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Building Your Network… Generosity is Key

August 1, 2019

Editor’s Note: In part one of this two-part series, we look at what it really means to build your network by connecting with others. Be sure to check out the three key don’ts of networking.

Sam is a 37-year-old producer who is having the time of his life.  He never cold calls, has an excellent work/life balance and rarely has outside competition on key accounts.  He is actively involved in his community and is viewed as a respected professional advisor.  There is rarely a week that goes by that Sam does not get a qualified new business lead from an enthusiastic client or center of influence.  He developed $350,000 of new business revenue last year and expects to produce in excess of $400,000 this year.  Sam is “living the dream” with his family and friends.

We had an opportunity to catch up with Sam last week to better understand his recipe for success. We were curious to learn how Sam has time to coach Little League, serve as a Deacon in his church and sit on two nonprofit boards.  When asked the question what fuels his amazing results, Sam sheepishly smiled and gave me a two-word answer, “My network.”

When Sam entered the insurance industry in his mid-20s, he quickly learned that it would be impossible to achieve his goals on his own.  He understood the benefits of a network comprised of supportive family, friends and clients.  “I don’t come from money.  I was not a rich kid with loads of contacts.  As a youngster, I caddied at the local country club.  In carrying the bags for successful business leaders, I came to learn of the power of relationships and connections” stated Sam.  “When you help others, they want to return the favor.  Reciprocity is one of my guiding principles.”

While Sam utilizes a differentiated customer acquisition process, it is his network of clients, family and friends who continue to shape his life.  While the vast majority of producers waste time cold calling to breathe life into old leads, Sam spends his time connecting with old and new relationships.  Sam has a goal of developing one new relationship each week.  His network continues to grow exponentially.  His network allows him to acquire precise and timely information about opportunities and positioning with decision makers.

Learning how to connect is one of the most important skills you will ever learn.  Effective networking is not about serving yourself.  Rather, finding ways to make other people more successful.  Successful producers understand that real networking is about generosity not greed.  It is about giving before you receive.  Learning how to help others succeed is the key ingredient in Sam’s networking process.

The great myth of networking is that you to reach out to others only at the time of need.  This is incorrect.  Successful individuals built their network long before they needed anything at all.  Creating a community is not a short term solution or one off activity only to be used when necessary.  Building a powerful network is a journey not a destination.  It begins with a predetermined plan and a strategy to carry it out.  The strategy is built upon the constant process of connecting – of offering and asking for help.  When you put people in touch with one another and give your time, expertise and share freely, the pie gets bigger for everyone.

It is interesting to note that Sam’s lifestyle is designed around his network.  Intense involvement in the community is part of his program.  The more he gives, the more he gets.  However, he only invests time doing something in which he has a passion.  He states that “I care so much about my family – especially my two young children.  The majority of my community involvement is focused upon their activities — coaching, school, church, Boy Scouts to name a few.  I have come to learn that common interests are essential building blocks of a relationship.  It is amazing how much I can learn about somebody else when we are both doing something we enjoy.”

When asked to share strategies, Sam started with three “don’ts”:

  • Don’t get involved in anything unless you have a sincere interest. You must have a passion, otherwise it becomes a chore.
  • Don’t be a schmoozer. Nobody likes a schmoozer.
  • Don’t go to business card exchanges. Networking events are to be reserved for the desperate and uninformed.

In part two, we take look at Sam’s 10 secrets for networking success.

About the Author

Scott Addis, CPCU, CRA, CBWA is the CEO of Beyond Insurance and is recognized as an industry leader having been named a Philadelphia finalist for Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award as well as one of the “25 Most Innovative Agents in America.”

Beyond Insurance is a consulting firm that offers leadership training, cultural transformation, and talent and tactical development for enlightened professionals who are looking to take their practice to the next level.  Since 2007, the proven and repeatable processes of Beyond Insurance have transformed individuals and organizations as measured by enhanced organic growth, productivity, profitability, and value in the marketplace.

Become More Resilient, Become More Successful

July 22, 2019

How did you score on our simple 20 question survey measuring resilience? If your resiliency score could use some improvement, then read on to learn ways for you to become more resilient?

Characteristics of Resilient People

In taking the resiliency quiz, do you better appreciate the qualities of resilient people?  While research confirms that the coping skills of people vary drastically after a crisis, resilient individuals are able to manage their feelings, keep perspective in check, and maintain control as they tackle problems.

