This piece originally ran on Forbes.com.
Veterans can be amazing employees to add to your team. Veteran-owned businesses can be a cut above. Both can outrank their civilian peers based on soft skills alone. Growing your team? Hire a veteran. Sourcing external vendors? Choose a veteran-owned business. As a veteran of U.S. Air Force intelligence and now a business owner, I’ve been on both sides of the desk and see tremendous value in hiring veterans.
Why Veterans Excel
Veterans made it through basic training, a mind-bending, limit-pushing experience on its own. Most of them have served in various roles in a variety of fields throughout their military career. Some positions require skills that could mean the difference between life and death. It simply doesn’t get any more real than that.
1. Veterans walk the talk.
In our growing gig economy where anyone can start a business or label themselves an expert, soft skills — or lack thereof — shine brightly in today’s business landscape. A major aspect of any transactional relationship is trust. As a business, you need to know you can rely on that person, contractor or vendor to follow through, do the right thing and be accountable. Someone can be the best at what they do, but if they don’t walk the talk, that talent is immediately canceled out.
2. Veterans know when to lead and when to follow.
The debate rages on about whether leaders are born or made. One thing we do know is that experience is necessary to build that leadership muscle. Military personnel are trained to think fast and make important decisions quickly for the benefit of the mission. Military experience provides hands-on skills in decision-making, delegation, self-awareness, teamwork, situational assessments, psychology, etc. Leaders are constantly being made in the military, and members know how to assess a situation, develop a solution, pivot, delegate and swiftly identify any missing or weak links.
3. Veterans are disciplined.
Well, this one is easy. There is no try. You do it. If you fail, you try again. Don’t want to? You don’t have that choice. Many military members are used to working long hours and various shifts while facing last-minute changes and directives from above at the drop of a dime. In my role in intelligence, we worked missions that lasted 10 or more hours in extremely intense, real-time environments where you couldn’t skip a beat. Quick yet concise thinking, an insane level of detail, focused attention, real-time analysis and calculated decision-making were required each and every minute of the duration of that mission. It required planning, time management, communication, discipline, focus, teamwork and the many moving parts that went into the actual job.
4. Veterans are accountable.
In everything in life, accountability is key. It’s not an option in the military. Each and every service member is accountable for their actions. In the civilian world, employees that aren’t accountable are a drain on resources the minute they’re onboarded. Businesses that don’t have accountability built into their culture will fail. Period.
5. Veterans pay attention to details.
Attention to detail is key in everything we do in business and in life. I’ll never forget during basic training, we had to yell “details” while on our assigned duties. We did the most mundane cleaning exercises. Our uniforms had to be impeccable at all times. We ironed everything, even our T-shirts. We clipped off the smallest, barely noticeable strings from our uniforms. We spit-shined our boots. We had to keep records of each serial number on each bill in a notebook in our wall lockers. I thought it was all so mundane and useless. Later I saw how that attention to detail mattered. When it comes time for something big, details are essential.
6. Veterans know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.
In the military, if someone misses a key performance task or benchmark, they are let go, reassigned or pushed back. Period. The tech school I attended had a 50% washout rate because it’s one of the most intense educational institutions in the country. Course lengths lasted upwards of a year, five days a week, with two to three hours of daily homework. If a student fell behind, it was nearly impossible to catch up, so they cut the ones who couldn’t keep pace. It was necessary for the success of the group.
7. Veterans understand that teamwork makes the dream work.
A lot of research has been conducted on translating military teambuilding into the business world. It’s a hot commodity. And for good reason. According to Military.com, graduates of the most elite special forces and Navy Seals programs are not necessarily the biggest, fastest or strongest, but they are the ones with the highest mental fortitude and are able to integrate into the team dynamics necessary to succeed. Teamwork involves outbound and inbound communication, as well as having the psychological awareness to “read the room,” even when those queues are subtle. A good team can make a plan and execute it but may get bogged down at the first sign of a problem. A great team encounters obstacles, pivots and continues toward the successful completion of the goal.
Three Ways To Honor A Veteran
1. Hire a veteran.
According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, there are approximately 17.4 million veterans in the United States. Want to thank one? Start a veteran hiring initiative at your company and actively recruit them.
