Most times, captive agents who want to break away from the pack to start their own agencies are coming from a situation they thought they could improve upon. It's easy for agents to forget that running an agency is also the same as running a full-time, full-fledged small business. This means that starting and running a successful independent insurance agency comes with a ton of responsibility and hours put in on the clock, and before jumping into the deep end, you've got to have your ducks in a row.
Here are a few of the most important things you need to be aware of that will impact on your ability to start your own, successful independent insurance agency.
YOU'RE GOING TO NEED STARTUP MONEY
Exactly how much startup capital you're going to need depends on a few things including where you live, how many products you plan to offer and how many people you're going to need to employ in order to get started. Other start up costs include but are not limited to things like rent (or even buying office space?), security deposit, first month’s rent, office equipment, agency management system, licensing and legal costs, and insurance.
On the lower end, you could be looking at anywhere between a few to $50,000 with more expensive agencies reaching into the high hundred thousands, Small business loans are always a good option if you're in good personal financial standing and you have a strong business plan.
YOU'RE GOING TO NEED SOMETHING TO SELL
You'll need to decide which national insurance carriers you can get access to. This isn't the easiest of hoops to jump through. This is where your strong business plan comes into play. National carriers are going to want to see your previous experience in insurance sales including your existing book of business, as well as your plan to deliver a certain volume to customers over a specific time frame.
Aggregators are also an excellent resource for independent agents. Small agencies that decide to become part of an aggregator will gain more and better access to insurance carriers.
YOU'LL WANT TO KNOW HOW SOON YOU'LL SEE A PROFIT AND HOW MUCH IT'LL BE
Unfortunately the answer to these questions are never exactly easy to predict. There are a lot of moving targets that each business has to hit. This means each agency has to map out and examine it for themselves by going over things like sale projections, gross profit estimate, the cost of providing services, and other expenses like advertising and marketing.
How much an agent can make is another not-so-easy question to answer, but a bit more solid if you consider agent qualifications, state, region, number of customers, and experience. These can all help you make an estimation in terms of what an agent in your agency could make. Agency owners will typically make more.
YOU'LL NEED TO KNOW IF MORE CERTIFICATIONS ARE NECESSARY
If you're already selling insurance, you're likely to already have certifications. Depending on where you live and what areas you plan to service, you may need multiple licenses for the type of insurance you plan to sell. Those requirements will all be based on your state’s insurance licensing board. Be prepared for applicants to take potential training courses and even exams. We can't stress how important it is to do your due diligence on making sure that you and everyone in your agency has all the proper certifications before you begin selling.
YOU'LL NEED A PLAN FOR GETTING CUSTOMERS
Whether you plan to use your existing book of business or to buy a book of business, you're going to need to plan to find new and creative ways to reach prospects in your area. Whether you plan to network, use referral marketing or to strike up successful partnerships with other local businesses, you need to be looking closely at what you can do to always be attracting new clientele.
Make sure you have a website up and running, as well as up-to-date social media pages that you're posting to. Also be prepared to become a visible part of the community that you prepare to serve so that you can put a face to the name of your business.
These are all helpful tips for any agent considering starting their own agency. The most important part of any plan is being prepared and being realistic in your planning so that you don't quickly find yourself in over your head. With enough careful research and the right team, you're bound to do great things!
Everyone knows there are unique challenges to selling insurance whether you're a captive insurance agent or an independent insurance agent. Agents who've decided to go independent have certainly done so because they saw benefits to going it alone rather than being part of a national carrier, but that doesn't mean there are really easy ways to screw things up.
Whether you're doing back office work, meeting a client for dinner or sending out annual holiday cards, there are always dos and don'ts to be mindful of. Here are a few of the most common DONT’S that independent agents DO that make a sale go south.
#1 - BEING AFRAID TO ASK FOR REFERRALS
We know that asking for referrals isn't easy, but you're an independent agent now. Your bread is buttered with referrals and the sooner you find a comfortable and creative way to ask your clients to share your info with others, the sooner you'll see your business grow. Every time you DON'T ask for referrals, you can count on lost business. It needs to be an absolutely mandatory part of every sales call. PERIOD.
