Super Agent

Archive for April, 2012

Insurance Agents Must Lead

We frequently engage in conversations with agents to discuss what prospects think and how they behave.  Let’s just stipulate up front that the vast majority of prospects you meet will not be following an effective process to manage risk and buy insurance.  That’s just the way it is.  Accept the reality and develop skills to lead them out of the woods.

Instead of being frustrated by this reality, embrace it.  Your competitors will not likely lead, but instead will follow the prospects’ process down a dangerous path. 

Insurance agents desire a way to differentiate from the pack.  There is no better way to differentiate than to assist the prospect to discover that they are in harms way and their current agent is enabling them to stay there.

If you believe that the prospects process is flawed, how can you in good conscience allow them to move forward without at least trying to lead them?  This takes some gumption.  It also takes skill.  But, is there really any other choice?

This does not mean that you need to be arrogant or a jerk.  Demonstrate empathy and concern.  Your body language, tonality, and facial expressions will convey your message if you believe your leadership is critical to them.

Step up and lead.  The marketplace is full of agents, but few have the belief, gumption, or skill to lead.

Insurance Agents Jargon

Insurance agents have a tendency to use too much insurance and risk management jargon.  As a result, employers nod in agreement, but often fail to understand the purpose of the message.  Rarely do employers say, “I don’t have any idea what you just said.”

Jargon includes acronyms, abbreviations, and phrases that are intended to communicate objectives or processes.  It’s the phrases that create the most confusion and misconnections. 

For example, we often hear insurance agents say, “we assist employers to reduce their total cost of risk.”  An admirable objective and some agents can actually assist employers to do so.  But, does the employer even know what it means?  Is there a discussion around the concept or just a line that precedes the next line?

It is safe to say that when insurance agents use jargon or catch phrases, the employer does not know what the agent is trying to communicate, but will not say so.

Denzel Washington plays a lawyer in the movie Philadelphia  and consistently says, “talk to me like I am a third grader.”  When you are clear and get rid of the jargon you are not dumbing down the conversation, you are opening a more effective conversation.

Dan Pallotta states the case well during his HBR Idea Cast interview on Itunes.  You can check it out at:

http://blogs.hbr.org/ideacast/2011/12/business-jargon-is-not-a-value.html

What’s Your Agency’s Purpose?

Our purpose is fairly simple.We don’t stray from it and it’s incredibly gratifying:

We are in the business of helping agents achieve a financially, emotionally, intellectually rewarding career while helping their clients address their risks and achieve their business goals and objectives.

Yes, we are in the consulting and training business and our goal is to create Exceptional Producers. But that is not our purpose that’s what we do and the outcome of what we do.

Ask your team “What’s our purpose” If they say “to sell insurance” you have a training opportunity. It is essential for all members of your team to know WHY you do what you do, not just what you do. When you Start with Why you change your game and everyone else’s too.

As Bill Cosby says “Anyone can dabble, but once you’ve made that commitment, your blood has that particular thing in it, and it’s very hard for people to stop you.”

What Insurance Agents Believe

I have asked countless insurance agents the following question.  Do you believe the vast majority of employers manage risk and purchase insurance in a way that is flawed and potentially harmful to their business?  A resounding “YES” is the typical reply.

So, if so many insurance agents believe that employers are executing a flawed process, why do so few take on the issue and invite the employer to engage in a conversation about it?

The rationalizations are many, including but not limited to:

  • “I might offend the decision maker;”
  • “I will follow their process at the early stages and try to pivot later in the sales process;” and
  • “I am trying to give them what they want.”

We encourage insurance agents to lead and take on the tough conversations.  Allowing an employer to follow a flawed process is like letting your children play in the traffic.  They may not get hit by a car, but they are at greater risk and danger. 

Ask yourself, are you enabling risky behavior, or are you leading employers to a better and safer future?

Insurance Agents Attempts to Prove Value

Many insurance agents want to demonstrate and quantify the value they bring to their clients.  Quantifying value is hot topic, but done incorrectly agents may actually erode their credibility instead of enhancing it. 

As we have often stated in this blog, decisions to engage in a business relationship with you is driven by emotions first, and the logic comes later.  So, trying to prove your value on the front end with contortions of logic and fuzzy math is not only ineffective, but risky.  If a decision maker just smells a whiff of baloney, you will be summarily dismissed.

Let’s assume an employer is experiencing challenges with their Workers’ Compensation program.  Too many employees are entering the system after an injury and not returning to work.  Engaging in a dialog about this challenge and gaining agreement from the employer that they want to improve their outcomes is a first step.  Then, demonstrate you have effective processes to achieve their objectives.   The employer does not need to hear that you will save them $121,332.42 with your processes.  It won’t pass the smell test.  They want to feel and know that you understand the driving factors to their issues and can mitigate them.

If the challenge is important to them and they recognize that without a better process, that their business and employees will suffer, then they will follow you.  Assuming you have the capabilities.  Putting a number on it is not necessary and may even be foolish.

As Seth Godin said in Lynchpin the easier something is to quantify, the less it’s worth. I think there’s more than a bit of truth in that.

You can assume this will not be the last said on this topic.

Trying to Get in the Door? You Bet(cha) Subject Lines Matter

I opened my inbox the other day and almost dropped my coffee. One subject line in particular caught my attention right away.

The email was from Jill Konrath one of my favorite sales strategists and it said “I’m calling it quits-and here’s why” You bet I opened it up! Our firm just sent her a deposit to speak at our annual Knowledge & Networking 2012  (Member-Only) event and she sure didn’t say she was hanging it up when we last spoke…I was going to have a lot of explaining to do if that was the case.

Fortunately, Jill isnt really shutting down, she’s reinventing herself and broadening her opportunities.

In our VOICE Process Training program we help insurance agencies and producers get in the door with leverage and generate more productive first appointments. One of the tactics we share is using high impact subject lines.

You can be sure we’ll use this one as an example!