I was working with an Agency Owner talking about the future of our industry and more specifically, lead generation and what that might look like.
We had a good meeting and I thought I would share a few thoughts with all of you.
Our business is changing rapidly. What is driving this change? Consumer behavior.
Now, you could look at that as more consumers are going direct and that might be the case in some demographics. Frankly, there isn’t much we can do about that, but I don’t think that is the biggest threat.
The bigger threat is that those that are willing to do business with a local agency are becoming more and more difficult to reach. Ten years ago you could dial a number and there was a good chance someone would pick up the phone. Today? Those odds are down considerably.
So, what do we do about it?
There are lots of things you can do, but in this message I am going to focus on some basics that anyone can do even with a modest budget.
The first thing you need to do is look at your marketing. How much of your business is coming from paid lead sources versus centers of influence and networking? If your leads are primarily coming from paid leads like web leads and live transfers, you really should start to look at other sources. Centers of influence, networking and direct mail should be at the top of your list. Centers of influence and networking are how I built my agency and while back end loaded, should be a focus for all agencies. Over time, this is an excellent lead source that does not cost much investment other than your time. I absolutely love direct mail for several reasons, but one of the biggest is because it gets prospects calling you. Instead of beating your head against the wall trying to reach people these prospects actually call you. Direct mail requires investment and training, but if you are not leveraging this to generate leads you should look into it as soon as possible. I think that as other paid lead sources continue to go down in quality, direct mail will be where many agencies go and if you wait, you may be too late due to the exclusivity of the zip codes. Get on that train now while you can.
Next, you have to truly leverage every single opportunity you get to sell an entire household, not just a policy. The vast majority of time spent by a producer in an agency is for prospecting. They dial and dial, leaving message after message and work their tail off just getting someone on the phone. But when they do get them on the phone, are they truly maximizing their opportunity? Or, do they just settle for one or two lines to quote? I listen to these calls daily from agencies all over the country. It’s always surprising to agency owners that even some of their best people will very often cave to the least bit of pushback and only quote one line. This has to be addressed and it is up to the agency owner to make sure their producers are trained and then held accountable for this work. Redemption calls are a fantastic tool to help with this. If you aren’t using them now, reach out and I’ll be glad to help you.
Lastly, we have to get more business beyond just the household itself. In the past, this was called asking for referrals. I would stop using the word referral and start using the word introduction. Why? Because most producers are scared to death to ask for referrals and simply will not do it. But asking for an introduction? Well, that is much easier to teach and producers will not feel as reluctant to ask. This still requires training and accountability, but it is a fantastic way to dramatically increase your business. Simply have your producer add this line to the end of their sales process as they are finishing up the transaction – “By the way, do you have any family in town?” Many times the customer will offer up a referral. “Why yes, my dad lives here and you should talk with him. I learned a lot today and I bet he would too.” At this point, simply ask for his cell and ask the customer to text their dad and let him know you will be calling. If they don’t offer to refer but just say “Yes, my dad lives here” Then your producer can say “Great, I would love an introduction. Would you mind introducing me to your dad?” If they followed the sales process that we teach, that answer is typically going to be yes and that is when they ask for the cell number and ask the customer to text them that they will be calling. If your producers did this 100% of the time when writing business, just like they get dates of birth, addresses, vin numbers and any other important information they get 100% of the time they write a policy, their production will go up.
Consumer behavior is changing. Leads are becoming more expensive and much more difficult to reach. Agencies have got to maximize opportunities and be smarter with their marketing.
Agencies that do this will prosper. Agencies that continue to do what they have always done are going to find it very difficult to grow and may even find themselves shrinking.
Keep in mind that your agency is perfectly designed to get the exact results you are getting. The good news is you can change the design at any time if you are not getting the results you desire.
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