#2 - MAKING TIME FOR YOUR CLIENTS AFTER THE SALE
We know that closing the deal seems like the most important part of the sales process, and this means that once it's done, many agents think that servicing the client is also done. This could not be further from the truth. If you aren't making an effort to touch base with your clients from time to time throughout the life of their policy with you, you risk losing them at the end of it.
As an independent agent, you MUST strive to create long-lasting client-agent relationships. This is because the longer your client is with you, your chance at building a strong foundation of trust is greater. And we know that once your client trusts you, they're likely to do more business with you.
#3 - NOT REACHING OUT TO CURRENT CLIENTS BEFORE YOUR MEETING
Many agents see a meeting on their calendar and think that there's prep work that needs to be done in terms of client contact before it. There is SO MUCH to be gained by reaching out and having a brief chat before your meeting takes place. Asking a few questions before you're face to face with the client can have you on 3rd bade become the meeting even begins. It's the best way to find out what potential cross-selling opportunities you might have with this pre-existing client. If you're sitting down with a client who already trusts you and is pleased with your service, you're already behind the 8 ball if you haven't made time for a phone call beforehand.
#4 - LETTING SOMEONE ELSE SCHEDULE ALL OF YOUR CALLS
In the perfectly normal hustle and bustle of being an independent agent, it's easy to let an assistant or an office manager schedule your meetings for you. This seems innocuous in and of itself, but really the only way to make sure that your book of business is sailing in the right direction from day to day is to make sure your meeting schedules are full and the timing makes sense. The worst thing you can do is have someone else scheduling meetings that don't need to be meetings and wasting precious time for you and your client. If someone else is in charge of your schedule, make sure you're keeping an eye on them at least a week or two in advance so that you can determine whether or not you really need to meet face to face, or if it's something that you or someone else can handle over the phone.
We hope these few tips help you out if you're an independent agent finding your way on a new path. It can take time and energy to find what's really working and NOT working for you in your new agency. Hopefully, these few easy tweaks can make a big difference to the longevity of your business.
Most agents, novices or seasoned, will tell you that lead generation is a tricky game. It's hard to know if you should pay for leads that may not be credible or if you should pound the pavement and risk your time on leads that may. not follow through. Here's a list of a few ideas that any agent can take a swing at when it comes to sniffing out the right prospects.
1. DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK
You're in sales. You know this means being ballsy and being bold, so when you want a good quality lead, a referral from a past client is a win-win. Referrals aren't going to land in your lap, so be creative when you're starting out and find the best way to get past clients to refer you.
But there's no rule that referrals must come from a customer. You can get introductions to potential clients from people who already trust you, such as your friends, family, or former colleagues.
And even if you get the dreaded call from a client asking to cancel their policy, make sure you remind them that you’re there for them anytime they need you. Consider creating a system to conduct exit surveys when clients leave to look for areas for improvement.
2. GET OUT AND SHOW YOUR FACE
Being part of your community is an mode to build your reputation as a committed member of your town and the surrounding areas. But there are other easy ways to get involved if you look in the right places:
It may be tempting, but don’t treat these situations the way you would a sales presentation. While ultimately you’d like these interactions to generate insurance leads, your first goal should be contributing to your community. The sincerity you demonstrate will keep your name top-of-mind and draw prospects to your agency when they need your services.
3. TRY SOME OLDER METHODS
Spam folders, privacy laws and the Do Not Call Registry have unfortunately made connecting with insurance leads more difficult than in the past. But some tried-and-true prospecting tactics still work, such as:
Your website is a good tool to help you generate leads. Enable features that request contact information, such as a "Get a Quote" button or newsletter signup. But bear in mind that these elements won't do all the work for you. You might also want to do things like:
Don’t bypass the possibility of garnering referrals from social media, either. This often-untapped resource for finding clients can (and should) be harnessed by new insurance agents looking to grow their client lists.
