During a recent private ProducerFit program, I experienced one of my world-famous BFOs (Blinding Flashes of the Obvious). It hit me as I spoke to a group of mainly young producers that they probably hear the following repeatedly:
My BFO: What must you do to stop trying to prove to the world that you’re not?
If that’s something you hear on a regular basis, you’ve got a problem!
Most agencies know they should differentiate. However, most don’t. They’re strictly playing a commodity game. Furthermore, most are simply like everyone else—average. That means they’re the best of the worst and the worst of the best, as close to the top as they are to the bottom.
When producers and agency owners are asked why someone should buy insurance from them, they typically have the same responses: “We have the best service, the best people, we represent all of the major carriers, we’ve been in business for 100 years and we can save you money!” Isn’t that what everyone else says? (I sure hope I’m not repeating what you and your team say.)
Here’s a quick litmus test. Right now, stop reading for a moment and ambush several of your agency team members. Just ask them, “Why should people buy from our agency?” I hope you don’t hear the typical tired responses I just mentioned.
I think it’s time to stop proving to the marketplace that you’re like everyone else and start proving that you are different. That you are better, that you bring more value, that you provide a better client experience than your competitors.
Speaking of client experience, I’d like to share a memorable one I had when I was flying home recently on Delta. As I was boarding and approached my seat, I noticed a neatly folded cocktail napkin on top of the armrest. A handwritten note on it read “Mr. Sitkins, thank you so much for flying our airline. Welcome back! We really appreciate your business.” It was signed “Crystal (the flight attendant) and The Crew,” and had a pair of those plastic junior pilot’s wings (you know, the ones they give to children) attached to the bottom.
Others in my section also got a note and wings, and we all started talking about the amazing gesture. Everyone thought the same thing: What a nice touch. I realize it was a paper bar napkin and a plastic pin here, but for the flight attendant to take time to write a personal note to each passenger in her section was truly remarkable. It created a “wow” I won’t soon forget. Now that’s a great client experience!
A big part of proving that you’re not like everyone else starts with what you and your agency believe. What’s your vision for your future great agency? That’s something I often ask agency owners, key producers and senior managers. I believe that we either have a job or a mission. What’s the mission at your agency that everyone rallies around? Most agencies don’t have one.
What mission do you as an owner or manager have for your agency? Keep in mind, you are a role model for your agency. You can’t say one thing and do something totally different. It is crucial for a leader’s words and deeds to be congruent. This starts with your “What,” “How” and “Why.”
If you don’t want to be like everyone else, here are some of the things you must stop doing:
Remember, the public perception of insurance agents is that you’re all the same and it’s all about price—a perception driven and reinforced by your major competitors spending billions of dollars on advertising. It’s time to eradicate that perception and prove that you and your agency are not like everyone else. Are you prepared to do that? It’s clearly The Better Way!
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