Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content


Most problems and complaints both outside and inside your company arise from poor communication. Poor communication most often results from either miscommunication or a lack of communication. This article identifies thirteen steps to ensure you communicate effectively.
If it’s not measured, it can’t be managed. Every agent and agency must be able to measure specific sales ratios to effectively plan for the future. Two commonly measured ratios are retention ratio and closing ratio; but a new metric not often discussed is the “effective production time.”
One of the best ways to ensure you make more sales is to make sure you’re taking excellent care of your customers and one of the best ways to do that is to go back to the basics of GREAT customer service. Providing great customer service ensures that your customers feel appreciated and are being taken care of; if you take care of customers, they will take care of you.
The cry we hear loudest from agents is that they are losing customers to cheaper alternatives. Yet watching the buying habits of these same customers, they don’t buy the cheapest clothes they can find, the cheapest cuts of beef, and the cheapest cars on the market. WHY?
According to Insurance Thought Leadership, it costs a business seven-to-nine times more to acquire a new customer than to retain a current client. So why aren’t today’s agents focusing more on cross-selling? This article examines ways to cross sell, with a thorough list of cross-sell coverage opportunities.
One of the reasons that the direct writers and internet-based companies do so much business is that the buying public feel that insurance is a commodity—we’re all the same and the price is the only differentiation. In an impersonal internet-based world in which texting replaces actual conversations this concept makes sense—until a sour experience with a claim or service issue illustrates the need for personal service and relationship.
Everyone occasionally comes across those hard to place accounts. Hopefully, your first shot will be our own Big “I” Markets at Other alternatives include and In this article, technology guru Steve Anderson discusses a web-based platform with a different approach.
You got your start as a personal lines producer and you’re ready to make a move to commercial lines production. How do you get started? How do you “write” a commercial lines account? Where do you get the coverage and sales training necessary to be successful? In this article, the VU faculty make some recommendations and we link to a few other VU articles and outside resources.
Is too much of your staff’s time being spent responding to telephone requests for auto quotes? One agency getting 80 calls a day seeks a way out and the VU faculty deliver.
What is YOUR role if you are no longer able to influence pricing for your clients and prospects? You'd be wise to figure it out now.
Successful selling can be broken down into 6 key areas or character traits which in this article we will refer to as the 6 Cs. If you are new to sales, or are struggling a bit, you’ll find that by focusing on these 6 keys, sales success will quickly follow. If you are already a highly successful salesperson, refocusing on these 6 factors will make you even more successful.
The insurance industry has long gone through periods of “hard” and “soft” market conditions. In hard markets, insurance premiums increase and capacity – the ability of insurance markets to accept coverage – typically shrink. In soft markets, premiums decrease, and market capacity typically increases. Many newer agents have never experienced a hard market. The ability to navigate a tight insurance market and explain the market fluctuations to your clients can mean the difference between winning an account and losing a valued account to a competitor.
Over the years, we have observed the mistakes of many salespeople in many different types of 'selling situations' in trying to acquire and retain business. Although the actual approach or style will always vary, there are many common pitfalls that can trap salespeople. Here are the most prominent:
Personal lines competition continues to intensify unabated as more and more players enter the marketplace. However, independent agents CAN fight back...IF they are willing to make some fundamental changes in the way they do business. In this article, I'll present seventeen ways your agency can compete and WIN in personal lines.
Do you hate to make calls on the phone? Would you rather do anything, anything, than dial that stranger? Do you find yourself reading the newspaper, taking an early lunch, cleaning your desk, even filling out paperwork, rather than making those calls? Do you tell yourself you'd make those calls more easily if you only had some guidelines to help you know what to say?
Generating a profitable, high-margin book of business requires a balanced approach to marketing and sales – built on processes that are sustained over the long haul. Steve lays out how an agency can achieve such a successful marketing and sales process that is both high-touch and high-tech.
The silliest of all marketing and advertising mistakes is when agency owners get caught up designing fancy headlines, logos, slogans and toll-free numbers, and forget the number-one feature of their firms: their people. You build a local insurance brand with people. Your employees literally are living the brand every day. They touch your customers and prospects every day in words and deeds. They are your paths to revenue growth. Don’t hide them in the cubicles.
If you don't know how to build value, you'll be faced too often with the alternative of cutting price. The best way I know to build value in the prospect's mind is to talk needs-based benefits. We build value by showing how our product, service or idea can satisfy those needs.
Probably the toughest part of the sales process for most producers is closing the sale. However, by the time you get to that point, the sale should almost close itself. One of the reasons many producers have difficulty landing the account is they haven't done the prep work that should have put the prospect in a buying mood.
