Super Agent

Posts Tagged ‘commodity’

The Duck-Rabbit Paradigm: Why You Can’t Just “Go Back” to a Consultative Approach


In conversations with some of our members we find that too often, producers allow their fear to drive them to a place of comfort even when they know the behaviors they revert back to aren’t effective. Much like their own clients and prospects, it is hard for them to make the decision to change without looking back. We hear, “I’ll just do this for a while, take some pressure off, get a couple wins on the board, and then I’ll go right back to a more consultative approach.” The problem with this is that two, three, even 6 months down the road they’re still making transactional, commodity driven sales and there’s never a good day to switch back.

Take a look at the photo above. What do you see? If you see a rabbit, look for a duck and vice versa. Now, can you look at it again without seeing both? According to scientific research, most people would answer no. Once you’ve allowed yourself to make the shift, it’s very difficult to go back. The same is true in the sales process.

So, you have to ask yourself: Who do I want to be? Am I addressing the real challenges employers are facing? Am I leading them away from a dangerous path? It takes gumption to take a stand and make the decision to change, sincerely and entirely. But, we would argue that if you adopt a consultative, collaborative approach with the objective of helping the buyer self-discover risks to their business you will differentiate yourself from competitors and see greater success.

“A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.”- James Cook

3 Tips to Stop Being Commoditized

How can producers facilitate dialog to help prospects uncover risks and reduce the possibility of being commoditized? Here are three tips:

Tip #1: Follow a Process 

Developing and following a repeatable process will allow you to build conversations utilizing the kind of disruptive dialog necessary to facilitate change behavior in the buyer and help them self-discover risks to their business. It also helps to sharpen and strengthen your brand, and it ensures that each prospect who engages with the agency has a similar experience.
An article on examines the importance of subscribing to a process:  “For successful businesses, the sales process has become a communications process that evolves through a series of decisions both you and your customer will be making. At each decision point, you will be achieving mutual understanding and establishing clarity about what you are saying to each other and how you will proceed.”

Tip #2: Understand Your Why

Ask yourself and your colleagues this question: “Why should a prospect engage with us instead of our greatest competitor?” Knowing why your agency engages in the way in which it does is essential. Simon Sinek explains: “Those who know their Why are the ones who lead. They are the ones who inspire.” Is it because you are certain your process is more effective and will yield the best outcomes? Is it to help employers select the right-fit carriers, or help them more effectively navigate the complex buying experience? Whatever the reason, producers must know the answer to this question and be able to convey it to prospects.

Tip #3: Believe

Do you believe that most employers follow a flawed process to manage risk and buy insurance that is potentially harmful to their organization? Do you believe most prospects are underserved in the marketplace? Developing a belief system in what you do and why you do it will help you stay motivated throughout the year to help your clients achieve better outcomes.

You are the Prize

A top objective of most producers is to stop being treated as a commodity. The process of buying insurance is complex and, because of this, buyers try to simplify it by focusing on the numbers and making decisions based on price. Many view all insurance agents and agencies as virtually the same. However, if you take a step back to look at the equation, at one end, there is only you, and you have the ability to enter into a specific number of new business relationships every year. At the other end, there are hundreds of thousands of buyers who are a right-fit for you and your agency. You have the capability to choose which prospects to pursue, and you won’t be treated as a commodity unless you allow yourself to be.

It is important to focus on these right-fit prospects whose relationships with you will be based on long-term shared success. If you are spending your time with commodity based prospects and focus on short-term deals, you are losing time with prospects who are eager to engage with you and work collaboratively. Seth Godin explains: “The very act of seeking out the shortcut and the quick win might very well be the reason you don’t have enough successful long stories to share.”

Don’t be afraid to walk away because you are worried about missing out on opportunities. There are plenty of right-fit buyers ready to start a business relationship with you. The challenge is to change your mind-set.

As long as you enter into the sales process with humility, with genuine curiosity, and with the objective to help the prospect achieve better outcomes you should also enter believing that they are going to be best served by you as opposed to any of your competitors.

Be A Specialist

In today’s highly commoditized insurance market, it’s difficult for agencies to be different when buyers are always asking, “can you just give me a quote?” So, how can you remove your agency from this dreaded bid-and-quote process and grow organically based on the value your agency has to offer prospective clients? Become a specialist—implement a consultative sales strategy that emphasizes your specialized technical knowledge and expertise.

 Agencies can choose to develop distinctive capabilities from a wide array of services to assist employers. One example that emotionally engages prospects and gives agencies the chance to deliver measurable outcomes is workers’ compensation insurance. It’s not only employers who see Workers’ Compensation as difficult to understand. Many agencies out there also share the same perspective. That’s why specialized capabilities in Workers Comp and a distinctive process for engagement can give agencies the edge and advantage needed to capture new business.

Worker’s Compensation insurance programs are often filled with overcharges and mistakes, and if agencies know how to step in to find and fix them they will be able to better quantify their value to employers. The important thing is to be better than your competition at something unique and important to the success of your client.

According to John Case, senior writer for Inc magazine, “it’s the age of the specialist- of the company whose value is knowledge.”



As a disclaimer: We (The WorkComp Advisory Group) provide independent insurance agents with the tools, training and consultative leadership they need to lead with Workers’ Compensation and attract new business.

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?

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?