Super Agent

Do You Have Belief and Gumption?

One of the concepts we often discuss in training is leadership. You may agree that employers don’t know what they don’t know and as a result can make poor risk management and insurance buying decisions. But would you agree that you are effectively leading them away from their flawed and dangerous processes and towards your more effective and efficient process?

Bringing leadership to the sales conversation requires you to tell your prospects that they are wrong, which of course must be done with diplomacy and empathy. This is not something most sales professionals enjoy doing, regardless of how necessary it is.

There are two core traits that help successful producers manage and execute these difficult conversations. The first is Belief. Successful producers believe that what they have to offer is of value and cannot be easily replicated. They believe that absent a business relationship with them, their prospects and clients will be underserved. They in themselves and they believe in their process.

The second trait we often find in successful producers is Gumption. That stick-to-it-ness that is required as they help prospects navigate the complexity that exists in their business, the marketplace and in the risk management and insurance buying process.

The two go hand in hand. Without belief in what you do and how you do it, it’s virtually impossible to have the tenacity and gumption necessary to lead prospects and clients away from flawed decision-making decisions. And without gumption, you’ll often find yourself acquiescing to your prospects and their flawed decision making process.

A question to consider: Do you believe that what you have to offer is of unique value and do you have the gumption to defend it and lead my prospects to it?

If not, reach out and let’s talk about it!

The Complex Insurance Sale

Let’s face it, selling insurance and risk management solutions is challenging. As producers, you’re faced with a multitude of challenging buying scenarios ranging from inexperienced or commodity buyers, to boards of directors and the often reluctant to change C-suite. The problem is, it isn’t likely to get any easier. We know through the extensive research of the corporate executive board that there are more buyers at the table, in fact 5.4 of them. This alone increases the complexity of your job.

Today, more than ever, you must understand group-buying dynamics and the challenges which arise from within. And there will be challenges. Unfortunately, group-buying dynamics tend to favor the incumbent, not the outsider.

So how can you take control and navigate these choppy waters?

First, you need to identify a true champion within the group. This may or may not be the CEO. It will be the person who is advocating for change. This champion is the one who can help you and influence other members of the buying team on your behalf.

Secondly, you’ll want to make sure your champion is clear on your process for engagement. They must understand not only how you engage, but also, why you engage in the manner you do. They will need to be armed with insights about your capabilities and resources, and how they will help the team avoid risks and improve outcomes. This is not a features and benefits presentation. They need to be able to answer questions as they arise and help you build consensus with what problem the group is actually trying to solve.

Next, it will be important to understand challenges, barriers and concerns members of the team have. This is where an assessment can be particularly helpful. Your assessment will likely identify where silos exist in the organization. While you’ll want individual feedback, you won’t want to get caught in the trap of trying to solve individual problems. Doing so will only increase the complexity of the sale. Again, you’ll want to continue to gain consensus amongst the team as to what problem or problems you all agree must be solved.

Your champion will act as a coach to the team. Because you’ve taken the time to help them understand your process and they have an insider’s view of the group dynamics, they will help you navigate and overcome challenges.

As you progress through the sales process, you’ll want to educate each member of the team. You’ll want your training to remain focused on the large issues facing the entire team. If you identify disagreements as to strategy or issues being addressed you’ll want to take it on. Ignoring challenges could end up costing you the sale.

Following these steps isn’t going to be easy. In fact it’s going to seem like you are spending more time trying to manage a dysfunctional team then selling them something. And you’re right, you will be. But that’s what it’s going to take to win.

Create Three New Email and Voicemail Scripts

Creating first appointments can be challenging. To overcome the challenges of a crowded marketplace and overwhelmed and busy buyers, it’s critical that the messaging you send to prospective clients pique curiosity and disrupt their way of thinking about buying insurance and managing risk.

You may find yourself struggling with developing messages that do this. One of the ways you can gain traction is to take time to develop new messages and voicemails around topics that are likely of interest to your prospects. Finding the content is easier than you think. Here are some places you can go to get fresh content that will help you develop interesting and effective emails and voicemails:

• LinkedIn Groups: Visit the groups your prospects are in. What are the topics of conversation? Which threads are getting the most attention? Once you identify what your prospects are talking about, use that to create a voicemail message or email script. It may start out sounding like: “I recently heard a number of business owners in the manufacturing space discussing ____, and I’m curious if this is an issue that you’ve found yourself trying to address.”

