Tag Archives: brokers

4 Questions That Scare Salespeople

It’s not so much that the questions scare salespeople; it’s the lack of answers they find terrifying.

As someone who coaches salespeople and makes selling a part of my everyday activities, I can appreciate the job’s difficulty. What I can’t respect is not doing everything possible to make the job simpler. I swear, at times, it seems like salespeople are intentionally making their job harder.

Here’s what I mean

Open your customer relationship management (CRM) system and answer the following questions for each active prospect…

But wait. Hold on a minute. Before we get to the questions, let’s address the two key elements in my request.

First, let’s make sure we agree about what constitutes a prospect. A prospect is not a name on a wish list or on the list you just purchased. Those are suspects, someone you think you may want to have as a client.

You don’t have an actual prospect until the person is aware of your interest in potentially doing business and agree to participate in that exploration.

Now your CRM. To be clear, I’m talking about the technology you use to track prospects. This is the system that you bitch about to your sales manager because “entering stuff in the system gets in the way of my valuable sales time.”

Do you know why salespeople avoid using a CRM? It allows them to avoid owning up to the reality of not having a healthy pipeline.

Tracking prospects in a consistent, centralized manner is a prudent practice. Enough with the bitching and moaning about data entry.

Back to the questions

Yes, selling is difficult. Nobody likes to be sold to, right? So, look at the opposite side of this coin. Instead of thinking about how you can sell to the opportunities in your pipeline, focus on how you can help them make better buying decisions.

The path to them making better decisions comes with clues that lead to an engagement with you. If you can answer the following questions, there is an excellent chance you will help the prospect make a better buying decision. There is also a good chance that a better buying decision will include you.

1. What does this opportunity value most?

This question is both the most obvious and the most ignored. It is obvious because, of course, you have to show prospects more value. The problem is that most salespeople assume the answer to this question on behalf of the prospect. Salespeople assume the prospect wants a lower price, more free stuff or better service.

Maybe they do. But the path to lost opportunities is littered with wrong assumptions made by salespeople.

See also: Trusted Adviser? No, Be a Go-To Adviser

Don’t make this difficult. Just take the time at the beginning of the sales process to ask the buyer what they value. But ask it in a way that expands their expectations beyond price, product and service.

Ask, “If we were getting together for dinner to celebrate what we have accomplished by working together, what are a couple of non-cost-related things we would be celebrating?”

2. What have I done to deliver on that value?

Once you have identified what a prospect values, start delivering it. I mean, like NOW, while they’re still a prospect.

I laugh at one of the cornerstones of way too any producers’ value propositions. They will say, “What sets us apart is the level of service we provide.”

WTH?! 😳

Here’s my problem. A prospect can’t experience your service until they become a client. You have ZERO chance to demonstrate that value during the sales process.

If you want to make the buying decision easier for a prospect, nothing will move the needle faster than delivering ideas and advice on what they value. This completely removes the concern they have over whether they would get any meaningful value from working with you.

A prospect in motion

The following two questions are yet more examples of why following a sales process is so important. If you have a consistent sales process in place, the steps of moving a prospect through the pipeline become apparent. To ensure productive movement, you must be able to answer these questions for each opportunity.

3. When will our next meeting take place?

The one thing worse than an empty pipeline? One that is filled but stagnant. Prospects must keep moving forward (and I don’t mean on the two- to three-year timeline so many producers believe it takes to earn a new client).

If you have identified what a prospect values and are already providing proof of your ability to deliver, you have their attention. And, if you have shown them a path that leads to even greater value, they will be eager to schedule the next conversation and move forward with you.

Interested prospects are almost as excited for the next meeting as you are.

4. What is the purpose of the next meeting?

Every meeting must have a purpose, a defined goal. When you and the prospect agree on what you will discuss next and why it is meaningful to the buyer, meetings stop feeling like a burden and start to look like the growth opportunity they need to be.

When you have defined the purpose of a meeting, they become productive, meaningful and valuable to the buyer.

Purposeful meetings build momentum, trust and confidence.

The questions move your KPIs

The average time it takes a typical producer to acquire a new client is way too long in our industry, and the close ratios are woefully low.

Answering these four questions with confidence will lead to more new clients in dramatically less time.

Closing more deals isn’t rocket science, guys. You have to be able to answer the right questions.

