If you have ever gone hiking in one of our national parks, you have two options to find your way: You can ask for directions or you can seek a path that will allow you to maximize all of the beauty of the park.
The processes may appear to be the same, but they are not.
Seeking a path is more involved, more encompassing, and uses multiple sources of information. Seeking a path requires a process to inform and educate you about the park. The same is true with new business production.
As a producer, instead of asking for new business, start seeking it.
Here are a few ways you can become a better seeker of new business:
1. Be an insurance educator
A seeker shares with the prospect knowledge and ideas about coverages and enhances the prospect’s insurance portfolio.
On the other hand, an asker copies coverage quotes the same way that expiring policies were written, which causes two negatives.
First, you are verifying the other agent’s ability and insurance program by using what was already offered. Second, by offering the same terms and conditions, you most likely will win the account based on price alone. Remember the old adage, win this year by price and lose next year to another by price.
2. Go to new areas
Where are some areas to go to seek? Here are some places for production opportunities:
- Investigate various trade associations that may be headquartered in your area or that meet in your production zone. Become involved in a local, state or national association. Join as an associate member. Attend their meetings, outings and trade shows. Offer to speak on insurance topics at their meetings.
- Seek prospects in your circle of success, which is an area around accounts you have written. These prospects are most likely familiar with your new account. Use that success as a point of introduction.
- Seek via certificates. Use certificates of insurance your accounts obtain as a source of solicitation. Certificates are full of information regarding the carrier and expiration dates. The entity that is supplying the certificate will often welcome your assistance as you have proven yourself to their customer. In addition to seeking a new account, you will be doing a service for your client by reviewing coverages of those who work for them.
- Seek neighbors. Located right around your office is a pool of prospects. Have you ever aggressively sought them out? The convenience of your nearby operation is often exciting to prospects. Your hit ratios for these geographically located prospects increase dramatically.
- Seek from industry databases. There are all types of data bases available for you to access. In New Jersey for example, workers’ compensation information is available on every risk to those who subscribe to the rating bureau. This specific database lists expiration dates, experience modification information and the current carrier.
- Seek your existing client’s distributors and suppliers. There are companies that frequently do business with your clients. Review your clients’ invoices they receive from others to identify this pool of prospects. Use your client as a reference. Dealing with those who deal with your clients often softens your first appointment.
A consistent sales approach includes follow-ups, in-person visits and standard proposals. (Photo: iStock)
Consistency in action
Be consistent with your sales activities. Follow the same course of action for each opportunity regardless of size or complexity.
Consistency in action comes in many forms:
- For each opportunity after the initial contact is made, you should follow up with a post-visitation letter. This should thank the prospect for his or her time, summarize the keys points that were discussed and outline the next steps
- During the quotation process, make additional visits to the prospect’s workplace or jobsite. This will assist to establish rapport with the potential buyer. A seeker during the sales process is very visible.
- Use your own standard proposal that can be expanded as the account complexity increases. Having a standard proposal template allows the preparation to be completed easily. Even with the smaller accounts, avoid using the insurance company prepared proposals. Separate yourself from askers and other competitors by using your own unique proposal.
- Personally deliver all new business polices. This way you can verify with your new client that the policies are correct and complete. Take this opportunity to introduce the agency service team, so that you will be free to seek more and service less.
Having a consistent sales approach produces positive results. Start developing your sales activities into a consistent pattern, through which repetition becomes a habit. Remember, asking for a new account is only a small part of the seeking process. Increase your activity and become a seeker for new business. Making this transition will expand your sales efforts and result.
James Dougherty, CIC, works at the Allwood Forlenza Agency in Clifton, N.J.
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