5. USE REFERRALS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
In some ways, launching a referral program is as easy as remembering to tell every client something like, "Please keep me in mind if you hear of anyone else I can help." But to really add momentum, it doesn’t hurt to throw in an incentive for every referral. These incentives could include:
Many state insurance departments allow incentives as long as they aren't attached to a sale, but make sure you check with your department first.
6. GET OUT AND MINGLE
Tons of people need insurance, but most of them aren't sitting in your agency. Start meeting them by:
Don’t let the idea of prospecting, networking, and finding clients scare you away from your dream of opening your own independent insurance agency. By using unconventional tactics, networking, launching a referral program, and bettering your community, you’ll drive business straight to your front door.
This post originally ran on JEBrown.net.
Want to drum up more homeowners’ insurance business for the holidays? Here are a few tips to get you out of your current marketing rut and get in front of more customers who need homeowners’ insurance.
Market to new homeowners
Develop a marketing program targeted to new homeowners in your neighborhood. Send them something of value—like a checklist of tips for new homeowners that includes buying homeowners’ insurance.
Present to a homeowners’ association
Deliver a presentation on homeowners’ insurance and offer your expert advice on how to save money on a policy, what homeowners’ insurance does and does not typically cover, and special exceptions and cases relevant to them.
Cross-sell to other customers
Some of your insurance carriers offer discounts on homeowners’ insurance to customers who buy auto or other types of personal lines insurance with them. If you sell bundled packages like this, your customers could save a lot by buying homeowners’ insurance along with other types of insurance with you. Make sure your customers in other insurance areas know about these deals.
Leverage social media
Make sure your connections on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms you use for business know that you sell homeowners’ insurance. Highlight homeowner’s insurance products by publishing content to help new homeowners—tips for buying a home, must-do items after a new home purchase, and ways to save money on homeowners’ insurance, for example. The content can come in the form of blog posts, articles, videos, or podcasts that you advertise on your social media platforms as well as post on your website.
Form partnerships in your community
What other businesses in your community serve homebuyers? Make connections with local realtors, furniture stores, and other businesses that serve this population. Meet with the owners to talk about possibilities for cross-marketing each other’s services.
Ask your current customers
Check your list of current customers for people who have other types of policies with you, but who don’t have homeowners’ insurance through your company. These are prime targets for an advertising campaign for homeowners’ insurance. They already like and trust your business, because they already do business with you. And if they have homeowners’ insurance with another company, it’s possible they could save money by switching to a bundled package.
There are many different ways to sell homeowners’ insurance. Adopt marketing plans both on- and offline that target new or experienced homebuyers; use social media to provide tips to new home buyers and get the word out about the policies you sell; market to your current customers; and reach out to local homeowners’ associations and businesses that cater to the same audience. With these tips, you should be able to generate new homeowners’ insurance business.
Mark Twain said "Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life" but the truth is that we've all had a job that feels A LOT like work at one time or another. Jobs that we've dreaded going to or jobs that we know aren't right, but are necessary at the time. Just like with your personal relationships, it's important to find ways to adjust your actions and your mindset to keep things interesting for yourself when it comes to work.
We've scoured the internet and put together some excellent tips for keeping yourself engaged in a job that might have lost a bit of its luster. Check them out!
REALIZE YOU ARE NEEDED
Sometimes when we're stuck in a job that doesn't rev our engines anymore, we tend to be unable to see past our own discomfort and take in the big picture. Remembering that you are an integral part of whatever team you are on could help revive a bit of your interest in what you do. There are other people in other jobs that need your service and who value your input. Understanding that you are part of something bigger than you may help to get you back on track when needed.
ALWAYS BE LEARNING
When you start to feel like your work days are dragging on and going to work feels more like a chore than anything else, it's time to learn something new. Maybe there are conferences or seminars for you to attend that could pique your interest in a particular area of your industry. Or maybe you see a job opening up within the company that you'd love a shot at. If your gaze is fixed on continuing to add value to yourself, you'll find there's rarely time to get bored.
CHOOSE WORK FRIENDS WISELY
You're going to create relationships while you're at work. It's inevitable. If you have the right attitude, you'll see that working with others comes easier than if you tend to be negative and complain. You're going to want to surround yourself with upbeat people who are willing to help each other and learn as much as they can while on the clock. This makes going to work and being at work more enjoyable all around.