2. Choose a veteran-owned business.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), there were 2.4 million veteran-owned businesses in the nation in 2012. It also found that veterans are 45% more likely to be self-employed than non-veterans.
3. Mentor a veteran.
If you’re a business owner or C-level executive, you’ve probably spent decades honing your skills. Share the knowledge. Implement a veteran hiring program at your company. As a volunteer, take some time to provide career coaching to military members transitioning out.
And don’t forget to thank them for their service!
If you've been a member of Insurance Soup or any of its counterparts, you know that Mike, Taylor, CJ, Brian and Matt talk a lot about the importance of bringing your authentic self to your customers, to your staff and to your coworkers. It's a principle that Insurance Soup runs on and a principle that the founders of Soup run their own businesses on.
When the names above decided to combine forces and create The Collective Agency Council, this was a principle that went with it. That went into it. Bringing your true self - your vulnerable self - and all of the experience that makes you such a valuable asset to the industry into the group... people see it. They see you baring your self for the group and they respond to it by bringing their true selves to you in the spirit of helping one another.
In the testimonial below, you'll read how Sarah Trippel reaped the benefits of fostering meaningful relationships in her business by hearing the message Soup, CAC and The Collective. By bringing her true self to the people in her business and accepting her customers, her employees and her partners as they are. No false pretenses. Just mutual trust and respect. Enjoy.
"I am going to share a story with y'all, so that if any of y'all are on the fence about the The Collective y'all can see the difference it has made. I am going to share two things that have made all the difference in my world this past week because of the things Michael McCormick, Taylor Dobbie, Brian Blair and the rest of the crew have spent hours and hours building out for agents Wednesday, I was diagnosed with covid (this is not the point nor does this need to be discussed but yes I was vaxxed so hopefully it won't get too severe). I have been a part of CAC and Soup ALMOST since the very beginning.
I have an amazing employee in my office thanks to the things I learned in CAC...she has been a Rockstar with me being out sick, and has even made daily trips to my house to drop off stuff for me on the front porch. I live in the middle of nowhere. CAC has helped teach me not only how to find the right employee, but more importantly how to treat and compensate the right employee. This is the first time in over six years I've gotten to be sick and not worried about my office.
The second thing, and if you have been in soup for long, you have heard me mention, it has built up AMAZING relationships between me and my referral partners. I have kept my covid diagnosis off of my personal Facebook (yo local agents...please don't rat me out) because I don't want the drama from either political side. I feel like crap and I just want to feel like crap in peace. That being said most of my referral partners have found out by reaching out to me or to the office and then to me because I am not there. I have had offers from every single one of them to drop off food, reminders to eat, reminders to drink, reminders to walk around. My favorite of them all is determined she's going to get food delivered to me before this is said and done . These ladies are all extremely busy in their professions and their home life, but any one of them would do anything I asked right now, and I know it. Building those kinds of relationships with your referral network is priceless. Yes, these individuals send me a lot of business, but the friendships I have formed by building real relationships with them, are far more valuable than any referral they send. They know I am widowed with elderly parents, and so they know my resources for getting things right now are limited. They also see me as more important than just the business I send them. Again, for those in the back, THOSE KIND OF NETWORKING RELATIONSHIPS ARE PRICELESS!!
A lot of people think that the former CAC or the new Collective is all about shiny objects, gadgets, gizmos, and thingymajigs...and there are a lot of those in it...but the core principles and foundations that are taught are far more valuable than whatever the monthly cost will be.
I know finding the money to join can be tough for some...I personally had to wait to save up money and hit a bonus to join the OGs in the very beginning, but i am eternally grateful that my husband and I found a way to make it happen so that I could learn these concepts that are at the core of my agency's success and my success as an agent...especially through the last few years which have been plagued with family health issues, the death of my husband, and my personal health issues.
If you are on the fence...don't hesitate to hop on one of their info calls...you will never regret investing in yourself in you actually invest the time into your investment!!!"
Following up is a crucial component of closing a sale for insurance agents. Agents who think that their job is done after one phone call or an email find out soon enough that they were sorely mistaken. Potential clients are looking for more than a "one and done" from an agent when it comes to making important decisions that will affect their families and their most valued assets. Following up guarantees that your relationship with the prospect will continue.