An October 27, 2015 article in Inc. magazine by Jeremy Goldman[1] suggests that there are eight key habits of resilient people:

  1. Resilient people are independent

They don’t rely solely on others for validation and their self-worth. They are proud of who they are and what they have accomplished.

  1. Resilient people have a support system

Springing back from failure requires all tools and methods available to you. And what better tool could you have than good friends? Your support system can talk you down from the metaphoric ledge, and is crucial for helping you deal with failure, stress, and negativity.

  1. Resilient people look to the future

When they experience failure, setbacks, or even tragedy, resilient people realize that life goes on and that things will get better.

  1. Resilient people constantly strive for self-improvement

They recognize that they are not perfect and treat this as an opportunity, not a weakness. Self-improvement is always possible, for anyone, in anything they do.

  1. Resilient people embrace failure

While many people understand this principle conceptually, they struggle to put it into practice when the time finally comes.  The good news? Even resilient people feel this way…for about a day. Then they reframe failure as an opportunity, and start figuring out what they’re going to do with their newfound freedom.

  1. Resilient people don’t build their lives with dominoes

When one thing tumbles, the rest do not follow suit.  When you allow unrelated segments of your life to impact one another negatively, you are allowing yourself to enter a vicious cycle that exacerbates each problem and ultimately makes you feel worse about it all.

  1. Resilient people are not rigid to the point of detriment

Unshakeable inflexibility is a weakness. It’s great to have routine and structure, but you also need to have the ability to shuffle obligations and make room for new opportunities, or you’ll burn yourself out and won’t take advantage of lucky breaks and happenstance.

  1. Resilient people are human

Last, and perhaps most importantly, they will make mistakes and have true setbacks. But they’ll come out the other side, and pick things right up again the next day, or the day after. That’s really what resilience is, after all: It’s about not giving up, even when things go badly, even when we’ve made a mistake or let ourselves down.

You now have a sense of the characteristics of resilient people.  You may ask how does one go about becoming more resilient?  Below are a handful of tips:

  • Work on building positive attitudes and emotions
  • Spend time on your sense of purpose
  • Develop coping strategies and use them
  • Establish and nurture a supportive social network
  • Look after yourself – exercise, rest, eat well
  • Create time to do the things you enjoy
  • Recognize and develop your natural strengths

Confucius once said, “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall.”  Resilience…your greatest ally in your quest for success.

About the Author

Scott Addis, CPCU, CRA, CBWA is the CEO of Beyond Insurance and is recognized as an industry leader having been named a Philadelphia finalist for Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award as well as one of the “25 Most Innovative Agents in America.” Beyond Insurance is a consulting firm that offers leadership training, cultural transformation, and talent and tactical development for enlightened professionals who are looking to take their practice to the next level.  Since 2007, the proven and repeatable processes of Beyond Insurance have transformed individuals and organizations as measured by enhanced organic growth, productivity, profitability, and value in the marketplace.

[1] Goldman, Jeremy. “8 Habits of the Most Resilient People,” Inc. magazine.

How Resilient Are You? 20 Simple Questions to Help You Find Out

July 17, 2019

Just how resilient are you? Take our simple 20 question survey to find out.

In today’s hypercompetitive world, it takes more than hard work to succeed.  You must be willing to put yourself out there – even when you are faced with the fear of failure. Simply put, to move to the next level, you must take risks. And as you have experienced first-hand, these risks do not always bear fruit. For that reason, resilience is your greatest ally in your quest for success.

So what is resilience? It is that amazing skill that enables you to recover quickly from difficulties. With resilience at your side, you are at peace with humanity. Perhaps it is because your mistakes along the way have humbled you, or life experiences have helped you to accept your own vulnerabilities.

Let’s take a look at the lives of three famous people who prove these points – J.K. Rowling, Colonel Harland Sanders, and Oprah Winfrey[1]:

J.K. Rowling had just gotten a divorce, was on government aid, and could barely afford to JK Rowlingfeed her baby in 1994, just three years before the first Harry Potter book was published. When she was shopping it out, she was so poor she couldn’t afford a computer or even the cost of photocopying the 90,000-word novel, so she manually typed out each version to send to publishers. It was rejected dozens of times until finally Bloomsbury, a small London publisher, gave it a second chance after the CEO’s eight year-old daughter fell in love with it.

