What A Trusted Advisor Does

My insurance agent friend John and I had another conversation about how agents can and need to differentiate themselves from other agents.  We have attempted to help agents understand the value of educating and solving problems rather than selling an insurance product. This is such an excellent example of this that we just had to share it with you.

John told us of a prospect he had two years ago. It was a chain of three family restaurants that he had a chance to get involved with. John met with the owner and asked a series of questions to determine their needs and if John might be able to help them. It was agreed that John would provide options for insurance coverage for the restaurant chain. One request John had was that he would also be to review all the quotes and help the client select the best option. (That is the kind of service a trusted advisor does) The client agreed.

Once all the quote came in, John was able to review the one other quote and educate the client on his options. John met with the client and told the client that the other quote was a better option for him. The client about fell off his chair. John said the client asked why he recommended his competition? John said it was his moral obligation to do what is best for the client. Needless to say, the client was appreciative, and the two became more than just business acquaintances.

Forward about a year and a half; John gets a call from the restaurant owner saying he needs to meet. John arrives not sure what to expect. The owner says that the other agent has left the insurance industry and wants John to take over the account. John asked why? The owner said that in all his years in the business he has never seen anyone put the needs of the client above making money, and he wanted to do business with that person.

John was able to take the business over on a broker of record letter and has been the owners trusted advisor for the last four years.

“There is an old saying, “It is amazing what you can achieve if you are not wedded to who gets the credit.” ― David H. Maister

Reichley insurance believes insurance is more than a transaction. Insurance involves a trusted relationship built on a promise to put people before policies. Our promise is to listen to you, identify your risks and provide solutions. Every employee has the heart of a teacher. Connect with us to experience The Reichley difference.

Perk Reichley and Bob Lilly

#insurance #riskmanagement #customerservice #busienssinsurance #selling #educating

 

How To Develop a Great Relationship With Your Clients

One of the most important things an agent can do is to develop a trusted partnership with their clients. A trusted relationship does not come quickly and means agents and their clients must look differently at the insurance buying process. There are many things an agent can do to build productive relationships with their clients.

Agents Must Take Action

Listen To Your Clients. The best way to know and understand your clients is to ask questions then listen to them.

Spend Time With Them. Agents need to make time for their clients besides just the renewal. We recommend you find ways to touch your clients monthly, with a newsletter, card, visit, industry gathering or a personal visit.

Get Your Team Connected To Their Team. It is often a great idea to have your agency team, and your client’s associates meet to get to know each other. This can be done at a social event or something like a lunch and learn.

Do Something Without Being Asked. Agents tend to get in a mindset of insurance, stop that way of thinking. If you just finished reading a good business or management book give a copy to your client. If you are heading off to a seminar, ask your client to go with you.

Be A Problem Solver. Get educated in your client’s industry, and then you are better able to help them solves all kinds of problems other than insurance.

Be Willing To Sell Less Insurance. This a tough one for agents to get over. But a trusted relationship starts with your client believing you are interested in what is best for them, not the agent selling more insurance. There are many other risks and none risk solution to your client s issues and concerns, get educated in these and be willing to educate and inform rather than sell.

If agents started to practice these six items, clients would become more interested in sharing all of their concerns, and you will become a valued business partner.

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”– Dale Carnegie

Reichley insurance believes insurance is more than a transaction. Insurance involves a trusted relationship built on a promise to put people before policies. Our promise is to listen to you, identify your risks and provide solutions. Every employee has the heart of a teacher. Connect with us to experience The Reichley difference.

Perk Reichley and Bob Lilly

#insurance #riskmanagement #customerservice #busienssinsurance #selling #educating

 

What Is Your Value Proposition?

Most business owners can see an insurance agent coming a mile away. Agents, that is not a good thing. Insurance buyers have created a defense mechanism that makes it hard for agents get through. The primary reason for this is agents are far too often just interested in selling a product, not providing a solution.  Business owners don’t want to feel like they are a number or that the agent is only there to make a sale. Business owners want to be understood, they want to be educated, supported, and they want a trusted advisor.

Here is what has become the “industries” value proposition

  • Save 10 percent 15 minute or less
  • It is so easy, even a caveman can do it
  • You name your price
  • It is so simple a lizard can guide you
  • We have a special gun, and it knows how to save you money

A value proposition is what makes your agency unique and explains why someone would want to do business with you.

