'Do You Want Fries With That? Insurance?'

Like McDonald's, many insurance companies can implement a point-of-sale upselling strategy to increase market penetration.

By now, most of us are so familiar with McDonald’s “do you want fries with that?” strategy that it’s easy to forget how brilliant it is. Let me refresh your memory. In 1993, McDonald’s implemented a new policy: Every time a customer placed an order that didn’t include fries, the cashier would ask if the customer wanted fries with that. The result: an added 15% to 40% in annual revenue. Just as important: The boost didn’t require any expensive training or investments from the company. So how does all of this apply to insurance sellers? Turns out, many insurance companies can implement a similar point-of-sale upselling strategy to increase market penetration and revenue. Here, I’ll offer examples of several other companies doing this successfully and offer takeaways for those in the insurance industry. 1: Partner to Be Present at the Point of Sale One of the biggest struggles for insurance sellers is getting customers to come to us. Even when they want and need insurance, it’s easy to forget to make the purchase, which isn’t good for anyone. The solution is to be present at the point of sale for the item that needs to be insured. One company that’s been doing this for a long time is Expedia, an online travel agency. The site helps you search, compare and purchase your plane tickets, rental car and hotel stay. At several points during the checkout process, you’re offered the opportunity to add travel insurance to back up your trip. As you approach the “Complete Purchase” button, this coverage only seems to make more sense. This strategy is brilliant because it makes life easier for everyone: the customers who are about to make a big purchase (which could be derailed by bad weather); the airlines, which want to make sure their customers have a great experience; and the insurance provider, for obvious reasons. Of course, not everyone will buy right away. To make this strategy as effective as possible…
  • Ask for contact information from those who don’t buy so you can follow up later.
  • Be explicit about your plans for contacting people; otherwise, they may ignore your communications or mark them as spam.
  • Remind customers of your connection when you contact them. Mention the company you partnered with in your first communication.
Of course, many insurable purchases are still made in person. When it’s not possible to integrate via an app, it’s time to… See also: How to Keep Humanity in Online Sales   2: Unite Disconnected Systems The classic example here (and one that my company, BriteCo, addresses) is buying an engagement ring. In a typical transaction, the seller may be able to offer an appraisal, which buyers must then take to their homeowners or renters insurance provider to see if they can get the ring scheduled. That’s not ideal for a number of reasons, chief of which is that the purchaser is likely to forget to follow up (and may even lose track of the appraisal), meaning that the valuable asset goes uninsured. We’ve found success by creating a software system to handle the entire appraisal and insurance flow. First, our jeweler partner logs in to a simple-to-use, cloud-based platform to create an appraisal in minutes. That appraisal triggers an insurance engine, which generates a customized insurance quote. A customer who buys from a BriteCo jeweler partner will get a digital copy of the appraisal via email or text, immediately followed by a separate message with the insurance quote for the appraised piece(s). The customer can purchase insurance right then and there, on a smartphone, and leave the store fully covered. Many buyers won’t immediately be ready to purchase insurance, but with the ability to access a policy in their pocket (literally!), they can easily follow up later. This removes much of the confusion about the insurance process that can cause customer dropoff and, of course, helps prevent valuable jewelry from going uninsured. 3: Add Value for All Parties As you cultivate partners who can help you connect with customers, it helps to be able to offer tangible benefits to everyone involved. For example, human resources software giant ADP has a partnership with the small business insurance agency Insureon that lets ADP customers easily apply for business insurance, which nearly every business needs and which tends to be difficult for small-business owners to find. Everyone wins in this partnership: Business owners get access to essential coverage that can prevent major financial losses, ADP manages its risks by helping its customers get insured (including for professional liabilities such as workplace discrimination), and Insureon gets an opportunity to sell to those in ADP’s large customer database. Just as important, the partnership offers business owners a third-party vote of confidence as they make a decision about commercial insurance, a product that many have little or no experience with and so often feel uncomfortable evaluating independently. 4: Aim to Be Subtle and Persistent Once you start looking for masterful upselling, you’ll see it everywhere. Apple gently offers AppleCare as an add-on throughout its checkout process, without ever shifting into a hard sell. Amazon and Office Depot surface additional warranty coverage for higher-ticket and tech products in checkout as you complete your purchase. See also: Bold Prediction on Customer Experience Think about these experiences from a customer point of view: There aren’t obnoxious pop-up windows you have to click past. Instead, the add-ons are part of the array of available support being offered as a part of an extremely fluid sales process. That’s an important model to follow for an industry that hasn’t always had the friendliest reputation. The Worst They Can Say Is “No” Remember: McDonald’s managed to increase revenue by at least 15% by asking a simple question at checkout. Part of this strategy’s brilliance is that not everyone has to buy fries – or insurance – for it to work. Even if many customers decline the offer, the ones who accept it will make a difference. As hockey legend Wayne Gretsky once famously quipped, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Questionable statistical analysis aside, the man has a point.

Dustin Lemick

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Dustin Lemick

Dustin Lemick is founder and CEO of BriteCo, a leading tech-driven provider of jewelry and watch insurance. 


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