Colonel Harland Sanders was fired from a variety of jobs throughout his career before he first started cooking chicken in his roadside Shell Service Station in 1930, when he Harland Sanderswas 40 years old, during the Great Depression. Worried about how he was going to survive off his meager $105 monthly pension check, he set out to find restaurants who would franchise his secret recipe for a nickel for each piece of chicken sold. He drove around, sleeping in his car, and was rejected more than 1,000 times before finally finding his first partner.

Oprah Winfrey has dealt with a lot throughout her public life—criticism about her Oprahweight, racism, intrusive questions about her sexuality, just to name a few—but she never let it get in the way of her ambition and drive.  Growing up, Oprah was reportedly a victim of sexual abuse and was repeatedly molested by her cousin, an uncle, and a family friend. Later, she became pregnant and gave birth to a child at age 14, who passed away just two weeks later. But Oprah persevered, going on to finish high school as an honors student, earning a full scholarship to college, and working her way up through the ranks of television, from a local network anchor in Nashville to an international superstar and creator of her OWN network.

These three people give evidence that resilience is that ineffable quality that allows you to get knocked down and come back stronger than before. Rather than letting challenges, difficulties, or failure overcome you and drain your resolve, you find ways to rise from the ashes.

Resiliency Quiz

The 20-question Resiliency Quiz[2] was created by the late Al Siebert, Ph.D., the author of The Resiliency Advantage and The Survivor Personality.

20 Resilience Questions

Scoring:

  • 80 or higher Resilience is your ally.
  • 65 – 80 You recover from difficulties better than most.
  • 50 – 65 Your adversity coping mechanisms are adequate, but work to improve.
  • 40 – 50 Take time to appreciate how resiliency can help you.
  • 40 or under: You react poorly to unexpected challenges. Don’t fret.
    Learn from others who have mastered this trait.

In our next article, we examine closely the characteristics of resilient people and share our tips for becoming more resilient.

About the Author

Scott Addis, CPCU, CRA, CBWA is the CEO of Beyond Insurance and is recognized as an industry leader having been named a Philadelphia finalist for Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award as well as one of the “25 Most Innovative Agents in America.” Beyond Insurance is a consulting firm that offers leadership training, cultural transformation, and talent and tactical development for enlightened professionals who are looking to take their practice to the next level.  Since 2007, the proven and repeatable processes of Beyond Insurance have transformed individuals and organizations as measured by enhanced organic growth, productivity, profitability, and value in the marketplace.

[1] Scottbert, Erin. Learnvest.com

[2] Al Siebert Resiliency Center

Lead With PRI³CE…To Stand Out In A Crowded Marketplace

July 13, 2019

Editor’s Note: In part one of our series, we looked closely at (P) Process and (R) Relationships as parts of PRI3CE. Now, it’s time to crack the I3CE to help you really stand out from your competition.

I3 – Issues Implications Interventions

Huthwaite International, the acknowledged thought leader in the sales performance industry, researched more than 35,000 sales transactions over a 12-year period and determined that the consumer was willing to pay a premium, redefine the buyer/ seller relationship, erect barriers to the seller’s competitors, and establish the seller as a trusted advisor when two primary activities occur:

  1. Seller reveals to the buyer an Unrecognized Problem
  2. Seller establishes for the buyer an Unanticipated Solution

Simply put, you will position yourself for success through the realization that you must uncover risk issues, convey the implications, and implement interventions.

I1 – Issues

The fundamental flaw of the 90-day insurance blitz is that it is focused on the sale of a commodity.  It is not a thoughtful, meticulous, diagnostic system aimed at uncovering the “issues” facing a family or business.

I2 – Implications

After uncovering issues, it is now time to communicate the implications of these issues from a human, cultural, operational and financial perspective.  In other words, how will managing risk improve bottom line performance?

I3 – Interventions

After the customers understand I1 (Issues) and I2 (Implications), they will enthusiastically partner with you to explore risk management interventions.

C – Creativity

Creativity is the act of producing new ideas, approaches or actions while innovation is the process of putting an idea into action.  Creativity is always the starting point for innovation.

