Super Agent

Posts Tagged ‘risk’

Are You Taking Advantage of This Untapped Opportunity?

Last week, we discussed Al Lewis’ dynamic presentation at our recent annual event, but we also wanted to share an opportunity touched on by two other engaging speakers. Don Phin and Joy Justus of ThinkHR encouraged the group to think about the impact uninsurable HR related risks have on employers and how agents can step in to help them mitigate those risks.

Consider these questions:

  • How much did bad hires cost your employer clients over the last 12 months?
  • How much did losing any good employee cost them over the last 12 months?
  • What would be the bottom-line impact of improving total productivity by only 5%?
  • What is it costing them to keep poor employees?
  • What added costs are your clients paying due to poor risk management or return to work practices?

If they have employees, your clients are facing these issues. Are you ready to have a conversation with them around HR Risk Management to position yourself as an advisor, bring more value, and build a consultative relationship?

Reject the Status Quo

This is what the skeptics said: California Chrome is the product of an $8000 mare and a completely undistinguished (at the time) $2500 stallion.  His trainer is a 77 year old man who pushed him too hard at Churchill Downs before the race. No California-bred horse has won the Kentucky Derby since 1962. Except the skeptics were wrong, and California Chrome is looking at a possible Triple Crown win after winning the Derby and defying the odds.

So, what does this have to do with you? The most interesting element of this underdog story was described in a New York Times article. It said: “there are few rules in racing, but one that is considered inviolable is never to turn down a suitcase full of cash. Steve Coburn and Perry Martin understood that, but two months ago, when one of the sport’s far wealthier owners offered them $6 million for 51 percent of the first horse they had bred, the offer did not sit well.”

Instead, California Chrome’s owners decided that they wouldn’t fade into the background of their own success story. They wanted to make history, and they trusted in their own research and their own instincts in order to make it happen.

So, commit. Go for the win. Take risks. Do the thing that you believe in and that you know is what’s best for employers even if it means rejecting the status quo.

“Kites rise highest against the win, not with it.” – Winston Churchill

This Mistake Pushes Your Prospects Away—Are You Making It?

We often talk about the dangers of engaging in a transactional sales process—you undermine your own worth and the prospect is put at a greater risk because of it. But what about the middle ground—the space in between transactional and consultative selling? If you’ve ever said “If we’re close on price and you go with us, we’ll give you…. for free” during a meeting, then you’ve been there.

This “value-added” model is driven with the promise of additional services or enticements, but according to decision-making research discussed recently by Tim Riesterer, “when you add a feature that is positive, but weak or irrelevant to the conversation, it actually provides a reason against choosing your option”. In other words, empty add-ons push your prospects away. Presenting solutions to problems buyers haven’t identified only confuses them, and they don’t feel any sense of urgency to make a change. You’re more likely to lose the business, and if you win:

- The cost of delivery is increased,

- Your competitors are more likely to say “We have that too!”,

- There are potential rebating risks involved,

- And, there is often an unnecessary duplication of resources.

Is this a picture of a mutually beneficial business relationship?

The thing to remember is that it is not your services or tools that differentiate you; it’s your process. Are you leading buyers into a relationship where your interaction and collaboration will create value over a period of time? Anyone can buy the tool, or offer the service and describe features and benefits, but few can help buyers see and feel how the agent and agency’s capabilities will decrease risks and impact their business for the better.

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

Selling The Stretch Goal

We’re often attracted to the people who need our skills. As Anthony Iannarino puts it in his blog, “it’s a wonderful thing to develop latent dissatisfaction. It’s important to help your clients discover their blind spots.” When prospects don’t know what outcomes they should expect, and you can step in with new ideas and disruptive insight to help them learn, customize solutions and impact their business, it’s a great feeling.

But, the best opportunities are usually in the people (or organizations) who challenge us to develop new skills, to stretch our capabilities, and to grow in order to help them. To achieve continued success, it’s important to open yourself up to new learning experiences.

Take the risk, and you will become better because of it.

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”- John F. Kennedy

Shiny New Penny Syndrome

We often talk about the importance of subscribing to a process that will allow you to help your prospect see what they hope to accomplish. Doing so can help agents attain a competitive advantage and differentiate in the marketplace—two things that are often among their top objectives. But, there are many agents who are so willing to try new things to succeed, learn new information, and use the latest resources that they end up throwing out a process that works, skipping steps, or abandoning it all together before it has had the opportunity to gain traction.

If this sounds familiar to you, you might have “shiny new penny syndrome”, and it may be time for you to take a step back and assess. Agents are often adaptable, innovative, and excel when they’re put on the spot. These are all great characteristics, but they could also get you into trouble if you’re constantly changing your sales strategy.

For example, we recently spoke with a producer who was seeing early success in the sales process. As a result, he started feeling comfortable enough to skip steps in the hope of shortening his sales cycle. Instead, he missed out on the next several opportunities. It’s like a doctor deciding that things are going well, so he stops washing his hands before examining or treating patients. Not only does the quality of care decrease, but the risks increase.

It is important that you do have the capabilities to assess and adapt as needed, but it’s also important to do so with intention. Don’t spot fix issues and climb aboard quick-win bandwagons. If you believe in your process, stick to it.

“Process is your ace in the hole when your intuition stops working. If process makes you nervous, it’s probably because it threatens your reliance on intuition. Get over it. The best processes leverage your intuition and give it room to thrive.”- Seth Godin

Answer the Questions Employers Don’t Know to Ask

There has been a lot of talk in recent years about the changing role of the insurance agent, especially as the industry adapts post health care reform, and as technology continues to evolve. Added to these changes is the fact that most employers view insurance as a commodity purchase, and agents are quickly giving in to the pressure while devaluing their roles. In fact, a recent survey by Corporate Visions found that

- 89% of salespeople agreed that price pressure from customers and buyers has increased in the past three years,

- And, 68% find themselves in tough price negotiations because customers are not convinced that their solutions are sufficiently differentiated from the competition.

Decision makers today are busier than ever, and risk-averse. They are hard wired to defend the status quo, and we often say that they don’t know what they don’t know. It’s easier for them to make something complex into something simple by focusing only on the price. So, one of the most important capabilities a producer needs to succeed is the ability to help employers self-discover what risks to their business exist—risks that they are not even aware of. It’s your job to answer the questions that employers don’t know to ask by challenging them to think, proposing new ideas and revealing creative ways that you can help them.

We firmly believe that the challenges producers face are opportunities in disguise and those who are willing to gain and hone leadership capabilities and compete on value rather than price will continue to see success.

Illuminate the Dark Side

In this month’s issue of Harvard Business Review, there is a spotlight interview with leading social scientist in the field of influence, Robert Cialdini. If selling is influencing change, having the process in place to effectively facilitate that influence is a necessity. So, what does Cialdini have to say about the challenge of getting someone to make a change?

He explains that most people are uncertain about changing because they are scared of what they might lose. “Therefore, it’s good to tell people what they will lose if they fail to move…notions of loss are psychologically more powerful than notions of gain.”

There’s a lesson here for producers: It’s important to let the prospect discover not only what they will gain from choosing to work with you, but also what they will lose if they don’t. Do they agree that the risk of staying in their current situation is too strong to ignore? If they see the danger, they will be more likely to move forward in the process.

Don’t be afraid to illuminate the dark side first, then you can take a step back and help the prospect see what they truly hope to accomplish, and how engaging in a business relationship with you will lead to improved outcomes and increased success.