The new year is a great time to focus on how best to meet the insurance needs of your current and potential clients.
Here are 6 insights that are sure to give your sales a boost:
1. Understand why clients complain.
Some agents may unwittingly create conditions that result in client complaints, either directly or on social media. It can come as a surprise. “I just don’t understand it,” one agent said. “I thought we had a good relationship.”
Winning an account is a form of courtship. It’s a time when agents are particularly attentive, wanting their prospects to feel special. Then comes the hand-off to an account manager. “Betsy is the best,” the agent says. “You’ll really like her. But if you ever need anything, just text me.”
How does the hand off make some clients feel? Let down, rejected, ignored. This can cause pain that’s not unlike physical pain, according to UCLA psychologist Dr. Naomi Eisenberger. Her research indicates that the source of both physical and mental pain is in the same centers of the brain. Complaining can be a way of relieving the pain.
2. Figure out how clients think.
Whether it’s a modest home or a high-value one, owners are proud of it. It’s theirs. Translated, this means they want the personal attention that comes from an insurance agent going through it. If the agent says, “I’ll drive by” or “We know the neighborhood,” it can be disappointing. Small business owners are no different.
While efficiency says it may not be necessary to tour a home or small business, it can be short-sighted if an agent wants to build a lasting relationship. It’s also the way to learn more about new customers, as well as help with loss control, and a way to let a client know you care.
The savvy agent recognizes the importance of understanding how clients think, particularly in terms of what has significance for them.
3. Be aware of why clients leave.
Getting the news of being “fired” by a client, often comes surprise to agents. “I sure didn’t see that coming,” the agent says. “As far as I know everything was OK.” If agents contact the former client to find out what happened, they are given the usual reason, “We got a better price.”
When an account walks, price may be the trigger, but not the cause. Chances are that some type of discontent was brewing with the client and another agent appeared and asked, “May I give you a quote?” With a copy of the declaration page in hand, it was easy for the agent to come up with better coverage at a lower price.
In reality, the client was thinking, “I pay all this money and what am I getting for it?” Here’s the message: With an intangible such an insurance, the only value is perceived value. Clients don’t think about insurance; it’s out of mind. The agent’s role is to vivify insurance — to bring it to life and to reinforce its value. Not once, but consistently.
Before going after referrals, demonstrate that selecting you was a good business decision by performing in the client’s best interest. (Photo: iStock)
4. Know when to ask for referrals.
Even though referrals can play a key role in helping agents gain credibility with prospects, deciding when to ask for them is a strategic decision. Unfortunately, agents can make the mistake of asking for referrals at the wrong time — just after winning the account.
Think about it. During the selling process, the agent’s attention is on ways to get the account, such as improving coverage, closing gaps, and reducing insurance costs. Then, when the sale is locked up, the agent turns the spotlight on himself by asking for referrals. That may not sit well with a new client.
There’s a better time. Before going after referrals, demonstrate that selecting you was a good business decision by performing in the client’s best interest. When an agent does this, it’s time to spend the “capital” you built up and ask for referrals.
5. Recognize when clients are ready to buy.
Just because you want to be a prospect’s insurance agent and make a compelling presentation doesn’t mean the prospect will change — even if they are less than satisfied with their current agent.
Why is it that so many people have trouble making decisions, even those that can benefit from them? Researchers Jeffrey Quinn and Wendy Wood at Duke University found that regardless of age, “47% of behaviors reported in participants’ diaries…were classified as habits given that they were performed every day and just about in the same location.”
In other words, the old saying that we are creatures of habit is correct. Making changes doesn’t come easily, including insurance agents. This is why the continued cultivation of prospects is essential. Just because they say no, it doesn’t mean never.
6. Give clients what they expect.
No matter who they are, they expect an agent to take initiative, be responsive, and understand what they want. In a recent panel discussion on the future of the grocery store, Scott McClelland of the San Antonio-based H-E-B Grocery Company summarized the issue in six words: “Never underestimate the demand for convenience.”
It’s these same words that drive Amazon’s unequalled success. They are the reason why it has tens of millions of customers who pay the company an annual fee to get free delivery and other perks.
It’s important to understand that an insurance agent’s major competitors aren’t other agents. It’s Amazon and it sets the bar for your clients.
John Graham of GrahamComm is a marketing and sales strategy consultant and business writer. He is the creator of “Magnet Marketing,” and publishes a free monthly eBulletin, “No Nonsense Marketing & Sales Ideas.” Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 617-774-9759 or johnrgraham.com.