As I’ve covered in past articles, I’ve spent a lot of time cold-calling, which means I’ve spent lots and lots of time on the phone. When I first started, I spoke very fast, wasn’t confident, and just wanted to give my pitch, then get off the phone. Throughout my various jobs, I picked up 4 skills that led to me having phone calls where the prospects would literally tell me:
“When I call back, I want to speak to you. You’re very pleasant, and I like talking to you.”
Keep in mind, I’m not a real talker. When I go to the party, I’m the guy that likes to find a group I’m already comfortable with, and spend time with them. By implementing these skills, I’m confident that anyone can improve how they come across on the phone. I have these written down near my phone, as a nice reminder every single time I get ready to speak with someone.
Without further adieu...
When I speak to insurance agents about prospecting, creating relationships, and so forth, many of them are self-proclaimed “old-school” agents. They do networking through BNI groups, chambers of commerce, Rotary clubs, in-office visits, and the like. Those are great ideas for networking, and I tell those agents that they should continue those activities in conjunction with a strong online presence.
Most of them simply admit that they don’t really know how to create an online presence, much less use social media effectively. Some feel overwhelmed, and downright afraid. We all know what that’s like:
My parents tell me that they remember placing phone calls by picking up the receiver, upon which an operator would say, “Number please”. They would then say the number - “245J” for example. There were “party lines” in those days, so often neighbors could listen in on the call. For much of my own life, you had to be mindful of long-distance phone charges. For example, our little insurance agency in Perrysburg used to have a $600 per month long-distance bill! (This was on top of our local phone service bill.) But that has all changed for the better.
“Cold calling is dead!” some of you will scream.
Anytime someone in sales mentions cold calls, the eye rolls, and sighs of “this again?” are sure to follow. I’m here to say that cold calling is not dead. I’ve experienced solid growth through cold calling, and I know I’m not the only cold-caller here!
Last Thanksgiving I drove down to Hilton Head and back. I brought a few audio books to pass the time. One of them was Death by Meeting, which sounds like the title of an Agatha Christie mystery. (In fact, I brought one of her stories to listen to, as well.) But this book by Patrick Lencioni is about how to solve the mystery of boring, unproductive meetings.
Whether your insurance office is big or small, you participate in a variety of meetings. Some probably go better than others. Hopefully yours aren't boring, but they can probably be improved.
When I got home from my trip, I was excited to apply the things that I learned in this book - and they instantly changed our meetings for the better! And I'd like to share what we learned, with you.
Insurance Journal released a list of the top 10 insurers in the country based on size last month. You’ll recognize the names.
State Farm leads the way, with $36.5 billion in DWP. Berkshire Hathaway (including Geico) is second at $22.8 billion. Allstate rounds out the top 3 with a respectable $20 billion.
Of the top ten companies, only three grew their market share – Berkshire, Progressive, and USAA. The companies with the steepest decline were State Farm, Farmers and Nationwide. Everyone else maintained their market share.
You’ve set up processes to ensure that you’re setting reasonable expectations with each client, and you have a simple program in place to follow-up with your clients throughout the year. Now, what kind of resources should you put into your retention plans? Here are three that will help:
Aside from basic customer service, much of what we have discussed deals with “customer experience.” We will have an article on this later, but the simple truth is this: Customer service is reactive – customer experience is proactive.
Agents generally hire employees to help with the reactive stuff. For your retention program, either you or someone else will need to monitor it and make sure that bad boy is running smoothly. Even when programs can automate a lot of the grunt work, you have to check on them to make sure everything is working properly.
In the end, if you can have an employee manage the program, even if it’s just online software (we’ll get to that in a minute), it will allow you to prospect, sell, or do whatever creates a profit for your agency. However, be certain that someone is sending out letters, texts, e-mails, etc., to your clients at those specific touch points.
Our previous post discussed the importance of retention, and three ways to increase your retention. They are:
IHT is a multi-state insurance agency with dozens of branches across the eastern and central United States.