The Neolithic Insurance Agency

Survival Style in the Stone Age

The Neolithic period came about 10,000 years ago.  At the end of the Stone Age.

Society began with the hunter-gatherer style of survival. Follow the game, notice the fruit, learn to fish, collect when plentiful, be hungry when it is not.

The same technique is common among new salespeople.

Every salesperson begins as a hunter gatherer

More hunter than gatherer usually, but the point remains. The skilled and successful are better at finding game and more successful at closing the deal. Hunting skills are effective and exciting. It is easy to get caught up in the game.

It is also easy to become convinced that there is no other way to go about the work.

The rise of agriculture

Around 10,000 BC, some hunter-gatherers began to nurture plants and animals. They weren’t especially good at it in the beginning, but over time the predictability of agriculture practices became valuable and allowed fewer to be nomadic hunters.

There are few dramatic wins in agriculture, boring even, but there are fewer people starving. But, the predictability allows the building of towns and villages. Societal structure where the elements work in tandem to create an overall result.

The key to successful agency management is direct a similar transition from hunter to farmer.

Hunters are event driven.

It is exciting and rewarding, but a little unpredictable. Hunters are easy to motivate to begin and hard to keep them interested. A method that works 10 out of 10 times will never work 20 out of 20, because it is too easy. No challenge.

Most hunters have a fairly low threshold for boredom and all of them are intolerant of tiny details. Especially tiny details that imperil the sales effort. I know one who refers to the compliance department as the “Sales Prevention Department.”

The world is changing and, although we still need them, hunters will have a harder time adapting.

Farmers are process

The process produces reliable results over time, but it takes a while for those results to show up. Hunters are not patient so it is hard for them. Farmers create systems to find clients, usually referral sources. Farmers keep in touch with their clients.  Annual reviews are their opportunity to find resources, needs, or new product opportunities.

They don’t harvest a win every time, but they know how many they would get out of a hundred such reviews.  Hunters would be frustrated by the pace and move on to more target rich environment.

The capital side of the farmer approach

Invest in infrastructure.  Search for land with the proper soil, orientation to the sun and size. Buy the land. Remove the trees and rocks. Organize drainage. Invent some tools.

In the agency model, have clients, know your clients, match them to your skills or learn skills to match their needs, train support staff, invest in technology to increase the flow and better identify opportunities.

The operations side.

Prepare the soil. Plant the seeds. Protect the plants from weeds and other insect problems. Harvest. Store.

The agency operation is not all that different. Prepare materials that help you to explain the situation. Demonstrate value to existing and potential clients. Sort the clients who have an interest, need and the ability to solve the problem. Arrange the necessary product. Update the data base.

What if there is no change

It is hard to imagine a large sophisticated city based on the hunter-gatherer model. Farming permits growth because food is so important and reliable supply is too important to leave to chance.

Highly skilled hunters eventually incur a huge amount of overhead to cope with all of the client service problems that arise. Hunter is a self limiting paradigm. Farming on the other hand can support quite a lot of overhead because process are more efficient for that type of work.

Change Matters

Hunters cannot stay that way. To survive they must learn agricultural practices or hire it out. It is fine to be a hunter, but recognize that good hunters need a farming operation to make the business salable and to make the overhead affordable.

Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario.  In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.

Please be in touch if I can help you.  866-285-7772

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