Super Agent

Posts Tagged ‘differentiate’

Follow-Up After 1st Meetings

First meetings are the gateways to successful business relationships, and are increasingly more difficult to come by, but many producers aren’t effectively making the best of them. Even those who have successfully positioned a meeting by developing an agenda with specific goals and objectives to cover, sending it to the prospect beforehand and sticking to it are often missing a key last step in the process: providing meaningful follow-up.

It’s important to send your prospect an email or letter outlining the key aspects of your meetings, including issues identified, opportunities to be gained, strategies and next steps. According to an article on The Marketing Donut, “research shows… potential opportunities are lost without trace simply due to lack of follow-up. People and companies who don’t follow-up, who do nothing to build up that trust and relationship, cannot succeed, especially in today’s tough economic climate.”

Following up with your prospect not only provides you with an  opportunity to re-emphasize your value and differentiate from your competitors, it will also ensure that you have a record of the sales process and of your communication with the prospect to be used as a springboard in your next meeting or as a learning tool if the relationship doesn’t move forward.

Did you follow-up after your last 1st meeting? It sounds simple, but making this modest change can make a big difference if you’re looking to stop being commoditized and to successfully lead buyers.

Sales Opportunities Beyond Placing Policies

Many of the agents we speak with believe that only the broker of record (BOR) is in the position to establish a relationship with an employer and gain new business. But when your sales process and approach is truly consultative, this idea doesn’t hold up. Insurance policies don’t always address every risk or problem an employer faces. In fact, many (if not most) times there are issues that have been transferred year after year to an employer’s policy that are still unresolved. What’s more, the road to obtaining new clients is more complex in today’s selling environment.

So, when an employer has a problem that is exposed during a conversation, why not be prepared to offer them a solution for a fee?  Leading a prospect to recognize issues that exist and offering your specialized services, tools and capabilities on a fee-basis  not only helps diversify your revenue, it also differentiates you and allows you to establish an initial relationship that could lead to engagement in the future.

For example, what if your agents performed an injury management assessment for a fee and helped employers uncover underlying issues with their reporting process?

If a business is implementing dangerous practices or is struggling to assess their risks, the opportunity is there for agents to step in and offer solutions. Don’t be afraid to put a price tag on the value that you bring to your client relationships—value based fees are directly related to serving their best interests.

Having Difficult Sales Conversations: Part 1

In a great post on The Sales Blog, Anthony Iannarino says that in order to create greater value, you have to have difficult conversations—“You are going to have to talk openly about the big changes that are going to need to occur for your client to succeed, for you to succeed together… What makes you strategic is your willingness to deal with the biggest, nastiest, foulest issues.”

We often talk about the importance of producers leading the sales process during the first meeting and willingly stepping into tension filled moments to challenge and engage a prospect. Without a little discomfort, it’s unlikely that anything new is being brought to the table. And today’s buyers expect new ideas.

So, if you find that you’re reluctant to have difficult and probing conversations with clients, it’s important to assess where your fear is stemming from. Do you need to gain new capabilities in order to confidently address the issues a prospect or client is facing? Are you letting self-doubt or the need to “be liked” get in the way of your success? Do you know the impact you have on your clients and the outcomes you help them to achieve?

Getting comfortable with uncomfortable topics of conversation is a big step toward differentiation, as long as you do so with humility and without pushing away the prospect.

Iannarino asked: “Will you go there? Will you give the elephant a name and tame him?”

What strategies do you use to create positive tension during your sales meetings? Are you trying to overcome your fears around this issue? Let us know in the comments, and be on the lookout for Part 2 next week.

Your One Shot At A First Impression

According to a recent report by Corporate Visions, studies have “shown that buyers remember only 10% of your message just one week after you leave the room. But, if you make the effort to attach your story to a simple, concrete visual, your buyers remember 65% of your conversation.”

Today, most of us are accustomed to everything being streamlined, simplified or one-click away. So, although utilizing a visual tool during a meeting may seem like something small, you are much more likely to capture a decision maker’s attention and keep them engaged if you do.

For example, a graphic overview that represents your implementation process, a complicated idea, your sales process or other detailed information can not only help you be remembered, but will also help you:

  • Have more effective conversations by allowing you to take control of the sales process,
  • Provide a memorable representation of the potential relationship between the prospect and your agency,
  • Turn complex concepts into something tangible for your prospects,
  • Position yourself in a unique way that differentiates you from your competitors.