The proper follow-up strategy prevents clients from considering other options and jumping ship. It also keeps you in their lives so that you're there to help them through changes. This means that if your client needs more and/or a different type of coverage, you're there to help. Make each relationship with your client an honest one and your agency will thrive. Neglect your relationships with clients, and you'll find you lose them more often than not.
While following up should be a process that's never overlooked in your agency, you don’t want to over do it until your relationship with the client warrants it. Not sure where the line falls between the prospect relationship and the client relationship? Below are a few techniques for you to put your best follow-up foot forward when dealing with quality leads.
Nothing looks worse to a prospective client than an agent who cancels appointments or shows up late when a meeting is scheduled. Be sure to keep your appointments and be on time when meeting with a client. An agent who stays on top of their business at every level from lead conversation to renewals is an agent who is fostering the right kind of relationship with their customers. Showing clients that their business is always on your mind and that you've got it under control at every level, will keep them coming back year after year.
SEND A QUOTE
It might seem too informal, but there's no harm in sending a quote to your prospect via email or text. A good quote doesn't lie. Being straightforward with your client about what they'll get from you and why the quote you're providing them with is appreciated by all clients. Be sure you're being mindful of what the lead can pay and make sure you're giving them as much as they ask for in terms of coverage. Getting the ball rolling and creating and maintaining interest from the client in your product will lead to more meaningful conversations and eventually, a deal.
Don't Be Afraid to DOUBLE TAP
The double-tap approach is a technique where the agent calls the lead two times in a row if the agent isn't able to get in touch with the lead during the first attempt. We're all guilty of not answering our phones when a number we don't recognize appears on the screen. The first time you call, the lead will probably do the same as you and I. Here's the trick: don't leave a message after your first call. When you call for the second time immediately after that, the client will realize it's someone who is really trying to get in touch, not just a spam call.
Even if getting a quote to a new lead isn't urgent, you want the least to know that their business is extremely important to you. Be sure to act quickly so that the client doesn't think you've forgotten about them. Most clients will be surprised at the personal attention they're receiving and also at the rate at which you work. Both will be very much appreciated by the prospect. This way you've shown the client that they matter and that you do good work, quickly.
While each of these three techniques above will prove to be useful in transitioning a lead to a customer, the absolute most important rule for an agent to remember is to stay persistent and not give up after the first, second and maybe even the third NO. Remember, if you remove yourself from the client's mind, you have no shot at winning the business, which is why your follow-up processes will always prove to be so important.
We started Insurance Soup on December 28, 2015.
We started adding people to the group on 1/3/16.
In 5 years.
Not sure if you have noticed, but over the last couple of years...
MOST of the largest captives.
...have done something substantial to rock the boat with their Agents.
Reduced commissions. Forced the use of a service center. Available to independents to sell now.. Contacting your clients behind your back to "help" (move) them. Contract changes.
You name it.
The list continues.
And every single time one of these giants make an announcement like this Career Insurance Agents receives an influx of Agents FINALLY ready to make the move they have been putting off for the last 2-5 years. FINALLY ready to go independent.
You know what has NOT happened ONCE since we started CIA?
We have not lost a SINGLE Agent to a conversation about how the captives just offer a better set up.
NOT A SINGLE ONE.
The bottom line is this... carriers do what carriers do. They consistently look for ways to improve margins at the cost of their sales force.
How long until they realize they can put some monkeys on the phone in a call center and pay them 35% - no renewals - and continue along without the need of the local Agent?
BUT MIKE, BUT MIKE... I love (insert carrier name here) and I drink ALLLLLLL their Kool Aid and let me tell you it is DEEEEEELICIOUS.
We have watched you try and share the same Kool Aid any time your carriers name gets brought up in here in a negative light. Looks decent but honestly Kool Aid is a kid's drink being given to you because that's precisely how they treat you. Like parents who owe you no explanation for what they are doing because you're just a child and have no say.
But here's a Kool Aid.
Guess it right and we will give you a $10 gift card to Chipotle or a free after hours pizza if your team smiles and dials for us.
But for the better part of 5 years now one... by one... by one, all these carriers who you guys are generally willing to go to war for when spoken poorly, they insult your intelligence. Mock your ambitions and roll their eyes at your dreams by making it increasingly more and more difficult to earn a good living.
