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December 16, 2016

Let’s Make Lemons Out of Lemonade

Summary:

Building tight relationships with clients by staying in touch personally is easy and is the best offense against today's wave of disrupters.

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

Especially since the announcement of its plans by Lemonade, there’s been an awful lot of buzz and concern about the arrival of so many new disruptive technologies and how they’re going to change the insurance marketplace. Many of these changes are welcome, bring benefits broadly and root out inefficiencies and costs in places where they should be reduced. I say, more power to them.

Some people, however, fear that new selling systems will reduce or eliminate the need for producers and brokers, who are such a part of the traditional insurance buyer’s journey. That will happen to some extent but will only disrupt your business if you let it.

The ancient warrior Sun Tzu said, “Swift as the wind. Quiet as the forest. Conquer like the fire. Steady as the mountain.”

When the enemy is at the gates, you’d better be ready to both defend your holdings and also strike out strongly to expand your position. Here are four ways you can both hold your ground and expand your territory by using the unique advantage and value positioning that you already have today:

See also: Lemonade: A Whole New Paradigm  

1. Your Network is Your Net Worth. Focus on identifying a group of network partners who will become what I’ll call your “A list,” where you’ll be building deep, high-trust relationships. Network partners should be professionals in your market area, your city or county who are already serving people who look like they’d also be ideal target clients for the products/services you feature.

Imagine having a group of 10 to 12 other key professionals who agree to work together as a team, a trusted team, an inner circle. Now consider they are all committed to and known for delivering the highest-quality products and services and all then actively agree to introduce each other to clients when the need for another’s products become apparent. Once this team is formed, there are myriad ways that members can nurture relationships and promote each other without being costly or over the top. You will increase the value you’re each delivering to clients, and, then, your network will grow your net worth. (Here are 17 ways to build your business by working with referral partners.)

2. Engagement. How many times have you wondered if a service provider you were working with really cared or was committed to you after the sale was made? Many times, I’ve thought, “Because I haven’t heard from XYZ in so long, maybe I should just check out what I can learn online.” Sadly, I’ve had that thought many times with my insurance providers, who let the gap in the relationship build and made me feel unappreciated (except maybe at renewal time). In one case, I went so many years without hearing from my provider that I switched brokers.

Today, web marketers have positioned themselves to exploit your weakness if lack of engagement is your modus operandi. But know, this weakness is so easy to fix. With just a little focus here, you’ll produce huge results.

A highly reliable survey conducted over many years showed that professionals who stayed in touch with their clients in various informative and personal ways every two to three weeks had extraordinary retention rates and virtually a 100% incidence of getting referrals! Lower that engagement level, or make conversations just about sales, and that referral rate fell to no higher than 7%.

I found those results amazing. I still do.

Building highly engaged relationships with your clients by staying in touch personally is easy and is the best offense against the wave of disrupters trying to move your clients over to their offerings.

3. Influence. Give and Give. A few years ago, Arizona State University Professor Dr. Robert Cialdini wrote a seminal book titled, Influence: The Power of Persuasion. It speaks to the amazing human force or emotion I’ll call “the law of reciprocity”: When one receives something of value from someone, there’s usually a desire ultimately to give something back. So imagine what happens with your clients, your trusted network, even your friends and family when you are building your stance as the “giver.”

Getting in touch, staying in touch, giving and giving, in various ways produces huge returns as the people you give to build this desire to reciprocate. In this “economy of giving,” everyone benefits, and it is very, very hard for an outside influence to come in and dislocate this relationship. We’ve seen many insurance professionals apply this process in a systematic way to a small group of key connections and end up with as many as 40 new referred opportunities in just 90 days.

Relationship “glue,” higher retention and a filled new prospect pipeline… how does that sound as a good offense to face the external market changes coming at you.

4. Do Your Job! That comes from coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots, and, regardless of your feelings about the Pats, his simple demand has helped produce the most consistent success among all NFL teams over the last 15 years.

Yet so many of us don’t work the process in a consistent, disciplined manner. Instead, we float from idea to tactics to new idea, and the simple things that are so clear and proven fall by the wayside or slip through the cracks. Imagine what a “15 minutes a day” new habit of following the steps above might do for you and your clients, for your 2017 and for the long-term viability of your business. Imagine how your producers could move from struggles to abundant pipelines with a little more structure and focus on the basics… of simply doing the job of building deep, connected relationships with clients and influencers in your market area. Things will very quickly turn “right side up” across all areas of your business.

See also: Why Can’t We All Get Along?  

So if you’re concerned about the markets running away from you because of outside forces, stop and make a decision to do the things that are fundamental to every good business. Get yourself and your team aligned on the right behaviors and focused on making a daily effort on the steps that will withstand the intruders.

You’ll not only have a defensible castle with a huge moat around it for your business, but you’ll be building a strong offense and growth pathway that makes your business even more valuable. You be taking Lemonade and other threats and turning them back into nice, juicy lemons.

I’ll guarantee the ROI on your following these steps will produce so much more than any other marketing or social media programs you might be considering.

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About the Author

Thomas Gay is a life-long serial entrepreneur focused on bringing IT solutions to complex business and marketing problems. Gay’s newest success, an exciting web 2.0 technology firm called Refer.com, provides a package of high-performance, referral marketing tools.

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