Today's buyers are more sophisticated than they once were. They are more knowledgeable, less loyal and more cautious. Given these changes, buyers will no longer simply allow you to 'sell.' Successful salespeople will be those who provide information and recommendations, who anticipate problems and offer solutions, who look at the sales process as long-term and provide guidance along the way....
Sales people are the front end of many businesses. For many companies, they are the most influential person in the client relationship. For this reason, if for no other, it is critical that sales people know, understand, believe and support the company’s goals and objectives. They should have internalized the company spirit so that it comes across to the customer. Continue reading to learn how this can be accomplished...
Too many agents are devoting 100% of their time to existing clients without prospecting for new ones. The increased earnings generated by these existing clients are creating a level of complacency. Their conscious (or subconscious) mantra is, “I’m making more than I expected or need, so why should I work harder.” As a result, prospect pipelines are not as fat as they have been or could be.
You believe that the agents of a particular company are deliberately underinsuring homes under an HO policy because the carrier's rates are not competitive. They are allegedly relying on the carrier's guaranteed replacement cost provision on the home, but you believe that this results in gross underinsurance of other property, and it definitely puts you at a competitive disadvantage. What do you do (besides submitting an 'Ask an Expert' question to the VU)?
Mention 'branding' and people generally think in terms of company names...McDonalds, Nike, Disney, Ford, Xerox, etc. Or, they think of burned cattle flesh. Aside from the cattle flesh, Webster defines 'brand' as 'a class of goods identified as the product of a single firm or manufacturer.' What is your 'class of goods' and how can you distinguish or brand it?
According to one study, 86% of surveyed customers would refer their broker to their friends, yet only 12% had ever been ASKED. Another study found that a referral is up to 15 times more likely to do business with you than a cold prospect. Cold calling is HARD and statistically unproductive. Referral based selling can be significantly easier and more efficient IF you know how to do it effectively. Here's how....
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be able to tell people that I made $75,000 my FIRST YEAR actively selling insurance on the Internet. And it looks like the coming year will be even better. Through our web site, our small four person San Francisco family agency is selling an average of 50 or more policies and bonds per month as I write this....
There are significant opportunities to improve agency processes for marketing commercial lines accounts to carriers. This article outlines commonly found problems in these processes and then makes several practical recommendations to help agencies take total control of every piece of the renewal process except the time frame for receiving quotes and receiving the actual policy which are in the carrier’s control. These process improvements reduce staff stress and backlog, establish clear accountability, and free up the staff to perform as professional insurance consultants providing pro-active client service, rather than as paper pushers racing to meet last minute deadlines.
We recently read an article in a national training magazine that, in the course of making a point about sales training, used 'insurance' as an example of a commodity sale. Do you agree with that? Is 'insurance' a commodity? Do you sell it that way? Should it be sold that way? How do your insureds and prospects view it? In this article, we'll explore some of these issues.
Jeff is a 22 year old producer who has been in the insurance business for less than a year. He came from a finance industry company where he was involved in outside sales. He's having trouble launching his insurance sales career and is curious what can benefit him right now and what he can do to become better. What can a frustrated insurance sales newbie do?
Your agency has a commercial marketing department, but you have the option of either marketing an account yourself or using the marketing department. Most producers do it themselves since they have a perception of not getting a thorough and complete job from the department. Assuming that you have a completed submission, what do you do?
Question: I was wondering if there were any specific marketing techniques that other insurance agents have used that could help a young agent (less than one year in the business) get more of a 'grip' or hold in the market. Is there a tried and true method utilized to get a young agent's name more 'readily' recognized in a saturated market?
Personal lines, like life insurance, can be a more difficult sale than commercial lines. Generally speaking, most consumers look at home and auto insurance as a commodity. So, if you want to grow your personal lines book, what can you do? Recently, we were asked just that question, so we solicited some suggestions from our faculty, plus an agent who spent 23 years successfully marketing personal lines.
Your agency has rosters of employees that are submitted to you annually in order to write the business's workers compensation coverage. Your sales department would like to use these lists to send marketing letters/brochures to employees to solicit their personal lines accounts. Is this a violation of privacy laws or is it otherwise a good or bad idea?
As we all know, insurance seminars and articles can be a little on the 'dry' side. So, every now and then, when you select an article from the Research Library, you may get the unexpected. We want the Virtual University to be more than some stale, stoic repository of insurance technica...hey, let's have a little fun! Now, on with the topic at hand...
