Leadership Lessons: Be the messenger, not the message
Don’t shoot the messenger…
Noone wants to be a “know it all” , nor do most want to work for one.
So, why is it that as leaders our first instinct when tackling any objective is to feel the pressure to be just that.
We must resist the temptation of being the message, rather than a worthy messenger.
Let me explain…
Sure, we have all experienced the effectiveness and respect one yields when ‘leading by example’ but it is not meant to be applied so literally. The best leaders are aware of their own blind spots or inexperience in many areas, and intentionally utilize third parties to help communicate a message regardless of their qualifications to deliver it.
Third parties could come in the form of successful people in a given area, book/literature, or consumable audio in podcast format. There is such power in this.
It allows us to expand beyond our own personal experience and takes away the dreadful boss-like conversations with team members always telling them ‘how to do something’. This approach also sends a message to our teams that we do not have it all figured out leaving them in a state of contribution, rather than submissive order taking.
Here is a different approach to consider…
Apply this with a team member over any strategic objective, system/process, and/or task.
Show them how you have done it up until this point. Share with them why you have done it this way along with the results that have come accordingly. BUT, instead of demanding them do it that way, your way, simply share the outcomes that are needing to be accomplished. Share with them the philosophies that are driving the approach to that outcome.
Sit back and watch innovation occur…
Typically the best forms of innovation come from those who are deep in the work. The front lines always have a better understanding within a given task as they are immersed in it daily. So, leaders, cast the vision and get out of the way.
A real example that changed the course of our business forever…lets kick it back to 2014….
Our sales process was as basic as it comes but we thought it got the job done. Our sales funnel would begin when we received a “request to quote” from one of our mortgage broker partners. Typically, this email would include the anticipated closing date, property address, and buyer’s contact information. We would then quote the Homeowners Insurance for the prospect and give them a call when it was completed to review the details. Most of the time, we were left leaving voicemails and emails in the hopes of getting the attention of the prospect.
Here is where it was problematic…
We weren’t the only game in town and these same prospects were usually always receiving multiple competing quotes from other insurance agents too. Our conversions were in the tank. We found that most consumers would just choose the “low ball” priced option with little coverage without any context quality in mind. We were reduced to a commodity and losing far too often. It was so frustrating. We thought, “if we could only get them on the phone then we could explain the differences between the quotes to the customer”. After all, we had the superior product and coverage. Our process started to be a constant discussion within our office. We constantly tried to improve our turn around time for quote requests, thinking speed would make the difference. It didn’t. Actually, that initiative just brought us further and further from the type of agency we wanted to be known as. One of quality, integrity, and service. As the leader, I didn’t have the answer.
Then, a breakthrough occurred and it did not come from me…
Insert Matt Ekberg. Employee number one. My colleague for the last (almost) decade and teammate back in 2014 when we were experiencing this very challenge.
He came to the office one morning in action mode after listening to a podcast on insurance marketing. He was flowing with ideas and so we started to make small tweaks to our process to model the content within the podcast. We started putting the property address in the SUBJECT LINE of the email. We started leaving shorter and more engaging voicemails. We were actively engaged with curiosity in our process to achieve better outcomes via our prospect’s attention. We just needed to get a call back!
Finally, we broke through…
Matt had the idea to start sending short video clips alongside our quote proposals when we sent an email. We would simply introduce ourselves while congratulating the prospect on the purchase of their new home. It was warm, friendly, and inviting; rather than consultative or educational. It was, different. It came off genuine. It was us.
Conversions exploded. Prospects and referral partners alike loved the warm touch of the video! It brought human touch back into the buying process while edifying our referral partner in the process. We were not only garnering way more attention from the prospect but from the referral source too. Many of our mortgage partners called asking what type type of camera we ordered, software we were using, etc. They started viewing us as an authority rather than a “quoter”.
Up until this day, short clip videos are sent with every single quote proposal (5,043 just in 2020). They are the standard.