew I would make it. I knew I could tell a story and that gave me confidence that I could do this. When I heard the other secrets, they all seemed so simple and easy. If this is all it takes to be a great agent, I thought, I’m going to be a great agent.”
After the seminar, Angela went back to her agency and taught her team what she had learned. Every week , she focused on teaching an effective Client Attraction Story. She told me, “Associates often say, ‘Oh Angela, I’m not a good storyteller,’ and I say, ‘If you want to have the production to support the lifestyle you’re dreaming of, you need to become a good storyteller. If we don’t share a story, they won’t understand the importance of our products and we can’t help.’”
In this and other ways, Angela has made a habit of constantly coaching her team. And I’m pleased to report that she’s now one of the top agents in her company.
Never Stop Coaching Your Team
Another great example of coaching came from Joanne, with The Co-operators in Canada. I asked her how she coaches her team. She responded, “You can never stop coaching. You can’t think that because you’ve told your team something once, they’ll do it forever.
“My daughter is one of my team members, and this morning I heard her answer the phone.
At the end of any client conversation, I’ve coached everyone to say, ‘Is there anything else we can do for you today?’
“If the client says ‘No,’ we say, ‘Well, you have a very nice day. And thank you for doing business with us. We really appreciate you.’
“Today, I heard my daughter say, ‘Anything else we can do for you? . . . OK!’ And she hung up.
I went over and said, ‘No, no, no. You have to thank them for doing business with us and wish them a nice day.’
“Coaching takes constant reminders that this is how we do business,” Joanne explained. “We always share things that go well and things that don’t go well. You have to INSPECT what you EXPECT. I’m always listening and I act immediately to coach team members how to do it right.”
Practice Builds Confidence
At a workshop in San Francisco, I was working with agents and their team members. We were doing role-play exercises to practice positioning, questioning, and client attraction stories.
One agent was working with a young woman who was a relatively new team member, and she was stumbling with the role-play. She struggled to tell her story with confidence. Concerned, the agent called me over and said, “Bill I need you to give me some advice here. My team member is really having a hard time. What can I do to help her with her confidence?”
“That’s easy,” I told him. “The problem is simply lack of practice. All she needs to do is practice asking these questions, practice making these positioning comments and practice telling these stories. The more she practices, the better she’ll get. Then, you’ll see her confidence really blossom”
The agent’s face lit up as he said, “Oh, my gosh, you’re right. There’s no way to get confidence except through practice. When you get comfortable with the words, the confidence comes.”
It’s also important you make sure associates are clear on the reasoning behind your coaching. Explain to them what you’re trying to achieve and how your suggestion accomplishes the objective. Encourage your team members with phrases like, “What if we tried to. . .” and “May we could. . .” and “Another option might be. . .”
In the end, you can never stop coaching. It takes constant reminders and immediate feedback to get all your associates performing effectively with prospects and clients. To build your business to the highest possible level, you need every member of your team applying the same effective sales tools.
About the Author of "Eight Secrets of the Top Performing Agents": Bill Whitley is a nationally recognized author, speaker, and sales force productivity trainer who helps insurance agents become trusted advisors through his Risk Advisor Institute.