Are you using visual tools to give prospects a clear sense of your story and your process? How might using them enhance communication and engagement?

Don’t Wait to Be Picked

One of our favorite bloggers, Seth Godin, recently wrote: “skip depending on being found on the shelf and go directly to the people who care.” He suggests that because your odds of getting found on a crowded shelf are slim, the shelf shouldn’t be your goal.

What does this mean for you?

Likely you don’t want to work with every business owner that wants or needs to buy insurance—you want to work with those who are willing to adopt your process, who are interested in building a collaborative relationship to address risk management strategies and who motivate and reward you intellectually, emotionally and financially. But too often, we see producers hoping to be found instead of acting with intention to attract the clients they want to work with.

Are your messages and thought leadership focused on the issues your ideal client might be facing, or the opportunities that exist for them to get better? If not, then you’re simply creating content for content’s sake.  Are you allowing yourself to be treated like a commodity during the sales process? Instead, think abundance. Don’t leave too early, but don’t stay too long if the prospect isn’t open to your leadership.

Allow yourself to believe that the decision makers you want to do business with would be best served by engaging with you, and don’t wait to be picked from the shelf.

Seth said it best: “Be the one and only dominator in a category of one, a category that couldn’t really exist if you weren’t in it.”

Does Your Website Meet Your Prospect’s Expectations?

One of the first opportunities to differentiate comes with your agency’s website, but if yours is like most agency websites it may focus on sharing information about your services, how long you’ve been in business, an easy quoting process, etc. The problem? If a prospect is willing to meet with you, they will do their research on you first. And they expect to find out, not about what makes you great, but about how you can help them achieve their goals and learn more about themselves.

So, how do you know if your website meets the expectations of today’s buyer? Here are Jill Konrath’s top 3 things prospect’s expect to find:

(1) Articles and videos on your site that deal with issues your customers face.

(2) Information on how to make a good decision.

(3) Customer testimonials on video.

If your website uses commoditizing language and doesn’t prompt your prospect to think, “I want to know more…” you’re not effectively positioned to get in the door.

Jill said, think of your website “not as a brochure about how great you are, but as a repository of great information.”

Don’t Self-Sabotage By Telling Yourself These 4 Things

The majority of the producers we speak with agree that most prospects don’t follow an effective process to buy insurance and manage risk. So, we often talk about the vast opportunities that exist for agents who step up and lead—who have the guts and develop the skills to have tough conversations, and guide prospects away from danger.

Too often, we see producers use rationalizations that sabotage their leadership. They say things like:

“I don’t want to offend the prospect.”

“I’ll follow their process in the beginning, but I’ll pivot later in the sales process.”

“I’m just trying to give them what they want.”

“They’re too busy.”

If you’re saying any of these things, you’re leaving the prospect at risk, and enabling them to continue believing that all agents are the same. Agents have the power to change the status quo. Will you lead?

It’s more difficult to climb than it is to ascend… Climbing requires that you take initiative. You can’t rest on your laurels and climb at the same time. – Anthony Iannarino

Are You Setting Yourself Apart In These 4 Areas?

We often talk about differentiation as one objective high on the list for producers. But, when does differentiation happen?

Here are 4 opportunities to differentiate along the sales continuum:

1- The first opportunity comes with your agency’s website and marketing activities. Buyers are busier than ever, and they’re resistant to self-focused marketing content and empty sales jargon. It’s important that the content you push out has a fresh design, piques the employer’s curiosity and always remains outcome-focused.

2- The second opportunity is in preparation for your first face to face meeting, where you will either take control of the sale by leading the buyer to follow your process, or you’ll begin following theirs. So, don’t wing it. You should always have goals in mind for every conversation.

3-  The third opportunity is when you’re positioning the exchange of value in the sales process. Will you engage with the prospect honestly and establish mutual accountability? It’s important to share the hard truth of what will be required of them in order for the relationship to be successful as well as your own commitments.

4-  Last is the opportunity to continue to prepare your existing clients for the constant changes that will occur throughout your business relationship. Part of your stewardship of the account is to provide them with as much insight as to what can be expected as the marketplace shifts and evolves.

The bottom line is that it’s your process—the way you engage across the entire customer experience—that ultimately differentiates you from your competitors, not your products or services. As HBR contributor James Allen wrote on differentiation: It “isn’t what you own or what you say you’re going to do, it is what you do, every day, through repeatable activities to serve your customers better than the competition.”