And every single time they make an announcement... we obviously have conversation about it in Insurance Soup. It's kind of what we do. And there is always a solid 15% of the Agency force that reads the bad news and how corporate spins it to try and put lipstick on the massively large pig they just handed you.
And these Agents FALL IN LOVE WITH THE PIG.
They tell their peers that how these moves are AMAZING for them, and they literally never are.
Helps like 4% of the Agency force in the short term that can exploit something particular to their situation but 96% lose short term and 100% lose long term.
And every single time CIA catches dozens of Agents in the fall out.
And every single one of those Agents (we are literally at 100% conversion) go on to have way better first years independent than they did captive and then go on to have even better Agencies than they ever had captive shortly thereafter.
We have Agents that were captive for 3, 5, 8 years that wrote more their first year independent than they did their ENTIRE TIME as a captive.
And every single time we even try and point this stuff out, all the Kool Aid Kennys come to defend the mothership.
But heres the rub. They're not really there to defend the mothership. They are there because they feel as if their career choice, their career decision, the direction they chose to provide for and feed their family is being called into question. Is being painted in a bad light.
And THAT is what they are defending. The math is the math.
Higher closing percentages. Better commission rates. Better overrides. Better bonuses. More carriers. It all adds up to a significantly better situation.
And they try and compare themselves to another independent agent that they feel they're doing better than to justify their decision.
Look, I'm doing better than Haywood JaSellme down the block.
You know who would stomp a mudhole in Captive you?
Alternate universe you is so much better than captive you and you have no idea but you're ready to defend your burning boat until it sinks. Despite the fact that the boat itself keeps setting itself on fire.
The bottom line is this - captive companies are never trying to help you earn more. They paint every correspondence as if they're hooking you up but you're an owner of an Agency. You make comp plans. When was the last time you created or changed your comp plan to directly help your team where it didn't have some kind of impact on you in a positively financial way?
Owners of businesses are typically not in the business of cutting margins to pass out higher pay.
I am not even going to throw a link for CIA on this post because I'm not actively trying to push traffic our way right now.
Our team is ALWAYS super busy bringing on new Agents and this long-ass post isn't to push traffic.
The point I am making on this post is that none of these companies are thinking about you. Your dreams. Your career. Your finances. Your ANYTHING. Not even a LITTLE BIT.
And you defend them to the core even when they are out of bounds and directly impacting you in a negative way. And ultimately, eventually they do something that impacts you directly and then you go independent. And we catch you.
And while we don't have the "told you so" conversations with you guys too often here in Soup, every time they make an announcement that impacts the Agency Force, privately we say to one another, "Told them so."
Independent Agents control their destiny.
They push their book towards the right carriers for their clients and the right carriers to help them build a financially sound business.
Carrier makes a change they don't like? They move the book to a different carrier.
Carrier makes a change a captive doesn't like? They have to deal with it or sell.
But year in and year out at least one company announces something that send Agents running into CIA's arms. And Agents that would have, could have, should have, opened up independent 1, 3, 5 years ago, are starting their journey at a point where they already could have had a bigger book than they ever had captive if they had just gone independent when they first had the thought.
Your captive carriers aren't improving any of your situations any time soon.
If you're happy there, stay there.
But if you're even having the SLIGHTEST of doubts, or you're waiting for just ONE MORE ANNOUNCEMENT that you don't like. Get out.
They're going to piss in your Cheerios again.
You're not going to like it again.
And you will have put off a decision that is ultimately inevitable given the fact that all your captive carriers have many more announcements on the horizon that will frustrate you, reduce your chances for success, and leave you questioning your decision.
Don't wait another day to make a decision that's best for you and your family.
Your captive carriers are not taking you, your family, your staff, or your Agency into account when they make any of their decisions.
Make 2022 the year that you take control of your career instead of playing 1099 branch manager.
Like most insurance agents, you probably start with a templated question and answer session centered on the policy specifics when you receive a new insurance lead, regardless of where it came from. Character inquiries that seek the same information, as important as they are to ask, can be framed in a variety of ways that sound conversational. Interview style inquiries aren't just for gathering data; they're also for making the lead feel at ease, disarming their apprehension about sharing personal information and handing over money to a stranger, and informing them of their options.
