THE MARSHBERRY LETTER   Volume XXVIII, Number 2                                                                      Febru...
2. Drop-off / follow-up and          3. Associations:                         5. Social Networking:drip method:           ...
existing producer-client relation-       obvious pains is a proven tactic                  Figure 4ships by bringing in an...
♦ An agency offered                     business goals. It is effective to        close is the penultimate event;  compreh...
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Understanding A Sales Process


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Understanding A Sales Process

  1. 1. THE MARSHBERRY LETTER Volume XXVIII, Number 2 February, 2012Understanding the Sales person who doesn’t recognize cies are not as likely to provideProcess an insurance need, doesn’t have their producers with pre-estab- the resources or decision power, lished / pre-qualified lead lists.Do you have a well-defined, has no sense of urgency, maysuccessful sales process that or may not be engaged, or has Forumconsistently wins you business? a decision date that falls outside After you have found the suspect,Do you know what steps you your typical sales cycle. Con- you need to approach the oppor-took in the past that made you versely, a prospect agrees to tunity. This is the “forum” stage insuccessful? Or on the con- work with you to find a solution, the model. There are six levels intrary, when you didn’t win the has a high probability of closing, the forum stage:business, do you know where fits your profile of a client, and isthere was a breakdown? Most an individual with decision mak- 1. Cold calls and drop-inssuccessful producers have a ing power. In most cases, agen- 2. Drop-off / follow-up and dripformalized and deliberate sales cies with a clearly defined sales methodprocess or strategy they consis- process will also place heavy 3. Associationstently follow which is the founda- emphasis on the new businesstion to their continuous success. 4. Introductions via phone or email appointment and use this step toThis article articulates a fun- differentiate between suspects 5. Building the bridge throughdamental and consistent sales and prospects. There are a num- social networkingprocess which, when applied, ber of ways to find new suspects 6. Introductions in person / referralscan help producers consistently and prospects. Technology isexceed sales goals. 7. Cross-selling progressing at such a fast paceSuspecting that most people use the internet 1. Cold calls and drop-ins: to generate suspects. There areIn all sales processes, suspect- many websites that are great This is the most impersonal sus-ing is the first step (see Figure 1 to research valuable informa- pecting method and typically thebelow for entire sales process). tion such as SIC code, number most ineffective method, but is aBefore discussing suspecting, it of employees, industry type, great way to expose producersis important to define the differ- geographic location, contact to potential buyers’ objections.ence between a suspect and a information, and in some cases, Experience from overcoming theseprospect. In terms of pipeline decision dates. Figure 2 (Page objections will lead to a more pol-management, a suspect is a 2) shows that high-growth agen- ished sales approach in the future. Figure 1 - A Successful Sales Process Establish Identify Determine Suspecting Forum Present Close Credibility Needs Solutions The MarshBerry Letter Page 1 February, 2012
  2. 2. 2. Drop-off / follow-up and 3. Associations: 5. Social Networking:drip method: Joining an association is a low cost, Some popular social mediaThe drop-off/follow up, drip easy and effective suspecting forum. channels used today are Linke-method and associations, Get active in local associations to dIn, Facebook, Google Places,involves dropping off an item meet suspects and become known Twitter and the decision maker and fol- within your community. Joining an LinkedIn is probably the mostlowing up at a later date. The association helps build the relation- business-to-business orienteditem can be anything to start a ship through common interests. social media networking usedconversation such as a book Just be sure to only join associations today. These channels allow forto read or an article from a that truly have members that are warm introduction through brandmagazine. The drip method is potential opportunities. building. Social media alsoa technique used to establish makes it easy for people to iden- 4. Introductions Via Phone or Email:underlying dialogue before tify what associations potentialactually calling or meeting Potential clients usually decide early clients are actively involved in.someone. A common example in the sales process whether or not 6. Introductions in Person:is emailing a suspect a monthly they will ever buy from you. With anewsletter or articles you find in strong introduction, suspects do not As opposed to level