Interview with Lars Lind, Marketing manager at Alm. Brand Insurance and Pension, Glostrup and Elsinorer.
The managers and employees had become accustomed to taking an isolated view on their revenue instead of selling the right quantities in the right segments. It had become a pretext for inaction. Plans and implementation led to a significant increase in sales.
Lars Lind, marketing manager at Alm. Brand Insurance and Pension, was the first manager in the insurance company who was “exposed” to Race®concept.
– We already had demonstrated good sales figures when we as the first ones in the group were chosen to undergo ResultPartner’s method as the first out of the entire group. They wanted to see how the method worked. I’m an outward type and joined the project. I have tried so many different things and naturally thought: “Ok, is this old wine in new bottles? Or is there actually something new in this?” says Lars Lind.
He saw an improvement of the top line. Lars Lind believes that one of the most crucial things about Race®concept was the fact that the company got some employees who became good at focusing on all the goals to be achieved.
– The best thing about ResultPartner’s concept is that the employees become better at diagnosing and activating themselves. It sounds so simple, but the process has required a great deal. “Don’t think so much. Go out and do it” dictated the philosophy of the concept. And we actually did so, says Lars Lind.
The 40-year-old marketing manager is in charge of 30 employees in Alm. Brand Insurance and Pension. 10 of them are sitting in the two sales offices that have been the focal point for the implementation of Race®concept. These are the centers in Glostrup and Elsinore with the sales areas, private and commercial insurance and the pension schemes.
The region became a test region. They were the company’s bestselling sales office in Denmark, but there was a need for a different focus – more towards private customers which was an area where they didn’t sell enough insurance policies at the point in time when ResultPartner came into the picture. Sales weren’t satisfactory and something had to be done.
– I’m close to the employees and it is my main task to develop them. I had to carefully consider what we could change. And there was much to address in relation to the various attitudes. The private sales needed to be strengthened, but the insurance agents thought it was more fun to sell commercial and pension insurances. It was a challenge, so we decided to fully implement the Race®concept and from day one it was hard work and you had to develop your own typical mindset, says Lars Lind.
– My general view is that first of all the manager must take responsibility. Therefore, it began with me. I was coached and challenged by Lars Moeller and both he and I coached the employees subsequently. From the very first meeting, I realized that there was untapped potential in all of us and in the entire way our work is structured.
The 10 sales representatives all had individual meetings with Lars Moeller from ResultPartner.
– He learned about their daily routine. It meant that each of them could realize and formulate what they were doing or not doing at the moment. The challenge was to get more out of the daily efforts. The insurance agents, for example, found it difficult to reach some acceptable figures on the sales of private insurances. They needed to do more efforts. They could no longer simply wait for things to happen. They had to get off their seat and do something themselves.
Race®concept emphasized an important, but perhaps forgotten and overlooked point.
– If you don’t try something, nothing will happen. It is no surprise, but one has to realize that fact and then live by it. It is important for a salesperson to think about it all the time. We sales representatives don’t just “knock” doors down anymore. That style belongs to the past. Now, it is the person and the chemistry that is important. Today, people are buying enthusiasm. If you are in a store to get your passport photo taken, the salesperson will also try to make you interested in buying a camera. If you don’t try, you’ll lose the entire opportunity to make additional sales. Lars Moeller works from the simple concept that the individual must commit to what needs to be done – instead of waiting for others to do it. Each person must take a shot at it themselves. Race®concept has made it possible for the sales representatives to give themselves more chances of sales by getting them to hold more meetings.
– Lars Moeller was very provocative and irritating especially during that stage. I think he sometimes laughed inside. I would sometimes become angry and on many occasions I spoke to him on the phone for an hour and a half without reaching any agreement.
– We have, for example, argued fiercely about whether a budget should be waived or what else to do if you could not change the conditions. We have experienced sitting in each trench and sometimes it has been impossible for me to understand why Lars Moeller couldn’t grasp the situation. He accepts no excuses no matter how obvious and big the external obstacles are.