You can also get ideas for messaging from the Monthly Technical Webinars from Oceanus Partners. While the content is developed to help you gain or refresh your technical skills, with few modifications, it can be used to pique the curiosity of your prospects. For example, a recent technical training discussed how agents can differentiate themselves by creating enhanced submissions. Why not create a message for your prospects that talks about how poor submissions can actually limit their options in the marketplace?

As you know, business owners are proud of building their business and would be upset to learn that a poor submission will not only work against them from a pricing standpoint but it also could misrepresent their business to insurance companies.

Creating effective emails and voicemails doesn’t have to take a lot of time. We encourage you to set aside time each quarter to freshen up your messages and create new ones. This will not only engage your prospects, but keep you from getting bored with the same old scripts.

These insights are intended to inspire you to get creative and, more importantly, help you get in the door with leverage!

Creating a Lifestyle Changing Suspect List

Building, refining and segmenting your top-100 list is a critical step to help you stay focused on creating first appointments. Your top-100 is based on the profile you developed for your perfect client-type and typically of the revenue size you most frequently pursue and close.

These accounts may be 5, 10, 20, or even 50 thousand in revenue depending on the book of business you are creating.

Today, think about accounts that are outside the size of the accounts you typically write. For those of you who focus on writing 10,000 in revenue accounts- think about accounts that perhaps 25,000-50,000 in revenue. If you typically write 25,000-50,000 accounts- think about the accounts that generate 100,000-150,000 in revenue.

The purpose of the exercise is to identify 5-10 accounts within your marketplace that are significantly larger than your “average” account size. They are still in the geographic footprint that you serve, still within the niche of business you focus on, but are significantly larger in size and perhaps complexity.

In fact, if you were to land one of these accounts, it would likely take the place of one of your top-10 accounts in terms of revenue. Bumping one of your top-10 accounts down to #11 is rewarding more than just financially. It helps you build confidence and a new level of excitement for selling. It also can give you the “space” necessary to pursue other larger opportunities.

Often your book of business and your pipeline is a reflection of the lifestyle you want to achieve. If your pipeline and the top-100 are only filled with accounts that look like every other account you have, then maybe it’s time to think bigger and explore and build a separate list of Lifestyle Accounts.

You may be surprised that it really doesn’t take an altogether different strategy to write accounts twice the size you typically focus on. Sure, there may be greater complexity managing these accounts, but you can do that with the support of your team and the resources you have available here at Oceanus Partners.

Why not give it a try?

You have everything to gain and virtually no downside!

Read a Book

Setting time aside to devote to professional development can be difficult, but it is certainly necessary. The developments of the Kindle and IPAD have certainly made the ability to possess several books much more comfortable, especially when travelling to and from client visits.

So what should we read? Effective libraries tend to focus on two things: How to run your business better and how to help your clients better.

One of the best books of 2015 was The Challenger Customer, written by the same authors of The Challenger Sale.

The Challenger Customer provides sellers insights into buyers, not surprisingly there is a lot that sellers need to learn. While we’ve incorporated a lot of what we read in this book into our trainings over the past several months, we’ve only just scratched the surface. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you read it for yourselves.

Some key takeaways that you may find exceedingly helpful include:

- Understanding who in the organization you should target as your champion. You may be surprised it’s not necessarily the person most eager to work with you.

- How messaging to prospects has got to change. Creating effective messaging has become even more important than it was in the past. Your messaging has to create insight and teach your prospects something new about their business and how they may be focusing on the wrong issues and yes, even doing things wrong!

- Understanding how buyers buy. We know that there are more stakeholders at the buying table. Understanding how to engage with a team of buyers as well as how to build a consensus is going to be critical to your future success.

These takeaways are a few of the insights you’ll gain by reading The Challenger Customer. It is packed not only with great insights, but a ton of research. The book shares the research gained through the Corporate Executive Board, a multi-million dollar, multi-national insight and technology company. The CEB has the resources available to conduct surveys and studies that we can all benefit from.

If you’re looking for a great book which will provide you insights into how buyers buy today- The Challenger Customer is strongly recommended.

Let us know what you think!

Create a New Habit

Creating new habits can be exceedingly difficult. It is said that it takes 30 days to really have a habit stick. But, what if the outcome of that habit helped you become more productive, increased effectiveness and potentially rewarded you with more time? Would you give it a try?

One such habit exists and it’s encouraged you try to make it a habit yourself.