People who have a gift for creative innovations tend to differ from others in three ways:

  1. Specialized technical knowledge in a particular discipline.
  2. Creative thinking skills. Flexibility and imagination as relates problem solving.
  3. Intrinsic motivation.

Creative ideas emerge when preconceived assumptions are discarded and attempts at new methods, which seem odd or unthinkable to others, are explored. As commoditization is one of the biggest challenges facing you, it is essential that you appreciate the importance of imagination, originality, diversity of perspectives, and fresh ideas.

FedEx has a corporate wide initiative that it calls “purple promise” – each employee’s commitment to making the FedEx experience remarkable.  This shared mission encourages everyone at FedEx – from employees sorting and delivering packages to those answering phones, maintaining planes and developing new IT systems – to suggest ideas each and every day.

E – Emotion

So, what is emotion? And why is it so important for you? It is the feeling that leads the prospect to act and react. Emotion describes the intensity of how the consumer responds to you. Emotions drive the customer toward pleasure and away from perceived danger. Perhaps, emotions are best described as signals from the subconscious that steer the prospect’s decision-making process – especially when all choices appear to be equal.

The client’s or prospect’s decision-making process relies on a mixture of emotion and its partner, logic. Think of a situation where you had bulletproof facts, reason and logic on your side and believed there was no way the prospect would say no to your perfectly constructed proposal. To do so would be impossible, you figured, because there was no other logical solution or answer. And then the prospect dug in his or her heels and refused to budge. The prospect was not swayed by your logic. You were shocked when you did not get the order.

The single, most important motivator in purchasing decisions is not data or facts.  It is emotional response.  People buy when they feel comfortable, when they feel they can trust you and when your process feels natural and reassuring.  In simplistic terms, people rationalize purchasing decisions based on facts, but they make decisions based on feelings.

It is always the heart that is touched first.  So, what does this mean to you and your business?  Although you may take great pride in the “features and benefits” of your offerings, it is imperative that you assess the degree to which you are able to stimulate the emotions for those whom you serve.  In order to accomplish this, you must deeply engage your customer’s feelings in addition to, and even above, their intellect.  The simplest strategy is to find out what keeps your customer up at night as well as what drives them.  It is your discovery of their goals, passions and struggles that opens the door for an intense and lasting relationship – an emotional connection that transcends price and product.

Lead with PRI3CE to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

About the Author

Scott Addis, CPCU, CRA, CBWA is the CEO of Beyond Insurance and is recognized as an industry leader having been named a Philadelphia finalist for Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award as well as one of the “25 Most Innovative Agents in America.” Beyond Insurance is a consulting firm that offers leadership training, cultural transformation, and talent and tactical development for enlightened professionals who are looking to take their practice to the next level.  Since 2007, the proven and repeatable processes of Beyond Insurance have transformed individuals and organizations as measured by enhanced organic growth, productivity, profitability, and value in the marketplace.

 

 

Why PRI³CE, Not Price, Will Help You Beat the Commodity Trap

July 11, 2019

Editors Note: At Beyond Insurance, we encourage producers to lead with PRI3CE, not PRICE. In our next series of posts, we breakout what PRI3CE really means and show you how you can use it to beat the commodity trap.

Are there days that you feel that you are fighting an uphill battle against commoditization? If so, you are not alone.  Commoditization occurs when the consumer perceives little or no distinguishable difference between products, services and resources.  When this happens, price becomes the primary differentiator.

To determine the degree to which you are being commoditized, I encourage you to see if the following four statements relate to you:

  1. I cannot seem to change the consumer’s perception of me.
  2. I often get angry and frustrated with the 90-day bidding process.
  3. The consumer does not see me as a trusted advisor like their CPA, attorney or banker.
  4. The insurance transaction is getting in the way of my ability to learn the customer’s business and its “issues.”

If you responded affirmatively to one or more of these statements, I encourage you to lead with PRI3CE…an acronym for five concepts that will allow you to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

P-Process:

Process is the sequence of interdependent and linked procedures… a series of actions or steps taken to achieve a particular end. An effective process produces the right results consistently.

Your process should expand the consumer’s view of risk and risk management through a logical, consultative, and diagnostic four-step process as outlined below:

Step 1 – Discovery

The first and most important step of your process involves discovery — identifying and analyzing loss exposures that have the potential to interfere with the achievement of a family’s or organization’s goals. As you learn about the business and/or family dynamics, you are positioned to identify and analyze risk issues.

