Even though we identify as "teammates" with our co-workers, it’s hard to believe that people are on the same team in many benefits agencies. At least, you'd never know it by observing their interactions or the results of their collective efforts.
It's all about the results
Here are two questions we often ask of agency owners.
- Are you satisfied with the results you are getting in your business?
- Are you getting the results you designed the business to achieve?
The second is a trick question because the reality is that EVERY business gets the exact results it’s designed to produce. It’s the design that determines the results. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean you like the results you’re currently getting. But if that’s the case, you must change the design to get more desirable results.
Think about the most fundamental results you must achieve as a sales organization. Every day you’re working to:
1.) Keep the clients you have, and
2.) Get the clients you don’t.
You must perform both sales and service work to achieve these results. It seems logical that you would design your business around sales and service activities. But not so fast.
Back to those walls
How many of you struggle to find a healthy alignment between your sales and service teams? I’m guessing most. In way too many instances, it's as if there’s a huge wall between the two.
Sales and service typically operate in such silos that, at best, there is indifference or, at worst, outright resentment. When you have designed the business around separating the two functions, this shouldn't be a surprise.
Why the separation is wrong
Let’s think for a moment about the successful outcomes of selling and servicing. Isn’t a new sale simply the result of promising the right value to a prospect during the sales conversation? And isn't a renewal merely the result of having delivered on that promise during the client experience?
Prospects and clients aren’t different people who value different things. They are the same people who value the same thing. You’re simply meeting them at different stages of the relationship.
Instead of designing your agency around sales and service activities, you need to be (re)designing your business around what prospects/clients value. And what every business owner values is having their needs met.
Everything you do as an agency must revolve around your clients' needs.
The way it’s been
You tell yourself you are already focused on your clients' needs. Still, you most likely have focused on a single need (insurance) and mainly on the price associated with that need.
A typical new business scenario has the producer competing on price, trying to impress with a list of “We have it, too!” value-added services, and promising a level of service that will "feel like an extension of the HR department.” When successful, they drag that new client back home with no clearly defined expectations and then toss it over the wall to the service team to figure it out on their own.
The way it needs to be
When that future client is still a prospect, the sales team's first job should be to learn about their business and identify their specific needs (insurance, compliance, technology, communication, wellness, etc.). From there, the sales team will earn that new client by clarifying how they can address those multiple needs and help that future client get better results.
And if you want a cohesive team effort, the service team (we prefer the term “resell” team) should participate in some of the sales conversations. They should become integral to helping define the broader client needs, setting their expectations, and establishing additional agency relationships. When the service team is there from the beginning, there’s no longer a need for the dreaded "wall toss."
With the clear expectations that result from a joint effort, the sales team can now successfully and effectively hand off that new client to the service/resell team. This handoff can only successfully happen with the confidence that comes from a clear understanding of client expectations and an established plan of execution. Having that clarity allows the resell team to successfully address the client's needs during the client experience and ensure the re-sale (retention) of the account.
Now, both selling and reselling activities focus on what the prospect/client values: meeting their needs. This only happens once the walls have come down.
Seems rather logical, doesn’t it?
Back to this “resell” label
As a sales organization, you must recognize that everyone with any client engagement is a part of the sales team. We all recognize that producers are responsible for selling prospects on why they should become clients. Still, the service team must resell existing clients on why they should remain clients.
When you refer separately to your "sales team" and your "service team," you create separation and internal conflict. In reality, they are all a part of the same “growth team” responsible for meeting your clients' needs.
Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. Help your service team get over whatever hang-ups they may have about selling. Make it clear that a sale is a validation of your understanding of a buyer’s needs and that buyer's confidence in your ability to address them.
Now, tear down the walls, create a unified team, and take the fight to the competition.
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