Super Agent

Posts Tagged ‘getting in the door’

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!

Using LinkedIn as a Prospecting Tool

There is a lot of information out there focused on how you can effectively leverage social media to help you grow your business, and one of the strategists who writes on the subject is Jill Konrath. She recently posted a video on her blog with three great tips for using LinkedIn to connect with others (check it out here), so we thought we would offer some of our own tips to consider along with her list:

- Pay attention to what Groups your prospect is a part of (and join them). If the discussions within a particular group center on problems your prospects might be facing, or specific interests/goals they may have you can and should utilize that information to craft compelling messages and capture their attention.

- Find out if you have any mutual connections. Can you leverage existing relationships to get in door or close business?

- Share meaningful content. By sharing relevant, entertaining and meaningful content through a channel where your prospect spends time, you are establishing yourself as a thought leader within the industry and fostering early awareness so that when it comes time for prospect’s to buy, you’ll already be on their minds.

We want to hear your experiences. What successful strategies have you used to leverage LinkedIn or other social media platforms as prospecting tools?

Get Your Prospects Talking

Last week we discussed an interview on 60 minutes with Amazon founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, focusing on the importance of embracing and leveraging the opportunities that arise out of change and disruption. But, the interview also had another interesting point to consider.

The possibility of drones taking flight in the future to deliver Amazon users their products was all over the headlines the next morning. Bezos revealed his big “surprise” to the world, and prospective customers spent at least some part of their day talking about Amazon. Whether or not this idea actually happens, it was enough to pique the curiosity of millions.

It raises the question: how are you capturing the attention of your prospects?

Consider your website and messaging activities. Is the design fresh and attractive; is the language outcome-focused; is your value proposition being clearly communicated? According to sales expert Jill Konrath, “strong value propositions create a stark contrast from the status quo… when prospects hear them, they want to learn more.”

Consider your sales conversations. Are you asking disruptive questions to prompt buyers to think differently and helping them see a future with better outcomes if they engage with you?

We want to hear your stories—tell us how you are getting your prospects to talk about you.

Planning with Intention: Do You Know the End at the Beginning?

When you step into a meeting with a prospect, do you have a clear sense of where you want it to end and the steps you need to take in order to get there? Do you spend time at the end of the year putting activities on the calendar that will help you reach your goals for the following year? According to Seth Godin: “Critical path analysis works backward, looking at the calendar and success and at each step from the end to the start… most organizations focus on shiny objectives or contentious discussions or get sidetracked by emergencies instead of honoring the critical path.”

It might be easier to follow a prospect’s process instead of leading them through your own, and the same goes for focusing on the front end of your pipeline instead of filling it from the back end. But those producers who plan for the end at the beginning will be able to pivot when the time is necessary but never lose sight of the path to the end goal.

For example, if you are clear on the value you provide and who you want to work with then you are much less likely to engage in a transactional sale with a buyer who was never the right fit to begin with. And, if you include business development activities on your calendar as you look toward 2014, you will be comforted in knowing that you have commitments in place that will help you achieve your goals.

Oliver Wendell Holmes said: “To reach a port we must sail, sometimes with the wind, and sometimes against it. But we must not drift.” Do you want to drift, fighting fires as you face them, or do you want to approach your year, your day or your meeting with intention?

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.

Are You Shouting into the Dark?

One of the greatest challenges producers face is their struggle to secure first appointments. So it wasn’t surprising in a recent training session when the topic of discussion turned to getting in the door strategies. As we all sat around a table, I said to them: “Before we can even begin talking about getting in the door strategies, it’s important to talk about who you want to work with. Who is your ideal client?” One by one, each producer shrugged or admitted that they didn’t really know.

Why is this an issue? Because without a clear picture of the kind of prospect you would like to work with, setting up a getting in the door strategy, or even developing a message is a waste of time, energy and resources. We spent two hours unpacking my initial question, and in the end we had answers to the following:

- What size organization do you want to work with?

- What is their level of complexity?

- What are the top challenges and problems they are facing that you can address with your capabilities?

Buyers today have higher expectations, greater demands and changing communication preferences as technology continually evolves. Forbes contributor Mark Fidelman says: “Customers are changing how they buy… They have access to more information than ever before. Their conversations, thoughts, frustrations and concerns are becoming increasingly more public and visible.” They expect you to know who they are before you reach out to contact them.

If you develop a getting in the door strategy after gaining clarity around who your ideal client is, you will be much more successful in moving forward to research, qualify and nurture leads. Without clarity, you’ll be shouting into the dark.

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.”