Doing short-term needs analysis and providing short-term solutions
The average rate of client advocacy is low in many industries and the insurance broking industry is no different. Clients can come to realize in the first few years that their arrangements are not right for them in the long term (or their situation changes). Unfortunately, this can create doubt about the value/worth of the original broker and many clients ‘walk’ as a consequence. Brokers should understand the short- and long-term goals of each client to ensure that they can provide the best structure at the outset and for the future. They should also ensure that the client understands that if their circumstances change, they should meet with their broker to discuss new strategies.
Not educating clients that you're selling relationships and advice, rahter than transactions
Most clients contact a broker because they’ve decided they need to examine their insurance needs. Brokers don’t really need to ‘sell’ product; the client has already bought into that. Clients will often only focus on what they need now and not even think about what brokers really do. The broker’s job is to fully understand their clients’ needs, provide advice where appropriate, and educate their client on how they will assist them with insurance for the long term. I hear some brokers tell their clients that they are their ‘personal broker’ – which hopefully means that the client will turn to the broker first when they next want to insure.
Only meeting client needs rather than exceeding them
Experienced brokers are often guilty of just doing enough to complete the transaction and not finding a way to do the 1% extra. Client satisfaction comes from needs being met; client loyalty begins when client expectations are exceeded. Top performers will often check to make sure that they over-deliver to every client.
Expecting the prospect/client to do the work for you
Sending a detailed needs analysis to a prospect who doesn’t know you and expecting them to complete it is not a good way to engage with them. Firstly, some people will not be willing to complete it due to the personal nature of the questions, while others won’t have the information required at their disposal. Most brokers’ value propositions are about saving clients time and money. Brokers should make it easy for people to do business with them. Have someone help the client complete the fact find and you will more likely have a very pleased client who is willing to recommend your services.
Sending a high-level fact find to identify the client and to ensure that they are a serious buyer is fine – but not using a 10-plus page questionnaire.
Not having a system or process to follow at the point of sale or beyond it
‘Winging it’ is never a good presentation plan. Salespeople need to be professional communicators who can articulate their message clearly. Many brokers turn up to client appointments and ask ‘how can I help?’ and make it up from there. Take control of future meetings by setting the agenda and keep clients on track with what you are doing. You are the one being paid for this meeting, therefore you should control it.
Great salespeople have anecdotes to back up their experience and to sell their knowledge. Top performing salespeople have a sales presentation plan and structure that they follow and have the ability to adjust it to the differing personality styles of their prospects.
Keep a record of the questions that you need to ask each client. Prepare to deliver your key messages (eg, your value proposition, your personal experience, your referral program) and anticipate any unasked questions.
No urgency to perform
One of the things that brokers can do to outperform the competition is to provide a truly personal service to each client and referrer. The energy and enthusiasm of the salesperson are the things that the client will remember well beyond the premium rate. Quickly reacting to client needs (and anticipating them) is a great way to demonstrate your care and commitment to them.
Set yourself a benchmark to respond to all client inquiries in less than an hour on average. Answer all inbound calls where possible. These are the little details that clients will remember.
Not managing client expectations
One of the things that clients get annoyed/frustrated or confused about is ‘not knowing what’s happening with their policy/claim’. Brokers are engaged in this work all the time, whereas clients tackle this a few times in their lives. As this is a really important process for the client and is a stressful time, the least the broker can do is to keep them informed about what is happening.
It’s important to provide clients with a flow chart on how things will progress in taking out a policy or making a claim. It’s also important to stay in contact with the client directly (by phone or email). In the early stages, it will pay dividends to call the client almost every day to let them know what is happening, to explain the next steps, and to ask this question: ‘when would you like to hear from me again?’
The inability to sell yourself and referral program
If you rely on repeat and referral business from clients, it is critical that you tell your clients about this. I’m always staggered by the number of brokers who ‘hope’ for referrals and recommendations rather than being direct about it.
Tell your clients why you are going to do the best you can for them and tell them how you generate business (ie, client referrals). Don’t ask for specific names of people that you can call but make sure they know how to repay you for your great service!
This is a slightly amended version of an article written by Doug Mathlin. It has been shortened to make it suitable for web publishing.
Doug Mathlin explores how avoiding common missteps can boost sales and energize your business.