TAKE SOMEONE UNDER YOUR WING
Once you have the added responsibility of teaching someone else the ropes, not only do you feel pleased to be seen as an authority, but it also shows that you're trusted in the office. Knowing that someone else is learning from you directly and will be taking what you teach them forward in their career will give you a newfound respect for your job.
BECOME A GO GETTER
If you work in a company that natures advancement from within, make sure that your boss and the people in charge know what your goals are and then work hard toward them. This means you'll be in mind for promotions or new opportunities when they arise. You'll find that things rarely get stagnant when you've always got something you're working toward.
KNOW WHEN YOU'VE OUTGROWN YOUR SPOT
When you've tried your hardest to stay passionate about your work and it just seems there's no getting it back, it's okay to say enough is enough. Not every work situation is always going to be ideal for you, even if you've tried everything to make it work. If this happens, hold your head up high and know that there is more out for you somewhere else, all that's left for you to do is to find it.
These few quick tips could make a big difference if you're someone struggling to light the flames of passion when it comes to your job. Keeping the right mindset and always looking to provide yourself with the brightest future possible is key.
To say that 2020 took a real bite out of professional networking would be an understatement, but connecting with other people in your industry still remains a very powerful part of any career or business development strategy. This makes networking too valuable to ignore even in challenging times.
We’ve thrown together a few networking tips to help you stay on top of whatever kind of networking events pop up for you this year.
MEETING UP ONLINE?
First Impression Adjustments
Most likely, a good percentage of our meeting and networking events are going to take place in the virtual world. This means the nature of our first impressions are going to change a little bit.
In addition to traditional networking preliminaries like dressing in appropriate attire and having our supplemental materials at the ready, we should be prepared and well versed with the right technology. Since we’re going to be viewed on a screen, we need to make sure the viewer receives the best possible image. This means that we’re going to have to pay close attention to our devices, our setting, our lighting, and our connectivity.
Your laptop’s built-in camera and microphone are likely insufficient unless you have one of the latest machines. Instead, consider adding a new external webcam and mic to your laptop or using your smartphone as it probably has a more powerful camera and mic setup.
For reference, Zoom recommends using a camera with 720p (1280×720) resolution that delivers at least 20 frames per second. They also recommend a microphone you can keep close to yourself, or clip on, that operates at 600 ohms (Ω) or below. Bluetooth microphones are recommended if you’re using a smartphone.
Setting the Scene
As for your lighting and setting conditions, this is somewhat of a rare instance where you get to tailor your first impression more closely than you could in a public setting. Choose a charming area of your home or other suitable location that delivers a positive image to your viewer and minimizes potential disruptions. Test your setup before your meeting and adjust as necessary. Make sure your devices work well and you have a strong internet connection.
You don’t have to be an expert film director or cinematographer here, but you should feel confident in your ability to control the image that viewers are seeing. You get to be viewed in the way you’d prefer to be viewed, and that can be an empowering feeling as you work to build new professional relationships.
HANGING OUT IN PERSON?
Last year bought about some of the most drastic changes to traditional business networking events that most professionals have ever experienced. Effectively, they were kind of eliminated for a time. But people have adapted over the last few months and new in-person opportunities are starting to arise. General trends are indicating that companies are holding smaller, more exclusive in-person events. Many are also going with a combined use of virtual and in-person gatherings.
People will not be attending any in-person events until a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available. This is both an advantage and a challenge for people looking to build up their networks. Some of your target audience may not be in attendance, but you’ll have a better chance to get noticed by the people who do attend. The real impact will come from making the most of this chance.
Maximizing Your “Wow” Factor
Smaller crowd sizes could give you a better chance to shine if you form a polished approach. Now is a great time to update your business cards, practice your pitch, and order up your customized leave-behinds, whether they be printed materials or any other kind of specialty items. Pricing on these kinds of things are very favorable right now, which helps you maximize your impression.
