Product complexity. Consumer fear. Industry confusion. No matter what products you sell, all agents face similar challenges when it comes to earning and keeping client trust.
While studies teach us that ethical behavior does matter to consumers and is part of their purchasing decision criteria, many agents are not sure how to make the move from saying they are ethical to proving it.
Because today’s customer is more educated and cautious than ever before, agents must embrace the challenge of walking the ethical walk and being proactive in their approach. But with what can feel like an onslaught of negative consumer preconceptions, what’s an ethical agent to do?
#1: The best defense is a great offense
Many agents make the mistake of avoiding any conversation involving negative media reports or unethical industry stereotypes, so as not to even introduce a pessimistic thought into their prospects’ heads. The strategic agent, however, understands that the suspicious thought already exists, so doing nothing to identify the issue allows the negative preconception to sit there and flourish, all the while potentially guiding your client’s purchasing decision.
Talking openly about a product concern or industry incident creates the opportunity to discuss what makes you and your products different. It also demonstrates your knowledge of the industry and your respect for what your clients deserve.
#2: Combat the ‘fast-talking agent’ stereotype
Remember that, by design, you have two ears and just one mouth. An ethical agent strives to meet the customer’s needs rather than just selling a product. In order to meet those needs with an appropriate sale, however, you have to listen to and understand the individual circumstances of each unique prospect.
Before you launch into a full presentation about what makes your product the best solution available, begin by asking questions and really listening to the answers. Ask your customer about how they perceive insurance products or what their parents raised them to believe about insurance in general. What fears do they have about the types of insurance you offer, and what would be their optimal customer experience involving these products?
Then, as you present the ways in which you believe the insurance product would be helpful, reference the prospect’s experiences shared in the previous conversation and link your product benefits with eradicating those individual misperceptions or concerns.
#3: Create ethical policies and procedures for your practice
Agent ethics are unfortunately not a consumer assumption, and in the absence of an ethical policy, prospects may assume that it doesn’t exist for a reason. Ninety-four percent of respondents to a Harris Survey believe that a life insurance company’s commitment to ethical business practices is important, so demonstrate your commitment to ethics upfront.
Many of the companies you represent or associations you belong to likely have ethical codes of conduct that you can mirror in establishing your own. If not, you can visit www.imsaethics.org to view the Principles of Ethical Market Conduct set by the Insurance Marketplace Standards Association (IMSA). Be sure to go beyond flowery language and really drive home the benefit of your agency’s ethics principles and how they protect your customers.