The average producer is literally wasting tens of thousands of dollars a year quoting on accounts they have either little chance of writing or shouldn’t even be trying to write. Why? Simple. They have no real clue how much their time is worth, how much of it they waste, how many accounts they solicit with little or no chance of closing, and how many quality accounts they never approach because they have used up all their time and effort chasing accounts that will earn the agency little or nothing.
A client recently had me work with them to prepare their teams for price increases. The concern was that new and existing business would fall off and therefore pressure on the staff to give discounts was expected to be high. Here are some things we discussed which I share with you to consider for a more successful year.
With all of the discussion in recent years about the importance of understanding our customer's needs, it's a valuable exercise to try to see ourselves as we might be perceived by our customers. For example, if a customer glances out the office window as we march from the visitor's lot towards their fortress, briefcases and laptops in hand and a pocket full of business cards, do they see friend or foe? Invader or partner?
Business customers usually have very limited patience with any sales person who hasn't taken the time to become at least a little acquainted with their business. This is even more true in insurance sales, as one of an agent's primary duties is to have sufficient grasp of the prospect's business exposures to make solid coverage recommendations, including risks the prospect may be unaware of...
Have you heard of the “My Guy' philosophy? It goes like this: Our customers seem to have “their guy” or “their gal”—and as long as their business partners are providing simply average service at a competitive price, they will continue to utilize the services of that vendor. Wrong!
Most of us have enough food. shelter, clothing, and transportation. We don't need much more. But we want more. We need food. But we want fast foods, diet foods and gourmet meals. Most of us don't need a six-bedroom, 2 ½ bath home. But many of us may want one. We don't need expensive designer clothes. BUT we want them. We may need a car. But we want a Lexus or a BMW. We've all heard or read that the essence of marketing is to 'find a need and fill it.' Your marketing efforts will yield a better response if you follow this formula instead: Find a want and fill it.
By now, you’ve probably heard how creating a website or using social media can help increase visibility and generate leads for your agency. But there's one tool you may not have heard about, even though it's a fast, easy way to reach thousands of people in your local area who are shopping for insurance right now. And, it’s free.
Yes, they're failing... the DotComs are going under by the droves, and if you've been reading the news, you're even LESS inspired than ever to build a web site, or to keep struggling to make your agency website succeed than ever before. Right? WRONG!! Here's why....
There are lots of pro’s and con’s in the arena of marketing debate as to which is better – a well-aimed shot with a .22 caliber rifle or a broad sweep of buckshot from a shotgun. Well, I don’t intend to argue the arsenal! Instead, I am taking a middle position which will allow you to target all of your products to two significantly large, but defined, markets: ethnic minorities and women.
Do you have a sales prevention department in your company? That question was posed by the publisher of Telemarketing, Nadji Tehrani. That question served as a reminder of the many mistakes I’ve made over the years–excuse me, a reminder of my many learning experiences. No one is likely to admit to sales and marketing sabotage, because it seldom occurs on a conscious level. In this article, I hope to stimulate thought about your sales and marketing process by reviewing a number of typical mistakes that may be occurring in your operations.
Jeff is a 22 year old producer who has been in the insurance business for less than a year. He came from a finance industry company where he was involved in outside sales. He's having trouble launching his insurance sales career and is curious what can benefit him right now and what he can do to become better. What can a frustrated insurance sales newbie do?
All too often businesses get caught up in the “product trap.” From advertising to sales presentation, the “product” takes center stage. Afterwards we wonder why we didn’t get the sale. Or if we did, why we didn’t retain future business from the client. The answer in both cases is simple: we made the wrong sale first. By selling the product first, we lost sight of the most important sale...ourselves and our company.
Key accounts can be significant for a variety of reasons: their premium volume, profitability, marquee status, relationship with producers, or a combination of these factors. Losing them is never easy. In this article we discuss learning from the experience, replacing it, and preventing future losses. On the positive side we also talk about winning a new key account, maximizing the experience and replicating the success.
One of the best sales techniques is to ask for referrals from your happy customers. As much as I want my sales people asking for referrals, I would much rather have my happy clients refer business to me without having to ask. Wouldn't you just love for that phone to ring with a constant stream of new business that comes as a result of your happy customers or clients voluntarily spreading the word about you?
Apologies are not an admission of wrongdoing. A simple, 'I'm sorry that happened. What can we do to make it right?' can go a long way towards restoring faith and keeping a customer. In the long run, you gain a lot through improved retention and increased referrals. Click Emily's photo to visit her web site.
​127 South Peyton Street
Alexandria VA 22314
​phone: 800.221.7917
fax: 703.683.7556

Follow Us!

​Empowering Trusted Choice®
Independent Insurance Agents.