Super Agent

Posts Tagged ‘attraction’

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!

Most Hunters Aren’t Farmers

Today’s buyers are busy, complacent and are being constantly bombarded with “marketing-speak” emails that don’t resonate with them. And, they are often tuning out the noise rather than actively looking for value. So to successfully get through these natural barriers requires an effective attraction strategy that includes on-going research, consistent and targeted messaging, and lead nurturing calls occurring on a regular basis. Think of these as “farming” activities.

This is why there are so many agents still struggling to get in the door, because it takes a huge amount of effort and requires them to engage over a long period of time and in a systematic way—something that most aren’t naturally wired to do effectively or to enjoy. Producers aren’t farmers, they’re hunters…they are outgoing, smart and likeable individuals who are capable of developing relationships and, most importantly, they are able to connect a prospect’s issues with the resources and capabilities of your agency to write business.

Individuals who are good at thinking on their feet, and engaging consultatively at a high level don’t typically possess the strong follow-through instincts needed to capture the attention of today’s prospects. Seth Godin explained the difference between hunters and farmers in his blog: “A kid who has innate hunting skills is easily distracted, because noticing small movements in the brush is exactly what you’d need to do if you were hunting. Scan and scan and pounce. That same kid is able to drop everything and focus like a laser–for a while–if it’s urgent. The farming kid, on the other hand, is particularly good at tilling the fields of endless homework problems, each a bit like the other. Just don’t ask him to change gears instantly.”

Many technology companies and other sales organizations have recognized this twofold need on the sales continuum, and so they’ve brought on a new role that we think deserves some contemplation—an Inside Business Development person.

He or she would be responsible for helping to create new business opportunities on a consistent and predictable basis, and support producers in ensuring that their pipelines remain filled with qualified prospects. This way, producers would be positioned to have more effective first meetings and could focus more closely on moving prospects through the sales process, while inside business development teams would play a critical role in attracting right-fit opportunities.

What are your thoughts on utilizing “farmers” to create an optimized agency structure?

What Not to Do On a Sales Call

We recently had a call with a company who does excellent marketing and lead generation work. Their messaging is clear and consistent with no sales jargon or company-focused language. And, they push out a great variety of content including survey results, articles and engaging videos. So, we were expecting the same level of quality and seamlessness from their sales process.

Unfortunately, we were wrong. Here’s why the call blew up:

(1)    They didn’t do their research.

They started off by asking us to tell them a little bit about what we do and what we were looking to achieve on the call, immediately handing over the reigns as opposed to leading. We’ve said before that, during sales conversations, it’s critical to answer the questions prospect’s don’t know to ask by challenging them to think, proposing new ideas and revealing creative ways that you can help them. Instead, without research, the first portion of the meeting will be spent gathering information that could have been learned online.

(2)    They didn’t qualify us.

This goes hand-in-hand with the issue above. Because they didn’t qualify us before scheduling a call, during the meeting, it became clear that we were most likely not a right-fit to engage with them. Don’t get caught in the fear-of-losing-business trap. Many agents operate on the belief that they need to take advantage of every business opportunity that presents itself, but doing so is not in your best interest or in the best interest of the buyer.

(3)    They made it about price.

Even as we tried to steer the conversation away from price and toward what value they might have to offer, they continued to focus on the cost of their services instead. Imagine the difference in power between conversations that begin with “Here’s the bottom line, we offer ___ and it is ___ price.” versus “From the research I’ve done, I understand that you are facing these challenges…”

(4)    The conversation was company-focused.

“This is what we do.”

“This is who we do it for.”

“This is how much of an investment it will be.”

Dialog is only effective when it’s consultative and client-focused. Are you trying to sell your services to prospects, or are you trying to positively influence them to get to a better place?

Overall, it is important to ensure that the process you use to nurture prospective clients aligns with the conversations you have once they raise their hand. Also, remember the significance of researching and qualifying your prospects, and ask yourself how you will pivot if you identify early on that they are not a right fit. Do so in a way that still allows you to keep the door open in the event that your value proposition changes and the opportunity to engage with them arises in the future.

Break Through the Noise

If you’re looking to break through the noise in the marketplace to attract new clients, one of the tools in your attraction toolbox, and a powerful component of your lead-attraction strategy, should be case studies. According to marketer Lee Odden, “Effective case studies are stories that connect with the reader on an emotional level and at the same time, provide intellectual justification – data”. Buyers today are armed with the technology to research you in the same way that you are researching them, so making detailed case studies available to them showcases successes, builds credibility and conveys the value you provide. How do you develop one? Consider these 4 steps:

  1. Identify Advocates: Do you have clients who are passionate about you and are willing to highly recommend you? If so, then you have found your advocates. Give them the opportunity to share their experiences
  2. Ask Detailed Questions: Don’t wing the interviews you have in the development process. Each question should be thought-out, focused and detailed enough to encourage answers with quantifiable metrics. Be sure to touch on all points that would be important to your ideal client.
  3. Spend Time Formatting: Be aware that there are various types of readers—those who crave details, those who skim headlines and look for graphics and those who fall somewhere in between. Make sure to incorporate something for everyone in your study.
  4. Deploy: Use it on your website, in targeted messaging content and during the sales process in conversations with prospects. It is especially useful to bring case studies to your conversations in order to better align with decision-makers and to be used as a catalyst for dialog around the issues or risks they are facing.