Be creative when making your selections. Quality, useful materials tend to generate the best results. For example, a notepad or handy tool bearing your contact information is likely to be more memorable than a single-use item like a flyer. Something unique and handy will help your recipient remember you, which extends your presence and strengthens your relationship.
Expect an Emphasis on Safety
Don’t worry about practicing your firm business handshake, because you probably won’t be using it for a while. You can expect to see a much greater emphasis on infection safety protocols at future in-person business events. There is going to be a lot less touching and a lot more physical distance, and health screening areas are likely to become commonplace.
On a related note, trends are indicating there will be a much greater use of breakout sessions as a means to keep crowds disbursed at business events. Again, this presents a good possibility to get some one-on-one time with people that you’re trying to reach. Utilize these smaller settings to your advantage by planning an appropriate and personalized introduction to yourself or your services.
Get Ready to Connect
Although they have changed a lot, professional networking opportunities remain one of the best ways to accelerate your business or career. A little bit of advanced preparation and knowledge about what to expect will help you stay on your toes for your next networking event. Even in the confines of our current national situation, there are still great reasons to continue meeting people. Don’t let the challenges of 2021 hold you back. There is still got a lot to gain.
This piece by Dren Asselmeier originally ran on Nutshell.com.
While experienced sales reps know that success comes from communicating clearly in terms their prospects can understand, there are numerous slang terms that they reserve for sales meetings and happy hours.
Here are some of the sales slang words and phrases all salespeople have in their arsenal—and why you shouldn’t use insider jargon around potential customers.
Methodology for qualifying leads in which sales reps confirm that a prospect has the budget, authority, need, and timeline to buy. If any of those factors aren’t in place, it’s unlikely that you’ll make the sale.
Guaranteed to put you in a cheerful mood, a bluebird is a lucrative sales opportunity that drops into your lap unexpectedly, and without much effort.
BOTTOM OF THE FUNNEL (BOFU)
When a prospect enters the bottom of the sales funnel, they’re nearing the point where they will make a purchase. In other words, they have made it through higher-funnel stages like qualification, and they’re ready to be closed. (See also: Top of the funnel)
A collection of testimonials, case studies, or pictures collected from satisfied customers. A sales rep can present their brag book to prospects to illustrate their prior successes and how they’ve exceeded their clients’ expectations.
Cues from a prospect that they’re ready to buy. Buying signals can be either verbal (i.e., asking about price) or non-verbal (i.e., nodding and holding eye contact).
The opposite of an open-ended question, a closed question is typically a yes-or-no question that directs a prospect toward making a choice or taking a position. (Example: “Are you happy with your current supplier?”)
The rate at which sales teams or individual reps obtain new leads and sales opportunities. (See also: MQL and SQL)
The decision maker is the person who ultimately approves a sale or purchase. This is not necessarily the person who appears to be calling the shots; it’s possible that person is actually the gatekeeper.
An advance against a sales rep’s future earnings. Sales organizations offer draws to make sure their salespeople are sufficiently compensated when they’re getting started. After receiving a draw, a sales rep’s commissions are used to repay the advance; once it’s fully repaid, a rep can start earning commissions again. (See also: zeroed out) Draws can be recoverable or non-recoverable.
A selling method that attempts to appeal to a buyer’s emotions, either by generating desire and excitement around the product’s benefits, or evoking negative emotions like fear and frustration—pain points that your product or service can alleviate. (See also: intellectual sale)
An acronym for “features, advantages, and benefits.” Sales reps use this three-part structure to communicate the value of their product or service, by defining its characteristics (features), the positive attributes of those features (advantages), and how the product would enhance the customer’s life or reduce pain points (benefits).
A gatekeeper is someone who limits access to the decision maker. For instance, a gatekeeper may be a personal assistant who relays information back to their boss. Gatekeepers are responsible for filtering out unimportant distractions, which means you have to prove your value to them first.
As opposed to an emotional sale, an intellectual sale attempts to appeal to a prospect’s logic, and their need for a quick, affordable solution to a problem. An intellectual sale is more “business” than “personal.”
