Last time, I talked about surprised by insurance as a transformational concept that helps customers and prospects reevaluate how they perceive their relationship with their agent. Using tools such as the Internet — but not necessarily just the Internet — I’ve suggested that your goal should be to develop relationships with your customers that transcend their perception of you as merely someone who sells them insurance commodities. Are your customers surprised at the extraordinary things you do to provide service, to connect with them, to strengthen your relationship with them?
I think the epitome of the surprised by insurance concept is expressed in a coaching and training process created by Scott Addis called Beyond Insurance. Scott says the problem with insurance agencies is that if you view the agent to client relationship as you might a doctor to patient relationship, most agents are recommending treatments without doing any diagnosis.
Beyond Insurance recommends that agents step back from the insurance transaction and consider insurance products in the larger context of a comprehensive, holistic view of a client’s complete risk scenario. It’s about providing solutions, not selling insurance. Agents who follow the Beyond Insurance philosophy belong to a group called the Organic Growth Exchange and attend events like the one profiled in this You Tube video where the Beyond Insurance systems are featured.
There are six systems in the program, all designed to help agents avoid the trap of treating insurance as a commodity:
- Stakeholder intimacy and relationship management
- Consultative sales and sales management
- Prospect research and qualification
- Customer loyalty, appreciation and intimacy benchmarking
- Brand and brand management
Scott’s program is not just theory. He has tested his approach in “over 1,500 engagements covering over 50 industries.” It works. Agents who learn his system say remarkable things about how much faster they grow their business and the vast improvement in client loyalty they experience.
And the statistics are impressive. Using the Beyond Insurance Process, participants’ new business “hit ratio” is 90% (vs. a normal agency ratio of 25%), the customer retention rate is 99%, per employee revenue is more than double a normal agency’s ($250,000), carrier loss ratio is 27% (vs. normal agency ratio of 57%) and referrals come in at the rate of 5 per week (vs. 1 per week for a normal agency).
Whether you are a property and casualty or an employee benefit specialist — 30-40% of the agents who participate in the various Beyond Insurance programs are employee benefit specialists — Beyond Insurance addresses the many challenges facing agents today, including premium pressure from eroding commissions, a faltering economy, health insurance uncertainty and commoditization. I encourage you to check out Beyond Insurance.
By the way, several years ago, after I had been an insurance agent for several years, I wrote an article called “How to Position Yourself as a Risk Management Specialist.” I suggested that agents get out of the “insurance commodity trap,” as Scott calls it, by applying to their clients’ businesses the traditional risk management formula: identify risk, avoid or accept it, reduce it and transfer it or finance it, followed by regular analysis and review.
Obviously, Scott’s program for agents goes far beyond this, but like Scott I am also an advocate for helping agents position themselves as professionals, not insurance order-takers. That’s the purpose of SmartsPro Marketing — and this blog: to provide agents with the tools to help them market insurance strategically by creating trust, building relationships and providing solutions for managing risk not selling insurance.