“The only thing my clients and prospects are interested in is the cheapest price.”
Certainly this is the most common complaint insurance agents express during soft markets and/or a down economy. And if the agent joins in on this price frenzy, he or she looks and sounds like every other producer. There must be a better way.
Yes, there is! If you don’t want to be viewed like every other peddler – don’t act like one. Instead, set yourself apart, do and offer the extras that make buyers want to hear more – from you. In other words, if you want to be viewed differently, act differently…and in a way that demonstrates to your clients and prospects that there is something in the relationship for them.
Unfortunately the insurance-buying public has been conditioned by other producers (peddlers) and advertising to view insurance as a commodity. If you aren’t truly different, then the only differentiator left is price. The key is to demonstrate your differences in a way that attracts client and prospect attention and opens their minds to something other than price early in the sales process.
The following are six proven ways for you to differentiate yourself:
1. Live your primary purpose every day.
Ask yourself, “What do I do for a living?” If your answer is some variation of “I sell insurance,” you are selling yourself short, and you’re wrong. Consider the broader view; you work to save lives, prevent injury and illness, and help others avoid financial hardship. As a risk management advisor, you provide recommendations that reimburse insureds for losses and prevent losses from occurring in the first place. These losses include everything from lives and health to property and money. View yourself in this reality and express your role in this way during and after the sales process.
2. Demonstrate your capabilities in advance.
Assuming you are prepared to offer some level of value-added services to your clients after the sale, why not invite prospects to experience some of these services before the sale. In other words, demonstrate ahead of time what makes you different as you carry out your primary purpose every day.
3. Ask the right questions.
Most producers are comfortable asking questions that lead to coverage recommendations. When you approach a prospect or are seeking a renewal opportunity, is your focus on policy and price? Do all your questions relate to coverage and gaps? If so, your questions are the same ones every other peddler asks. Here is your chance to really stand out. Ask questions during the assessment process that focus on the wants and needs of the buyer. Ask questions such as: Where do you see your business being five years from now? Will your business be growing or contracting? Does your HR manual cover interviewing do’s and don’ts? Do you have a disaster recovery plan? Will you be adding to your family, taking a vacation, buying a time-share, or sending a son or daughter to college? Will you be volunteering or serving on a not-for-profit board? These types of questions signal your interest in more than selling a policy.
4. Become an expert.
One way to stand out from the crowd is to become an expert at something. The more you specialize in a particular industry, a coverage, geography, and/or risk management technique, the more you learn about the risks inherent in that specialty. The more you can help your clients protect themselves from those risks. Learn what risks are prevalent in your territory and what risk management techniques work.
5. Include a value added service plan/calendar in all proposals.
If you are at first skilled at asking the right questions, you are in a perfect position to suggest a series of value added service activities your clients can use and benefit from throughout the year. Create a value added service menu that reflects all you, your agency, and your carrier partners have to offer and then ask questions to determine which of these services will make a difference. Not all buyers will need, want, or deserve every service. When you customize your plan and lay it out in a calendar for the policy year, you demonstrate how different you are.
6. Surprise your clients.
Perhaps the easiest way to stand out from the crowd and to prevent others from penetrating your client base during the “hunting season” is to surprise your clients. Pay attention to the news and send an e-mail or, better still, a hand written note when something happens that affects your client. Create a clipping file on topics of interest to your clients. In short, routinely do something that demonstrates you are carrying out your primary purpose and thinking about the client throughout the year, not just when their renewal is due.
Selecting some or preferably all of these approaches will make your job more rewarding, your impact more noticeable, and your bank account more satisfying.