Sales Skills

CX that Resonates: 10 Tips to Create Relevant and Memorable Experiences

By Brad O'Neill, Benefits Strategies

The new decade has dawned – welcome to the roaring ’20s! Given the forecasted changes in legislation, we foresee strong headwinds for those in the benefits and retirement business. We also expect myriad changes in the structure and activity of other areas of the insurance market, including:

  • The ACA, Health Pricing Transparency and the Secure Act will create a ripple effect across the industry.
  • The way customers choose their brokers and agents will continue to change. Brokers will be asked to do more to win and retain accounts. Account managers will have to fight for better renewals and keep up with the clients’ demands of doing more for less money.
  • The P&C market may be heading into a hard market this year.
  • Employee Benefits and Retirement are converging, and brokers are quickly adding these new resources to their arsenal.

Despite all of these changes, insurance is still all about relationships. In order to win more business in 2020 and beyond, you’ll need clarify your personal goals to increase your win ratio and account retention. Keep your focus on key trends, and tailor your tactics to meet your prospects’ and clients’ needs in the new decade. Here are some tips and tricks to help you succeed:

  1. Improve Your Phone Skills
    Agents and brokers are using their phones more than ever to make that first contact; in fact, over 92% of all customer interactions happen on the phone. Work on your voice inflection to keep a positive tone. Schedule specific time during your day to return voicemails. Maintain your phone use schedule rather than reacting to other people’s sudden needs. Don’t send random text messages unless you have a personal relationship. Create a cadence to calling and make business development calls to your network as part of your weekly routine. Instead of hitting “like” on someone’s recent promotion on LinkedIn, pick up the phone and tell them congratulations. Authentic human connection goes a long way in developing relationships that last.
     
  2. Better Qualifying
    Did you know it takes an average of eight attempts to reach a prospect before you actually have a qualifying conversation? Utilize technology, face-to-face meetings, networking, and thorough research, to shorten that sales cycle significantly. Use your network in 2020 to find opportunities, and make sure to have that #GiveFirst attitude when working with your trusted business referral partners. Create scripts and practice for your first calls to the prospects. Find what problems you can solve before you call the prospect. Create a Top 20 list and refer to it daily. Review your agency’s Top 20 and look at your best cross-sell opportunities. Do your research!
     
  3. Use Your Network
    Do you know the best time to call a C-level prospect? Not Monday mornings! Studies show that  later in the day and later in the week make it easier to contact the C-suite. Also, most meetings start on the hour, so try to make your call between 40 or 50 minutes after the hour. Create a weekly schedule to call people within your network, and set aside time to create relationships outside of your network to introduce to your trusted business partners.
     
  4. Faster Response Time
    Did you know that 30-50% of sales go to the vendor who responds the fastest? I just experienced this with some sudden home repairs. The speed of response from the claim’s mitigation company won the deal. Strive to be more available in 2020. If you try to return your calls at a certain time of the day to be efficient, leave that message on your voice mail. If you are out of the office, leave an automated response on your email indicating when you will return. Always return calls and emails within 24 hours or less.
     
  5. Better Follow-up
    Did you know that 80% of sales require follow-up calls after the meeting, and that 44% of sales reps stop calling after the first follow-up? In this new decade, don’t give up after the first call. Insurance is something people need every year. Do you ever get the objection, “We are fine this year, but call us next year?” Yes, I think we all hear it, but what do we do to follow-up on their cue? Set reminders to stay in touch. When they give you that objection, ask the prospect, “What will change next year when I call?” “How will you evaluate your broker’s progress this year?” Keep notes and stay in touch with the prospects as you need to continue to build your pipeline.
     
  6. Strategic Relationships
    Regardless of the size of the company, the number of people involved in serious decision making and buying decisions is usually less than 10. If you are in sales or account management, you must ensure that you have relationships throughout the company, and definitely within the C-suite.
     
  7. Social Media Marketing
    Did you know that 78% of salespeople use social media to outsell their competition? Think of your social media presence is your new business card. In 2020, try to shine on LinkedIn. Mine social media for prospects. Use tools such as blogs and visual email marketing to differentiate your services. Use tools that track your email penetration to see who opens your marketing campaigns. Use artificial intelligence (AI) to better understand your prospects. If possible, rank the groups in miEdge to decide which groups regularly make the most plan and broker changes. The technology is there – use it before your competition does!
     
  8. Reviews and Referrals
    Did you know that salespeople who actively seek referral opportunities earn up to five times more than those who don’t? In 2020, make every effort to deepen your relationships. The bankers, CPAs, and lawyers are the easiest choice, but don’t forget to attend industry association events and network with your carrier partners. Remember to ask your current clients for a referral. 91% of customers say they would give a referral, but only 11% of salespeople ask for them. Positive reviews and referrals can make (or break!) your next deal.
     
  9. Share Your Story
    Memorable stories of how you have helped other similar clients will increase your chances of success in winning and retaining business. In fact, 63% of the presentation attendees remember stories, while only 5% recall statistics. Use storytelling as part of your sales presentation to make it personal for your prospects. Prospects will value your approach, and it will convey that you are a professional who has experienced – and solved! – their issues before.
     
  10. Invest in Training
    You will need to stay sharp to stay ahead in 2020. Hire a coach or someone who will invest time in your success. Take online courses that focus on areas of insurance, benefits, and risk so your knowledge stays relevant. Read industry notes to stay up to date on changes in the market, like the Beyond Insurance Blog. Find a network of like-minded professionals to collaborate. Consider becoming cross-licensed, as this will be valuable to your career path. Some insurance brokers and agents see the convergence of retirement joining the conversation, so 2020 might be a great year to brush up on the Secure Act.

As with any resolutions or goals for the new decade: stay on track, work efficiently, and hold yourself accountable. Invest in yourself and training. Be there to help others in your network.  Always remember what Stephen Covey said, “Goals are pure fantasy unless you have a plan to achieve them,” so make your plan work for you this year!

Learn more about the author, Brad O'Neill.