For agency owners looking to double their business, a few simple tips can lead to a dramatic uptick in sales. During the digital Insurance Agent Summit earlier this week, Bill Gough, owner and president of Florence, Ala.-based agency consultancy BGI Systems, shared how seven steps can help advisers. These techniques, he said, have helped him become an Allstate Hall of Fame inductee.
Gough started in an Allstate mentorship program in 1984, made some mistakes along the way, he said, but then started talking with high-producing agents to learn about systems, operations, sales and marketing. He found seven areas where they excel:
1) Be clear on what you want to do as an agency owner. If an agency owner does not have a clear business plan, they will take any customer that comes along, such as an unprofitable one, Gough said. “Anytime you say yes to something, it means you say no to something else,” he explained. “Focus on what makes you unique. If [it] is not clear, you are going to have an issue.” To know what an owner wants to do they should write goals, set plans and take action, he added.
2) Know who your ideal client is. “You have to be extremely clear on this and if it is not clear, you will be making mistakes,” Gough said. He explained that a successful broker knows what their ideal client values the most, and then shows them those things. “In insurance, trust and referrals are huge,” he said. “Most opportunities are within your book of business and many agents miss this. They get caught up reacting, rather than doing things on purpose and being proactive,” he said.
3) Build and nurture a raving fan (client) base. Gough said that great customer and prospects lists are built, not bought, by earning trust. “When you have a raving fan book of business, that is the best place to start,” he explained. “The easiest money you make is money you are already making. Why not try to expand that?” To build this fan base, Gough suggests “nurturing” clients with interesting and relevant content on a monthly basis, such as through email, video, newsletters, social media, website and events.
4) Be clear and persuasive in your communications. To be clear, agents need to know who they are communicating with, realizing there are three very different bases in insurance: Customers, prospects and centers of influence. “You need to talk to them in three different ways,” Gough said. “With both content and sales. In every medium. Most insurance agents do not understand [this]. You need to learn the different in content communications and sales communications.”
5) Have the right people in the right seats. Gough explained that a brokerage’s staff should be specialists and not masters of all. “Specialists always beat generalists,” he said. For example, each agency should have “sales superstars, customer service heroes and administrate aces.”
6) A single sales system/process for maximum control. Gough says that the sales process should be structured and scripted to build relationships. “I don’t trust sales people,” he said. To achieve maximum output, he explained that sales people should role play every day because “process and making everyday improvement is when to peak.”
7) The courage to be more than mediocre. This is the most important trait, as many business owners, especially insurance agents, get comfortable with what is happening in their business since they have built-in revenue, he said. “The No. 1 job of a business is to be marketing your business,” he said. “Fixing your head to compete is critical.”
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