The Six Steps to Broker Success
Time for some hard truth. People have more important things to do than listen to your sales pitch. It doesn’t matter how smart you are or how smart you say you are. Business isn’t won through an arms race of experience and expertise. Your agency might have 50 years of experience and a thousand clients, but you don’t have to go far to find someone bigger.
Insurance brokers have it doubly hard. They live in a world bathed in distractions. Would your prospect rather listen to you talk yourself up or watch something on Netflix?
Show, Don’t Tell
This is where every LinkedIn prophet and business magnate hauls out their favorite business buzzword: differentiation. You’re special, they say. Talk about how unique you are, they add. But that’s no different from resting on your laurels, and that just doesn’t work. Everyone is unique. Everyone is smart. Everyone can say those things.
But to be different– you can’t just talk about yourself. That’s the key here. You don’t matter to your clients and prospects. They are what matters, as well as their businesses and employees, and customers. You’re here to ensure their success by providing their underlying exposures. So don’t waste time discussing what a great risk manager you are. Show them.
Demonstrating Your Value
Risk management 101. You can’t solve a problem if you don’t know it exists. To grow your book of business, you must connect with your prospects where they sit. That means understanding who they are, their problems, and forming insights around those to help solve them. Let’s take this one step at a time.
Step One: Finding Pain Points
Uncovering a prospect’s pain points isn’t always straightforward. They may not even be aware of some of them. You can help them uncover them and demonstrate a lot of value in the process. Start by thinking about this demographically. What pain points do prospects experience based on:
- Industry: If a prospect is a final mile transportation company—how do gas prices, insurance, traffic, or staffing challenges hinder their business? How can you help?
- Location: Where is the prospect located? Things like local regulations and customs requirements can be a significant hindrance here. This is especially true of companies with people in multiple states.
- Employer Size: How does the prospect’s size impact their business? Being bigger means complying with more regulations. It could also mean more types of exposures that they may not have faced in their earlier days.
- Behavior: What attitudes or behaviors does this client focus on? What topics might be on their mind?
Next, think about each of the pain points and details you laid out. How many of these are the prospect aware of and actively working on? Conversely, how many are they unaware of or otherwise not proactively working to solve?
Gathering all that info requires the most critical skill in a broker’s toolkit: listening. By the time you’ve gathered all that data, you will have a far stronger understanding of the prospect. This will make it all the easier for you to connect, convey your value, and close a sale.
Step Two: Determine the Risk of Loss
It’s a well-documented fact that people are motivated much more by the risk of loss than by gain. This is a gift to brokers. Most of a broker’s value will come from mitigating risk. So now that you have the prospect’s pain points in hand, you can move to the next step. Try to assess and communicate the potential for loss with the prospect’s situation, especially as it aligns with their pain points and exposures. For example, let’s think back to that final-mile delivery company. How might their business be impacted in a disaster that compromises roads and cuts off delivery routes? The client would likely need special coverage for those business interruption losses. But do they have it? Do they even know?
Let’s take another example. Let’s say a small flower shop employs many high school students to make deliveries in the summer and after school. How would a change to local statute impact their business if it made it difficult or impossible to hire high school students? While you may not initially have a fix for this scenario, it gives the prospect a chance to think ahead and course correct. It also allows you to identify a place in your agency’s portfolio of services where you can add more value. This is an amazing opportunity for you to demonstrate your worth.
Step Three: Connect Pain to Solutions
Think some more about that portfolio of services. There are a lot of services out there that brokers use to help clients reduce risk, and therefore it helps the broker retain and earn new business. But you can’t just list a bunch of empty value-less programs that add no value. Think about the risks you see in all your clients in the aggregate. What common exposures or gaps in coverage can you address with these services? Do your clients have trouble handling HR and compliance? Perhaps it’s cyber security? Or occupational safety?
The bottom line is to have the right constellation of services that will set you apart from your competitors. Your examination of each prospect’s situation will inform you of direct negotiations with them and help lift your agency as a whole.