The more information you have on a potential customer, the better chance you'll have of providing sensible responses. Set the stage for evaluating each lead's sales potential, delivering, and closing the transaction.
When you contact a new insurance lead, try one or more of these questions that Mike McCormick, one of our Soup founders swears by, and watch how the conversation changes.
"Sometimes asking a few very simple question can make all the difference.
"What do you mean?"
"Can you explain?"
"Tell me more about..."
Those three phrases are ones I use almost all the time with people both in sales and friendships.
I was told recently by a friend that I seem like I talk a lot in forums but when we chat in the messenger I let them talk so much.
The observation is on point. And it is by design.
Often times our prospects or clients give us key clues about their wants and needs and as salespeople in sales mode we often miss out in key queues.
Because we're in sales mode, we're waiting to speak rather than listening. Waiting to drop a word track or show off some knowledge.
Sometimes someone says something that makes sense but if you probe a little deeper you learn that you misunderstood what was said or what was said had a deeper or more important meaning to someone than simply the comment that was made.
Do not be afraid to dig into your conversations a little bit.
A longer conversation provides you more info, makes your prospect less likely to want to sit on ANOTHER phone call, builds your rapport and ultimately your relationship.
And let's call a spade a spade...most Agents are not working as much as they should to begin with.
Make the most of the time you have with your prospects. If they're giving you time, give them yours. Learn about them. Care about them. Really dig in.
You will lower your attrition numbers.
You will increase your penetration.
You will have more meaningful relationships.
You will get more referrals (if you ask for them... and damn it ASK FOR THEM!!).
Stop rushing or ignoring queues from the people that that are giving you their time so you can get on to the next one.
You will see a shift in the quality of your conversation, an increase in your close percentage, and a drop in your attrition.
Any agent will tell you that space is one of the most expensive costs of running a brick and mortar business and that renting a space is a long-term obligation. Because of this, you should not only stay in good relations with your landlord, but also work out a deal that's in your business' best interest. Remember that leases are typically written for the benefit of your landlord, so you've got to be diligent and ensure that your rights as the business owner are protected as well.
If you're looking for your perfect space, here are some tips to consider when rents are on the rise.
GET TO KNOW THE NEIGHBORHOOD
This is a must. Not only will where you set up shop affect how accessible you are to your clientele, it's also going to determine the cost. Get the current market rates from a commercial real estate agent or conduct your own research before starting your search.
Before you begin talking with a landlord, you should do the market research on alternative locations if the area you want to open your doors in is too expensive for your business to support. Consider researching past trends to see what might encourage landlords to give you a lower rental rate if you want to negotiate a lower price. Having this knowledge helps you negotiate better.
WHAT ARE YOU PAYING FOR?
We've all signed leases on a personal residence before, but most times, a personal lease is very different from a commercial lease. Everything from property taxes to cleaning services may fall on your wallet, so double-checking what is and isn't included in your rent is critical.
Most commercial leases have a "base rent" that is fixed for the total time of the lease and has a yearly cap increase, but operating expenses paid by the tenant, such as repairs and maintenance, can rise dramatically over time. As a result, you'll want to strive to make sure that the conditions of these running expensesare as transparent and predictable as possible when negotiating the lease.
WHO'S RESPONSIBLE IN CASE OF EMERGENCY?
If you're in insurance, you know that value of protecting yourself when a major investment is on the line. For tenants on the lease of a commercial space, what appears to be a little issue can quickly escalate into a major one. Not only are business owners responsible for the damage their employees create, but also for the damage their consumers inflict.
The important thing to understand is that if something happens, such as a flood from your kitchen or bathroom that affects other renters, you will be responsible for all of the damage and will have no say in the repair costs. In this circumstance, the greatest thing you can do is make sure you have adequate insurance that covers these types of situations. This is a phrase that is rarely negotiated by landlords in a lease so agents should have the upper hand here.
HOW LONG IS YOUR COMMITMENT?
In determining the lease length that would be suitable for your business, you will need to consider the health of the business. You will usually find that landlords require a 3-5 year lease. Therefore, the longer commitment you can make, the lower rent you'll pay. Simply ensure that you lock in a rate or a maximum price increase per year, and if you must sign a shorter 1-2 year lease, include a favorable first-refusal renewal provision so that if the location works out, you are not forced to relocate.