One way an agent can help is to develop a value proposition. Your value proposition should go beyond the product pitch and go deeper into the why and how you are an agent. When you build your unique value proposition, you need to start with answering a few questions

  1. Who are your clients?
  2. How do you help your clients?
  3. What problems do you solve?
  4. Why are you different than other agents?
  5. What services other than insurance do you offer?
  6. Why would anyone do business with you?

These are not value propositions

  • We have been in business for 50 years
  • We are a third generation agency
  • We have more markets
  • We are local

Here is our value proposition

  • We listen to your needs
  • We place people before policies
  • Insurance is a promise, not a product
  • We would rather educate you than sell you
  • There is no one size fits all insurance product

The benefits of redefining your value proposition are that clients will see it and it will enable you to build longer more valued relationships.

Reichley insurance believes insurance is more than a transaction. Insurance involves a trusted relationship built on a promise to put people before policies. Our promise is to listen to you, identify your risks and provide solutions. Every employee has the heart of a teacher. Connect with us to experience The Reichley difference.

Perk Reichley and Bob Lilly

#insurance #riskmanagement #customerservice #busienssinsurance #selling #educating

 

Make This Year Even Better Than Last Year

We have been encouraging insurance buyers and agents, over the past few years, to seek out new ways of looking at the insurance buying process. We have found that things are changing for the better in regards to the agent buyer relationship. We invite you to be part of the change that can impact our industry for years to come.

These are the values to which we continue to aspire to in 2018 and beyond.

The customer relationship involves face to face time. It takes regular contact over time to build trust and create a valued based relationship.

Knowing your client’s needs, concerns, and issues is the first step in creating a value-based relationship.

Educate your clients on how to identify, treat, and manage risk.  This allows for informed decisions.

Work to become a trusted advisor.  A trusted advisor becomes someone who helps with business decision and issues.  A trusted advisor comes to the table with resources to help the business with legal, accounting, marketing, and human resources strategy and issues.

Find a balance in the use of technology to communicate. We understand that the modern communication technology can have its benefits, but, face to face communication is the foundation of your relationship.

Believe that there is inherent good and value in being an insurance agent. This noble profession involves protecting society from devastating losses that in the absence of insurance could not sustain itself.

Work to understand the difference between consultative and transactional. The agents value proposition is that we know and understand risk. Our true value is to help others evaluate risk and provide meaningful solutions. It goes way beyond an insurance policy.

Understand what customers really want. Your customers want creative and different ideas.  They want you to have client services standards.  Customers desire more, and better, communication.  Finally, they want you and your team to be constantly learning.

We are making progress, but be vigilant. Don’t get sucked into the old way of thinking. Don’t be fooled by Madison Avenues selling the idea that complex risk and insurance topics can be boiled down something simple.

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”  George Bernard Shaw

Reichley insurance believes insurance is more than a transaction. Insurance involves a trusted relationship built on a promise to put people before policies. Our promise is to listen to you, identify your risks and provide solutions. Every employee has the heart of a teacher. Connect with us to experience The Reichley difference.

Perk Reichley and Bob Lilly

#insurance #riskmanagement #customerservice #busienssinsurance #selling #educating

 

Communication Is key to Any Relationship

We live in the greatest age of communication. Today there are more ways to connect with each other than any other time in history.  For example, we have access to personal cell phones, email, web pages, videos, social media, traditional mail and more. So why don’t you and your independent insurance agent communicate more often? And, when you do communicate with your agent, what kind, and how much, communication is valuable to the agent/client relationship? Reichley Insurance is attempting to create a new way of thinking about the agent/client insurance relationship.

Let us start by asking and answering the following question, “What kind of communication and service are you getting from your agent”? If all your agent does is send you a policy and an invoice, then your agent is way overpaid. There is so much more that an agent should be doing to educate and serve you. Here are a few examples of what our agents at Reichley Insurance do:

  1. We ask questions about your risks.
  2. We educate you on these risks and their impact.
  3. Together we select a program that fits your needs.
  4. We continue to educate you through regular communication.
  5. Our web page offers ongoing education.
  6. If there is an important event that may affect you, we offer solutions.
  7. We send you automatic emails about every policy transaction.
  8. We provide a letter with each insured renewal package explaining coverage changes and options.
  9. Our experienced staff is able to clearly discuss issues and solutions.

Recent J.D. Powers & Associates.com score study found consumers find agents easier to use than a black-box 800 number or a website, and still prefer to finalize their purchase through an agent whom they can visit or call. In today’s cyber world, an agent should provide that desired personal touch.

