Super Agent

Posts Tagged ‘strategy’

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?

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.

3 Ways to Reduce Stress & Improve Performance

One of the most important factors to being successful is to make sure that you’re continually improving. Benjamin Franklin said: “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” The problem is, it’s easy to let your goals slip away without a good plan in place to minimize stress and better your performance.

When was the last time you evaluated your path to success? If it’s been a while, here are 3 things to consider doing in order to help you get there:

#1- Execute a Plan to Protect Your Existing Book of Business

This is one of the biggest stressors that producers face—ensuring that their clients are still feeling connected, engaged and working in alignment with the agency. We often hear, “I’m so busy managing my book of business that I don’t have time to develop new business opportunities.” So, in order to prevent this from happening we suggest that you plan ahead. Determine which accounts drive 80 percent of your revenue, then calendar regularly scheduled meetings with them in order to conduct assessments, establish action plans, and measure the improvements to their business.

#2- Identify and Monitor Your Key Performance Indicators

A few examples of these are research calls, face-to-face meetings, COI meetings, and marketing emails. Most producers don’t block out time on their calendars for anything other than meetings. For example, many will use a free hour here or there to make phone calls, but nowhere on their calendar is there time to follow-up with those prospects…the time spent calling becomes time wasted. So make appointments with yourself to develop thought leadership, send out messaging, and make prospecting phone calls. Just be sure that you are treating the appointments you make with yourself with the same level of importance as those you make with others.

#3- Modify to Stay on Track

Don’t be afraid to modify your plan if it’s not working. Schedule your own performance review time to ask yourself if you’re meeting your goals and what activities should be increased or reduced. And, don’t forget to reward yourself for any growth and improvement that you see.

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.

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

Do Your Email Messages Count?

According to a recent article by McKinsey & Company, “there’s a reason your inbox always seems jam-packed: e-mail marketing works.” So, if you’ve been toying with abandoning your email marketing strategy in favor of a strategy focused solely on social media, you may want to think again. Although utilizing social networks can be a very effective way to build and market your brand, email is still king when it comes to acquiring clients. In addition, the right message can help agencies and producers get in the door and even position them to generate more productive first appointments.

So, how do you harness the full potential of email messaging? McKinsey offers these three tips:

(1)    Focus on the journey, not the click. In other words, focus on not only what’s within the message, but also where the prospect is taken when they interact with it. For example, it’s more effective to link to a specific landing page with information on what’s featured in the email rather than linking to your website home-page.

(2)    Share the lessons. As with all processes and strategies, it’s important to constantly evaluate what’s working and what’s not. Which messages are really sticking with prospects, and which are getting lost? If you believe the content in a specific email is great but it’s not having much success, could a low-impact subject line be to blame? Share the lessons you learn along the way with your colleagues or team members.

(3)    Get personal. McKinsey says that “the best emails feel personal”, and personalized messages can help you differentiate when decision makers’ inboxes are crowded. So if your prospect has recently downloaded a Whitepaper from your website, or their business is going through an organizational change that may be creating specific challenges, be sure to mention it within your message. Think about what would prompt the buyer to say, “I want to hear more”.

91 percent of all US consumers use email daily—are you making your email messages count?

Planning vs. Strategy

In the most recent issue of Harvard Business Review, Roger Martin offers an interesting perspective on strategy. He argues that most managers spend weeks, or even months coming up with a comprehensive and cost-based plan (projections and detailed spreadsheets included), when they should be moving outside of this comfort-driven approach to strategy.

He suggests “the effort you spend creating revenue plans is a distraction from the strategist’s much harder job: finding ways to acquire and keep customers.” In effect, instead of poring over numbers to assess how to meet your revenue goals, allow yourself to feel uncomfortable by evaluating your process and deciding two simple things: where you want to play, and how you will win.

Hopefully by now, you’ve already considered what success will look like for you in 2014, and we’re not suggesting that you should ditch the planning process all together. It’s critically important to develop timelines and include tangible activities on your calendar to help you achieve your financial goals and objectives. And, holding yourself accountable to these activities will give you peace of mind and allow you to measure your effectiveness over time. But it may be useful to consider your overall strategy before getting into the meat of your plan. Essentially, as Martin recommends, you want your planning and activities to serve your strategy rather than govern it.

Check out the article and let us know what you think. Do you agree or disagree with Martin’s view on strategy?

Making the Most of Your Center of Influence Relationships

Leveraging Center of Influence relationships is an important component of new business development. As Salesforce blogger and author Joanne Black said, referrals allow you to “walk into meetings with your ideal prospects” and “arrive with credibility and trust already built”. But, are you confident that your center of influence engagement strategy is really generating leads and opportunities to grow?

If not, here are a few tips to help you make the most of these relationships:

-  Develop a PowerPoint presentation that talks about how you engage, your value proposition, and your perfect client type. Your COI will represent you better if they know your story, what differentiates you, and who you want to do business with.

-  Share your top 100 list of suspects and determine if your COI can help you get in the door, and then collaborate to set up introductions. Also, be clear on the number of business relationships you’re looking to engage in over the next 12 months.

-  Lastly, measure the success of your COI strategy. If you find that you haven’t had an introduction or written a new piece of business in the last 1 or 2 quarters, then it’s either time to find different COI’s or consider alternative strategies. We often hear producers maintain that they work only on referral, but often find that they haven’t had one in months.

Remembering these tips will help you to ensure that your Centers of Influence are armed with what they need to refer you the right business.