Furthermore, if your business gets a lot of foot traffic, you may use it to negotiate a lower rent if you agree to stay for a longer period of time, as the health of a property is greatly dependent on the perception of success, which will attract other renters.
Finding the perfect space for your business can be challenging but it's not impossible. Your best strategy is to find a neighborhood that's right for your business and where it can thrive. By being knowledgeable about both the good and the bad aspects of commercial real estate from the business owner's standpoint, you're sure to find the perfect place to set up shop.
A mastermind group benefits from the synergy of energy, commitment and excitement of it's participants. Together, the founders of The Collective raise the bar by directing conversation, setting and implementing goals, brainstorming ideas, and creating a space where the members of the mastermind can support each other with complete honesty and respect.
The Collective Agency Council, at it's core, is no different than most other mastermind. But there is one thing that sets this group apart from the others. And our founders recently discussed this below in Insurance Soup on Facebook.
"Sometimes we forget to talk about things in here.
Prior to evolving our marketing mastermind, Career Agent Concepts, into an AGENCY Mastermind - The Collective Agency Council - we used to flex a bit regularly about the results our clients get when learning to advertise with us.
We have been either nominated or won a number of awards over the years both within the marketing and insurance industries for the work we do both with our own stuff and with what we teach.
Late last week we taught an oldie but a goodie and what's fun about this strategy is that it works both organically AND as a paid ad.
What you are seeing below are results of a little campaign a number of our Agents are running organically.
They're not spending money to generate these leads. These are all coming in at zero cost.
If they decide to utilize the campaign as an actual ad, they will bring in leads for about $2-5 depending on marketplace.
They convert depending on audience between 10-15% on their first run through with other leads converting to policies over time with a strategic drip.
Zero dollars spent.
Plenty O' Premium.
We haven't really flexed the ol' King of Insurance Lead Gen muscles in here lately. Mostly because we've been trying to drive other conversations that feel more relevant to the moment.
Conversations about employment. Efficiency. Systems and processes.
Behind the scenes we believe that those are by and large where most agents need help, even though they THINK it's a not enough leads thing.
And that's the cool thing about The Collective. We really deep dive on all things Agency.
Behind the scenes JUST THIS WEEK we have had Agents we know are strong in these areas (due to the data we collect on everyone as they join) share in the group:
Strong, strong topics, actionable presentations and advice.
Compound all of this with well north of 50 hours of already recorded training around so many things - lead gen, marketing, automation, referral partners, agency, business, sales, and more.
Compound with the amount of referrals everyone inside are passing and finding for one another.
Compound with the live events coming up starting early '22.
The Collective is the family of agents - the data driven blueprint and the battle tested strategies - that create success in the insurance industry in 2021.
And BEST OF ALL.... WERE WILLING TO PROVE IT.
You can check it out for $1 for the first month. Dont love it? Bail. No harm, no foul.
But if you are looking to learn, expand, and become better, you'll see whats happening on the inside and being a smart business owner who makes generally good decisions, you'll become a part of the best family in all of Insurance."
This piece originally ran on EMC Insurance.
Employees spend about a third (or more) of their lives at work. So keeping them safe, healthy, happy and committed to your company is a huge benefit to them, as well as your business. A company wellness program can promote and help achieve these goals. Depending on the program, employees may have access to physical and mental health care, receive assistance for living healthier lives and achieve a positive work-life balance.
Well-designed company wellness programs have been shown to reduce sick leave and disability management costs and may even reduce health care costs. Beyond this financial return on investment (ROI), employers can reap benefits such as increased employee morale and engagement, more successful recruitment and retention, and improved on-the-job performance.
While there are many ways to develop a meaningful wellness program, the following steps are crucial to putting your program into action:
Get management commitment
Time and resources are vital to making a program work well, so you’ll need buy-in from management. Having management on board will help secure funding and allow you to move forward with your ideas. Additionally, support from leaders will inspire others to join in and take the program seriously.
Create a wellness committee
Ask for input from employees before getting your program off the ground. This will help them feel connected and engaged with the program. Select a committed group of workers to help explore and discuss options, present possibilities and carry out the chosen actions. Committee members can also be responsible for promoting the program, planning activities, communicating with management and employees, and facilitating program evaluation.