LAND AND EXPAND
“Landing” a sale refers to the initial close, when you bring on a new customer for the first time. “Expanding” means generating even more revenue from the account by upselling or broadening the scope of the service you’re providing. Sales reps need to land and expand in order to generate the most revenue from a given prospect.
Building rapport with a sales prospect by adopting their body language and speech patterns. Subtlety is key, here. Overdo it, and you’ll come off as ingenuine, or even creepy.
MQLs, or marketing qualified leads, refer to prospects that have demonstrated enough interest or engagement to be identified as potential customers by your marketing department. For example, an MQL might be a person who downloads a white paper from your website or has had multiple visits to your pricing page. MQLs are passed along to the sales team where they have the chance to become SQLs.
Non-sales-related activities, meaning things that sales reps spend time on that don’t directly lead to sales. This can include administrative tasks and paperwork, or making personal calls and surfing the Internet. Whenever you aren’t prospecting, qualifying, setting up presentations and appointments, or closing, you’re probably engaged in an NSA.
A question or concern a prospect raises about your product or service that could get in the way of closing the sale. Some of the most common sales objections include price (“I can get this cheaper somewhere else”), trust (“I’ve never heard of your company before”), and timing (“I’m just too busy to deal with this right now”). Closing sales depends on knocking down every objection that comes your way.
PUPPY DOG CLOSE
Allowing customers to try out a product with no obligation while they make their decision. The idea is, an uncommitted buyer will fall in love with the product and won’t want to let it go—just like person interested in buying a puppy wouldn’t be able to say “no” after taking one home for a few days.
SALES PREVENTION DEPARTMENT
A term of non-affection used to describe your company’s legal department. Whether it’s multiple rounds of back-and-forth on contracts, or immovability on service level agreements, legal issues often stand in the way of deals getting done, which can ruin a sales rep’s day.
Holding off on closing active deals once you’ve already hit your quota/commission for the month, so that you can more easily hit your numbers the following month.
Selling a complementary product or service to a prospect who is using a competitor for your main product.
SMILE AND DIAL
Cold-calling with a cheerful, positive tone of voice—and yes, a smile. Smiling communicates warmth and trustworthiness over the phone, which makes the prospect less likely to hang up on you. Even if people can’t see your smile, they can hear it.
Once a marketing qualified lead has met an organization’s lead qualification criteria to determine if they’re a good customer fit, they become sales qualified leads (or, SQLs). Typically, an MQL would have to show readiness to buy as well as fulfill other elements of the BANT criteria to be promoted to SQLs.
A prospect who has no intention or ability to buy. It isn’t long before the red flags appear: they don’t have a budget, the purchase is not within their authority, or their timeline is far into the future. Even if they’re genuinely interested in your product or service, tire-kickers are time-wasters.
TIME KILLS ALL DEALS
Simply put, a sale is less likely to happen as more time passes—so the quicker you can knock down objections and move prospects through your funnel, the better. Remember: If a prospect says “let me think about it,”it’s because they haven’t been completely sold yet, and you need to increase your efforts before they slip away for good.
TOP OF THE FUNNEL (TOFU)
The start of the buying process. Often attracted by awareness-stage website content, top of the funnel leads have shown a general interest in your product, or are looking for more information on the solutions you provide. TOFU leads need to be qualified and nurtured so they can start moving down the funnel.
Making a sale more profitable by convincing a customer to purchase a more expensive product than the one they intended to buy, or selling additional services or complementary products to go along with the initial item. Sales reps can turn an average sale into an outstanding one by upselling.
WHALE (OR, WHITE WHALE)
A prospect that has the potential to bring tremendous sales revenue to an organization. Like Moby Dick, whales are big, elusive, and very rare—and sales teams pull out all the stops to land one.
When a sales rep earns enough commission to make their draw balance equal to zero, they have zeroed out their account, and can start earning commissions again.
And there you have it! Even though prospects or customers might seem to understand what you’re talking about during meetings, you should avoid using jargon during sales interactions. Sure, your clients might know what you mean, but the danger is you will either lose them completely or they’ll think you don’t care about them enough to communicate clearly.