Step 2 – Strategy

Once you have developed a thorough understanding of the business or family, you are ready to move beyond insurance to explore strategies to minimize risk and, thereby, reduce insurance costs.

It is the comprehensive understanding of the business or family (Step 1) that uniquely positions you to explore a spectrum of methods to evidence your advisory skills.  It is Step 2 that truly separates you from the traditional agent or broker!

Step 3 – Program Implementations

By the time you get to Step 3 of your process, you will see an amazing transformation. The burden of price and product has been lifted off your back. You now have an appreciation for, and understanding of, risk management. Confidence and enhanced self-image are now part of your makeup as a trusted advisor.

Step 3 involves putting in place specially tailored programs and strategies designed to protect the assets of a business or family while minimizing premium outlay. As you can imagine, underwriters adore the process as it leads to a more rational and efficient allocation of financial and human capital.

Step 4 – Ongoing Monitoring and Adjustment of the Plan

Businesses and families are dynamic. What works today may not work tomorrow. It is for this reason that you should consider risk management service plans, stewardship reviews, and customer intimacy surveys to ensure a perfect fit as a business and family evolves and changes.

R-Relationships

Your ability to build deep, long-lasting relationships is a key ingredient to success in your business.

Relationships just don’t happen. They evolve over time. Relationships produce bonds and connections that enhance both parties’ opportunity to succeed.

Mutual trust is the shared belief that one can depend upon another person. Trust grows out of confidence in another person’s honesty, integrity and desire to serve. Respect is the outgrowth of trust.

In the award-winning book Business Relationships That Last by Ed Wallace, we learn about a concept entitled Relational GPS®, a roadmap to developing outstanding business relationships.  GPS stands for:

  • Goals: short and long term personal and professional objectives
  • Passions: personal and professional causes that your client, prospect, or center of influence cares so deeply about
  • Struggles: obstacles holding them back from their goals and passions

People will not share their goals, passions and struggles with you until they feel confident and comfortable in the relationship. Your credibility, integrity and authenticity open up one’s GPS. Once your client, prospect or center of influence allows you to navigate his or her GPS, you have the road map to a long-term relationship leading to trusted advisor status. GPS also facilitates your ability to move through the sales cycle meaningfully and successfully.

Your business relationships are stuck in neutral if you have little or no understanding one’s goal, passions and struggles.

Be sure to check out the next article in our series as we breakdown the three remaining elements of PRI3CE.

About the Author

Scott Addis, CPCU, CRA, CBWA is the CEO of Beyond Insurance and is recognized as an industry leader having been named a Philadelphia finalist for Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award as well as one of the “25 Most Innovative Agents in America.” Beyond Insurance is a consulting firm that offers leadership training, cultural transformation, and talent and tactical development for enlightened professionals who are looking to take their practice to the next level.  Since 2007, the proven and repeatable processes of Beyond Insurance have transformed individuals and organizations as measured by enhanced organic growth, productivity, profitability, and value in the marketplace.

 

 

Improving Key Client Retention with Proven Strategies to Enhance Customer Loyalty and Keep Competition Away (PART 2)

July 8, 2019

Editor’s Note: In our previous post we looked at four of seven strategies for improving client retention. Now in part two, we share the final three strategies for strengthening your relationship with your clients and locking out your competition.

Strategy 5 – Deepen and Broaden Client Relationships

Loyalty is commonly defined as faithfulness or devotion.  Richard L. Oliver, the renowned consumer scientist and Vanderbilt University professor, referred to customer loyalty as “a deeply held commitment to re-buy or re-patronize a preferred product or service consistently in the future despite situational influences and marketing efforts having the potential to cause switching behavior.”

The loyalty effect is created when your client becomes an advocate and evangelist of your services and solutions.  The impact of client loyalty includes but is not limited to renewals without threats of switching, brand loyalty to your agency, and positive word of mouth about you.

In the early 1980s, Fred Reichheld and his colleagues at Bain & Company began investigating the connection between loyalty and growth.  The research confirmed that businesses cannot prosper without customer loyalty.  Yet, there was no practical metric for relationship loyalty.  Companies lacked a system for gauging the percentage of their customer relationships that were growing stronger and the percentage that were growing weaker.