Committee size will depend on the number of employees and scope of your program. Typically, a committee of 6 to 12 is adequate. Make sure there is representation from various employee shifts and departments. You may also want to consider rotating committee members over time so more employees and fresh ideas can move the program in new directions.
Knowing your claim costs, employee demographics, health trends and attendance records can help you predict what actions will best serve your employees and company. As a starting point, look at some of the most common health issues—tobacco use, obesity, stress and high blood pressure. You can also ask employees to complete a wellness survey. Include questions to help you identify what they want to learn about, as well as how they want to receive information—through gym memberships, on-the-job stretching exercises, seminars, lunch and learn sessions, newsletters, emails or other activities.
Develop a plan
Set specific goals and measurable objectives, establish timelines, designate committee member responsibilities, create a budget and decide how you’ll measure results. Be aware that as your plan unfolds, you’ll need to be flexible. You may need to adapt or switch priorities if requests and experience indicate that a different focus is needed.
Set a plan that balances employee needs (i.e., risk factors) with their wants (i.e., topics of interest). Whatever you choose, be sure it supports employees physically, mentally, socially, emotionally and financially. Select a variety of actions for each priority. For example, if weight loss is a goal, revamp your vending machine to offer more healthy foods, start a lunchtime walking group, reimburse costs for weight loss programs or gym memberships, and start a support group for those trying to lose weight.
Create a supportive environment
Work toward policies and practices that meet your employees’ needs and empowers them to get involved. Offer the support they need to meet their goals and award them when they do. Consider giving acknowledgement in company newsletters or congratulations during a company wellness seminar. Support can also come in the form of financial assistance, such as discounts or reimbursements. And be sure to give encouragement along the way. This can come from your committee, as well as supervisors and leaders in your company.
Evaluate and modify
Regularly assess your program to see what’s working and what’s not, then make changes accordingly. Look to your employees for feedback on possible changes and adjustments. In addition, while it’s valuable to evaluate your ROI through lower claims and insurance costs, your greatest savings may be in fewer absences, greater employee retention and higher productivity.
Whatever we do in our lives, there are always certain people we feel we can depend on for support. Doing a walk for charity? Sure, a good chunk of your friends list on Facebook will probably donate. Your kid's having a school fundraiser? Yea, your parents, brothers and sisters are going to help him sell out of wrapping paper or raw cookie dough. Whatever you need. But, if you've noticed that biggest supporters of your insurance agency ARE NOT your friends or your family, don't worry. You're not alone.
Below, one of our fearless leaders in The Soup shares a story about just WHY strangers are probably going to support you in your business endeavors more than the people closest to you. It's more common than you might think. Check it out!
"I figured I would share this thought in here since the story is getting laughs elsewhere on the interwebs right now.
Why won't some of your friends and family do business with you? It's because they know you.
And sometimes, that doesn't serve you well.
In 7th grade I met up with some friends at Brady Park in Massapequa to play some basketball and manhunt. Was a usual afterschool deal a couple times a week back then. We all rode our bikes to the park and would lock our bikes up while we played ball. While there, my friend Andrew was showing off a brand new lock he got for his bicycle.
Andrew's new bike lock was NOT all that impressive to my friend Tom.
Tom was an honor student and went on to become a surgeon in the Navy. He worked on victims of the Boston Marathon, did 2 stints in Afghanistan, and has been based in Tokyo and other areas over the years. We were even in a Magnet program for the gifted and talented together from 4th grade to 6 grade. Very bright guy.
Tom, in an effort to show Andrew how stupid his bike lock was, LOCKED HIS OWN HEAD TO THE BIKE RACK to show us how easy it was to get out of.
And he couldn't get out.
The 10-12 of us that were there then took turns the next 3 hours kicking him in the ass while leaving his stupid head locked to the bike rack.
And because of this, I will never allow him to operate on me.
You have friends and family that know these stories about you. You're the dum dum that they have that dum dum story about. You think they're going to trust you with their most important assets?
Don't take it personal when family and friends pass you up for insurance. For starters, they're helping you dodge a bullet in many cases. But also, their knowledge of you runs too deep to take you seriously as a professional.