Are Your Clients Fiercely Loyal?

In an interview on Inc.com, Sarah Robinson, author of Fierce Loyalty: Unlocking the DNA of Wildly Successful Communities talks about why developing a community of loyal clients requires a commitment that goes beyond great service. She says “You’ve got to be willing to listen for and acknowledge the specific needs your customers have, and most importantly, you’ve got to invest in a way to meet those needs.”

Think about what companies or brands you’re loyal to. Are you a die-hard Apple fan who’s first in line at the store for every new iPhone launch? Do you forgo a soda during lunch if the vending machine is stocked with Pepsi products instead of Coke?

Our loyalties to specific brands develop over time and through reinforcing, positive experiences. Customers who are loyal often act as brand ambassadors, and will provide you with honest feedback on what’s working and what you can improve on—both are valuable benefits in today’s crowded marketplace. So, how can you foster fierce loyalty in your clients?

Here are a few questions to ask:

  1. Can you, your producers and other team members clearly articulate who you are, and who you want to be it to?
  2. Does your value proposition or “brand” communicate more about you, or does it focus on outcomes for the client?
  3. Are your producers able to articulate and provide tangible value to prospects and clients?
  4. Are you investing time and resources in meeting the specific needs of your existing accounts rather than focusing solely on winning new accounts?

 

4 Steps to Craft a Powerful Story

 What’s the best way to get a buyer emotionally engaged and invested? Tell a story. Stories are powerful tools that can be used to influence change behavior and move the sales process toward a mutually beneficial relationship. But, most of us aren’t professional storytellers, and the thought of developing a compelling story can seem daunting.

So, we’ve put together these 4 steps to help you get it right:

Step 1: Provide a setting. What is the background of the story? For example, you may describe a frustrating scenario you think the buyer has experienced in the past.

Step 2: Introduce the conflict. The inspiration and influence in any story exists in the conflicts. Ask yourself: what is getting in the way of the protagonists success? Remember, in your story, the prospect is always the hero. Find out what is keeping them from achieving what they desire and build your story around that conflict to pack an emotional punch.

Step 3: Describe the “Ah-Ha” moment—the moment in time when there is a sudden realization or new insight. Think about your “Ah’Ha” moments. When did you realize that there is more to this profession than just the placement of policies? When the moment happens in your story, it should also happen for the buyer.

Step 4: Resolve the story. Paint a picture of a better future with improved outcomes.

Forbes contributor Jim Blasingame says this about the power of storytelling: “In a time of rapidly compounding technology generations, the most successful businesses will consistently deliver high touch to customers with one of our oldest traits – the telling of a story”

Are You Moving Too Fast?

When a producer see’s that a prospect’s current agent isn’t doing anything to help them, it’s easy to become excited about the opportunity to step in with real leadership and deliver value. But, too often, we see producers try to squeeze all the steps of their process into the first meeting, without meeting the objectives they’ve already outlined for each step. It’s like popping the question at the end of a first date.

Without clearly delineated steps and a strategy, the sales process is easily muddled and the prospect is less likely to leave their current agent. Are you losing opportunities by falling into this trap? Here are a few tips to consider:

- Before the first meeting, know your goals. Inc contributor John Treace gets it right when he says, “To make the most of the meeting, establish your objective[s] in advance and share it with all attendees.”

- The purpose of the first meeting is to get the prospect curious enough to engage in the next step. Don’t plow through to an assessment before you’ve met the following objectives:

(1) Communicate your value proposition

(2) Share your research

(3) Establish what the prospect’s current process for buying insurance and managing risk is, then share your own process

(4) Uncover the prospect’s top challenges

(5) Gain agreement on the next step

- In the second meeting, determine if there is really a need for what you have to offer through an assessment process. When used correctly, assessments bring clarity to the situation; they answer questions like: are our objectives in alignment? Is the prospect willing to engage in a consultative process? If the prospect doesn’t commit to the work necessary to improve their outcomes, don’t move forward.

- Once the prospect agrees that risks, threats and dangers are too high not to address them, you can move on to the last step—presenting your solutions and services.

As Samuel Smiles said, “Great results cannot be achieved at once; and we must be satisfied to advance in life as we walk, step by step.”

Ask These 3 Questions Before Creating a Marketing Message

Today, most buyers prefer to engage electronically before they meet with anyone face-to-face. In fact, it is becoming increasingly clear that the sales process no longer starts with the first face-to-face meeting—buyers are doing their research before allowing anyone a spot on their calendar, so an effective messaging strategy is now a key component of an effective sales process.

In a blog post on hbr.com by Steve W. Martin, he explains: “Successful communication is the cornerstone of all sales. Winners have the ability to tailor compelling messages that resonate with the various evaluators across the organization.”

Before crafting any message, it’s important to be clear on the answers to these three questions:

(1)   Who is your ideal client?

(2)   Why should the prospect buy from you as opposed to your competitors?

(3)   What problems does the prospect have that you can solve?

Buyers demand value from you up front, even before they meet you, so top producers must learn to frequently and consistently convey how they create value for businesses beyond the placement of policies. Answering these questions will position you to develop client-focused messages that pique curiosity, affirm your expertise and prompt the prospect to say, “I want to hear more.”