Profile in Leadership: Josh Stirpe, Manager, Sales Center
We recently spent some time with Josh Stirpe, manager of the Licensed Sales Center. Read on to learn how his team plans to build on its 2016 success to keep the momentum going in 2017!
Can you provide a brief description of what you/your team does?
The Safeco Licensed Sales Center (LSC) quotes and writes business on behalf of the customers of Safeco’s agents through internal and external partnerships.
You may have heard of the Gold Cross Sell program, in which the Gold service team identifies cross-sell opportunities while servicing clients. The Gold Cross Sell program is the largest source of new business within LSC, accounting for roughly 50 percent of the team’s production.
The LSC also assists with Safeco Managed Book Transfers, Agency Campaigns and the Safeco Group Savings Plan, along with a variety of other lead sources. Agency Campaigns is a growth area and probably the least known capability of the LSC. The LSC partners with Safeco’s Independent Agents, enabling the agents to send leads directly to the LSC for sales assistance.
2016 was another successful year for the LSC, with a record number of policies for the year and an all-time monthly record in August. What’s the secret to your team’s success?
I often tell the team the most important part of what we do is to maintain and continually improve the LSC culture. It starts with the recruitment process and is central to every decision within the organization. I believe the key to the LSC’s success is the ownership the entire team takes in maintaining and improving culture. Everyone within the organization is encouraged to lead and own improvement in the customer and employee experience, which ultimately drives results.
The Licensed Sales Center wouldn’t be successful without strong partnerships across USCM and the Gold Cross Sell program was the largest contributor to the team’s success in 2016. The Licensed Sales leadership team visited every Gold location after breaking the record in August to personally thank the Gold team for their contribution to the team’s results.
The secret to the team’s success has been blending strong partnerships with a continuous improvement culture, which by definition is always a work in progress.
How is your team preparing for a strong 2017?
The Licensed Sales Center launched LMS in 2016 and has been working to leverage Continuous Improvement tools to drive results. A key focus for the organization this year is to promote “incremental innovation” at huddles to drive service and sales improvement aligned with the Voice of the Customer. The team will launch a revised Closed Loop Feedback process at the end of the first quarter to give better insight into how the customer views the team’s work. We hope that will drive improvement ideas and a strong finish to 2017.
How does your team partner with other groups within Safeco Distribution and USCM?
The LSC partners with groups across Safeco Distribution, Strategic Partnerships, the DRC and many other groups during the course of writing business. As noted earlier, the Gold team is the largest source of our leads and we work closely with them to add additional policies that meet our customers’ needs. The team is also involved in numerous initiatives to share best practices across USCM.
What are you most passionate about in your work?
As I reflect on my career, all the “successful” years blend together. What stands out for me are the people I’ve had the pleasure of influencing and developing. Developing people and being a small part of someone’s personal and professional success is what drives me to do what I do. I’m most passionate about creating an environment and culture that encourages growth and development.
How do you support our Common Purpose as a leader?
For me, it’s about creating an environment where everyone on the team can succeed every day. By being able to be our best, we can deliver the best experience to our customers and agents.
One of my favorite things is making time to coach – communicating our vision clearly, providing feedback, and helping to find solutions. Ultimately, setting the team up for long-term success to be able to continuously improve and empower them to identify and create new ways to work.