ACG - Agency Consulting Group

The PIPELINE

A national monthly newsletter for agency principals dedicated to agency management topic

Arrows in The Quiver

When approaching prospects, we will only make an impact if we can reflect ourselves as different from his current insurance agent and company.

Every salesperson needs points of differentiation, or Arrows in his Quiver, with which to target the client as needed during a conversation or visit.

Here are some "Arrows in your Quiver" that you can use to point out that you are not "just another insurance agent". But be careful! Don't misrepresent yourself. If you do not perform to these standards, you may not use them - the customer will expect them from you if you do use them.

1. We don't sell insurance - we solve problems. If we find that the client is properly insured, we will tell him that. - This comment is meant to assuage the common belief that we are all "hard-sell" salespeople. The best skill we have is the skill of Active Listening. If we use it judiciously, the customer will tell us their problems (and, often, the solutions) and we simply need to respond to them.

2. We are a modern, large insurance firm BUT we have made our success by treating our clients in an "old fashioned" way - as friends. We like to know and understand our clients entire insurance portfolio and needs. - This comment addresses the "love them and leave them attitude" of many salespeople. Once the sale is made, the salesperson disappears. Your feeling should be that you care about the client, not about selling the insurance policy. If you can transmit that feeling to the client, by phone or in person, you stand a much better chance of "cracking the shell" and becoming his confidant.

3. We perform our TOTAL INSURANCE ANALYSIS at no cost to the client, identifying every insurance policy he has or needs and identifying any gaps, under-insurance, and over-insurance that may occur. We are a full service agency with specialists in every form of insurance available. We do not insist on the client taking insurance coverage - however our job is to inform the client of his potential financial exposure. - Again, the feeling that you are trying to transmit is that we are holistic and our concern is the protection of our clients. Insurance sales really is secondary! If the client likes you and if you do a good job in the analysis, he will naturally be inclined to use you as his agent.

4. We use at least __ insurance providers and we review every client account each year to determine where their insurance is best placed to provide maximum coverage at a reasonable cost. Those people who have used single company agents or agents with only one or two markets have found that they have no option but to sell the only program that they have available - they have no way to compare and shop to get the best price or coverage. - This comment adds a dimension of size and the attraction of a larger, independent agency as a benefit of dealing with you.

5. We contact our clients, on occasion, during the year to verify that no changes have taken place that could increase their financial risk or that might offer lower cost options to current insurance programs. - Many insurance agents actually do the process of renewal analysis 90 or 120 days prior to a client's expiration. Few actually let the client know what they have done. Too many customers feel that the insurance agent does nothing to remarket and price their coverage once the original sale is made. In this competitive marketplace, an agent who renews "as is" without regard to placement and markets is one who suffers a low customer retention rate. The reason customers shop their insurance is that they don't believe that their agents are doing it for them. This remark (and the implementation of a renewal review program publicized to the client) lets the client know that we are acting on his behalf and performing the tasks for which he has hired us as his agent - every year, not just to write the business for the first time.

6. If claims occur, we respond to the claim on the same day that it is reported to us and we track the claim process to assure that it is handled in a timely fashion. - Most agents quickly report claims. However, a surprising number of agents do no follow up on claims until and unless the client complains that the claim process has gone awry. Remember, the timely and efficient response to claims is the single primary reason that people buy insurance.

Covering these points (and others that you have) with clients is a challenge. You must lead them to the water before they can taste it. Sometimes you must lift the water to their lips because they have tasted bitter water before - they don't know that you offer them sweet water. The actions and reputations of a few agents in our industry has hurt us with many of the insurance buying public.

As a result, we should constantly attempt to get in front of the prospect regardless of their expiration date. If your contact is by phone, achieving these results is still possible, but it is much more difficult than if you are face-to-face with the prospect. Your goal is to make friends, not to sell insurance. Of course, we expect that if we make friends --and if we show our friends that we are insurance experts - and if we show them that we are more concerned with identifying and solving their problems, they will, most likely, buy their insurance from us. Your goal is not to write a policy for a prospect - it is to convert a prospect into a client for ALL lines of insurance.