Super Agent

Posts Tagged ‘insurance’

Why is Your ‘Why’ Meaningful to Prospects?

We often talk about the importance of understanding your “Why”—the reason you do what you do—an idea inspired by innovator Simon Sinek who says “those who know their Why are the ones who lead. They are the ones who inspire.” Maybe you want to help employers avoid risks, or create opportunities for their organizations in the marketplace that you feel is under-serving them?  Whatever it is, it’s important that you know it, and that you can clearly convey it to prospects.

In a recent conversation with a producer, she asked me: “What comes next? I communicated my Why, and I didn’t know where to take the conversation from there.” The producer reverted back to her old process and started listing off all of the great things about her agency: “We value our customers”, “We offer these services”, and so on. The problem? According to an article on Inc.com, “Most customers are drowning in a flood of information and time-stressed to the max.” Staying prospect-focused is one of the most important elements of your conversations. The prospect isn’t interested in you, they want to know what your ‘Why’ means for them.

You can’t assume that prospects will be able to make the connection between your ‘Why’ and their success, so you have to make it for them. Why is your ‘Why’ meaningful to them?  Tell that story, and you’ll be on the right path.

Is Your Agency A Data Mover?

You have likely heard that we are living in a world of “Big Data.” And, as the market firms, underwriters are beginning to use data analytics to make decisions. For example, according to an article in Property Casualty 360, “modern predictive analytics takes the guesswork out of underwriting. Carriers are able to review a greater number of variables to determine which policies are likely to generate losses over time…” So, underwriters are using this technology to non-renew accounts or raise rates.

What does this mean? “Shopping the market” for the lowest price has become even less effective than it already was, since you can’t sell a story to underwriters who will be turning to the data to analyze risks.

Most agents complain about the negative implications of Big Data instead of seeing the opportunities it creates. In the same article, Wade Bontrager says, data “analytics can form the basis for a deeper relationship between agents and carriers as they work together to determine which risks to target. Shared information and shared objectives drive a stronger partnership—and one that is more successful in the long term.”

The future belongs to the agencies who leverage this technology, and who have a sales process that can get the data moving in the right direction.

Bring a Sense of Urgency to Your Conversations

Employers face many risks and threats to their employees and companies, and they are often completely unaware of it. Because of this, agents can play a vital role in helping them recognize and decrease those risks.  For example, I recently had a conversation with a producer who told me this story:

A company sells and installs chair lifts in people’s homes who need help getting to the second floor. If a customer were to fall down the stairs because of a malfunction or other issue with the lift, the company would be liable. The employer  assumes they’re covered if an issue like this occurs because they have general liability insurance, but the producer discovers that they have no Products Coverage, so they’re covered for slips and trips on the showroom floor, but not when a customer is injured using their product at home.

This is an urgent situation! The employer is at a significant risk because they don’t know that their number 1 risk isn’t covered. But, the producer insists that they are “insured by ABC insurance company who I don’t represent”, or “their renewal date is too far away so I’m stuck.” The producer ends up leaving the employer in fast-moving traffic instead of snatching them out of the road and taking control of the situation.

It is important to bring a sense of urgency to your conversations when a situation is urgent. Gain agreements with the employer in order to move forward with the relationship in a way that will benefit both of you—work on a fee-basis until renewal, or become the agent the same day and worry about placing the policy later.

“It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.”- Winston Churchill

“I Want a Low Price”

I’ve talked to many producers who believe in their process, but become frustrated and cave when prospects demand a low price. They’ll say to me: “It’s what the customer wants” and ask “What am I supposed to do?” My answer: you sell them on a better process. Instead of complying with their request, lead them toward something new and better. Most prospects will say that they want the lowest price because their past experiences with agents tell them they should engage in this way.

So, instead of seeking out buyers who don’t respond in this way, change the minds of the buyers who do. How? Most salespeople do a lot of talking; they spend their time telling the prospect what they have to offer, but the best salespeople use questions to reveal the buyers issues, needs and concerns—to help them self-discover the flaws in their process.

According to author and business consultant Nido Qubein, “the instant a prospect pauses to take a breath, the amateur will jump in with a sales spiel, just to break the silence. But powerful persuaders use questions… much as a skilled physician uses them to diagnose the problems of a patient.”

Before you even begin to sell your product or service to the prospect, you first have to sell them on your process. If you believe in your process and you’re ready to take on the challenge, you can turn these frustrating situations into opportunities.

“A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.”- Francis Bacon

Are You Really Consultative?