One of the biggest distractions of our day is the constant barrage of emails. If you’re like many, you wake up, start your coffee and grab your phone. These are habits. While drinking your coffee you delete the messages that aren’t important, read the urgent, and then filter through the remainder.

That simple habit can change the course of your day, and in many cases not for the best. All of a sudden new priorities have emerged and what you had planned to do, make marketing calls, research a prospect, gets pushed to the bottom of your agenda. This can happen frequently throughout the day as well.

Here’s a new habit to consider. Instead of looking at email throughout the day, pick two times during the day that you will review and respond to email messages, perhaps once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Create an out-of-office message that can be utilized between your designated responding hours, something to the effect of “Unavailable to respond until ____.” Make sure to give instructions about what to do in the event of an emergency. You’ll find that few of your messages are.

Creating this simple habit of designating times to respond to emails frees you up on what’s important to you. If you don’t make your priorities a priority, someone else will!

Give it a try for 30 days and see how much time you gain.

Ask a Client for a Referral

It is always surprising to hear how few agents have a process for facilitating referrals from existing clients. Here are some statistics that may motivate you:

According to Nielsen Media Research, 92% of respondents trusted referrals from people they knew; and

People are four-times more likely to buy when referred from a friend.

According to Texas Tech, 83% of consumers are willing to refer after a positive experience, yet only 29% actually do.

Why is that? Likely because the salesperson isn’t asking them to! Finally:

According to Wharton School of Business, the lifetime value of a new referral customer is 16% higher, meaning that someone who is referred by a colleague or friend may actually spend more with you as a result of the referral.

So, with all of these great statistics in mind, doesn’t it make sense to work on developing a referral plan? Here are three ways you can incorporate a client referral into your everyday activities:

1. When you close a new account: The best time to ask for a referral is when you’ve just closed a new account. Your prospect, who is now a client, has seen firsthand the value in what you do. Why not ask them if they have any colleagues who would benefit from going through the same approach?

2. When you renew an existing account: What better testimonial than from an existing account? As you complete the renewal process, why not ask your client if they are familiar with some of the members of your prospect list? Share your list of target-clients. By sharing your list, you are taking the work out of making the referral yourself; your prospect doesn’t have to think of someone to introduce you to. They can make an introduction to someone they know, whom you’ve already identified as a great prospect.

3. When you help your client address an issue: Let’s assume you’ve just helped your biggest client with a big issue- why not ask them, “Do you think anyone within your industry may be at the same risk?” Follow that up with, “Do you have any colleagues who you’d like to help avoid this issue? I’d welcome the opportunity to assist them as well.”

These are just three ways you can develop referrals from your clients. Which one will you try today?

Create a Center of Influence

If you’re looking to get in the door with leverage, there’s no better way than gaining an introduction from a Center of Influence. A well thought out, multi-channel approach is the way to go. While most well-developed Centers of Influence are happy to introduce you to their clients or colleagues, the quality and content of those introductions can actually harm your chances of entering with leverage if not done correctly.

Assuming your Center of Influence is eager to assist you, how confident are you that they can actually facilitate you in a manner that effectively positions your differentiators? Developing a “Center of Influence Presentation” will ensure that your prospects understand how you will bring value to them. How meeting with you is worth their time.

If you haven’t taken time to develop a Center of Influence Presentation, you could be missing an important step in developing successful referrals. Here are a few steps that will help your Centers of Influence get you in the door with leverage:

- Share your value proposition: Your Center of Influence should know what makes you different than other insurance agents in the marketplace. They should be able to clearly articulate what your process for engagement is, how you do it and why you do it differently. In addition, it’s important that they understand the impact it has created for your clients.

- Make sure they understand your perfect client type: Getting a referral for a prospect that isn’t a right-fit for you or your agency can put you in an uncomfortable and useless position. Make sure Centers of Influence know what makes someone a good prospect for you. Start with the basics: Number of employees, industry, geographic location and business complexity. Share the names of prospects you are looking to connect with and what makes them a good fit.

- Keep your Centers of Influence in the loop of your successes. Once they better understand the challenges you help your clients address, the risks you help them avoid and the opportunities you create as a result of your engagement, they will be more effective in telling your story.

Finally, put the information together in a brief presentation and schedule a business appointment with them. Then ask them to do the same for you. Building reciprocity is an important component of a long-term Center of Influence strategy.

These steps can help you better leverage your relationships and help you get through the door with more right-fit opportunities.