– We have on several occasions taken a time-out so that I could consider the effects of the plans and activities that had been made. Were they actually also realistic in relation to the goals we had set?
– With Race®concept there isn’t much to argue about. ResultPartner almost always wants you to go for the highest goal. And Lars Moeller will not restrain himself from calling it unambitious if you don’t stick to the original plans and goals. He doesn’t care whether there may be a good excuse.
– What will you do in such situations?
– Lars Moeller is really good at getting people to understand that you can always do something somewhere. I just had to go out and find that place. You have to be prepared for that entire process. It may be irritating, but then you have to go home and swallow one mere cup of coffee, think it all through carefully one more time and try to find the place that has a button you can turn.
– It is not just the manager, but the whole team, that are challenged by Race®concept. We all came together to think carefully about the opportunities that are out there. For example, if the challenge was to find the millions we needed, how would we do it? No one escapes. He makes people take responsibility.
Lars Lind, marketing manager at Alm. Brand Insurance and Pension, with employee. All workflows were turned upside down and many of them were also changed.
Cut down on customer visits
The insurance agents were also coached so they began to consider whether they should arrange extra customer meetings or go for achieving more at each meeting. They had to study their hit rate closely – how many times did they have to visit a given customer before it turned into a deal. They discovered that there was something to be gained.
– One could imagine that a department must generate four million dollars instead of three million dollars. And that means, for example, that you have to visit 12 customers to be able to get five deals. In this way, the figures were constantly calculated and weighed in relation to the adjustments that we thought about doing.
ResultPartner had lots of work to do.
– We were forced to go into details as we were asked and pushed to the limit when it came to these customer visits. The telemarketing department had by phone arranged 9 out of 12 customer meetings. The insurance agents had arranged three of the 12 meetings themselves through their network, references and the like. In this way, things became too controlled by sales meetings arranged by someone else.
– But that was the way we were organized. Race®concept made us take a careful look at ourselves and in this way we came to understand that we – within the department – had to work more by our own initiative. It was obvious that we had to organize more of the meetings as our own and then look carefully at the quality of the meetings organized by the telemarketing department over the phone. They gave customers who bought more. Now, we were challenged to look more at the quality of the meetings that others had booked for us. At the same time, we were asked to take a closer look at ourselves. What do we lack in order to achieve the goal? One can say that we just as professional athletes had learned to drink before we became thirsty.
– Some would argue that this adjustment isn’t rocket science. But on the other hand, the method for helping people to see how they should do things is effective. It is a matter of going into details and during the work with Race®concept it is especially important to take into account that people are different. It may very well be that Lars Moeller has coached us the same way, but through the back door he takes into account and figures out what it takes to make it work for the individual. This is the core of the concept.
– I think I have become a better sales manager. People have become better at making their own diagnoses – including myself. I have become better at going into depth with goal planning and not recognizing that it, for example, is good enough if we only have a single area placed below the goal. I do believe I have always been relatively good at figuring out what was going on. But now I have also become better at being really good at it. You see, I’m no longer satisfied with just being good.
Focus and attitudes were changed
A profound change of focus and attitudes became a major focal point for Lars Lind’s sales offices during the cooperation with ResultPartner. This concerned, for example, the common area of private, commercial and pension insurance.
– The private department is founded on an ideal pricing structure of 100 percent, but the department had in fact only reached 80 percent. In return, the other two business areas in the commercial and pension department were well above the ideal price structure. Combined, the three areas were high above the goal. Things were looking good. In the two areas with commercial and pension insurance we had sold well. But we had a tendency to be so happy about the great sale in those areas that we didn’t sufficiently make sure that the area of private insurance also sold well enough. And that is not good as private insurance is our core product. We really learned to examine the core business properly and we put extra effort into strengthening it until private insurances were once again sold in accordance with the right pricing structure of a 100 percent.