Cross-selling is an excellent resources for agents who already have an established book of business. Clients who already know, like and trust you are great prospects for selling more than one product that you have available. So, when it comes to growing revenue for yourself or your agency, cross-selling to existing clients is a certified win-win..
Studies have found that nearly 80% of your future revenue will come from your existing customers. In addition, customer retention is often cheaper than prospecting new clients.
Cross-selling involves selling an additional or complementary product to a customer based on their individual needs. For example, if your client is starting a business and asks for a quote about General Liability you can also see if they’d be interested in Workers Compensation and Commercial Property since they will likely need all three to successfully launch a business.
So, before you increase your budget for lead generation or spend hours trying to network for new clients, you should first focus on the ones you already have. Here are four easy, actionable tips that will help you cross-sell more insurance policies.
1. SET UP YOUR GOALS
You should already have sales goals for your agency, and cross-selling should be a factor in those goals. When setting your cross-selling goals, make sure to:
The key to building up your cross-selling is to develop a system to help you identify opportunities. This could include:
3. BE ASSERTIVE BUT NOT PUSHY
No one likes a pushy sales agent, if you press too hard you might lose a client’s business. Make sure you always handle a client’s immediate needs first, then offer them information about other policies. If a client isn’t interested in additional policies, respect their wishes, you can always follow-up at a later time.
One way to push cross-selling, without being over-the-top, is to educate your clients on how they can bundle policies to save money. For example, if a client is only interested in General Liability, explain to them the benefits of a Business Owners Policy (BOP), which combines GL and Commercial Property.
Another cross-selling strategy can include offering your clients a free business assessment. For example, offer your client a free consultation to help them identify potential coverage gaps. This is a great way to educate your clients on the value of purchasing more policies.
4. WATCH HOW THINGS UNFOLD
Just as it’s important to set goals, you also need to analyze the results. Measure how well your agents are performing on their cross-selling opportunities and identify areas for improvement. On a monthly or quarterly basis analyze your data by looking at:
If done correctly, cross-selling could prove to be very lucrative for your agency and beneficial for your clients. If you keep these four tips in mind, you’ll be able to increase your revenue in no time.
Marketing's tricky. Lots of times a marketing strategy will sound like an absolute home run while you're brainstorming, and then, once the strategy has been put to action, you realize you've struck out. This isn't because you suck at marketing. It's because not even the most well thought-out plans are going to work on everyone.
While you're trying to navigate what marketing strategies will work online, in person and in your community, there are a few very important land mines that you should avoid, no matter how good they look on paper. Take a look at these tried and true marketing DONT's.
1. DON'T ADD PEOPLE TO LISTS WITHOUT PERMISSION
Just because you had a great networking conversation or prospect chat and someone hands you a business card, that doesn't mean you're allowed to start spamming the ever-loving crap out of them. People need to be able to opt-in to receiving marketing calls and emails from you. Once you start spamming people, you're going to get reported and THAT is never a good look.
2. DON'T MAKE PEOPLE FILL OUT LONG QUOTE FORMS ONLINE
Ain't nobody got time for that. And also, you've got to operate on the assumption that people aren't tech-savvy enough to be able to complete a quote form online. We know, but still. Make sure that whatever forms you're asking people to fill out online are quick and easy. You need to make sure they hit DONE on that form before they hit the back or exit button.
3. DON'T USE A PERSONAL FACEBOOK PAGE FOR YOUR BUSINESS
Just no. Facebook has gone to great lengths to create a massive business platform for small business owners and it works. There are a ton of backend benefits to using a business page like insights and an ad platform (if you choose to run ads). Also, a business page is set up to look professional and to make your business as accessible as possible for your followers.
4. DON'T BUY FOLLOWERS AND ENGAGEMENT
We know that a post with low likes makes you feel like your content stinks, but it's better than paying for fake engagement on your posts. Not only can most platforms spot fake engagement from a mile away, so can your followers AND IT'S A BAD LOOK. You want to always be striving for as much genuine engagement from real followers as possible.