See also: What COVID and 43 Years Taught Me

Back to your CRM

Look back at each prospect in your pipeline. If you can positively and definitively answer each of these questions for a prospect, you are likely looking at a future client.

If you can’t, well, your gut has already been telling you that answer.

4 Business-Boosting Tips for Social Media

According to a recent Aon Programs survey, insurance agents are betting on social media to give them the biggest marketing lift this year. Of the 33% of agents expecting a boost from social media, 41% expect Facebook and 33% expect LinkedIn to be their top-performing platforms.

As agents increase their reliance on social media to build their brands and connect with customers, there are four social strategies that they should tap to gain the best ROI. 

First, agents should take a less-is-more approach. While agents should be active on social media platforms, it is equally important to focus on quality content over quantity. No one likes an over-poster who is just cranking out content for the sake of it without a clear message. Agents should make sure that every post is relevant to their audience. Along the same lines, agents should concentrate posting on their top-performing platforms. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew. And why would you need a YouTube channel if your clients and prospects aren’t on YouTube? Being targeted in your social strategy is the way to go to drive the best results. 

Second, agents ought to consider creating snackable content. Would you read a 10-sentence social media post? How about a five-sentence social media post? We are living in an era overloaded with digital media, and it can be overwhelming. How do agents combat digital fatigue on their business platforms? Keep posts snackable! Delivering a short but impactful message will up your chances of your post being read – and well-received. Remember, the bite-sized rule applies to all formats — from visuals and motion graphics to text. If you want to give your followers the option to dig deeper on a topic, provide them with a link to a longer-form piece.

Third, agents must let video take center stage. If you haven’t already jumped on the video bandwagon, start making your plans! Whether it be on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, videos are the format of choice these days.  In fact, according to HubSpot, 72% of customers would rather learn about a product or service by way of video. Oftentimes, when we see a face and hear a voice delivering a message, it feels more personal and can be more appealing than one-dimensional visuals or text. The best part is that video is so easy to create today – put together a few talking points, find a professional backdrop and hit record on your smartphone or tablet. Just remember to keep it short. For the most part, social media videos should remain in the safe range of 30 to 90 seconds.

See also: Want to See Social Media Genius?

Finally, agents need to be authentic. If there has ever been a time for authenticity, it is now. Professionals need to be able to trust the brands they work with and even those they merely like and follow. If agents commit to transparency in their social media strategy, they’ll build deeper relationships with their network – and they’ll even build their business. According to Cohn & Wolfe’s most recent Authentic 100, “91% of consumers are willing to reward a brand for its authenticity with a purchase, investment, endorsement or something similar.”

How do you maintain an authentic voice on social media? Social media started out, well, social! Personalizing your content with showing your team’s personality helps to boost authenticity. One way you can do this is by using authentic photos with your posts. Another way is by pairing self-promotion with expressing gratitude to others. People want to know that there are real people behind the like button. On that note, it is sometimes better not to comment on a sensitive matter if you can’t confidently back yourself on the positive side of the issue.

Social media is ever-changing but these four tips for better ROI never go out of style. By merging these foundational basics with trending topics and tactics, you’ll be on the right path to building social relationships that garner real business results.

Trusted Adviser? No, Be a Go-To Adviser

One of the most clichéd claims made in our industry is that of being a “trusted adviser.” Sure, trust is essential. Clients need to trust in your ability to do your job, and they need to trust in your intentions when giving advice.

But is earning trust brag-worthy? Isn’t trust a minimum expectation of the advisor-client relationship?

The real goal should be achieving “go-to” status.

What questions do you want your clients to bring you?

More importantly, what questions are they bringing you now? Not to be an alarmist, but if those questions are limited to insurance issues, your client relationship is in danger.

When asked how they wanted to be viewed, one of our clients responded with the following, “I want to be THE partner my clients go to to ask their toughest questions. I want to help my clients accomplish their intentions.”

I LOVE that! Notice, it doesn’t say their toughest “benefits questions” or even “accomplish their HR intentions.” The commitment is to be the partner their clients go to for help with anything challenging their business.

How cool is that?! Or maybe the idea makes you feel a little uncomfortable?

It is increasingly necessary

If you’ve been in sales for any amount of time, you know it’s more challenging than ever to deliver value to a buyer. Heck, if you were selling a year ago, you see how much more difficult it became because of the pandemic.

The increased challenge to deliver value started way before 2020, though. There are many reasons, but one stands out.

