I’ve worked in the insurance industry for more than 1/2 my life in retail, then 10 years consulting technology, marketing and other services. I’ve introduced 1,000’s of agents to technology partners, lead providers, insurance carriers, recruiters, bookkeepers; the list goes on and on. If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout all of this time, is that insurance agencies demand excellence from their vendors. In some cases, their demands are unreasonable and in others; they’re extremely fair with realistic expectations. Then, there’s that percentage of agents that are outright mean and nasty.
I’m talking about the agent that’s never happy with their Agency Management System, Carrier(s), website, marketing strategy, commissions; well, you get the point. Agents are in a tough spot – we were once dominant in the industry due to our offices on main street and big signs that said “Insurance” and the internet was non-existent or to new to pose a threat. 8 out of 10 people that walked into your office for quotes purchased insurance and carriers didn’t have other means of distribution which gave us leverage – compared to what we have today. Times have changed! Have you?
Most vendors I meet with talk about how difficult it is to get an insurance agency owner on the phone to discuss their account. Whether it’s a technology partner, lead provider or carrier calling on an independent agent, getting an agent to talk to them is sometimes impossible. This is crazy to me because the biggest complaint I hear from agents is that their phones stopped ringing, and business has to improve. Yet, a partner that speaks to 100’s of agents every week can’t get you on the phone? Let’s think about this for a second – if my business needed to improve and a vendor that I do business with calls me I’m taking that call and picking their brain! They talk to 100’s of agents every week so an agent that needs to improve should be all ears.
Agents should be enhancing vendor relationships so you’re at the top of the list when there’s an opportunity. Never mind the fact that it’s common courtesy to return phone calls, but also think about how your agency could benefit by forging relationships with vendors? Somewhere along the way, we started acting like the CEO of a Fortune 500 company with call screening and we won’t talk to anyone we don’t know. For a sales organization, that just sounds backwards to me. Now, do I think you should get on the phone with every telemarketer trying to sell you credit card processing or a new widget, absolutely not – but not taking any calls is a losing strategy as well.
Just remember, people will keep calling you until you say NO. If you don’t take the call, or give them a “maybe“, they’re going to keep calling. Be proactive, listen to the value prop and if it’s not a fit, be honest and let them know. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how building rapport with your vendors, carriers and others can help your business. Rather than looking at it as “spending” or “wasting” 5 minutes on the phone, look at it as an investment of your time that may improve your business. If it doesn’t move on, but if you don’t try, you’ll never know what could’ve been.
The Insurance Business is a “relationship” business isn’t it? Or does that only apply to people that might buy something from us?
Visit Ganis Consulting for more information about how we can help your agency grow.
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