ACG - Agency Consulting Group

The PIPELINE

A national monthly newsletter for agency principals dedicated to agency management topic

Identifying Prospects Who Wont Buy from You-Before You Waste Your Time

Those of us who don't market at all jump at every opportunity to present insurance proposals through referrals or the infrequent inquiry to your office. This article is not directed to these type of agencies and these type of producers. This article is meant for active, marketing insurance agencies who develop sufficient leads to keep their producers busy. However, keeping busy doesn't pay the rent. Selling insurance is the goal.

The smartest agents train their producers to quickly identify those classifications of prospects who have no intention buying insurance from you. These prospects fall into various categories but are fairly easy to recognize if your cognizant of their personality.

1. Prospects who have no intention from you - this sounds ludicrous, however many producers fail to ask the critical question, "If we can provide you with an excellent proposal at a fair price, would you buy from us?" If you ask that question and the answer is either a flat no or evasion, pack you bags! You are there to provide another quote against the satisfactory insurance product.

2. The spy - within a short period of time you realize that your in the presence of a spy when the prospect is pumping you for information about insurance rather than you asking him questions about his situation and current coverages. The spy is interested in collecting information not buying insurance form you.

3. The Fisherman - the fisherman throws you bait to see if you will take the hook. The hook is negotiating a rock bottom price, sometimes to include a reduction of commissions. The bait is the image of much more substantial, related business if you give him a bargain price on his current coverage. The second lure is the promise of enhanced business from this customer as his business grows. We all hope that our smaller customers grow and require more insurance coverage as well. We also hope that if they are related to other businesses that we have the opportunity of insuring those other businesses because of our professionalism. However, negotiating price (and commissions) for the promise of things to come will put you up on that wall right next to the other "wide-mouth bass", stuffed and hung.

4. The Urgent - lets say you have been marketing to a prospect for a full cycle (since his last renewal), yet, you do not get the call to do a quote until the 11th hour. Many of us rush to impose upon our own staff and underwriters to generate this proposal quickly. How many of us ask ourself's why we are considered only at the last minute? Too often, the reason for an 11th hour quote is to compare against or put pressure on the current agent and company.. if your quote comes out high, no loss. If your quote is better than the current agents, that use to pressure the agent and carrier to lower their premiums. Either way, you are out of luck. This does not assume that there are not legitimate 11th hour quotes out there. However, ask open ended questions and find out why you are being invited at a late hour to issue a proposal.

5. The Know-It-All - he has been through this "insurance business" a thousand times. "You are all the same". The prospect contradicts everything that you suggest. If the sale can be made at all in this scenario, it will be a difficult one. And the chances are excellent that the customer will have a bad taste in his mouth regardless of the result. You will probably have the account for only one year as he goes through the pain and anguish of doing it all over again with a new slew of agents next year.

6. Dealing with non-decision makers - if you were dealing with people who are expected to digest your proposal and

re-propose should decision makers, the chances of you making a sale diminish severely. To determine whether or not you are facing the insurance decision maker, ask him to describe the procedure for making insurance decisions in his company. if he indicates that decisions are made elsewhere than at his desk, try to make him your partner and develop the proposal with him that you can present to the appropriate decision maker.

7. The Socializer - you can recognize having met with a socializer because you will come away from every meeting feeling wonderful about the relationship you are establishing but you will never get a commitment to purchase insurance. The socializer feels important by your attention and wants to talk more than he wants to buy. You will recognize the socializer because regardless of how well you are getting along, every time you try to make a close he will have a road block or objection that requires more of your effort.

8. Finally, we have the character who will not reveal his current coverages or pricing to you in your development of a proposal for his company. The establishment of an insurance program should be neither a game nor a contest. If the prospect considers you professional - if he expects to buy insurance from you if you can give him an appropriate proposal - he should be a fount of information regarding his business and current coverages. The best way you can be of value to him is by taking what he already has and making it better rather than re-inventing the wheel.

I know that you would all rather be busy than bored. I know that you feel that any chance at a sale is better than none. However if you deal with the characters listed above, the chances of you making this sale are close to nil. Your time is better spent actively prospecting for better customers or with your family's or enjoying hobbies that at least bring pleasure into you life. There is no pleasure in batting zero for ten because you run up against none-buying prospects.