Buyers no longer depend on a salesperson to learn about a product or service.

Not only that, buyers don’t want to talk to anyone until they decide they’re ready. They will self-educate on their own terms and at their own pace.

It’s not that they don’t eventually want to talk to a salesperson, but buyers are now way further into the buying process before they go to a salesperson with questions. This means the value bar has been raised significantly for salespeople. The further you’ve advanced on the value spectrum, the more important your eventual conversations will be.

How are you perceived?

If you want to know how prospects/clients perceive and categorize you, look no further than the questions you are asked.

Vendor — “Can you get me a better quote?”

If you are mostly getting price questions, you are viewed as a commodity.

Insightful Seller — “Can you help me effectively communicate my benefits program and deal with compliance issues?”

At this level, salespeople understand the commoditized product offering so well they can help buyers get more value from it than if they bought it from someone else.

Educational path to this level — Instead of studying your products and services’ features and benefits, study the problems they solve.

Trusted Adviser — “Can you help me better understand what solutions I should be considering and show me how to use them effectively?”

Salespeople at this level are selling the problems they solve rather than the products. The best at this level aren’t even really selling; the buyers trust they can help them make better buying decisions.

Path to this level – Study and implement a consultative selling process that makes the buying process more manageable.

Strategic Adviser — At this level, questions start to become, as you might guess, strategic. “You seem to understand our industry and the current business environment; what can we be doing to compete more effectively?”

These advisers bring a new perspective to the buyer and help them see things they hadn’t seen before, like environmental challenges and opportunities.

Path to this level — Study a specific industry or the business environment, in general.

Go-to Adviser — At this level, clients pull back their curtain and share their most vulnerable self. You know you’ve arrived in the relationship when asked, “We have some internal growth pains. Can we talk about suggestions you would have to get past them?”

Go-to advisers have proven their ability to address the challenges and opportunities a buyer faces internally, challenges that buyers don’t see on their own even though they are surrounded by them daily. Even if buyers do see the challenges, they don’t know how to address them.

Path to this level — Study business operations: marketing, finance, strategy, processes, everything it takes to run a successful business.

Challenge yourself to pursue the various educational paths along this value progression. By doing so, you will put yourself in a position to be that go-to relationship for your clients. Talk about a game changer!

See also: 3 Tips for Increasing Customer Engagement

You don’t have to have all the answers

If the idea of being “the partner your clients go to with their toughest questions” makes you uncomfortable, it shouldn’t. Just because they come to you with their toughest questions, it doesn’t mean they expect you to have all the answers.

To become a Go-to adviser, you only need to be willing to participate in conversations that lead to the answers.

I suspect you already take this approach in a much narrower way. If you are a benefits producer, you may find yourself in compliance conversations that reach your knowledge limit. At that point, you bring in a compliance specialist. Or perhaps you find yourself deeper in HR topics than you can handle, but you are comfortable because you know where to pass the baton.

A problem-solving framework

If you follow the educational paths mentioned earlier, you’ll create a foundation that can support a Go-to relationship. With that knowledge foundation in place, the following framework will be an effective way to help your prospects/clients think through any challenge they bring you.

1. Define the goal by asking, “If we were sitting here celebrating a successful resolution, what are some of the specifics we would be celebrating?”

This question will provide clarity as to what they want/need to accomplish.

2. “What are the PEOPLE issues you need to deal with to achieve a resolution?”

Maybe they have toxic people on the team; perhaps they need new people, or maybe they need to train those they have.

3. “What PRODUCT/SERVICE issues need to be addressed?”

Maybe there is a deliverable to be created, upgraded or even abandoned.

4. “Are there PROCESS issues standing in your way?”

It could be they have the answers they need but aren’t operating in a consistent, process-driven manner.

Will the complete answer be apparent with these questions? Probably not. However, by defining the goal and evaluating the people, product and process issues that determine success, you will help the prospect/client find clarity about what needs to happen next.

Your role as a Go-to advisor isn’t so much to give specific answers; it’s more about asking additional questions to reveal the path leading to the answer.

Is all this necessary?

You could make an argument that this type of progression isn’t necessary. I wouldn’t agree with you, but you could make the argument. After all, you will win the occasional deal based on price alone. Don’t fall into that “easy” trap.