– In that way, ResultPartner went in and got us to seek out and take responsibility for all potential dispositions and options that could improve results. Everything was lined out. It is hard to conceal anything from Lars Moeller. He is basically pleasant to work with, but he turns into a bloodhound when we talk about what it takes to reach the goal. Then we go into details and approach things that really hurt.
Lars Lind emphasizes that for him it is important to get people to stand up at the Race Meetings and present their work and the corrections they are going to make.
– It is awe-inspiring even for people like us who are used to selling. Race®concept is hardcore and aims straight at us all the time. The idea of less talk and more action becomes a reality. Some also end up with the decision that they don’t want to be at such a place. I have had lots of frustrated employees during the process. It would be strange otherwise.
Recommends “the angry outside man”
Lars Lind is prepared to recommend Race to all other companies that wish to boost a department, a top line and some employees.
– But it is a waste of time if you don’t also realize that it is hard work. It really works – even for an old hand like me. Along the way you must pass through strong winds and curves, but it is all about hanging on when you are sick and tired of it.
– Company managers who choose Race®concept must be ready to let employees change their working style. And there must be no opportunity to sit around doing nothing. When even the best people start to be reluctant, the manager and the middle manager should be ready to say: “We can do better.”
The sales manager especially believes in the effect as the consultant from ResultPartner follows you through the process to change the work style.
– It is that determination and the firm coaching that generates results. And it is clearly necessary with an outside consultant. An internal manager or consultant would not have achieved the same respect when it comes to implementing such a determined concept. After all, a person who has to provide such fierce and detailed changes will not be perceived in a very positive way. Lars Moeller was sometimes also seen as a bit arrogant and a bit tough. You can’t have an internal manager or consultant playing the part of “the angry man”. It is easier for an outside consultant to live with that role.
– This of course doesn’t mean that we can’t continue with the idea behind Race®concept after ResultPartner has left us. Several of our insurance agents from the commercial area, who now work in other departments, continue to hold Race Meetings on their own initiative where they talk about their work and what they intend to do to correct it. One of them is actually one of the insurance agents who to begin was very skeptical towards Race®concept, says Lars Lind.
The comfortable sales representatives
ResultPartner were very specific in their work with Lars Lind at Alm. Brand Insurance and Pension’s sales offices in Glostrup and Elsinore.
– It was important for us to identify and locate all the figures and the parts of the work process and then set some completely new and different goals where needed. The activities also had to be corrected in accordance to the new goals, says Lars Moeller from ResultPartner.
– We need to be better at getting the managers to implement strategy changes. Private, injury, pension and commerce represent the complete revenue of Alm. Brand’s sales offices. Traditionally, it has been the case that if the total of the three figures reached the budget, all of us would be happy. But the point was that you had to succeed with the individual goals and not just the overall goal. Imagine that you are a grocer and have a department of fruits and vegetables, a TV department and a butcher’s department. The budget is one million, but you would probably not be happy if you had earned 500.000 from the first two departments but nothing from the butcher’s department.
– It is no good to reach the overall revenue if we don’t sell the right quantities of the right products. For example, a pension is often something that sells itself. At the end of the year people call the company to deposit this and that amount. In return, you really have to go for the private sales – you have to work for them. And it was precisely those areas that ResultPartner worked with during the process with Alm. Brand Insurance and Pension.
– After all, the strategy prescribes that the sale of private insurances had to be increased. Therefore, we had to prioritize strongly on the efforts and ensure that they were implemented. Our experience shows us that the management often is afraid of approaching the sales representatives because they are the ones in the organization who deal with the customers. The sales representatives are traditionally complacent people. They will often use their sales skills and negotiating talent to argue against the change you want to implement – if the change doesn’t suit them. It is important to be aware of that fact when it comes to making changes in sales organizations, says Lars Moeller.
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