There’s a direct correlation between your customers’ loyalty and the profitability of your multiline practice. It boils down to this: If you can leverage the loyalty and convert your customers into clients, you will have a profitable business.
How do you convert customers into clients? Kurt Kushner, director of Sales for Eastern Pennsylvania for Nationwide Financial Network, discussed this and six other strategies that can help you grow your practice. Kushner spoke at the NAIFA 2009 conference.
- Clients don’t leave, but customers come and go. So how do you get your multiline customer to be a client? Let’s say that you’re working with a family who bought some insurance from you. What other business is there on the table that you may be walking away from because you’re not asking questions or your staff isn’t digging deep enough?
If you’re life insurance-licensed and not using license regularly, you will not be a consistent achiever and a good life producer because you lose the skills that you may have had. There’s also the moral imperative. You have to educate your customers about the products they need—they will become clients once they form a relationship with you and not your company.
- There are four things—vision, planning, scorekeeping and execution—that separate an average producer from a top performer. You need to have vision to know where you want to go, who you want to be and what your sales should look like. Stop and take a step away from your business to plan and then write the plan. Measure what you’re achieving. Above all, execute.
Do you think you’re in the insurance business? You’ve got to understand that you’re in the protection or people business, and not in the insurance business. It’s a natural extension of your business to sell not only life insurance, but IRAs, 401(k)s and all the financial products your clients need as well.
Statistics tell a story. According to LIMRA, 56 percent of married couples with children under 18 say they need more life insurance; 40 percent have just not gotten around to it; and 25 percent say that no one has ever asked them to buy life insurance. Why is that? Because P&C agents are busy and sometimes they don’t have the time to stop and think about asking for other sales opportunities. The next person who asks is likely to get the sale. So ask all the time, but you will need systems and processes for that to happen.
Focus on people willing to buy. Some people will never be candidates for life insurance. Consequently, they’ll never be candidates for any other product or service you sell. But you need a system to weed those people out. How do you get to know whether they care about somebody enough to make it worth your time to go after them? The transactional life sale is that demarcation line. If they buy a life insurance policy, they love somebody. Offer a term policy. In many cases, it’s the right thing to do anyway. Do it as often as you can and build an inventory of people who are willing to buy.
Become a consultative salesperson. We know the value of what we do, but do your customers understand that value? They will seek you for professional advice and services once they view you as a consultant. How do you get to that level? Ask open-ended questions. One question you should ask your clients after you’ve sold them an auto or a homeowner’s policy is: “Mr. Prospect, thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity to do business with you. Let me ask you one question. If you could have anything at all in the world, what would it be?” You’ve just opened up that person’s mind to endless possibilities, but you don’t know what they value until you ask an open-ended question like that. If all you’re doing is talking about yourself, your products and your agency, your customers will not have the opportunity to see you as a consultant.
Get your customer service reps to prospect for you. Build a rapport with your CSRs and tell them what you do. Interview them. Tell them: “I would like to show you what it is that I do, so you understand what valuable additional services we can provide to our customers.” CSRs are in a service role and like to provide service. It makes them feel good. Tap into what drives them. Let them know how important it is for you to sell life insurance to their customers. ou also have to understand their role. Part of building the rapport is to appreciate the difficulty of their job and the work they do. You can also pay them a fee because the referral fee or the finder’s fee will encourage them to work with you.