It does take hard work to progress. However, every level you advance toward Go-to status provides exceptional ROI:

  1. It reduces the amount of competition.
  2. The buyer becomes less sensitive to price.
  3. You shorten the sales cycle.
  4. Your retention rate increases.
  5. You will find it easier to access decision-makers.
  6. The level of credibility you bring to the conversation will grow exponentially.

So, I’ll ask you a “not tough” question. Is it worth it to become a Go-to adviser?

Seems like a no-brainer to me.

This article was originally published here.

3 Tactics to Win With Internet Leads (Part 1)

There’s a misnomer about internet leads, and it’s written all over Facebook and proclaimed by many agency owners, producers and industry gurus: “Internet Leads Suck!” Many of the big lead vendors add fuel to the fire with dubious pricing, odd delivery and questionable results. Is the contempt of web leads legitimate? How else can we actually grow our businesses?

My observation from interviewing hundreds of agents on the Insurance Dudes Podcast is that only the best of the best have effective processes to properly build a lead-closing machine — the majority, the naysayers, lack this systemization.

In addition, there’s a disconnect between agent expectations about various lead types’ performance expectations; many agents don’t even know what metrics they should track to effectively create a feasible cost per sale. 

This article, the first of three in this series, will shed some light on the proper tactics needed to support an effective strategy for developing an effective internet tele-funnel.

For the most part, agents who have not been successful with internet leads seem to point their finger in the wrong direction. Most agents, including me (for many years), blame the lead provider. A powerful shift occurs with the epiphany that the common denominator across success AND failure is the same: the lead vendors. 

Well, if some succeed, while others fail, with the very same lead vendors… the issue must not be the leads themselves, but the process by which the leads are worked.

Over the course of making over 13 million of dials, and seeing incredible results, I have seen that most agencies lack a systematized process to follow up on leads. 68% of the time (the first Alpha for you statisticians), your typical live internet lead will take between eight and 21 dials to close — this is the hard data. Using a data set of at least 90 days, these numbers consistently hold true. Because the bulk of leads closed require OVER EIGHT dials for new business to be won, it’s imperative that a highly organized and trackable process is in place. 

Understanding this need for dials, an agent must stay the course for at least a few months to know a true cost per sale. Considering that large companies will commit to a specific marketing budget for the long term, and only pivot once they have insight into performance, why is it that so many agents will eject after just a week or two? 

“Getting your toes wet” is not an option, as it will only lead to poor results. An agent must know the numbers, the spending required and the timeframe of the sales cycle to win with leads — and this framework holds true for any marketing.

Digging further into the 13 million-dial data set, we know that “good” leads have a first-day contact rate of about 15%. Intent, type, cost and everything don’t matter if the contact rate isn’t better than 15%. Let that sink in… to achieve a positive outcome for your tele-funnel’s entry point, the winning metric comes down to connecting on 15 out of 100 dials. This makes for a lot of down time for the people doing the dials, even with a fast (and fully TCPA compliant) dialer.  

See also: Despite COVID, Tech Investment Continues

Agents must break through and understand that the need to put the right players in the right positions is critical. In building your tele-funnel, dials are the highest-quantity activity, while requiring the lowest skill set. This knowledge is crucial to moving “leads that suck” from the first, second or third dial (the average times that average agents call leads) to making eight to 100 dials on a lead.

Once we had calculated the enormous number of daily dials required to reach our goal of $200,000-plus in premium per month, we knew mathematically that we needed 5,000 or more dials per day, as a team, just to hit all of our leads from today, yesterday and from the prior 88 days. 

We were in a race to move these leads — our agency’s latent equity — closer to a sale. We discovered that the more dials on a lead, the less it actually cost, because the potential to make contact, quote and close increased with each dial! 

With this realization, we sought to ensure we could guarantee making the dials we needed without burning out our agents and ensuring they were on the phone doing their most important activity, quoting, at least 10 new households per day. Plugging unlicensed, cheap labor into the top of the funnel also allowed us to continue to fill our pipeline with new prospects while freeing up agents’ days to follow up on unclosed quotes.  

After weeks and months of consistency, training and oversight, we were writing $5,000 to $20,000 or more a day. We had handled the first important piece of the equation: We’d created a systematized process to create predictable results. We had certainty that if we added X leads into the tele-funnel, it would result in Y sales. 

