Special thanks to Dan Weedin for contributing today’s article. Learn more about Mr. Weedin in his bio below this article.
I’ve been working closely with insurance agents as a coach and mentor for the past 8 ½ years and one thing is clear to me.
Agents and brokers are leaving money and clients on the table because they fall victim to 7 insidious myths and monsters that lurk in the bushes.
These monsters have always been hanging around (even when I was selling insurance), yet like zombies, they can change and morph with time and technology (zombies do that, right?).
While there are many snares and traps waiting to upend agents, I’ve got my Top 7 Myths and Monsters that need to be avoided to attain your maximum success. Let’s be candid, however. Really good agents are often tripped up by these monsters. Successful agents with bountiful books of business get blindsided. No one is immune. The problem with veteran agents making a nice living is that they can fall into the “success trap.” That is worse than all these monsters combined. The success trap keeps agents comfortable and thinking they don’t need to grow, learn, or change. When you’re in the success trap, you are more likely to buy in and live in these myths forever, and that’s where you waste talent and lose opportunity.
Identifying these myths and monsters will help you stay out of the success trap and on the road to boundless success. Let’s take a closer look at each one:
Myth #1 – A Phone Conversation is a Meeting
Meetings are face-to-face. Phone conversations have become the easy out for agents that don’t want to get in their car and meet someone. Phone calls should be the vehicles to setting meetings with both prospects and clients. Cold calling and dialing for dollars is dumb. There are many more creative ways to become an object of interest for prospects and an indispensable team player for clients. To accomplish this, you need to go from 2-dimensional (phone) to 3-dimensional (in person).
Use phone calls to schedule meetings, gain clarification, gauge early interest, and provide customer service. While it’s humanly possible to sell business over the phone, your better and more profitable business needs that human touch.
Myth #2 – Updating Your Social Media Profile is Marketing
Social media is a legitimate platform to help build your brand. However, too many agents have become enamored by it and consider its use to be a key avenue for revenue. Wrong. It’s doubtful your clients are spending much time on your profile page deciding if you’re the guy or gal to help them with their insurance needs. They are more likely to believe in goofy characters created by advertising agencies to raise awareness on television.
Don’t spend more than 30 minutes a day on social media. Do keep it current. Do use it to write articles; post videos; offer unique value; and create a brand name. That can all be done with regular maintenance that takes less than 30 minutes a day. But never get caught in the erroneous thinking that social media will catapult you to insurance sales success because you posted a picture of your winning smile next to your agency office.
Myth #3 – You Gain Sales From Your Insurance Smarts
This is a BIG monster. I constantly hear from my clients when I ask them their value proposition that they are the best choice because of their industry knowledge. Blah! You may have 100 acronyms after your name and may be the leading expert in construction insurance (along with a gazillion other agents), but none of that is the primary factor for a prospect choosing you as their agent.
Get ready to highlight this…you gain new clients because they trust and like you. They get to this point through strong referrals from people they trust; your ability to show up on time; your ability to return calls and emails quickly; and your skill in asking questions about them. They don’t need you to be the smartest insurance person on the planet. They require that you are competent in insurance and outstanding in being accessible and prompt.
The quickest way to gain credibility in these areas is through referrals. If their friend or colleague thinks your great, then you probably are. Don’t try to dazzle people with your insurance perspicacity. Rather, dazzle them by calling them back.
Bonus: Contrary to popular belief, people that buy insurance of any kind are more impressed with your dexterity in listening to them than by being able to define coinsurance. In order to be truly “likeable,” your prospect needs to trust that you will always have their best interest at heart. Agents out just for the sale can’t fake that.
Myth #4 – Your Competition Isn’t Damaged
This perception never ceases to amaze me. While agents may deny it, I hear and see evidence of it all the time. One example always insinuates itself through in the platitude of “customer service.” Insurance agents are prone to proclaim that theirs is the best ever. It’s usually not the case. The truth is that insurance agencies as a whole are decent at customer service. Just because you are being given the opportunity to offer a proposal, doesn’t mean the other agent stinks at their job.
You may feel you offer a better alternative than your competition. That’s fine, you should. But being lulled into a sense that your competitor has made errors on the policy or in service is a big mistake.
Myth #5 – You Can Sell Insurance from Your Chair
Technology is a cool thing. It also is a temptress that charms you into thinking you can spend your time at your desk and still be wildly successful. I’ve seen this most often with veteran agents that have a nice book of business. “I’ve got to take care of my clients.” “I’ve got to work the renewals.” “I can use technology to reach new prospects.” There is also a false sense that this is the preferred method that prospects want to be reached. While I don’t advocate certain interruption marketing tactics, there are creative and ingenious ways to meet new people. All of them involve being away from the office. These include lunch and coffee meetings with clients and referral sources; attending trade shows and networking events; and being an active member of the community.
Don’t get caught sitting at your desk. There are monsters hiding underneath!
Myth #6 – Your Prospects Are Interested in You
Insurance isn’t the sexiest topic. That’s why insurance companies spend billions of dollars trying to bring humor and silliness to their advertisements. You have to bring more to the table than a low premium and “great customer service.” You must first determine how to become an object of interest. Find out how you can bring the most value and return on investment.
Most importantly, you need to remember that logic makes people think, emotion make people act. Insurance agents are commonly big on logic and light on emotions. Life insurance agents are better than most on creating an emotional reaction. All agents, regardless of their line of expertise, must create something other than the specter of doom and gloom. That’s no fun. In order to become “interesting,” you need to be of value and create an emotional response. Doing that is time well spent in your marketing efforts.
Myth #7 – Your Clients Won’t Leave Because They Like You
Gone are the days of the good old boy network. Just because you take your clients deep-sea fishing or provide tickets to the big game doesn’t mean they will continue to give you their business if you don’t do your job. The monster in the room is that being liked is what relationship building is all about. That you’ve achieved a great relationship by being “buddies.” I fell into that trap as an agent, so I know it’s real.
Business relationships are built on candor, trust, and tough love. You should be able to challenge, provoke, and be vulnerable. Clients are looking for someone that will always look out for them, even if the message hurts. Basing a business relationship on being pals used to be the norm. Now it is the exception. Don’t fall into thinking you can’t be replaced because your client doesn’t want to miss out on that trip to Mexico on you. Being a “buddy” is dangerous to your book of business. Strive to be a trusted partner and advisor.
Bottom line – It’s easy to fall into a success trap in the middle of your career. It’s easy to try too hard and believe bad information when you’re just getting started. These 7 Myths and Monsters do exist and will keep you from reaching your full potential. Exorcising them from your thinking will allow you to make the most of your opportunities and “insure your success.”
Dan Weedin, CIC, CRM is a coach, mentor, and author of a new book, Insuring Success: An Insurance Professionals Guide to Increased Sales, a More Rewarding Career, and an Enriched Life. He helps insurance professionals maximize their talents and enrich their lives. You can learn more at DanWeedin.com