5. DON'T HAVE MORE THAN ONE OFFICIAL WEBPAGE
Lots of agents want to have a personal web page, as well as a page that lives on their carrier's site. This creates confusion from the jump for any prospect who Googles you. When a prospect finds two pages for the same agent, they're more apt to continue their search and find someone with just one page.
When it comes to what's GOING TO WORK for you and your agency in terms of marketing, it's a bit of a crap shoot. The good news is that those who've gone before you have a pretty clear picture of what ISN'T GOING TO WORK. Listen to agents when they tell you what tactics to avoid when it comes to reaching out to new customers. It'll save you a lot of embarrassment.
This piece by Julie Bawden-Davis originally ran on AmericanExpress.com.
Want to keep employees motivated? Here are four ways that have nothing to do with money.
Ronna Coe knows the best workforce is one that's the most established, so the small-business owner does what she can to retain quality employees. She’s also aware that to keep her workers content, she must provide motivation in the workplace.
“Our business involves a real team effort, and it’s important that all employees know their value to the finished product and to customer satisfaction,” says Coe, chairman of Coastal Component Industries (CCI), which employs 18 people, more than half of whom have been with her for more than 10 years. The company was founded in 1990 and manufactures a wide variety of electronic components for the military, defense and aerospace markets.
Given the tight economy, Coe does her best to keep spirits up and employees inspired. While she does offer a variety of generous benefits, including 10o-percent company-paid employee health insurance and substantial year-end bonuses, she knows that she can’t solely rely on such monetary motivations, so she also focuses on intrinsic motivators like those highlighted in the well-known book on management, Work Happy: What Great Bosses Know, by Jill Geisler.
1. Focus on Employees' Strengths
Effective managers know that focusing on employee strengths leads to satisfied workers. Giving employees the opportunity to concentrate on work that allows them to excel leads to high-quality workmanship.
“We expect a lot from our employees and we rely on their best effort every day,” Coe says, noting that an important part of encouraging competence is giving feedback. “We strive to always thank employees for a job well done when the work meets deadlines and our expectations.”
2. Be Flexible with Schedules
Giving employees control of their work environment whenever possible often motivates. Though the manufacturing nature of her business precludes her from allowing most of her employees an autonomous work schedule, Coe was able to offer flextime to her vice president, Diana Romero.
“My flexible schedule, which constitutes four days a week, allows me to take care of my granddaughter and gives me personal time,” Romero says. “This autonomy also really motivates me to do my best work, because it gives me the message that I’m valued and that makes me loyal to the company and its mission.”
State Farm insurance agent Rhonda Shader’s company provides insurance and financial services to small businesses, individuals and families. She also believes in motivating employees by providing autonomy and flexibility when possible.
“We have operating hours, but I always try to accommodate personal needs and wants,” says Shader, who employs six people. “Recently, my top salesperson asked to have one personal day a month off just to catch up. I readily agreed, and we worked out a plan we were both happy with to accommodate her request. I am always open to ideas, as long as we can continue to serve our customers well.”
3. Give Employees a Sense of Purpose
When it comes to what motivates employees, though a paycheck may seem like the obvious answer, it’s not always the prime motivator, says Shader, who notes that a person’s sense of purpose is often tied to job satisfaction, and the only way to understand that purpose is to get to know each employee.
“People respond to a variety of motivators,” Shader says. “It takes some work to figure out what each person needs, but once you determine what turns employees on and fuels their sense of purpose, they feel appreciated and valued, and you get their very best.”
4. Broadcast the Company's Progress
Every employee wants to know that progress is being made and that they and the company are meeting goals. Good managers keep the workforce apprised of company targets and when they are met, as well as take special interest in the personal goals of employees.
At least once a year, Coe meets with every employee about their individual profit sharing plans. “We go over their account together, and they really appreciate the attention to this aspect of their personal financial goals,” she says. “They acknowledge how valuable this company benefit is and walk away feeling good about their progress.”
Keeping employees happy and productive in a tough economy may not be an easy task, but your business is sure to benefit when you incorporate these tactics for creating motivation in the workplace.