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The Power of Walking Away

January 27, 2015

ID-100221465My experience indicates that far too few producers have the courage to walk away from prospects.  As a result, they end up working on “unqualified” opportunities for extended periods of time only to have the deals fall apart.  To avoid this trap, you must set the rules of the game through a prospect criteria filter.  If you let the prospective client and incumbent agent or broker control the rules, you’re going to lose!

Your prospect criteria filter will enable you to pre-determine the degree to which the percentages of winning are 80% or more.  Never begin the “heavy lifting” (coverage and claim reviews, employee manual analysis, critique of contracts, leases, policies and procedures, and business continuity planning) until your opportunity for success is determined.

Develop a criteria filter comprised of lights – red (stop), yellow (caution) and green (go) — to assess the prospective client’s relationship with his or her incumbent agent or broker, gain access to the firm’s management team, and judge their enthusiasm for your unique process.    If you get three green lights, you are off and running – a new client is around the corner.  Using the filter, you can be confident in a high success ratio.  If you encounter yellow lights, proceed with caution and perform due diligence before committing time and resources.  If you get red lights, recognize that your time, confidence, reputation, and money are at risk.  There are times that you may decide to proceed with a red light.  Only do this with the strong belief that you can turn a red light green.

Remember, encountering red lights are facts of life.  Be ready to bury your pride and graciously walk away.

How do you know when it’s time to walk away?  These nine warning signs indicate it might be time to walk away from a deal:

  1. When the incumbent’s relationship to the prospect is exceptionally strong. If the incumbent is related to the prospect or an old school chum, proceed with extra caution.
  2. When you’re asked for a list of markets and given the insurance policies in the first meeting.
  3. When you are simply one of many asked to provide a proposal. And you cannot find a means to stand out in the crowd…beyond a competitive bid.
  4. When you are not permitted to speak directly with the ultimate decision-maker or gain access to the firm’s leadership team.
  5. When your prospect refuses to commit to your process. Rather, you are required to play by his or her rules.
  6. When anyone at the prospect’s business acts or behaves in an unethical manner. Or when you’ve found evidence of legal wrong-doing during the insurance or risk assessment.
  7. When your prospect refuses to engage in a meaningful dialogue early in the process and simply demands a competitive bid.
  8. When your prospect makes it clear that you are competing “to keep the incumbent honest.”
  9. When your prospect shows little enthusiasm for your unique process.

Before you invest time, energy, and resources with a prospect, review these warning signs.  Remember, when you walk away, you free up more time to work with other prospects who have a higher likelihood of maturing to fruition.

The key is to recognize the signs and be prepared to cut the ties before you have invested too much.

These are just a few warning signs…what other signs tell indicate a bad deal?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 27, 2015 5:22 pm

    Reblogged this on Sales Stimulus.

  2. Jason Gargala permalink
    February 2, 2015 10:50 am

    Scott, you are spot on!….thank you for refreshing in our minds what our philosphy is.

  3. February 4, 2015 12:07 pm

    A lot of good advice here again, Scott.

    However, I think there’s a strong possibility that industry sales executives will sit back and expect their producers to develop these important skills on their own. If that’s the case, it’s very likely not going to happen.

    Even top athletes, football players and the like need good coaches to ensure their “charges” develop the right skill set. Your tips are spot on but, unless a rookie or developing salesperson has the right regular coaching, your points will not be instilled into that budding producer until they are inculcated in every way over a certain period of time.

    As with any budding golfers: if the right habits are digested at the outset then, providing players have sufficient talent at the outset, the chances are they will become damned good players later on. Brokerage sales executives should not turn a blind-eye to their responsibility for bringing prospective producers up to speed.

    We know they’re busy people, But, they either put the effort in at the outset or they will pay a big price in time later on as they have to give the time to pushing the unsuccessful salesperson out. In other words, they pay now or pay later.

    I’m assuming you give as much of your valuable professional guidance to industry sales executives as to their producers. Best, Peter

  4. Stephanie permalink
    February 9, 2015 11:20 am

    I can’t thank you enough for this it is something we have been doing but not quite so succinct. My problem is telling these insured’s we wouldn’t be able to help with their quote this year. What is your easy way to let them down. We are primarily Commercial Trucking, they talk a bunch, just wouldn’t want them saying we blew them off or something.
    Thanks for the article and your time.

  5. Maria Foye permalink
    February 9, 2015 5:39 pm

    Thank you for the reminder.

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