An excellent article by Scott Edinger on hbr.org starts out like this: “When I speak to audiences of sales professionals and ask, “How many of you sell value versus price?” everyone raises their hand. But my next question “So how do you do that?” is frequently followed by an uncomfortable silence…”

We see this all time. Producers truly believe that they are consultative sellers but aren’t able to articulate the value they provide to their prospects and clients. Edinger offers sellers these 5 tips on how to move from transactional to consultative relationships:

  1. Help clients see issues they hadn’t considered. Edinger calls this a process of “mutual diagnosis”. In other words, the best salespeople don’t tell their clients the problems they see, instead they help their clients self discover risks through dialog.
  2. Help clients examine issues they thought were benign, but aren’t.
  3. Help clients see opportunities they missed. Again, “jointly discovering such opportunities through back-and-forth conversation” is key.
  4. Help clients address problems with solutions they hadn’t considered. Be innovative and find new ways to address their specific needs.
  5. Help clients connect with additional support resources.

Check out the article and use these 5 tips as a test for you and your colleagues. Are you really consultative?

Are You Riding the Revenue Rollercoaster?

We see it all the time—producers become obsessed with a group of prospects they’ve hooked and are trying to reel in, and they let their lead nurturing activities go by the wayside. They spend all of their time focusing on them, they’ll even spend a day or two in the office just thinking about them. In the end, a few of these prospects do become clients, but, when it’s time for the producer to get back to work prospecting, he or she realizes that their pipeline is empty. When the business doesn’t come they move on to a new set of prospects to blitz, and the cycle of peaks and valleys continues.

What if this producer had spent only 3 to 6 hours per week, in the weeks leading up to these sales, on lead nurturing activities? Even better, what if these activities were already on his calendar as part of a client-attraction program focused on the long-term? 

When producers focus solely on managing their book, they are setting themselves up to be trapped in this cycle. If they consistently take the time to develop, qualify and nurture leads through a pipeline they will grow steadily and organically and see greater success.

“Lead-nurturing is having consistent and meaningful communication with viable customers regardless of their time to purchase.”—Brain Carroll

Stay Focused on the Outcome

Mark Goulston, Harvard Business Review contributor recently wrote an article that focuses on how effective leaders successfully influence decisions. As part of research for Goulston’s book, he and his co-author interviewed over 100 people who “get things done, but who aren’t pushy.”  They found that the most successful leaders are “not trying to persuade people to do something important. They’re trying to positively influence them to get to a better place.” They are focused on the outcome, and at the end of the conversation they are able to move things forward.

Here is a common example of this dynamic at play in the sales process:

During a conversation with a prospect, a producer will say: “let me explain to you why our process is better than the process you’re currently using.” The prospect will most likely put their guard up when change is framed with the agent and agency as the main focus. In this example, the first part of what’s necessary in the process is there—the producer believes that the buyer is truly at risk and wants to help them decrease those risks and improve their business, but the buyer only hears “it’s all about me”. Dialog is only effective if it is 100% percent focused on the prospect. Consider this question that addresses the same issues but is framed differently:

“What if it is possible for you to reduce the number of employee injuries that occur and decrease the costs associated with those injuries— is that something you would be interested in discussing?”

Are you trying to sell your process to your prospects, or are you trying to positively influence them to get to a better place?

Tip the Silos

Most people are familiar with Michael J. Fox—the film star who traveled back in time as Marty McFly in Doc Brown’s silver DeLorean. But today, 15 years after publicly announcing his diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease, he has come to be known as an inspiring and positive activist. He is the founder of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, dedicated to finding a cure for the disease that he and so many others live with.

According to an article published in Networking Magazine, his foundation “funds hundreds of millions of dollars of research, and produced a cutting-edge Parkinson’s trial program…one of its goals is to unite research into one stream toward a cure, instead of having a bunch of separatist efforts compete with each other.”

Fox explains: “There are all of these silos of collected information — whether it’s academic or government or pharma or whatever — and they’re just stacked on top of each other and there’s no means forward. There are no highways to cures and therapies,” explained Fox. “And so our mission is to try to tip those silos over and get them moving in a linear way as early as possible, and then creating a thruway for this information. And that happens through collaboration.”

Agencies can learn a lot from this approach. Currently, there is a dynamic at play in many agencies that is fueled by the fear of sharing business between producers and departments. Producers are reluctant to refer their clients to their colleagues because of past experiences or personal relationships and agency leaders rarely intervene, even when they can’t afford to deploy resources to accounts that aren’t working with them in multiple business units. It’s like Fox says, producers and departments are “stacked on top of each other” with no means forward. There are “a bunch of separatist efforts” rather a unified team working toward the same, clearly defined goals.

In order to achieve profitability and sustainability agencies must learn how to be more collaborative, tip the silos, and in turn create a linear path to success that will benefit everyone.