ACG - Agency Consulting Group

The PIPELINE

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

Shepherding Clients

Moving Clients from Product to Product and Soliciting Referrals

Many agencies are becoming Relationship Sellers by utilizing all of the features of our Asset Protection Model of sales. They are educating themselves out of the Quote/Sale Model by developing relationships with their prospects, providing service before the sale and by protecting their assets instead of selling them insurance.

One of the integral parts of the APM can stand alone, whether or not you use Relationship Selling --- Shepherding Clients.

A shepherd moves his flock from pasture to pasture to assure that they have good feeding and watering areas. They know that the flock would remain in one place eating all of the available vegetation and would lack sustenance after a short time. In order to accommodate the needs of the flock, the shepherd must be responsible for providing them the full range of feeding and watering locations.

While insurance clients are certainly not like sheep in most respects, they may not know what insurance devices they need to properly protect their assets. And they do not know what forms of insurance you have available if you don’t tell them.

How many clients do you have that only have an auto policy or a homeowner’s policy or a package policy with you? Do you actually believe that this exposure is the only insurable risk that they have? Do you even think that the policy they have with your agency is the only form of insurance that they have in their possession?

In the Asset Protection Model, once an asset category is analyzed, whether or not a product is sold to a prospect or a client, it is mandatory that the relationship manager offers to either analyze another category of asset risk or introduce the client or prospect to the right insurance professional within the organization. This means that if we have determined the client’s risk for his auto insurance needs, we must then analyze his need for property insurance. One after another, we will act as his insurance consultant to analyze every asset risk that the client has as an individual, family or business owner until the client is exposed to all forms of risk management services we have available.

We are “shepherding” the client from one asset risk form to another to assure ourselves that either he has the proper coverage to protect his assets, or that he knows where he is vulnerable and has chosen not to properly cover that risk at this time.

Soliciting Referrals is one of the least used marketing tools in our industry. For some reason producers and service staff alike feel that asking for referrals is like asking for handouts.

But why? Aren’t we proud of the service we have provided for our clients? Why wouldn’t we want to offer that same level of service to his friends and associates? And who better to recommend us than the client who we have already won and is our friend?

The 3-Hook Approach

Whenever we have done a good job informing and providing coverage for a client or prospect, we should ask him if he is happy with our level of service before we leave the table.

If he is not, then stop and find out what we can do better and commit to that action. However, if the client is happy with our service, ask the second question, “Would you mind if we used your name as a reference to new clients who would like feedback about how we serve our clients differently than other agents?” Assure the client that you will not abuse them as a reference and will always ask them first. Most clients are flattered that we would consider using them as reference points and will agree.

At that point, provide the last remark that will earn you new referrals – “Most of our new clients actually come from referrals from our existing clients. Could you give me the name of one or two of your friends (business associates) that we could contact using you as a reference?”

Our experience is that you obtain referrals 50% of the time when asking existing clients these three questions once each year. Divide your client base by two and tell me if you couldn’t use that number of new clients next year without cold calling?

An agency that embraces the “shepherding” concept has a marked advantage over the competition. The agency’s clients constantly provide internally generated opportunities because you offer all of your asset protection devices. Then, on an annual basis, each client also provides referrals for new prospects. You will find that the loss of existing clients is minimized because of the increased service your agency offers, and you will always have your “sales funnel” filled with referrals and warm leads.