The Myth of the Millennium Producer
What’s the best way to develop millenniums into top producers?
By holding them accountable.
The last eight to ten years have been challenging times for the financial services industry; however, despite these challenges, many firms have been enjoying superior growth performance. I know of several businesses that consistently produce double-digit growth.
What is the major difference between these firms and average-performing ones? A strong sales culture where everyone in the business is held accountable.
Research conducted by Regan Consulting shows that top-performing firms outperform their peers in two key areas: retention and new business growth. You cannot have one without the other. Top-performing and average firms can both have great retention rates; however, the major difference is new business. Average-performing firms have difficulty winning key new business Category A accounts that drive revenue growth.
I’m surprised at the number of owners and leaders I meet of firms who have been experiencing low and, in several cases, negative growth for several years. When I ask the owners and leaders about how they hold their people accountable, I often hear “We don’t believe in setting budgets” or “We want to create a relaxed culture and don’t believe in micromanaging.”
These attitudes and beliefs are holding back the performance of these businesses, and the long-term losers are the owners and shareholders. The financial services industry is moving too rapidly, and firms can no longer afford to carry producers who are unable to produce new business.
For top-performing firms, it begins by creating a culture of accountability, developing your people to help them perform at their best and allowing them to help you build a thriving business. Take these steps to build a culture of accountability that will drive the performance of your millennium producers:
- Clearly establish the things they will be held accountable for. For example, decide in advance the type and geographic location of business that you wish to pursue. Develop strategies, specific goals and results you need to achieve.
- Help your producers to set specific and acceptable goals. For example, goals can include where they should be focusing, including areas of specialization or a niche market identifying those areas that have the highest potential for growth.
- Lead by example; set high standards as an owner and leader. You must walk the talk. Set your personal sales plans and share your plans across the whole business. Every leader within the business should be held accountable.
- Establish work routines that lead to successful habits, particularly in the areas of business development. I know of one firm that has a routine: no producer can go home until they have secured at least three new names. Acquiring just three new names each day has turned this routine into a habit, effectively breaking down sales plans into small wins that lead to ultimate success.
- Hold non-sales-producing employees to a high standard by taking accountability seriously. Measure key activities and results so that you can understand what is happening in the business.
- When you lose a piece of business, try to understand why you’ve lost that business, where you failed. You can actually learn more from your failures than your successes.
- Closely monitor the activities of your sales pipeline, both prospects and suspects. In the long run this becomes a key predictor, a forecasting tool to help you further refine your sales plans.
- Do not be afraid to act quickly regarding nonperformance. If someone is not performing, increase their accountability by monitoring the activities that produce results. Keep working with them to find out their areas of weakness so that action and help can be provided.
- Don’t allow your producers to set average goals. Help them develop their own personal strategic goals and ensure these goals align with the business. Do this together, as the business thrives and they build brilliant careers.
- Ensure that the ownership and leadership team is committed. This is the one area in which top-performing firms producing double-digit growth excel more than in anything else; they are consistent and focused on achieving superior results.
The way you turn millenniums into top producers is exactly the same way as in previous generations: by creating a culture of accountability. Developing top producers is less about motivation and rewards. Instead, it’s about upholding the standards lived by you and your leadership team.