Reichley insurance believes insurance is more than a transaction. Insurance involves a trusted relationship built on a promise to put people before policies. Our promise is to listen to you, identify your risks and provide solutions. Every employee has the heart of a teacher. Connect with us to experience The Reichley difference.

Perk Reichley and Bob Lilly

#insurance #riskmanagement #customerservice #busienssinsurance #selling #educating

Insurance Is Not the Only Answer

My insurance agent friend John and I had another conversation about how agents can, and need to differentiate themselves from other agents.  Last month we talked about how John uncovered an uninsured exposure and how John’s advice helped his client recover about $450,000.

John holds to the belief that the agents job should be to help the client understand and uncover risks, then design a plan to treat or manage these risks.  The agent should not be quick to suggest insurance in every situation.  In fact, in some cases, insurance may not even be the best option.  Agents need to get out of the selling business and into the education business.

John’s most recent example involved a manufacturing business that had a small fleet of three delivery trucks.  John asked the client about the costs associated with the three-vehicle fleet, which included the vehicles, maintenance, three drivers, related benefits, and finally the cost of five recent accidents over the past three years. The client identified a number of costs they were having trouble managing, these included; workers’ compensation claims, high driver turnover and a number of auto accidents.

John asked the client to consider outsourcing the delivery (mostly small packages) around the community and region.  John led the client in a review, or risk analysis, of having their own drivers compared to using contracted providers.  The results showed that the business would save about $12,000 annually by contracting delivery services.  John worked with the client to make sure all contracts and agreement had the proper insurance language, including additional insured wording.

In this case, John actually lost revenue as the business sold their trucks and let the drivers go.  However, John showed the client how a trusted business partner could add true value.

Reichley insurance believes insurance is more than a transaction.  Insurance involves a trusted relationship built on a promise to put people before policies. Our promise is to listen to you, identify your risks, and provide solutions.  Every Reichley employee has the heart of a teacher.  Connect with us to experience The Reichley difference.

“Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein

 

How an Agent Can Go From a Vendor to a Trusted Advisor

My goal in these articles is to create a dialogue among agents and insurance buyers about the differences between being a vendor and becoming a trusted advisor.  This concept starts with how insurance is viewed.  Insurance cannot be viewed as a product, but rather a relationship.  Insurance buyers need to understand that the insurance relationship consists of the agent, the buyer, and the insurer.  The insurer does not really care about the buyer; they offer a set of products.  The agent is the one who should care about the buyer, and develop a relationship through education, not selling.

You will not move from a vendor to trusted advisor overnight.  Here are the stages that include a process from: vendor, credible source, problem solver, then trusted advisor. To go through these steps an agent must consider the following.

What Are the steps an agent should consider?

  • Understand the needs of your client
  • Know your client’s industry
  • Be willing to do some work without compensation
  • Stop selling and do more educating
  • Develop other contacts within the business
  • Be willing to evaluate business processes
  • Don’t assume insurance holds all the answers
  • Ask your client to allow you access to information
  • Help them identify emerging issues and needs of their business and industry

Reichley Insurance believes insurance is more than a transaction.  Insurance involves a trusted relationship built on a promise to put people before policies.  Our promise is to listen to you, identify your risks and provide solutions. Every employee has the heart of a teacher.  Connect with us to experience The Reichley difference.

“The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed.”  – Henry Ford

An Example of How Agents Are Different…the Rest of the Story

My last article had a very good real life example of how agents can differentiate themselves from other agents, and how trusted relationships can add real value to the customer.  In the case mentioned in the previous article, the agent added $440,000 of value to the customer!

So where do we go from here?  Where we will go is right to the heart of our value proposition.  That is, insurance is about building trusted relationships, open communication, identifying value, assessing risk, and developing solutions.

How Do Agents Accomplish This?

Many of my recent articles describe how and why agents can change their own, and their client’s, paradigm from “insurance transactions” to “relationship management.”  Here are a few questions that will help get you started in the process of this great shift in thinking.  You might be surprised when you start asking your clients and potential clients these questions.  Most likely, they have never before been asked these questions by an insurance person.  Notice how many times the word insurance is used.

