Your history does not determine your future, unless you choose to allow it. Your future is an open slate of opportunity from this minute forward. However, every choice you make based on “the way we’ve always done it” is actually a step backward at this point and will bring down your agency if you allow it to continue.

Whether it’s owners, producers or account managers, this thinking is insidious and you need to bring it to an end. Some are challenged imagining a new future and instead work to avoid discomfort and maintain status quo, even if it’s a path to destruction.

Also see:Marketing will rock the independent agency world in 2016.

Limiting thinking to what we already know only allows us to do what we already know. Seems ridiculous, right? At best, it allows incremental changes, but what we need are wholesale changes. The seismic shift in employee benefits requires nothing less.

These following examples are absurd stances for today’s business environment:

  • “But it’s uncomfortable.” At Q4i, we teach a sales approach very different from spreadsheet selling. For those who embrace it, the result is clear: clients love it. But entrenched sales people don’t want to change behaviors so they insist clients won’t accept it. If you’re not uncomfortable, then you’re not doing anything new. Challenge yourself with discomfort and find new results.
  • “I already know how to do it.” In helping an agency develop new content for familiar services, they explained how their producers could talk about these services “in their sleep.” However, when asked how well auto-pilot descriptions translated into sales, it was clear they weren’t. When you’re not getting results you want, you have to make changes. Being familiar does not make it the right way to work.
  • “My way has worked in the past.” An agency was embarking on a new sales process generating employer interest and internal excitement, which they hadn’t seen before. The owner repeatedly disrupted the process, insisting they revert to how he did it when starting the agency. Financial success has been easy and abundant. But easy money is a great mask for poorly constructed business models.
  • “I bully my prospects into a sale.” An agency received notice no one wants to hear: their client was talking to another broker. Fortunately, the competitive broker was mired in old ways of scare tactics and promising lower rates and free services. The client saw through it and chose to stay, citing poor behavior and lack of integrity. Spreadsheet selling and intimidation are out. It’s time to get over both and help clients make quality, educated buying decisions.

Create a new future

All of these scenarios hold the agencies firmly in the past, even though business operations have changed radically. It’s absurd to think that your techniques from glory days are going to work today. If you haven’t made significant changes to your sales process, messaging, website, training, culture and accountability, I guarantee you’re having problems.

Draw a line in the sand today. Change your perspective and do not allow the past to dictate what you do today.

Keneipp is a partner and coach at Q4intelligence, driving agency transformation. Learn more at q4intel.com. Reach her at wendy@q4intel.com, on LinkedIn, or Twitter @WendyKeneipp.

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