Step Four: Creating Insights
Connecting your prospect’s pain point to one of your solutions seems easy. But in reality, it can be tricky to get it just right. Let’s assume your prospect has difficulty with OSHA compliance. Simply saying you have a “safety tool” that does “OSHA things” and is an easy, quick fix might move the conversation in the right direction during a call. But in the longer term, you need to be certain that your solution’s “OSHA things” answer the problem posed by their pain point.
You need to let go of the jargon in these situations and find out what was really hindering the client. In this OSHA example, let’s say the prospect doesn’t understand what OSHA rules apply to them or even how to interpret those rules. Providing them with a tool that simply enables OSHA reporting wouldn’t necessarily help. In fact, it might just create extra work. You need to look deeper into your solutions to ensure you’re closing the right gap. In that example, if you had nothing, you now know you can keep an eye out for a tool that does help interpret OSHA guidance and applicability. You don’t have to be an OSHA expert here. Just be someone who can listen attentively and help the prospect connect the dots.
Step Five: Understanding Your Contact
When talking to prospects, or anyone, you have to think about whom you’re talking to. It’s all about the audience. Many brokers have tiny-but-mighty teams that serve marketing, sales, and even creative roles. Such outfits like that aren’t going to have the resources to do advanced persona research. But you can take a step back and think hard about whom you’re trying to communicate with.
On the one hand, think about the business the client is in. We already did that with respect to their pain points, but what about their priorities? If you go back to the example of the final mile company, their areas of interest are going to differ greatly from the flower shop. A transportation company will care about gas price volatility, fleet management, telematics, insurance pricing, and more. You can be sure to couch your messaging to that audience with those things in mind.
But don’t stop there. Think about the people you are speaking with at these prospects at every step. If you’re talking to an owner/operator or a risk manager, that’ll tell you where their head is with respect to their business. But looking even deeper, what kind of person are you engaging with? What are their hobbies? Do they volunteer information about their family? These are not details you should look to exploit. Rather, they are details you should look to use to connect with your prospect. That connection is critical in establishing a strong partnership that can withstand whatever the future throws at it. It will also let you tweak your messaging in the future to make sure it really appeals to that audience.
Step 6: Communicating Effectively
This is where the first five steps come together to a winning combination. You now know your prospect’s business. You know them. You have a better understanding of what keeps them up at night, what moves them, and what they need. You can now connect all of those dots for them using metaphors or examples that will appeal to them. You don’t have to be a poet to do this, either. Think about how all of these dynamics might apply to a sport (especially one the client likes), or even to a hobby like gardening.
Let’s go back to the transportation company example one last time. You might tell them that, like an auto racer, they need to think about what they’d do if every tire on their car blew. It’d be the same as if a flood wiped out critical roads on their routes. Those are show-stopping obstacles– but they don’t have to be. There are steps they can proactively take now that will avoid a catastrophe later.
Now, let’s go back to the flower shop. Using teenagers to make deliveries has worked for a long time. But what happens if a law suddenly changes that makes this unrealistic? The flower shop owner might not realize it until it’s already causing massive business disruptions. Flowers don’t get delivered, clients become unhappy and go elsewhere, and they don’t come back. It’s a lot like gardening, actually. If you tend a garden a certain way for years without an issue, you might not be prepared when a tree grows enough to shade your tomatoes. Suddenly you’ve lost a year’s worth of yield before you can act.
The point of this exercise isn’t to scare your prospects. Nor is it the point to pander to them. The point here is to communicate what your goals are for their business. You want to convey how you:
- Listened to their story
- Spotted some potential hazards along the way
- Identified how you can help address them
- Offered expert advice and tools that other brokers wouldn’t have thought of
- Formed a vested interest in this individual’s ongoing success
- Are able to carefully articulate all of this to them in ways that are useful and compelling.
How Mineral® Can Help
Mineral is uniquely suited to be a big part of your agency’s portfolio. With it, you can turn the challenges your clients face into your competitive edge. Mineral allows clients to address common HR and compliance problems with tools, resources, and information. This will set apart your agency as a strong partner in HR and compliance support. Clients will know who to go to when they have these issues, and it will make them much less likely to leave. This resource can also reduce their claims experience, which will help keep their rates low and keep renewals pain-free. Clients get peace of mind. You get a competitive edge. It’s a win-win scenario.