Customers don’t make major buying decisions in one meeting. I know it’s not what you want to hear, but that’s just the way of complex buying decisions. And purchasing benefits and insurance is complicated.

Sure, it can happen. Sometimes the value is so obvious, or the need is so great that in a first meeting, a prospect says, “Will you be my advisor?” But that’s not the normal case, nor should it be in most situations.

As a benefits agency whose goal is to be an advisor for your clients and bring improved business solutions, it’s in your best interest to take a systematic approach to develop relationships.

If you want your clients to call you while they are contemplating a decision rather than after they’ve already decided, then you need to establish yourself as an advisor. This means someone who listens, understands a client’s value proposition and organizational operations and can think logically through various options and offer an opinion – or advice, as the name “advisor” implies.

Are you a vendor?

If you try to push a new relationship to a quick answer, you’re not giving yourself time to establish a level of trust and demonstrate the value of doing business with you. Without time for the relationship to develop, the client is forced to make a buying decision on things that do not lend themselves to a long, quality relationship.

Perhaps that fast, pushed decision gets made on price or a quick connection between the salesperson and the buyer. These reasons make for a weak bond between the new client company and the agency.

  • If the client buys from you based on price, then when someone else offers them a lower price, they will compare your services to the new offer based on price.
  • If the client buys from you based on a friendly relationship, then when someone else comes along with whom they establish a rapport, they’ll compare your relationship to that of the new one.

It’s too easy to get kicked out of the nest with these superficial reasons as the basis for your relationship.

Are you an advisor?

However, slowing down and taking the time to develop your relationship while showing the employer the value they will get when working with you will yield very different results. Here’s a simple outline:

  • Take the prospect through a systematic process of listening and evaluating their needs.
  • Discuss the information you gathered with your team and develop a plan of recommendations.
  • Go back to the client with recommendations on how they can improve their current situation.

When earning a client based on this process, your ongoing advising and the results they receive from following your advice will now be what they use as evaluation criteria against any competitors who come knocking. What a different comparative to a low price or a fast friendship!

A full pipeline makes the difference

Keep in mind that the only way you can develop these kinds of prospect-turned-client relationships is if you have the time and motivation to make it happen – you need a full pipeline of quality prospects you are taking through the same process. Only with a full pipeline can you be confident, slow things down, and allow the relationship to develop.

When your pipeline is empty, desperation sets in to write any business that comes along. This is when you feel the need to push the client into a quick decision before the opportunity slips away.

Slowing down the process and demonstrating your value may take a little longer to write the business initially, but the relationship will be much stronger. And retaining the business will take on a whole new look and feel – it’s a significant decision for your client to fire a business partner. It’s an easy decision to replace a vendor.

 

Photo by yuriisokolov