To the surprise of Reichheld, the one question – the Ultimate Question – that captured the essence of the research was:

“How likely is it that you would recommend Company X to a friend or colleague?” 

Reflecting upon his findings, Reichheld and his Bain colleagues realized that this question made perfect sense as two conditions must be satisfied before a consumer makes a personal referral:

  1. They must believe that you offer superior value in terms of features, quality, functionality, ease of use, and other practical factors.
  2. They must believe that you know and understand them, value them, listen to them, and share their principles.

Today, this simple question is used by many of the most admired companies in the world through a metric that produces the Net Promoter® Score (NPS).

Strategy 6 – Deepen and Broaden Client Relationships

Getting where you want to go in business – your road map in developing outstanding business relationships – is contingent upon understanding your clients’ Relational GPS™[1]. GPS stands for:

Goals: Short and long-term personal and professional objectives
Passions: Personal and professional causes that your client, prospect, or center of influence cares so deeply about
Struggles: Obstacles holding them back from their goals and passions

People will not share their goals, passions, and struggles with you until they feel confident and comfortable in the relationship. Your credibility, integrity, and authenticity open up one’s GPS. Once your client allows you to navigate his or her GPS, you have the road map to a long-term relationship leading to trusted advisor status. GPS also facilitates your ability to move through the renewal process meaningfully and successfully. And without competition.

It is also essential that you broaden the scope of relationships within each client partnership.  As risk and risk management touch every aspect of an enterprise, there is reason to move beyond the CEO, CFO, and HR manager to build relationships with facilities managers, IT professionals, safety committee heads, supervisors, and the rank and file.

You should also get to know other professional advisors serving your client including, but not limited to, the firm’s CPA, attorney, and banker.

Strategy 7 – Teach Your Clients Things They Do Not Know

In the book, The Challenger Sale, authors Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson convey that “surveys of customers consistently show that they put the highest value on professionals who make them think, who bring new ideas, who find creative and innovative ways to help the customer’s business. In recent years, customers have been demanding more depth and expertise. They expect professionals to teach them things they don’t know.”

Huthwaite International, an acknowledged thought leader in sales performance, viewed more than 35,000 sales transactions over a 12-year period and determined that consumers will pay a premium, redefine the buyer/seller relationship, erect barriers to the seller’s competitors, and establish the seller as a trusted advisor when two primary activities occur:

  1. Seller reveals to the buyer an Unrecognized Problem
  2. Seller establishes for the buyer an Unanticipated Solution

Your relationship will become extra-sticky when you consistently understand your clients’ issues, study the implications, and deliver timely interventions.

As you realize the value of a long-term client relationship, it is worth your while to implement the seven strategies listed above to enhance loyalty and keep competition away!

About the Author

Scott Addis, CPCU, CRA, CBWA is the CEO of Beyond Insurance and is recognized as an industry leader having been named a Philadelphia finalist for Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award as well as one of the “25 Most Innovative Agents in America.” Beyond Insurance is a consulting firm that offers leadership training, cultural transformation, and talent and tactical development for enlightened professionals who are looking to take their practice to the next level.  Since 2007, the proven and repeatable processes of Beyond Insurance have transformed individuals and organizations as measured by enhanced organic growth, productivity, profitability, and value in the marketplace.

[1] Relational GPS is a registered trademark of the Relational Capital Group

Key Client Retention… Proven Strategies to Enhance Customer Loyalty and Keep Competition Away (PART 1)

July 5, 2019

Editor’s Note: How to improve client retention is one of the most common questions we receive at Beyond Insurance. In this next series of posts, we share with you proven strategies for successfully improving your agency’s rate of client retention.

Recently, our office received a phone call from a Georgia-based agency leader with both good and bad news.  The good news is that his agency has been able to attract numerous prized, new accounts using the consultative and diagnostic approach taught in Beyond Insurance workshops. The bad news is that his firm’s client retention on these customers stands at 72 percent after three years. He said, “We work so hard to identify and attract new clients, only to have them go out the back door when a national broker comes calling. Can you recommend strategies to enhance customer loyalty and keep competition out?”

