ACG - Agency Consulting Group

The PIPELINE

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

Installment Sales Are Back - New Law Change

Here It Is !!

You will never need another marketing tool !!

The latest and greatest marketing tool available to the insurance industry!

Guaranteed to make any producer following it successful for the rest of his/her career!

Start the New Year with a New Marketing Attitude!

What would you say if I told you that the greatest benefit of all of the sales and marketing books that you have diligently collected and read (at least the first 15 pages of each) and the seemingly weekly release of new marketing programs -- is the enrichment of the authors? All of these NEW, REVOLUTIONARY sales and marketing methods espoused in seminars and in books are either USELESS, or are a repetition of the same sales and marketing tool that made the careers of every successful salesman in the U.S. marketplace in the last 100 years? The authors and speakers who are legitimate are re-packaging the same tools in a manner that they hope will be more palatable to you, the audience.

Why do the unsuccessful marketers constantly seek the ‘Holy Grail” of sales and marketing when the answer has always been well within reach? I assume that the fads in the sales and marketing profession are the ‘divining rods’ and tarot cards of our industry. Everyone seeks a shortcut to success, not wanting to invest in the hard work that has been the markers of that success for thousands of salespeople that preceded them. “There MUST be a better way” should really be read as “There MUST be an easier way.”

Well, I have bad news and good news.

The bad news is that, for the insurance industry, there is no new, improved, better way of getting customers. There simply is NO easier way to sell than the one that has made our predecessors successful.

The good news is that the success factors for getting new customers in the insurance industry is neither complicated nor difficult. It just takes a disciplined, regular process no different from the disciplined and regular process to weight loss and leading a healthy lifestyle.

Here are the Golden Rules of Sales:

1. Be Prepared – Most prospective clients can sense whether you are prepared for your visit or not. When a prospect agrees to see you, your next step should be to find out all you can about him. Researching companies, especially closely held companies, can come from as banal a publication as the telephone directory. A display ad often tells you quite a bit about the prospect and his business. Another method that works more often than not is to simply phone the prospect and ask a service or sales representative to describe their products and services. Competitors and your prospect’s clients also make excellent sources of information, if they are available to you. Obviously, many more access paths are available if the prospect is a publicly held company.

Your goal is to be prepared by being as knowledgeable as possible about the prospect, not just about your products and services. The prospect cares about his products and services more than he does about yours.

2. Make Friends—Make prospects interested in YOU, not in your product or service. Your insurance products are not dramatically different from those of your competitors. You may be better than some (and worse than others) in the services you provide your clients. People trust friends. When you have sales opportunities, concentrate on the prospect, identify what traits you have that would make him your friend, and concentrate on the task of making him a friend.

3. Build Relationships. Friendships mature as relationships develop. Once a prospect likes you, the opportunity for building a business relationship evolves. The business relationship convinces the prospect that not only are you a genuine and nice person (one to be trusted), but that you have his best interests at heart and can help him identify his insurance needs and resolve any problems that may arise.

4. Contact customers and prospects often. Retailers make one sale at a time at their cash registers. These sales are customer driven. If retailers can’t drive customers in their doors, no sales are made. Insurance should not be treated like the retail sales industry. If you wait for that insurance customer to call you with a “need”, you had better have as much money as GEICO or State Farm to get customers to your door when they perceive a need – of you had better have hobbies to occupy all the free time you will have while waiting for customers to come to you. Once you have an initial friendship or an evolving relationship, the only way to make that relationship fruitful is by renewing the relationship on a regular basis until the comfort level is such that a business relationship becomes a natural result. Whenever you hear a prospect say, “Why aren’t you handling my insurance?” you know that the relationship has matured sufficiently to bring products and services into the mix.

5. Ask existing and new customers for referrals. Testimonials and referrals have always been (and will continue to be) the best way to be introduced to new customers in an industry where they have no evidence of your competence before working with you and your organization. The insurance industry has spent fifteen years training the commercial customer that either his or a new broker can always get a ‘better deal’ from the insurance companies. Rules 1 – 4, above are designed to build a trust relationship that convinces the client that you are Competent, Caring and Customer oriented. Those 3 C’s convince customers that you will design an insurance program in as comprehensive and cost-effective manner as possible.

6. Personally visit no less than five (ten is better) people who you do NOT insure every week. Of course you must visit existing clients, as well. However, the point remains that agency growth stems from an expanding client base. Rules 1 – 5 will cement current customer relationships. But if you don’t use those relationships to develop new prospects, it’s like throwing away diamonds because you are prospecting for gold. If you visit new prospects every week, the activity, itself, energizes you as a producer. And, in fact, that energy level transfers into your attitude and makes you achieve more sales through a positive mental attitude.

The producers who aim at “home runs”, conversion of a few large accounts each year, live on the edge and experience ‘feast-and-famine” periods consistently through their careers. Producers who follow these ‘Golden Rules of Sales’ do hit ‘home runs’. But they build their success on singles and doubles. The do the same right things regularly and consistently, confident that the numbers will follow the process. Their attitude is always positive, even when facing rejection. Rejection means one of two things.

1. The prospect is not ‘connecting’ with the producer. A relationship will not be possible and the sales process should be terminated.

2. The producer tried to short-cut the process and did not make friends and build relationships before introducing the product and services available to the prospect.

So the next time you see fabulous new books designed to make you a better salesperson, or get an offer to attend a seminar that will show you “The Way”, by all means buy the book and attend the seminar. Your desire to enhance your sales technique is both laudable and reflects insecurity in the methods you are currently employing in your sales efforts. But analyze the book or seminar with the Golden Rules in your pocket. Does the book or seminar offer a different perspective on the Rules? Is the book or seminar trying to “Sell” you a sales tool that seems to be too good to be true? A great many peddlers in the 19th Century U.S. made their fortunes selling bottled ‘cures’ to citizens seeking a new way of easing their pain.

The best producer I know answered my question about continuing sales education by telling me he was too busy selling to either read more books or attend seminars. His attitude was that if it wasn’t broken, why try to fix it? He evolved an understanding of the Golden Rules by trial and error and was shocked when he found out that others had been using them for years already.