There have been ups and downs, but the word du jour is persistent-consistency

In the next article, I’ll take you into the metrics that need to be looked at, and the necessary baselines that need to be hit to ensure that your tele-funnel machine is functioning properly.

Personal Connections Via Social Media

The insurance industry has historically thrived on face-to-face interactions. A year ago, U.S. life insurance brokers told McKinsey that 90% of their sales conversations and even 70% of their customer follow-ups happened in person. Of course, those numbers plummeted during the pandemic: By May 2020, a follow-up McKinsey survey revealed that in-person interactions had dropped to less than 5%.

To maintain regular interactions with prospects that feel as meaningful and personal as formerly in-person conversations, insurance companies must turn to social media to meet audiences where they’re socializing during the pandemic.

Over the last few years, however, the algorithms that govern organic content’s performance on social media have shifted to make breaking through more difficult for brands. After all, social media platforms exist to make money, and their primary revenue stream is advertising dollars. Insurance companies that used to see engagement simply by posting on their business pages must now begin investing in paid advertising campaigns if they hope to achieve anything resembling earlier organic results.

Unfortunately, this trend is solidifying at a time when most insurance associates — indeed, most people in general — are stretched thin. Life insurance companies are busy handling a significant increase in demand for their services, and property and casualty areas are busy helping customers navigate changes in policies such as low mileage rebates.

Agents simply don’t have the time to focus on marketing themselves right now. In this environment, insurance companies must support them by focusing on social media marketing efforts and examining ways to help agents cut through the noise and foster real, human connections online. These three strategies are excellent places to start.

1. First, equip agents with social selling.

To maximize a paid social strategy, agents need to be engaging with prospects and clients organically on social media first. Enable your agents to practice social selling — which means sharing branded content from their own profiles to their own networks.

A company’s social accounts might offer some brand visibility, but associates have a far greater reach than your brand, and their followers trust their content much more than your company’s content. When agents share helpful information that highlights their expertise, their networks will already begin to see them as trusted resources. This lays a solid foundation for launching a paid campaign with individual agents.

Of course, the last thing any insurance company wants to do is add more demands to their agents’ already full plates. If you want employees to build their social presence organically, you have to make it as easy as possible. Marketing teams can build clear, comprehensive social media policies and train agents on them. Then, they can provide agents with a steady stream of engaging, curated content that aligns with the brand and interests agents’ followers.

See also: Want to See Social Media Genius?

2. Then, tailor social selling with paid advertising.

Paid social should absolutely be a part of your 2021 advertising plans, but you should still incorporate elements of your organic social selling strategy — namely, the agents. Put your individual agents front and center in the ads targeted to the audiences in their respective geographic regions.

Consumers today expect this level of personalization. One report found that 72% of consumers will engage only with marketing messaging that’s tailored to their interests, and Accenture confirmed that most are willing to share the data necessary for a more customized experience.

Ultimately, it’s human nature to seek out person-to-person connections. People trust other people more than companies and brand names. Insurance companies should take every step possible to build, maintain and reinforce the human relationships that were the cornerstone of the industry pre-COVID-19, and getting individual agents in front of the right people on social media is a great way to highlight the human element.

3. Use software to control and expand your efforts.

Insurance companies can no longer rely on mass channels and one-size-fits-all campaigns to establish trust and convert clients. Personalized marketing efforts are increasingly complex, and they’re best handled by marketers with central authority.

As agents deal with the same changes that are rocking the broader industry, they’re relying on marketers to implement complex paid campaigns at the brand, branch and agent levels. That’s a lot for one marketing team to handle, but social media management software exists to make it easier. The right tool can streamline and automate workflows, making sure no ad ever publishes without the correct approvals. This helps ensure each post is compliant and in line with your brand’s style and voice. Software can also allow marketing teams to reach more people on more platforms with simultaneous multiplatform features, allowing campaigns to scale with ease.

With the operational details of executing a social strategy taken care of, marketers can focus more on arming agents with everything they need to create the types of meaningful, human connections that will foster trust and set the stage for strong relationships to come. 

See also: How Social Selling Can Boost Results

The insurance industry upheaval brought on by COVID-19 has necessitated a stark shift in the industry’s approach to advertising. Organizations must strive to build personal relationships and connections from a distance, but a branded organic strategy won’t meet social advertising needs as algorithms evolve. Instead, the insurance companies that pivot to social selling, human content and solutions at scale will rise to the top of the news feed in the coming year.