Friday morning’s key note speaker was Dan Sullivan, founder of Strategic Coach, who has coached more than 10,000 entrepreneurs from over 60 different industries.
Mr. Sullivan began his talk by discussing the “perfect storm” of disruptive forces currently confronting the financial services industry: technology, commoditization, and regulation.
He noted that the UK has lost 95 percent of its life insurance agents in recent years, and that producers in that part of the world will no longer receive commissions beginning in 2013, instead working on a fee-only basis. According to Sullivan, the environment in the UK is often a precursor to that of the U.S., and similar changes could be coming down the pike here.
So, how do agents protect themselves?
Sullivan provided a detailed plan, known as “The 2020 Advisor.” He noted that in recent years, fatigue has become a common complaint during his conversations with financial services professionals. He argues that in order to increase production, producers must first increase their free time. While it sounds counterintuitive, Sullivan insists that the strategy increases motivation and drive. After all, he argues, the financial services business is not a marathon, but a series of sprints.
Under the plan, producers divide their time evenly between “work days,” “free days” and “buffer days.” During work days, agents buckle down and focus entirely on work. On free days, work is avoided at all costs — this includes answering the phone, returning e-mails … everything. Buffer days are used to clean up backstage details and administrative tasks.
Sullivan suggests that this strategy reduces the confusion and complexity of time, instead providing a structured, safe and motivational climate in which producers can thrive.
In addition, he recommends that producers only work directly with their top 25 clients. From this list, they select the top five that they would like to raise to the next level during the year. The goal is to increase revenue from the top five clients 25 percent each year. In three years, producers will be making twice as much money from each one.
Meanwhile, the bottom 80 percent of a client base should be delegated, allowing the agent to constantly grow and improve their own strategies
He also stressed the importance of making quick decisions regarding prospects. If they immediately engage with you and talk about themselves, they’ve bought the relationship. If not, then it’s best to leave immediately. To stress this point, Sullivan asked the audience to raise their hand if they had ever provided free information to a prospect. After watching the majority of the audience lift a hand, he then asked everyone to repeat the following pledge: “In the future, I will never provide people with useful information if I don’t know they’re going to buy.”