Selling insurance isn’t easy, and keeping clients on board once you have them can be even tougher.
You’ve done a good job as far as you know, but, a competitor swoops-in out of the blue and grabs the account. “We needed to save some money,” the owner of the company tells you.
You’ve just sold an insurance program and you ask the customer for a referral. “Let’s see what happens,” she says. But nothing does.
What’s going on? In the first, saving money was an excuse for making a change. And in the second, the producer hadn’t established a track record with the client. In both instances, the problem was a lack of confidence in the producer.
So, here’s the question agents should be asking, “What have I done for my clients to deserve renewals and referrals?” If it’s only reducing the price, that’s not enough.
Here’s how you can demonstrate to clients that you’re an asset — a valuable member of their team:
Enhance your presence with clients
If you make an effort to get chummy with clients around renewal time, that’s not a good sign. It sends the message that you’re just another insurance salesperson wanting to hang on to the account. It’s your presence the other nine months that lets them know you care.
Here’s the point: it takes continuing observation and interaction to develop a necessary understanding of a client’s company; it’s not once-and-done. If a business owner is planning to make a change to the business, you want to know about it before it occurs so you can offer appropriate suggestions regarding insurance issues. To do that, you need to be part of the business.
Battle insurance ignorance
The way to start is by helping everyone, owners and their employees, gain a better understanding of insurance. It’s safe to assume their knowledge level is abysmally low. Figure out ways to share your knowledge of both business and personal insurance. If you take this seriously, everyone will see you as someone who adds value both to the business and to their lives.
How important is this issue? For starters, it’s estimated that two-thirds of the businesses affected by Hurricane Harvey didn’t have business interruption coverage. Insurance people can make all sorts of excuses, but somehow, thousands of owners didn’t understand its value. This is as much of a disaster as the destruction caused by wind and water. If agents say, “I recommended business interruption coverage, but my clients didn’t want to spend the money,” it’s cause for suspecting that a lot of agents weren’t doing a very good job.
Winning the battle of insurance ignorance won’t happen overnight. But producers should wage war on it, thoughtfully, but consistently. It might be helpful to offer periodic Lunch ‘n Learn informational sessions, making sure the sessions are interactive. There will be plenty of questions! And, of course, you can distribute handouts or send them electronically.
Even so, here’s what to avoid: First, stay away from insurance jargon. It’s deadly, so put insurance terminology in everyday language. Second, leave your sales hat at the office. If you don’t, you will be in trouble.
Work to improve protection and drive insurance costs down
Believe it or not, but there are agents who believe their primary job is selling insurance. Sure, that’s one definition of producer. Producing results for clients is another one worth pursuing since that’s what clients expect. More importantly, it’s what they hope they’re getting. When the low price the agent gave them starts going up, discontent sets in.
If producers want to retain accounts, then actively managing them is essential so clients pay the lowest cost for the appropriate coverages. Here are a few examples:
Loss avoidance. Savvy agents don’t just tell clients that the insurance company’s loss control specialist will make a visit to conduct a loss control survey. They keep their eyes open for “claim prone” problems and situations that need attention. And when the insurance company sends a loss control report, these agents review it with their clients and follow through with them on any necessary remediation.
Reduce workers’ compensation costs. Since workers’ comp can be a huge expense for many companies, it behooves producers to do everything possible to help clients avoid employee injuries and pay close attention to medical expenses. Employers need to recognize that workers’ comp isn’t insurance in the traditional sense; rather, their premiums are, in effect, loans from the insurance company that they pay back with interest.”
Consulting. Those who manage businesses are often so absorbed with solving problems and so close to the operation that they don’t have time to look for beneficial improvements. And that’s where an agent can help. In working with clients, they may see employees using stand-up desks, come across particular safety gear, or discover an interesting employee recognition program. Why not share the information? It’s a way of saying, “I care about your business.”
As difficult and demanding as it may be, this is the task of professional insurance agents, those who are committed to serving their clients’ best interests. Besides, this is exactly what clients want to believe they are receiving from their agent.
Now, if you think all this is too much to ask of a producer, that it takes time away from selling, you may be correct. Even so, those who believe in what they’re doing and are clear as to why they’re doing it seem to have the time available.
John Graham is the co-owner of GrahamComm, a marketing services and sales consulting firm specializing in the insurance industry. The firm’s unique “Magnet Marketing” strategy is designed to attract and hold customers. His articles on marketing, sales and business trends can be found on his website, johnrgraham.com, and his free monthly eBulletin, “No Nonsense Marketing and Sales Ideas,” is also available there. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.