We suggested the following seven strategies:

Strategy 1 – Pre-Renewal Strategy Session

A strategy session held at least 90 days in advance of the renewal date will give your clients clarity and confidence about the renewal process. A face-to-face session supported by an agenda enhances credibility and sets the stage for this critical meeting. Knowing that there are dozens of competitors knocking on your client’s door, it is imperative that the pre-renewal strategy session is properly orchestrated. Your advance preparation is worth its weight in gold.

Component pieces of the strategy session include:

  • Concise overview of the existing insurance program
  • Risk and exposure analysis
  • Business update with a focus on operational changes
  • Risk control initiatives update
  • Loss history and claims summary overview
  • Exposure basis update
  • Consideration of additional insurance protection, as appropriate
  • Overview of current market conditions
  • Underwriter’s renewal position
  • Offer to give the insured direct access to underwriter to convey “best-in-class” attributes (phone or in-person)
  • Review of historical marketing of account
  • Risk Management Service Plan progress report. Discussion on how it will be utilized to leverage the underwriting process
  • Comment on pertinent issues surfaced in the stewardship review three-months prior
  • Agreement reached on marketing strategy, objectives, and timeline
  • Confirming email or letter sent

Strategy 2 – Direct Access to Underwriter

Successful agents and brokers establish meaningful relationships with their underwriters and field marketing specialists.  They enjoy open, honest interactions and hold each other accountable for commitments. When trust and respect are established, each party reaps tremendous benefits.  These same agents encourage their clients to build personal relationships with their underwriter as they recognize that this tactic helps to:

  1. Reduce outside competition on key accounts
  2. Eliminate unnecessary bidding exercises
  3. Reduce time involved in market research
  4. Enhance client and carrier alignment
  5. Improve retention

Most insureds see their insurance carrier as a “black box.” Besides periodic risk control visits and tenuous discussions with claim representatives, they have not been given the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with their underwriter and/or field marketing specialist.  Direct access to the underwriter is a winning strategy to keep competition at bay.

Strategy 3 – Stewardship Review

A stewardship review, conducted six months after the inception date of the insurance program, reaffirms that your agency’s insurance and risk management strategies are aligned with those of the client. It is also a time to actively listen to the client speak about future goals, opportunities, and struggles.

The dictionary defines stewardship as “managing for others, one who directs affairs. Guardian. Manager.” So, what are some of the reasons to perform stewardship reviews?

  1. The stewardship review demonstrates your knowledge of the client’s business and risk issues. And a desire to continue learning more.
  2. It gives you the opportunity to reinforce the quality and integrity of your work product.
  3. You have a captive audience with your client’s executive team.
  4. The process is strategic, consultative, and diagnostic. And it reaffirms the importance of your business partnership.

If you are not conducting stewardship reviews on key clients, the benefits will be more than you ever imagined. The return on investment will be immense as measured by reduced competition, cross-sell, and referral opportunities. It also will enhance your brand in the marketplace.

Strategy 4 – Risk Management Service Plan

A Risk Management Service Plan sets the objectives, standards, and steps for the implementation of risk mitigation and claims management services. Importantly, the plan serves as a blueprint for the achievement of specific goals and holds you and your client accountable for service commitments. It is a powerful document that gives evidence of your quest to provide unparalleled services, resources, and solutions throughout the year.

The Service Plan should be fully developed within 30 days from your client’s renewal date. The design of the plan represents a collaborative effort among you, your client, and the insurance carrier’s risk control and claims consultants. Below are a few benefits to a Service Plan:

  • Shifts your client’s focus away from the insurance transaction to risk profile improvement
  • Serves as a tangible document demonstrating your ongoing commitment to serve the best interests of your client
  • Creates a meaningful working relationship among you, your client, and the carrier
  • Gives the underwriter enhanced comfort and reasons why to offer preferred terms

In our next post, we look at strategies 5, 6 and 7 for improving client retention.

About the Author

Scott Addis, CPCU, CRA, CBWA is the CEO of Beyond Insurance and is recognized as an industry leader having been named a Philadelphia finalist for Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award as well as one of the “25 Most Innovative Agents in America.” Beyond Insurance is a consulting firm that offers leadership training, cultural transformation, and talent and tactical development for enlightened professionals who are looking to take their practice to the next level.  Since 2007, the proven and repeatable processes of Beyond Insurance have transformed individuals and organizations as measured by enhanced organic growth, productivity, profitability, and value in the marketplace.