The last thing agencies need
More leads aren’t the answer
By Adam DeGraide
Having spoken to thousands of agency executives over the last few years and having the privilege to work with some of the brightest and best agencies in the country, I believe there is one glaring thing that is plaguing most agencies: They don’t know how to sell to the new modern consumer.
Agencies have purchased blueprints, DVDs, CDs, manuals, tools, association memberships, widgets, leads, trinkets, and have gone to conventions—using basically everything available to them in order to help them grow. However, in most cases, it has failed to pan out. Why?
Because the old way of selling insurance is dead, and if agencies don’t switch today to new marketing methods and techniques, their book of business will continue to shrink, and the frustration will continue to rise.
Step One is to decide today that your agency is no longer a purely service-centric agency, but a sales generation agency. And if that means cleaning house and getting new people who “get it,” then that’s what you need to do.
Let me ask you several questions: What is the purpose of the phone ringing in your agency? What is the purpose of actually trying to generate Web leads and/or referrals? What is the purpose of getting out of bed and going to work today? What is the purpose? If you don’t sell something, why keep coming in?
If you want to grow your agency, you must turn into a sales machine where all customer-facing employees focus on sales while maintaining the excellent service that your customers have come to expect. There will be no one to serve if you can’t sell them or keep them.
What I have discovered is that some of the most successful and fastest-growing agencies in the country literally start with their sales culture.
Agencies like Prostar Insurance in Bellevue, Washington (www.prostarinsuranceagency.com), have an outstanding sales process and access to top markets. They have found ways to receive high-quality opportunities and use strategies to drive new and existing business.
Too many agencies want to start with leads, but what’s really needed is strong sales leadership where the mandate is to sell and then service. Also, the best agencies have realized that they need to make sure that all products available are sold and that their culture embraces—not disgraces—the modern consumer. More important, they ensure that they close business, no matter where it comes from, and then use automation to turn their customers into customers for life.
Another example is Caton & Hosey Insurance in Port Orange, Florida (www.catonhosey.com). This agency also realized that the model of having only a regional or local footprint is gone.
These aggressive, smart agencies are selling every market and every part of each state they are licensed in.
You see, no numbers of leads or tools can help an agency that can’t sell. However, if your agency becomes a sales machine, the most amazing tools and widgets in the world are available to help you grow and close the business you need and deserve.
But remember: a successful agency starts with the ability to sell, then the markets and, last, the leads and tools…not the other way around.
Raise the bar
So, in 2010, all agencies need to decide what they’re going to do. Avoid the temptation to think it’s about one thing.
It’s not about Web sites, although you need a site that makes you money.
It’s not about search engine optimization or search engine marketing, although you need them to help drive traffic.
It’s not about tools to help you manage and measure your business, although you can’t manage what you don’t measure.
It’s not about direct mail and e-mail marketing campaigns, although you definitely need to be doing them.
It’s not about blogging or social network marketing, although it does help you create a community.
It’s not about training and mentoring, although it needs to start here.
It’s about doing all of it better than everyone else.
The agencies that understand this are the future leaders in this industry, because with over 85% of individuals and businesses researching insurance on the Web, your agency had better be the best at selling, and then serving, the modern consumer—and not the other way around.
The question I have for you is: Now that you know it, are you going to do it?
Having done Internet marketing, and sales training and consulting for more than 13 years, I have discovered that failure happens because of one of three things: 1) You don’t know what to do; 2) You don’t know how to do it; or 3) You just don’t execute.
The world has changed already. Are you ready to change with it?
Adam DeGraide is a veteran Internet marketer, sales guru, entrepreneur, record producer, and motivational speaker. In 2006 he founded Astonish Results, a digital marketing company, and since then he has been encouraging independent agencies across the country to “Join the Internet marketing revolution, or get left behind!”