As an insurance agency, the difference between success and failure almost always comes down to whoever communicates most effectively. But, holy crap, the communication bar in this industry is so low it could be used as a limbo pole.
Make no mistake, unless you are an insurance carrier, you are NOT in the insurance product business. As an insurance agency or broker, you are in the advice and results business. EVERYTHING you do as an agency or as an individual requires effective communication, everything from marketing to grabbing a prospect’s attention to your sales process to your service model.
Being at the top of your communication game has to be a top priority.
The list of things we need to communicate effectively is too long to take on in a single post, so I will focus on three key, yet basic, ways to step up your game.
Insurance agency websites can usually be described as ineffective at best. Many are outdated in appearance and functionality and most totally miss the mark when it comes to messaging.
Tell me if this sounds familiar.
- ABC agency, in business since 19XX
- We’ve grown to be the 4th largest agency in the market
- We represent all the right carriers
- Here is the list of insurance products we sell
- Nobody provides better service
- Click here for a free quote
Again, sound familiar? Sound like your website? Sound like your competitors' sites? Sound like almost every agency website you’ve ever visited?
I am NOT suggesting you run out and build a new website because that should usually be the last step of rethinking your overall marketing strategy. But I DO want to give you a couple of easy suggestions to make your website a more effective communication tool.
Website improvement idea #1
Replace your get-a-free-quote button with one that offers a free cost-savings idea. The visitors to your site have countless places to go for free quotes, but ideas they can use to help them control their costs are invaluable and will almost always get their attention.
Don’t get hung up on the idea that you may be giving away too much, that’s all but impossible. You make it clear to prospects that you are a source for valuable ideas, and they will start lining up at your door.
I hope you’re scoffing at the idea of the free quote offer on your website, but, I promise, way too many websites still lead with the free quote offer, whether it’s an actual button on just part of the message. And even if you don’t make that offer on your website, you are still communicating this offer if you are prospecting at renewal asking for a chance to quote.
Website improvement idea #2
Replace the list of products you sell with a list of the problems you are able to solve (think compliance, attraction/retention, communication, etc.). Prospects are rarely interested in discussing the products you have to sell, but most are very interested in discussing the problems they have that may eventually lead to the products/services you offer. When you make it clear you understand the problems they struggle with, again, they will be lining up at your door.
On a day-to-day basis, there is probably no single communication tool more important than LinkedIn. But, not unlike websites, this industry’s use of the platform has a LOT of room for improvement.
Let’s remind ourselves of the primary purpose of the platform. It is a professional social media networking site. If we keep this simple purpose in mind, we can use it to communicate much more effectively.
LinkedIn improvement idea #1
Engage with the other visitors. If you went to a live networking event but stood in a corner and never participated in any conversations, you would get absolutely nothing from the event. Showing up on LinkedIn is no different.
I get that you may be uncomfortable leaving written evidence of your ideas and opinions, but you HAVE to get over that. Start off with a simple, daily goal. Commit to at least one Like, one Share, and one Comment each day on the content provided by others, and gradually build from there. Your eventual goal is to start sharing your own ideas and perspectives in order to communicate the value you have to offer.
LinkedIn improvement idea #2
For the love of all things holy, give people a reason to accept your invitation. 98% of the invitations I receive come with no note or actual introduction. Can you imagine walking up to somebody at a networking event, shoving your business card in their face, grabbing theirs, and then turning around and walking away - in silence?!
Of course you wouldn’t! It wouldn’t be acceptable in person, and it shouldn’t be on LinkedIn either. By simply telling someone why you feel it is important to connect, you will immediately stand out.
Simply, don’t be rude
How often have you found yourself suddenly being ignored by a prospect who you really felt good about? Frustratingly rude right?! Now, be honest with yourself. How often are you leaving someone else hanging in frustration?
It has become way too common to engage in conversations with promises of following up, promises that are never honored. We even have terms for it such as "ghosting" and "radio silence". This is inexcusable and unprofessional. Again, we bitch when it happens to us but then turn around and do the same thing!
You may tell me, "KT you're so old school. You Gen-Xers just don't understand. This is how Millennials communicate." I call bullshit. And, even if it is true, what a simple way to demonstrate your professionalism – by simply being polite.
Final communication improvement idea
Just own your response. If you’ve lost interest, if they aren’t the right partner, if you found a better option, just be courteous enough to communicate that fact. People will respect hearing an honest answer, even if it’s one they didn’t want, WAY more than being ignored.
The ultimate competitive advantage
Communication may not be easy, but it is perhaps the most critical skill you can build to find success in business, in life. Of course, I have no way to quantify this, but I suspect if you increased your communication skills in every key area by 10% (website, email, LinkedIn, phone skills, etc.), you would increase your sales and growth effectiveness by some exponential factor.
I know you have another 10% in you!
Photo credit: zphoto83