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Agent to Agent: Shark Proof (part 2)

Part two of three

David Connolly Photo - 200x250px.jpgBy David Connolly
Founder, iQ Consulting

In part one of this series, we defined a shark as the kind of producer you don’t want anywhere near your clients. Sharks are experienced professionals who know the business and are experts at breaking relationships. The 3 I’s of shark proofing that create a near impregnable barrier against sharks and any other competitors are:

Insulation - Investment – Influence

In part one we covered Insulation. Part two will cover Investment.

Investment: One of the universal truths I subscribe pertains to investment: The more we invest, the more invested we become..We all know this from previous experiences working with prospects. The more time and effort we put into working with a prospect, the more difficult it is to disengage, even when we know our chances of success are slight.  This is because we are so invested, we feel like we have too much to lose, even if there is nothing to gain by investing more into a prospect that won’t provide a return. The same universal truth applies to our prospects and clients. When it comes to our prospects, the more invested they are in the “quoting process” the more invested they will be in the outcome. With our clients, the more they have invested in doing business with our agency, the more invested they become in perpetuating that relationship. Keep this universal truth in mind when you try and make it “easy” for your prospects and clients to do business with you by doing everything for them. They must have skin in the game to be invested.

For the rest of this article, assume that we are discussing our best clients, not our smallest BOP’s.

I believe with our best clients it’s important to sell and service at different levels. The more contact you have with a variety of personnel, the better chance you have of creating loyalty and support from within your client's organization. If only one person has contact with you, then you are at the mercy of that one person. If you work with, and develop relationships with several people, you are more likely to be seen as a team player, and become viewed as valuable by several people who can influence the insurance buying decision. I have seen several instances where a CFO wanted to make a change in agency based upon price, and the safety director, human resources director and other key employees applied pressure on the CFO to change their mind. The goal is to be seen as an asset in the eyes of your client, and that requires getting them to invest time and energy in doing business with you.

Selling and servicing at different levels means that you get contact and face time with the executive team, middle management and line employees who interface with your customer service staff. This takes effort on our part to create value added services that require communication and teamwork between agency and client personnel. Examples include risk management and risk transfer consultation, safety training and education, claims management etc.

In addition, it is critical to involve others in this process including CSRs, benefits personnel, and both loss control and underwriting from our carriers. I’ve seen relationships built with loss control and underwriting that have saved accounts for agents.

When clients invest time with underwriters taking them for tours and “selling them” on the virtues of their account, it’s a very powerful thing. When carrier loss control personnel develop relationships with safety and HR personnel and work together on projects that result in improvements, savings or reduction in losses, these relationships become valuable assets that are difficult give up. When CRSs and agents visit with client personnel to discuss renewal strategy and service schedules for the coming year, these investments in planning become important to clients. When agents require client executives to participate in stewardship visits to evaluate agency performance and discuss areas where improvement is needed, the client is investing in continuing the relationship. When clients attend seminars on HR,  benefits, safety etc. at your office, they are investing time to learn from you.

On a personal note, when clients and agents share passions like golf, worship, charity and community based projects, theses shared investments of time, money and stewardship create strong bonds.

With your best clients, look for ways to engage them in investing time and effort in business, and on a personal level. The more they invest, the more invested they will become, and the more difficult it will be for a shark to break that relationship. Don’t make the mistake of leaving them unattended. Unattended clients attract sharks.

Part 3: Influence

David Connolly is the founder of iQ Consulting. They work with the top 100 agencies and brokers in the US and Canada and have trained thousands of insurance professionals.

Want to learn more about shark proofing your best clients from hungry predators? Join PIA and iQ Consulting for our May 20th webinar on this topic or purchase the archived recording if the webinar has already taken place. This webinar is presented as part of the PIA Agent Success Acceleration Program. PIA and iQ Consulting have created this sales-focused, e-learning program for insurance professionals in CO, DE, IL, MA, PA, RI, SD and WV.

To learn more about the PIA Agent Success Acceleration Program and to register for the next webinar, please visit www.piaasap.com.

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