  1. Are there business issues that keep you up at night? What are they?
  2. What changes do you anticipate will be made in your business in the coming year?
  3. If you were in charge and had unlimited time and resources, what would you change in your organization? In your department?
  4. What changes could your service providers make to improve your working relationship with them and your entity?
  5. What areas do you think offer the greatest opportunities for your broker or any service provider to do an even better job of serving you?
  6. Who are your clients/customers?
  7. Do you rely heavily on one, or just a few, customers?
  8. To what extent do you rely on technology to run your business?
  9. In your industry, have there been any major changes to the way you do business today versus prior years, that could give rise to new risk exposures? If so, what are they?
  10. Where do you see the future of your company 12, 24, or 36 months from now?
  11. What kinds of service does your current agent provide?
  12. When your agent meets with you, what kinds of items are on the agenda?
  13. Describe how you evaluate your agent and risk management program?

Well you get the idea, these questions are designed to have the client do most of the talking and you do most of the listening.  You may even come up with better questions after you read this.  If so, please share them with all of us.  Remember, one of the goals is not to just recommend an insurance solution, but to understand the risk and needs first, then use collaboration to develop business solutions.

Reichley Insurance believes insurance is more than a transaction.  Insurance involves a trusted relationship built on a promise to put people before policies. Our promise is to listen to you, identify your risks, and provide solutions.  Every Reichley employee has the heart of a teacher.  Connect with us to experience The Reichley difference.

Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers. – Ross Perot

An Example of How Not All Agents Are Alike

I was having a conversation with an agent friend of mine discussing how we can differentiate ourselves from other agents.  He told me a stunning story that I want to share.  This story goes to the heart of my quest to educate agents and customers about the value of relationships.

My agent friend (call him John) told me that he recently was hired by a business to help them manage their commercial insurance and risk program. The client had been with their previous agent for ten years, so the change was a big decision for them.  John asked the new client why they decided to change, and they told him that they felt like all the previous agent did was renew their insurance.  They only saw him when a bill needed to be paid.  The client checked around, and another business associate recommended John.

As part of John’s relationship building, at the first meeting he asked a series of questions about the client’s business.  One of the questions led to the client telling John that they owned an underground storage tank that had been un-used for about 10 years.  The client never thought to tell their previous agent about the old tank.  The client said it just never came up.  John explained the risks of owning an underground tank, and directed them to various web pages showing the possible fines if there was ever an issue.  Obviously, the client became very concerned.  However, John suggested a number of solution options and the client decided to have John secure a quote for pollution liability.  The client ended up with a $1,000,000 policy at a cost of only $10,000.

This is where the story gets good.  About two years later as part of the annual client review meeting, John asked about the tank, and the client said they were removing the tank as part of a plant expansion.  Well once the tank came out, there was found to be $450,000 of soil damage and pollution cleanup.  That is a $440,000 cost benefit (minus the deductible).

Needless to say, the client now truly understands the value of relationships and the importance of having an agent who provides insurance and risk solutions.

Reichley insurance believes insurance is more than a transaction.  Insurance involves a trusted relationship built on a promise to put people before policies. Our promise is to listen to you, identify your risks, and provide solutions.  Every Reichley employee has the heart of a teacher.  Connect with us to experience The Reichley difference.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”  – Simon Sinek

 

Insurance Is About Peace of Mind and Trust

We have been telling readers that we believe insurance is more about trust, relationships, and value than it is about a policy.  A recent article in PropertyCasualty360.com, by Brent Kelly confirms this concept.

For many people, buying something tends to be both emotional and financial.  With insurance, some people may buy a brand or base their buying decision on a TV commercial.  While other people may buy insurance with a focus on price, they want the lowest cost possible.  Mr. Kelly correctly points out that buying insurance has some of both the emotional and financial elements.

Insurance is a promise from the insurer to perform in the event of a loss, and insurance offers security to the buyer that when something bad happens, all is ok.

We believe that a promise and security are important enough to mandate a conversation with a professional agent who understands the importance of education.

So, why do most people view insurance as a transactional product?—because the insurance industry has trained consumers to view it as such with phrases like:

  • “Save 10%.”
  • “We will quote your insurance in 15 minutes.”
  • “Get a quick quote.”
  • “Apples to apples.”

Insurance companies and agents use these terms and others every day.  “They are catchy, easy for the consumer to understand and takes little effort,” according to Mr. Kelly.

The time has come to use new insurance buying terms like:

  • “I educate my clients about risk”
  • “Insurance is not your only option”
  • “Exclusions matter”
  • “Can I explain your cost of risk?”
  • “I don’t take orders, I provide peace of mind”

Reichley insurance believes insurance is more than a transaction. Insurance involves a trusted relationship built on a promise to put people before policies. Our promise is to listen to you, identify your risks and provide solutions. Every employee has the heart of a teacher. Connect with us to experience The Reichley difference.