Q4intelligence top blog posts of 2016, Part 1 of 2: Positioning & Communication
The insurance industry is obviously experiencing constant change, and just like everyone else in any industry, agencies are turning to the internet to look for information that addresses some critically important questions about the life of your business.
These key questions include:
- Why are things more difficult today than they were before?
- What changes are taking place that are causing this discomfort?
- What do those changes mean and how do we address them in our own business?
Going online to look for information is the first step we all take these days. You’re doing it to learn information about your own business. And your clients are doing the very same thing to learn about their businesses. It’s just the way of modern business.
To help you find those answers, we provide a lot of information about what those changes are, how others are managing or not managing them, and offer ideas on how you can manage these changes yourself. You come directly to our website, follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter, and/or subscribe to our emails to receive the information in your inbox. However you get here, we know people are reading and sharing and liking and commenting and asking questions about these important topics.
This year a definite theme emerged from the most-read articles on our own publishing platforms (Blog + LinkedIn):
You recognize that status quo isn’t working anymore and you need to make changes to your business model to remain relevant to your clients.
Positioning & Communication
How you talk to people is critical to sharing the right message; the message that you want them to hear. Whether it’s internal or external, what you say and how you say it is paramount to creating results that you want, rather than simply having to accept the fall-out results from the lack of forethought put into your communications.
“The way we’ve always done it” is coming around to bite you in the butt. Agencies that cling to what they know are finding results more and more elusive with today’s buyers. When you pull out that “Who we are” presentation to pitch your case to a prospect, all you’ve done is validate what they expected a broker would offer. And you will rarely win business by simply meeting expectations and looking like the competition. Prospects aren’t interested in your story; they are interested in how you might improve theirs.
Bottom line: A sales presentation focused on your story is lazy, disrespectful to the prospect, and ineffective. Trash your old sales presentation and replace it with one focused on the buyer, one that will truly give a prospect a compelling reason to become a client.
Speaking of employers and what they want, this article resonated widely within both the brokerage and employer communities. We believe strongly that employee benefits and insurance consultants should be just that – consultants. As a consultant, you should be delivering ideas, insight, and advice to clients and helping improve their business, not just selling them a product.
And apparently, employers agree. We’re giving them permission to expect more from their brokers/consultants, and we’re giving them ideas of what those expectations can/should look like.
Bottom line: The role of HR is more difficult and complex than ever and companies are looking for partners to help them manage the complexities and the volume of things they are responsible for. It’s either going to be you or someone else playing that advisor role for them.
Effective communication is a lot of work, I’m not gonna lie. But without it, it’s hard to ever make the type of progress you know you really want to be making. You probably have things going wrong in your agency and don’t know why. If we were to sit down and talk for 10 minutes, I can probably point out poor communication happening in the organization that, if improved, would solve at least 80% of what’s not working.
Bottom line: An unhealthy culture, a fractured team, missed goals, and potential failure can usually be tied directly back to a lack of communication, which is seen by the recipient as a lack of respect toward them. Respect your team by keeping them in the know and letting them feel like a valuable part of your company.
Why are you in business? Why this business? Why are your employees working with you? Why are your clients selecting you?
If you can’t answer these questions, then you’re most likely running a transactional operation and getting transactional results. The high volume, transactional 1990s are gone; it’s time to have a purpose behind the work you do. Employees and clients alike are demanding it.
Bottom line: This article has made the top of the list, even though it’s a post from 2014, because people are waking up. “Making money” isn’t cutting it anymore as a purpose because employees are no longer cool with “I’m happy just to have a job and help you make that money” as their motivation.
Marketing is such an elusive idea for insurance agencies. It’s never been a focus and hardly even a budget item because sales people did all the communicating. Now buyers are in charge, searching online for information before they’ll ever agree to talk to your sales person (reference back to the top of this article), whether they’ve been referred to you or find you through some other means.
But how do you get started? With strategy (think: planning). Unfortunately, though, people prefer to go straight to activities because planning takes time and just “doing it” feels more productive.
Bottom line: This article made the top of the list because it’s about activities, which are necessary, but without strategy to guide your activities, you’re wasting your time. Read this article, but follow the internal link to developing your strategy if you want to positively influence your business results and not just generate busy-work for your team.
Effective communication with your internal team is at least as important, if not more so, than communicating outwardly with your clients and prospects. If you team doesn’t understand your purpose, vision, values, and promises you’re making to your clients, there is no way they can help you deliver on any of it.
Bottom line: This article gives practical application ideas for moving from theory of communication (such as defining your purpose and setting up your rhythm) to actually using the communication and seeing the influence within your organization. Get that internal communication worked out and employee trust becomes much more attainable.
Whether you’re looking at hiring employees or working with influencers and decision-makers at your client companies, approaching these situations with generational biases is hurting your business. We need to drop the generational profiling and the Us. Vs. Them mentality and recognize that everyone has different experiences that shape how they think, feel, and behave. This isn’t a new idea exclusive to the Millennial generation.
Bottom line: Approach your company communications with an eye on your purpose and sharing openly with all employees and clients with a regular rhythm, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at both the internal and external opportunities that open up for you.
Can't get enough of these great insights? Here's Part II of Top Q4i posts from 2016: Business Practices.
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