Super Agent

Posts Tagged ‘prospects’

The “Value-Added” Problem

Speaker and innovator Simon Sinek told a story on his blog about a Groupon deal from an auto center offering headlight restoration. The catch? The deal was only for one headlight. He explains: “What the company appeared to be saying was ‘Come get a great deal on headlight restoration!’ What I understood was ‘Come let us take care of half of what you really need…’”

How are you engaging with prospects to offer value? If you’ve ever said “If we’re close on price and you go with us, we’ll give you ____ for free” during a sales conversation then you may want to think about whether or not your prospects are having a similar reaction to Simon’s.

Are you offering value-added services to try to influence transactions? And, even if you’re landing a few accounts this way, what does it say about your genuine interest and capabilities to help employers get better?

We’ve said it before: it’s not your services that differentiate you, its how you engage, and how you collaborate. It’s your process.

If your goals are to grow your business, build mutually beneficial business relationships, help your clients uncover problems and achieve the best outcomes, don’t undermine these goals by offering empty incentives or services that aren’t connected to employer needs.

How Prospects “Check You Out”

A recent study by Hinge found the top 4 ways buyers “check out” sellers in today’s crowded marketplace. In the age of the internet, most no longer turn to referrals of references to get a better perspective on the capabilities, resources and expertise an organization has to offer.

So, what are the top methods?

(1)    Website. According to the study, over 80% of buyers evaluate you through your website before turning to any other method.

(2)    Online search. The next most common strategy is utilizing a search engine to look more deeply at your online presence.

(3)    Friends and colleagues. Word of mouth is a powerful tool when you have advocates.

(4)    Social Media. We’re often surprised by how many agencies aren’t utilizing social media tools to help build their brands. Social media plays an important role in establishing yourself as a thought leader and industry influencer.

The study suggests that “in most cases, a buyer can Google [you], check out your website, and explore conversation about your work on social media in less time than it would take to get in touch with a reference you’ve provided…. As buyers increasingly look online for solutions, it is more essential than ever that sellers address their online brand. Social and search are no longer optional.”

Have you been building your brand using strategies of the past? Does your marketing plan rely heavily on referrals? If you’re still considering whether or not to invest in quality website development or in committing to building a social media presence, there is no better time to take the leap than now.

“The key to success is often the ability to adapt.” – Anthony Brandt

Are You Taking These Steps to Qualify Your Pipeline?

You’ve probably experienced it before—any mention of the word pipeline during a meeting and the mood of the room immediately changes, most of the time for the worse. But we see pipeline development as more than putting down names and contact information into a spreadsheet. A pipeline is a reflection of what you want to achieve and conveys the rewards and opportunities it can generate for you.

There are many steps to take in order to build a rewarding pipeline, but one that is often overlooked (and so important in today’s technology-driven world) is investing the time to research and qualify your list. Sales expert Jill Konrath said: “Learning how to qualify my prospects to ferret out those opportunities where it was worthwhile to pursue low-hanging fruit was hard… But by doing this, I saved myself lots of hard work. And, I had more time to spend on prospects where I could win.”

So, how do you get started? Here are some suggestions to consider:

  • Utilize LinkedIn to search for prospects and their companies. Make sure to identify what groups they are a part of or any connections that you have in common. This is a great way to seek out introductions.
  • If you’re leading with Workers’ Comp, procure their experience mod history.
  • Access state insurance databases for X-dates.
  • Set up Google Alerts to notify you when they or their company make news.
  • Conduct calls to share the research you’ve gained and determine who is responsible for managing risk and buying insurance within their organization.

Using these activities to augment the data you already have can help you better understand your prospects and narrow down your list to include 100-200 suspects that are likely to be right-fits to work with you.

What other strategies do you use to qualify prospects in your pipeline? Share them with us in the comments!

Who Do You Want to Work With?

During a recent coaching call with a group of producers, we ran into a common problem that’s worth sharing here. After an agent was asked what his ideal prospect looked like (and after being provided with a few examples of accounts that varied in size, industry and other factors) he said that he needed to focus on writing new business and would work with them all, regardless of whether or not they were a right-fit.

Who do you want to work with? As Seth Godin wrote in his blog, “Answering, “anyone who pays us money,” is a cop-out.”

In today’s overcrowded marketplace, knowing where to focus your offerings and expertise is essential if you plan to differentiate and win business over your competitors. So, examine the types of relationships your agency is best at pursuing, earning and managing. But most importantly, stick with the prospects who believe what you believe—who are willing to engage with you collaboratively. Help them to discover what dangers or problems they’re facing, and agree to move forward toward a better way.

Ultimately, don’t be afraid to walk away from “opportunities” that have no potential to lead to a valuable partnership for both parties. You owe this to yourself and to your prospects. Inc’s Geoffrey James said, “finding out who is not a potential customer is just as valuable a discovery as finding out who is one.”

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.

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.”

Be the Trigger Event

During the “Live the Story” Conference, participants were told about a company that took the time to brainstorm and map out the top three challenges they thought their solutions could address. Interestingly, the second challenge the team came up with was not on the radar of a large group of prospects who had recently been surveyed by the company.

So, their first instinct was to avoid #2 altogether and come up with a solution that better aligned with the results of the survey. But, instead they decided to create dissatisfaction by leaning into that gap and having conversations around the challenge that prospects weren’t even aware they were facing.

Salespeople are often trained to recognize trigger events that will prompt decision makers to buy. For example, maybe a new CFO has just been hired, or an acquisition recently occurred. Sales strategist Jill Konrath says: “Organizational change creates urgent and compelling needs. So do changes in the business environment. These “trigger events” create openings for your products, services or solutions.”

Although it is important to monitor events like this within your pipeline and take advantage of the opportunities they provide, the most powerful forces of change are your conversations.

If you can steer prospects to see that they are not safe through disruptive and honest dialogue, you become the trigger event that creates an undeniable need for change moving forward.

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.”