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Inspire Your Prospects with Email Messages About Them!

One of the biggest challenges facing producers today is developing enough quality 1st appointments. And it’s no wonder why, prospects are busy, distracted and overwhelmed. Capturing the attention of prospects has become increasingly difficult, leaving many producers frustrated and asking the question, “How do I fill my pipeline if I can’t get my prospects on the phone?”

To break through the noise producers and agency owners must evaluate the strategies and messages they use to get in the door. One thing is for sure, messages that are about you, your agency and the resources you have won’t inspire your prospects to meet with you.

So, what does work? To pique the curiosity of your prospects your messages should focus on them, their interests, concerns or industry.

Let’s take a look at 2 different types of email messages that will help to differentiate you from your competition.

Trigger Event Messages

Trigger event messages are messages that focus on the news of the day. For example, let’s say you are focusing on developing restaurant and hospitality prospects; one of the big stories of the day is food contamination. The recent outbreak of E. Coli linked to Chipotle restaurants has been all over the news. A quick email to your prospects with a subject line of: “Would Your Restaurant Survive?” is likely to spur your prospects interest. In the body of your email you could share a link to a recent article on the subject and invite your prospect to consider if their current risk management strategies are adequate.
Closing your email with an invitation to continue the conversation demonstrates that you have knowledge and something to offer.

Congratulatory Messages

Everyone likes to get noticed. Savvy producers know that following their prospects on LinkedIn and through Google Alerts is one way to keep abreast of what they are up to. If you receive an alert about a recent bid your prospect was awarded or speaking engagement they recently conducted, let them know you noticed.

A quick email with a subject line of: “Jim, Congratulations on Your New Client!” will certainly prompt your prospect to open your email. In the body of your email you can share a message of how you’re impressed with the quality of work they do (as long as you’re sincere), and congratulate them on the big win. Close with a desire to learn more about the project and why you’re interested in learning more.

For example, “I’m interested in learning more about how you landed that account. We also focus on mid-size [account type] and enjoy working with businesses of that caliber.”
This strategy aligns your objectives with your prospects’ and creates a common bond.

It’s important to remember, that there is no one ‘silver bullet’ messaging strategy. But, we do know that a steady flow of messages focused on your prospect, rather than on your agency, are far more likely to resonate. Give it a try!

Fresh Eyes, New Opportunities

When was the last time you asked a colleague to review one of your top accounts? Sometimes in our belief we’ve done the best job possible, we lose sight of the opportunities in front of us. Recently a client shared a story with us that I suspect could have happened at any agency.

As the new sales manager he was taking his production staff through a new cross-selling and up-selling exercise. A producer with good bit of experience was fairly confident that his accounts were “buttoned tight.” However, when a set of fresh eyes reviewed the account and policies new opportunities emerged.

This happens all the time. The lesson here: get a fresh perspective on your top accounts from someone within your agency, before the competition outside does!

Are You Making This Dangerous Assumption?

Client retention is an important component of an agency’s long-term profitability and stability, but too often, agencies invest a lot of time and effort into building initial client relationships and not enough time ensuring that those relationships are being continually nurtured over time. For example, in an article on Sales & Marketing Management, Rick Reynolds warns businesses not to make an assumption that we often hear:

“My clients would tell me if there was a problem…”

In reality, just like your prospects, your clients likely aren’t recognizing issues or problems that they’re currently experiencing or that might pop up due to things like marketplace disruptions or compliance requirements arising from new regulations. And if they are, and you aren’t proactively evaluating the relationship, you’re leaving the door open for a competitor to step in.

As a partner and advisor, you have the opportunity (and responsibility) to periodically assess your client’s needs, hidden or otherwise, and their expectations from the relationship. Reynolds says: Just like in any relationship, this becomes a refreshing dialogue once you get past the upfront discomfort of having such an honest conversation.”

Are you taking the time to assess your current relationships with clients? Are your goals and objectives still in alignment? Have you gained new capabilities that might be beneficial to them? By asking yourself these types of questions, you’ll increase retention and perform at your best.

Ask Yourself Smart Questions

Inc. contributor and Sales Source blogger Geoffrey James recently wrote a great article on why the quality of the questions business owners ask themselves determines the success of their business strategies. For example, consider the following two questions:

“How can we beat the competition?” versus “What do we do that is uniquely valuable to customers?”

So, how would your answers and subsequent business strategies differ for these two questions? The first question is the wrong one to ask because it directs your attention away from your customers and toward your competitors. On the other hand, the second question is customer-focused and it helps you find out what’s distinctive about your process and offerings. James also explained: If you ask Question #1, your strategy will probably involve dropping your price. If you ask Question #2, your strategy will be to emphasize more strongly whatever it is that makes your company special.” And, understanding what differentiates your agency is the first step in building, following and believing in a strong and consultative approach to selling.

