Don't Be A Commodity

Q4intelligence on October 20, 2014

By guest blogger Frank B. Mengert.

Not long ago I got an email (among the hundreds I get every day) with a subject line that caught my eye. Unfortunately, that is how I now choose whether I will open the email or hit the delete button, like most of you probably do.

The email was from The Lead and the subject was "What a dream client wants". It was a quick article, but hit some great points about what your clients are actually looking for from you.

That got me thinking about what I am frequently preaching to brokers on a daily basis: Don't be a commodity.


Being a commodity

It is happening throughout the insurance industry. Sadly, there is always some broker out there who will promise to do "everything" for just their commission but end up delivering nothing but headaches. By then, you have lost the account and the client is a mess.

Some advisors are ahead of the curve and have been in the "fee-based" business for years. For them, it is just a way of doing business. Those who are trying to adopt this type of business model are struggling because maybe they can't afford to lose any business when clients push back on paying for services they have received for free in the past, or maybe they don't know how to start down this road.

What most of us can agree on is that the prevailing commission model will no longer be viable in the near future. There will be road blocks along the way, but fee-based services lead to additional revenue streams and will justify the time you spend on a particular client to ensure there is some type of ROI.

Vs. being an advisor

Every year for the past 14 years I have been going to the same doctor for my annual checkup. Three times a year I go to my dentist for a cleaning. Several times a year I lean on my accountant or legal counsel. I don't "shop" them every year before I use them. I don't have a reason to. There is a trusted relationship we have built that does not require me to second guess that. You should be right there on that playing field with them.

If you want to be looked at on the same level as clients look to their accountant, legal counsel, dentist or doctor there are ways to get there as long as your client recognizes the value in what you deliver and trust in what you offer. If you can show your client that there is value and they realize a return on their investment, don't you think they would pay a fee for that?

The first thing I would suggest is to NEVER refer to yourself as a broker with your client. Become their Trusted Advisor. Don't be a salesperson...no one wants to be sold on something.

If you are going to be transactional-based you are going to be a commodity. Present a solid solution to your client...not just for this year...but for the next 3-5 years. Put plans in place. Carve out a real strategy and put a letter of engagement into action.

If you don't have all the resources at your firm to round out a true service offering, then look to align yourself with some partners who can complement your offering.

Whatever you do, don't be a commodity.

 

Photo by Thomas Quine.

A version of this post originally appeared on LinkedIn.


 

Frank MengertFrank B. Mengert, Director of Exchange Technology, ebenefit Marketplace

A seasoned Information Technology executive with over two dozen industry recognized certifications and a B.S. in Computer Science, Frank is the Director of Exchange Technology at ebenefit Marketplace. Under his leadership, the organization has grown nationally providing brokers across the United States with the tools and resources they need to succeed in this new world of employee benefits. He is responsible for establishing and maintaining the strategic broker partnerships ebenefit has developed nationwide helping bridge the gap between insurance and technology-driven solutions.

Follow Frank on LinkedIn.

Topics: Selling + Process, Agency Development