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Over the past 15 years, insurance agencies have experienced inflation in two distinct forms. First is the tremendous exposure growth thanks to the booming U.S. economy. Agencies’ sales increased substantially because their commercial customers’ sales and employee counts were increasing, and people everywhere were buying bigger homes and new cars. Second, agencies also periodically benefited from increasing rates. Collectively, these factors fueled huge increases in agency revenue and profit growth. True to John Kenneth Galbraith’s quote, “Inflation does not lubricate trade but by rescuing traders from their errors of optimism or stupidity,” these inflationary factors rescued the industry. Inflation, like always, hid an ugly reality: many agencies forgot how to sell.

Many agency owners fell into a peaceful, easy feeling that all was well because revenues and commissions were growing. But the truth is, these inflationary factors tricked many owners and producers into believing they were much more successful growing their agencies than they really were. Many thought the expensive sales consulting programs they joined were actually working.

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