Here’s another example to consider: “How can we make our numbers better?” versus “How can we serve our clients better?”

Agency owners and sales managers: Are you asking smart and client-focused alternatives to common questions business leaders ask themselves? What questions have you asked yourself in order to help you improve your business strategies? Share them with us in the comments.

The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back

In an excellent article from Bain & Company, the writers point out something that we hear all the time from producers. They said: “When we ask communication executives what causes their customers to defect, they often point to the last thing that happened before a customer left. Often, that’s a competitor’s offer.” But the important thing to point out, and what the writers go on to say is that although “competitive offers do sometimes lure customers to switch…typically [its] after a long period of eroding trust that results from a series of misadventures.”

Assessing only the last few problems or bumps in the relationship won’t lead to a full understanding of why you lost the business. Instead, consider asking yourself:

  • Was the client a right-fit to start with?
  • Were the agency’s goals, your goals and the client’s goals all in alignment?
  • Were you able to communicate your value, and consistently evaluate where you might bring new value to the relationship over time?

Most agencies invest a great deal of time and effort in building initial client relationships, but the biggest mistake they can make is to let those relationships go unattended over time. The enemy here isn’t the competition, its complacency. How many of your clients are sticking around because their fear of change is bigger than the impact of your value? Are you focusing enough time, energy and resources into your current business relationships in order to ensure your long-term profitability and prevent a “series of misadventures” from building into the straw that broke the camel’s back?

Why “Showing Up” Isn’t Enough

Seth Godin recently asked his blog readers, “What’s your job?” and ended the post by saying, “If your only job is “showing up”, time to raise the stakes.”

Is it time for you to raise the stakes?

We often talk about the importance of finding your “Why” and gaining a real understanding of your purpose in order to remain motivated, to be successful, and mostly, to stay fulfilled in your professional life. The good news about our industry is that we are doing really important work. We’re facilitating better care for workers who are injured on the job. We’re creating big opportunities for our clients to improve their outcomes and their business.  We’re helping employers drive innovation, mitigate risks and enhance efficiency. So, if you’ve been simply “showing up” recently, we encourage you to think back on a time in your career when you felt most engaged, connected and excited about your work.

If you get back to that place, we’ll bet that you’ll be more successful moving forward.

Reject the Status Quo

This is what the skeptics said: California Chrome is the product of an $8000 mare and a completely undistinguished (at the time) $2500 stallion.  His trainer is a 77 year old man who pushed him too hard at Churchill Downs before the race. No California-bred horse has won the Kentucky Derby since 1962. Except the skeptics were wrong, and California Chrome is looking at a possible Triple Crown win after winning the Derby and defying the odds.

So, what does this have to do with you? The most interesting element of this underdog story was described in a New York Times article. It said: “there are few rules in racing, but one that is considered inviolable is never to turn down a suitcase full of cash. Steve Coburn and Perry Martin understood that, but two months ago, when one of the sport’s far wealthier owners offered them $6 million for 51 percent of the first horse they had bred, the offer did not sit well.”

Instead, California Chrome’s owners decided that they wouldn’t fade into the background of their own success story. They wanted to make history, and they trusted in their own research and their own instincts in order to make it happen.

So, commit. Go for the win. Take risks. Do the thing that you believe in and that you know is what’s best for employers even if it means rejecting the status quo.

“Kites rise highest against the win, not with it.” – Winston Churchill

Face-to-Face

With the rise of new communication technologies and the Internet, face-to-face interaction has been largely replaced by conference calls, emails, or text messages. But, although these modes of communication are necessary and important, don’t underestimate the value of engaging with someone in person.

In one of our first blog posts, we talked about an agent with a difficult issue who discussed the challenge with us and set a strategy for moving forward. Then, the agent asked: “Should I send my client an email detailing what we’ve discussed?”

In these types of situations, where important issues need to be resolved or discussed, an email doesn’t leverage the most powerful aspects of communication. In an article on Forbes, contributor Carol Goman wrote: “In face-to-face meetings, our brains process the continual cascade of nonverbal cues that we use as the basis for building trust and professional intimacy. Face-to-face interaction is information-rich. We interpret what people say to us only partially from the words they use. We get most of the message (and all of the emotional nuance behind the words) from vocal tone, pacing, facial expressions and body language.”

Investing your time and attention with your clients by having a conversation in person is the best way to resolve the tough issues. And, it’s also important to check in (in-person) periodically with your most important clients in order to sustain and grow the business relationship.

When was the last time you had a face-to-face meeting with a long-time client? Did you have an in-person meeting with a client the last time you were working to resolve a big issue?