Super Agent

Archive for February, 2012

Protecting Your Value

The word commodity is used frequently in the insurance industry. The term most often refers to the approach by which employers buy insurance and reflects the perception many have of how we do what we do as an industry.

While I believe nothing could be further from the truth, I do believe that the commodity perception is often driven as much from within  the industry as outside it. I recently wrote a post about the need for Producers to have and exhibit gumption in the sales process. I want to elaborate on that thought.

When we fail to hold ourselves accountable to ourselves, our beliefs, our personal goals and objectives we not only allow ourselves to be a commodity, we diminish our own personal value; in the marketplace and in our world at large.

Our personal value can only be eroded when we allow others to gnaw away at it. This can happen all at once or over a period of time. Sometimes it’s obvious,  but most often our value erodes over time because we fail to protect it and care for it. There is a slippery slope which occurs when we fail to recognize the signs: clients cancelling appointments without the courtesy of a call, prospects not willing or “able” to spend the time necessary for you to really understand their business, colleagues that ask you to engage in business opportunities that don’t align with your goals and objectives, friends and family that over reach time and time again.

We know it happens when we become frustrated and resentful of the time we spend on activities, people and opportunities that are not in alignment with who we are and who we want to be it to in the marketplace and in our life. The problem is, we got there by the choices we made.

My partner recently wrote an article, “Who is the Commodity?” In it he outlined the case for Producers to recognize that they are the prize and the business owner is the commodity. After all, Producers only need between 8-10 good accounts each year with their
perfect client type (PCT) to be successful. There are 1000′s of business owners that may fit your PCT, but in all likelihood there are fewer Producers who want to and have the ability to engage in a comprehensive, consultative manner to improve employer outcomes.

Your value, like your reputation grows each day. It must be cared for, nurtured and protected. If you don’t have the gumption to protect it, why should anyone else?

Are You Brochure Dependent in Your Insurance Marketing??

They’re glossy and pretty and needed (oh, my!). They’re filled with really important stuff (to you). They’re what differentiates you (really???).

Folks, it’s time to step away from the brochure, presentation slides and binders and start having conversations. Sales guru Jill Konrath shared a funny story about her early days in sales, one I think we can all relate to in some form or fashion. Now I know most of us don’t read our brochures and presentation tools word for word…but do we rely on them more than we should?

The insurance industry is riddled with client facing collateral. Most of it written for us to feel good about what we do, rather than then share the outcomes that we can help others achieve.

When Producers rely on the material in a first meeting (or presentation meeting) rather than their ability to connect and converse they lose the opportunity to elicit valuable information from their prospects.

Selling isn’t telling others about ourselves…it’s helping others learn more about themselves.

Intrinsic Motivation

To be successful in the insurance or any other business, it is critical to be motivated beyond carrots and sticks.  If your only purpose is to make your numbers, then you are likely going to struggle.  Your purpose must be much larger than just making sales.

So, what is your purpose beyond hitting the numbers?  Do you endeavor to:

  • Create greater opportunies for your family and children;
  • Contribute at a higher level to a charity or cause of your choice;
  • Create greater opportunities for your clients;
  • Protect your clients’ businesses beyond the placement of an insurance policies;
  • Facillitate better care for injured employees.

Your purpose will drive you when you hit a rough patch, but your purpose must be greater than just making sales.  Think big.  Dream and imagine.  How are you going to “make a dent in the universe,” and leave this place better than you found it.

A bigger purpose will change you and all of those around you.

Recipe for a Successful Producer: Belief, Pipeline and Gumption

Far too frequently in our industry we see training focused on dumbing down the insurance buying process.

So many bad things happen when we do this. First, we have to agree that buying insurance and managing risk is indeed complex. That simple comparsions can’t be made and when done it leaves the client, the producer and the agency vulnerable. If we agree that the process is indeed complex, and harm can come to all stakeholders, then why don’t more Producers push back when confronted by an employer that wants to follow the flawed process of bidding their insurance by assigning markets to multiple brokers?

Three things come to mind.

Belief, Pipeline and Gumption.

A lack of belief in both the dangers associated with bidding and quoting and doubt in their ability to convert a buyer to a more effective risk management purchasing decision.

Pipeline inadequacy will cripple even the brightest of sales stars. It amazes me how few Producers will wake up this morning and not know what is in their pipeline, and more importantly what needs to be in their pipeline in order to meet their quarterly revenue target. Failure to develop pipeline leaves the producer desperate and willing to take risks, like rolling the dice in the flawed bid, hope and pray process of selling insurance.

You can have belief, and a great pipeline, but without gumption, you most likely won’t have success. Selling requires us to help prospects understand why change is good for them. We all know that most prospects don’t want to change. Given the opportunity to stay with the incumbent agent, most will. Sales stars know that gumption is what stands between them and commoditization. Gumption requires us to provoke, prod and make our prospect uncomfortable with the status quo. Gumption, requires us to hold firm to a no bidding and quoting mindset….even when tempted by the scent of a high premium.

So, do you believe most employers follow a flawed and dangerous process of buying insurance and managing risk? If so, do you have the gumption to push back? Does your current pipeline give you the freedom to walk away from commodity buyers?

Who Connected Emotionally

We do not discuss politics in our community of members, but much can be learned from the way politicians communicate and “sell” themselves to voters.

Check this YouTube clip from 1992 and ask yourself, which politician created the most powerful emotional connection with the nation. (Plus, checking your watch is probably a good idea.)  An emotional connection is far more critical to the sale, than facts and resources.

The 5 Essential Components of a Successful 1st Appointment With a Prospective Insurance Buyer

First appointments are increasingly more difficult to come by. Are you making the best of the ones that you have? A consistent approach to a first meeting will ensure that your goals and objectives are in alignment with your prospects (the top priority of a 1st meeting).

Here’s a simple yet effective 1st meeting agenda:

1. Spend no more than 60-90 minutes sharing your value proposition and process for engagement

2. Gain clarity on the buyers process for buying insurance and managing risk

3. Learn more about the buyer’s business goals and objectives (what you couldn’t find through extensive research BEFORE the meeting)

4. Determine if you’re a good fit to work together

5. Decide what if any next steps make sense

Do this consistently and watch your  closing ratio improve….assuming you’re willing to walk away if number 1 and 2 aren’t in alignment!