Better Isn't Good Enough

October 24, 2016

Wondering why you can’t convince prospects to move? You aren’t giving them a reason. It’s time to re-evaluate your marketing and sales message.

Marketing and sales can no longer be seen as completely separate activities; they are simply various points along the same conversation continuum. As with any conversation, you must choose your words/message very carefully and be consistent throughout.

When it comes to marketing and sales processes, our industry has a LONG way to go.

How far have your agency’s marketing/sales efforts evolved?

We still talk to agencies who think marketing/sales is the function of getting quotes. Really?!

And, for most agencies, a vast majority of their marketing efforts take place on their website. However, most websites are nothing more than a narcissistic, electronic version of their print brochure.

You know what I mean. How many of the following types of comments are the focal point of your website messaging?

  • We’ve been in business 112 years. (And haven’t changed a bit.)
  • We are ingrained in our local community. (They never turn down our oversized checks.)
  • Read the detailed bios of our leadership team. (They love their family and don’t kick dogs.)
  • Look at the carriers we represent; we are gold-status with each and are able to negotiate more effectively on your behalf. (But will throw them under the bus in a heartbeat when it comes to your renewal increase.)
  • Look at our list of value-added services. (If only we could get clients to use them.)
  • Click here and get a free quote. (And, we’ll start praying that your current broker is so bad he/she can’t provide this most basic function.)
  • Our real difference-maker is our team; we’ll be like an extension of your HR department. (Our marketing agency encouraged us to use as many industry clichés as possible.)
  • We’re a free service to you. (But please don’t pay attention to your 5500.)

And, despite explaining the need for consistency throughout your marketing and face-to-face sales conversations, the fact that these same messages describe your “sales process” is the exact reason your sales results kinda suck.

A quick guess at the face-to-face conversation your sales people are having with prospects:

“Let me tell you a little about Oddly Familiar Agency. We’ve been an important part of this community for 112 years. We were started by my great, great, great, great grandfather.

We represent all the carriers in our market and hope you will give us a chance to prove we are able to get the same quotes as everyone else by allowing us the opportunity to work for free and go to market on your behalf.

Oh, wait until you see our capabilities binder. Let me take you through, page by page by page, all of the stuff we have, but rarely actually use.”

And, when the spreadsheets come back identical and the prospect tells you they just saw what appeared to be the same capabilities binder from their current broker and the three others they are considering, you pull out the service team card. You explain that while you understand their current broker has “5 Star Service”, your team has the ability to deliver “6 Star Service” and NOW is when you promise to be an extension of their HR department.

Sure, it’s consistent with your website messaging, but it’s killing your results.

The problem here is three-fold

First, as we have written before, there are always two stories that need to be shared during the marketing/sales conversation. The above only focuses on what is, by far, the least important story: yours. And then largely ignoring the story of the buyer and how you may be able to truly improve their story.

Second, despite my poking fun at the Oddly Familiar messaging, I will concede that most of it is relevant, and perhaps important information, although presented in the incorrect way.  However, it’s only important in the way that you expect the food at your favorite restaurant to be fresh, the waiter to deliver what you actually ordered, and the chef to not spit on your plate. It’s the minimum expectations of being in this business.

Which leads to the third problem, the Oddly Familiar marketing/sales message hinges on your ability to position yourself as a better version of what they already have and expect.

  • We’re better because we’ve been in business longer
  • We provide better spreadsheets
  • We have better relationships with the carriers
  • We have a better list of stuff to give away
  • Clearly, 6-star service is better than 5-star
  • We’re better because we are willing to work for less

Guys and gals, people rarely move for a better version of what they already have.

In fact, the only time someone will move for a better version of what they already have is when what they have is broken and not meeting minimum expectations. If you want to earn the business of prospects who think they are happy with their current situation, you must create and compete in a new category.

But I only know insurance. What would a new category look like?

That new category must focus on the needs of the buyer and your ability to improve their story. Use your marketing messaging and face-to-face conversations to:

  • Educate prospects/clients on the increasingly difficult challenges of being an employer.
  • Explain the operational and financial impact these challenges bring to their business.
  • Teach them how their current reality is leaving them exposed.
  • Show them the path to improved organizational results via effective implementation of your solutions. Take the time to explain how your solutions work, why they are a fit for their specific circumstances, and how you will ensure they are implemented effectively.
  • Rinse and repeat. Because, guess what? It will be even more challenging to be an employer next year than it is today.

Do you see a different consistency here? The consistency here is on teaching prospects/clients how their business can be improved and how you are able to drive that improvement. That is a completely different category and much more compelling to your prospects than your attempts at throwing a better version of the my-story/product-pitch being thrown by everyone else.

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5 Surefire Ways to Grow Your Benefits Agency

Kevin Trokey

Written by Kevin Trokey

Kevin Trokey is a coach and an implementer of business strategies. He works with agency leadership, department managers, and producers of benefits agencies to craft strategies and lead them to successful transformations by breaking down the complexity into manageable steps.

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