Irreplaceable You

By Donna Gray | September 18, 2017

When you sell insurance policies like every other agency, how can you stand out from the competition? Be irreplaceable.

It’s simpler than it sounds when you follow three rules. The first is counterintuitive; the second has nothing to do with insurance; and the third is all about insurance:

First, stop selling. Consider your customer list. Can you name each customer’s top three concerns? If you can’t, you may be guilty of using sales calls only as opportunities to upsell, renew or add a product. This approach leaves your client open to any competitor who does nothing more than start a conversation.

Yes, it’s paradoxical, but to boost sales, stop selling so much.

Never open a sales call with a presentation about yourself, your company or what you offer. Instead, start with a question to drive discussion and conversation. “How’s your safety record this year?” “Any concerns about pricing I can address?” Even a very direct, “What do you dread most about discussing insurance with your boss?” A bit of research will help you find the most effective questions to ask based on the company, competition, trends and individual client background.

Yes, it’s paradoxical, but to boost sales, stop selling so much.

This very simple tactic casts you as the person who solves your client’s most pressing issues, which establishes that client as a hero within his or her own organization. When you make your customers’ jobs easier, they will want to keep you as an ally.

Second, to increase your value, offer value-added services. They don’t replace your main product, but they do extend your reach and the perception that you’ve truly thought of everything when it comes to a customer’s peace of mind. Value-added services don’t need to be extensive or take a lot of your own time to deliver. More often than not, the only requirement is a thoughtful gesture to make your customers feel protected. Isn’t that the very essence of any insurance professional’s mission, to provide a sense of protection?

It’s best to develop a few well-planned, value-added services that relate to your customers. Then, find trusted business partners to deliver your suggested offerings. You can build in a referral fee to the partnership if you want to generate additional income, but often, the greatest value comes from the long-term customer loyalty you’ll establish.

Start with your portfolio and niche businesses and craft a suite of value-adds from there. You don’t need to be the expert in any of the services — leave that to your partners — but be certain to vet any organization you select as a partner. Continue regular follow-up with customers to make sure they’re happy with your recommendations. You may want to coordinate service delivery just to stay connected and in-the-loop.

Some value-added services that can bolster your market position:

  • Estate planning services
  • Funeral preplanning
  • Will preparation
  • Videotape or photography services for asset identification
  • Appraisal services
  • Disaster preparation planning list or a discounted price on disaster food kits
  • Tax preparation advice
  • Disaster business plan development
  • Cybersecurity training
  • Wellness programs
  • Defensive driving courses for teens
  • Alarm systems
  • Winterization kits

The list is limited only by your creativity. The goal is to offer a comprehensive program for the categories your customers value most.

Third, earn your professional designation. Investing in your own professional education demonstrates your commitment to serving clients. It shows that you care not only about your ethical and practical insurance knowledge, but also about your promise to customers who put their trust in you.

In the endgame, it will be this trio — forward-thinking sales methods, customer-centric value-added services, and a commitment to your own professional education — that will make you stand out as a leader who goes the extra step for clients. Your product may be replaceable, but you are not.

About Donna Gray

Gray is the executive director of the American Insurance Marketing and Sales (AIMS) Society. Website: www. aimssociety.org.

From This Issue

Insurance Journal West September 18, 2017
September 18, 2017
Insurance Journal West Magazine

Professional Liability Directory; Trucking; Residential Contractors

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