ACG - Agency Consulting Group

The PIPELINE

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

Protecting Assets vs. Selling Insurance

Most of us have become very good at the Quote/Sell model of sales. We have one real tool in this model: We tempt the prospect with a “free quote.” We offer to compare his coverage with ours. We tell him we “might” be able to save him some money. We ask him, “What do you have to lose?”

We’re not selling insurance – we’re selling quotes! And since those quotes are FREE, we should be grateful that more prospects don’t take us up on our offer. Dedicated agents spend evenings and weekends preparing submissions for accounts that have only the slightest glimmer of potential to actually write. Larger agencies staff a department with marketers whose only role is to submit quotes to the various underwriters for new business and for renewals.

The quotes are submitted to the underwriters who are paid with the expectation of writing new business and underwriting existing business to both growth and profit. But how many times do we submit applications to block the markets against our competitors. Some agents even tell the underwriters, assuming that they will be understanding enough, not to accept the account from other agents - even though they won’t get this one.

The company underwriting management agonizes over low closing rates. They understand the agents are playing a numbers game, but they do not want the underwriters spending the bulk of their time giving comparison quotes. The more submissions we throw against the wall the more we hope will “stick.” But Companies count wasted quotes as drains on their human assets and profits. Companies don’t want to quote. Companies want to write insurance.

The ASSET PROTECTION MODEL of Relationship Selling stops the quote machine completely.

If we concentrate on protecting our clients’ assets instead of trying to sell as many quotes as we can, we would be much more productive in the accounts that we convert to customers. Insurance counselors should be trained AGAINST quoting. If a prospect understands that the insurance products are generally priced the same, the difference to the prospect is in the program that the agent presents or in the range of services and products that agent can provide that the incumbent agent could not. Presuming that prospects have been treated well by their incumbent, and that they have a good, comprehensive insurance program already, our opportunity to obtain them as a client depends on the presentation of real value-added services.

By providing these services and products ahead of acquiring the client, you actually prove your worth instead of just claiming to be a better servicer than their current agent. Once the client understands your value, HE will ask YOU to take over his insurance program. When he asks, “Why haven’t you asked for my insurance?” that is the point at which you can assume control over the client – not before.

When that question arises, your answer should be, “I know that you are probably friends with and value your current agent. Instead of claiming to be different than your current agent, I had to prove myself different. We would love to be your agent, but not before you saw the value in our services in excess of the excellent insurance coverage and pricing that we will always attempt to solicit for you, as has your current agent. If we have proven our value to you, I would love to take over your insurance program.”

Protecting assets defines the process of analyzing the risk categories of each client and evaluating their current insurance products. If their current products are adequate, we tell them exactly that fact. If not, we tell the prospect what needs to be changed. Of course we are available to write their insurance, but we realize that they may have close ties to their current agents and carriers and our goal is not to SELL insurance, it is to make sure they are properly protected.

We have found that the likelihood of becoming the client’s insurance counselor is increased by conducting a series of analyses of risk factors around the prospects personal, commercial, life, health and other insurable as well as uninsurable asset risks. The approach separates your activity so that you don’t look like just another salesman to the client. The end result will be the conversion of many more prospects into clients as each realizes your value exceeds that of their current agent.

The key to the Asset Protection Model is to prove the differentiation that every agent claims is the reason the prospect should use his services instead of the incumbent’s. Some of this proof involves the analysis of risk in the insurance products that the agency already has available and that you have a high level of expertise. Other proof comes from presenting services and products that their current agent has never offered because they lack the content to accomplish those services.

Too many insurance clients have been bombarded with “unique” and “different” types of agents who turn out to be just like the agents the client left. Prove yourself before you take a client and your prospects will be asking you to assume control of their insurance programs and will remain with you for life.