They've seen you fart and burp at the same time right before puking in a waste paper basket in your underwear.
They know how much you drink.
They know that maybe you werent the most loyal guy or gal in your relationships at some point.
And you expect them to want to do business with you?
Leave business to the people who dont know you. They're going to like and trust you more in MANY cases."
This post originally ran on NowBlitz.com.
For any company vying to sell a product, the sales team acts as a multiplier to revenue. No matter how amazing the marketed product, a weak sales team is a sure-fire catalyst of business insolvency. As with any problem, the crucial first step is to identify from where it ultimately stems.
Here’s how to identify and how to motivate a weak sales team:
1. Unmotivated Personnel
Unmotivated personnel is usually the consequence of several outstanding issues. Perhaps employees feel underpaid, overworked, or otherwise without incentive to complete their job to their full capabilities. As with any underperforming employees, the solution varies with circumstance:
Perhaps you’re wondering how to motivate a weak sales team that feels underpaid. The solution is simple. Workers that are genuinely underpaid should receive more money in some form or another. A commission rate for products they manage to sell is usually in order as it provides monetary incentive to sell more products.
Overworked employees should have their hours reduced to induce rest and relaxation. More workers can be brought on to compensate for the reduced hours of overworked employees.
Paying higher commission and reducing hours only works to a point, however, as competent salespeople are few and far between, and a certain amount of overwork is acceptable in this market of scarcity. That a balance exists is a given; financial analysis with real data should be done to determine working hours and number of workers.
2. Unknowledgeable Salespeople
Even world-class salespeople are less effective when given improper information about their marketed product. Although Research & Development and Sales/Marketing are generally compartmentalized into different departments, there still must exist a modicum of communication between the two.
All too often, salespeople are misinformed about the capabilities of the product they are trying to sell. A product, underperforming compared to expectations, harms the reputation of the company and results in falling sales long-term.
3. Ill-Informed Potential Customers
On the flip side, consumers not being fully informed of the full capabilities of products leads to an immediate drop in sales. In both of these situations, the misinformation of salespeople and consumers cause a weak sales department.
It is imperative that management bridges the gap between those who design the product and those who must sell it. Depending on the size of the company, this can be done through a formal presentation, from the R&D department to the marketing department. In a smaller enterprise, a simple conversation between members of the two groups should suffice.
4. You Haven’t Set Deadlines
People are naturally predisposed to work more efficiently if given deadlines. While there is an argument against the imposition of sale quotas, citing worker stress and their resorting to unethical sales practices, deadlines are still beneficial to an extent.
When given a deadline, workers perform more efficiently, motivated by the rewards and punishments packaged with the deadline. For example, rewards could include monetary incentives for surpassing the quota in each pay period. In contrast, punishments might include being let go for failing to meet the quota an excessive amount of times.
Of course, there are ethical and financial considerations: labor laws and regulations must be followed. Rewards and penalties must also not be applied to too extreme an extent.
5. You Should Consider Your Workers’ Happiness
Of course, sales quotas are not the only reward and punishment system available to employers, and there are studies that show that reward and punishment systems are not effective in every case. Contemporary politics places more importance on as a factor to their productivity, the conventional wisdom being “a happy worker is a productive worker.”
It goes without saying that an unhappy sales team is an unproductive sales team. Workers dissatisfied with their job are naturally inclined to slack off. That’s because they’re less concerned with job security when they have no love for their job. The forgone conclusion is that an improved work environment is crucial to the motivation of a weak sales team.
The improvement of the work environment is not entirely an objective process. Even something as simple as being nicer or less curt towards your employees can brighten their day enough to improve their productivity.
In a large company where multiple levels of management exist, the upper echelons must be careful so as to not prioritize meeting quotas over compassion for their workers. An effective manager who is disliked by his or her subordinates will suffer their lack of initiative as a dire consequence. Meanwhile, a less competent but compassionate manager can have his or her faults compensated for with subordinates that take initiative because they’re happy at work.
Those are several ways to motivate a weak sales team. A well-planned combination of these suggestions can heavily influence, for the better, the salespeople under anyone’s command. By extension, the success of the company has its basis in the strength of its salespeople; the company as a whole will get stronger with its personnel.