three ofnewspapers. It is much easier make an objective evaluation, but introductions via phone or email,to get a suspect engaged if they rather look to validate what your your introduction source accom-perceive you as an expert. introduction source said about you. panies you on the meeting to your potential client. The intro- duction is commonly a lunch or Figure 2 Figure 3 dinner. This goes much deeper Percentage of Agencies Percentage of Agencies than a simple referral. that provide producers that have established 7. Cross-Selling: with a pre-established / internal cross-sell / referral pre-qualified list of leads goals between production This is a form of introduc- or prospects lines of business tion where another producer introduces you to the prospect 30% 40% through the relationship already built. The credibility stage in the 35% sales process is easier to pass 25% 37% through since your colleague has 27% 30% already built the rapport with the client. We refer to cross-selling 20% 30% 25% as “sofa money.” The money in the sofas is there for the taking, but people don’t seem to care. 15% 20% 17% Similarly, we find there are a lot of cross-selling opportunities 15% 10% that have yet to be exposed. The usual excuse for producers 10% not selling an all-encompassing 5% insurance solution to their client 5% is because of their limited knowl- edge outside their core product 0% 0% expertise. Another common Average High-Growth Average High-Growth breakdown to successful cross- Agencies Agencies Agencies Agencies selling is the insecurity of hurting The MarshBerry Letter Page 2 February, 2012
  3. 3. existing producer-client relation- obvious pains is a proven tactic Figure 4ships by bringing in an organi- for getting prospects to divulge Decision Maker Concernszational counterpart. However, what they expect out of theircross-selling remains a successful trusted advisor. Asking ques-technique (see Figure 3, Page 2) tions like “So if your current bro-when an effective communication ker is a 10 out of 10, they must CEO / Ownerand education process is involved. be providing you with a customer Increased Company Value perceived value-added service Reduced CostEstablishing Credibility More Profit timeline. How often does yourThe next step in our sales process broker sit down and review theis establishing credibility, which timeline with you?” Always ask CFOwe see as the most difficult of the open ended questions and let Lower Unit Cost HR Departmentsales steps to overcome. It takes the customer answer. “What do Cash Flow Servicetime to build credibility, yet seconds you really like about your current More Profit Reliabilityto destroy it. The potential client program or what do you dislike Coverage Liability Time Savingwill quickly dismiss you if you have about your current program?”not gained their trust or positioned Remember to look beyond price.yourself as an industry expert. You need to be competitive, butBranding yourself through public for now you want additional value roof, offering preferred pricingspeaking and published industry to be realized by the prospect. and coverage by having marketnews is one of the most common Don’t just be a quoting machine. control with premium carriers, orways to get your name in front of Always be conscious of the deci- that your firm employs a full-a large number of opportunities. A sion maker. A CEO or owner will time safety advisor that allowsrelatively easy and successful tech- be concerned about increasing for more consistent renewalnique is writing a monthly newslet- company value, reducing costs, for your clients, always relateter specific to the industry being increasing profits and improving your solutions back to the “Sotargeted. It can be sent out via processes of the organization. what?” mentality. “So what ifmass email or hard copies. Your CFOs are typically concerned your agency is local?” “So whattarget audience should be able to with lower unit costs, cash flow, if you have been around for 150relate to your subject matter in the increasing profit or coverage years?” How is that a solutionarticle. Become a trusted advisor liability. The HR department to your client’s needs? A fewthrough building credibility from tends to focus on service, reli- examples of how your agencyactively participating in your chosen ability and supporting his or her can provide solutions to buildassociations or other networking team. Figure 4 shows a simpli- client’s perceived value are:groups. The most effective way to fied breakdown of the various ♦ Risk assessmentestablish credibility is to leverage decision maker concerns. questionnaires anda referral with an existing relation- preliminary inspections to Determine Solutionsship. As mentioned previously, a evaluate the company’spersonal introduction to an oppor- After finding out the prospect’s risks and possible gaps intunity is much more valuable than needs, the next step in the sales coverage, if the incumbentsomeone just giving you a name. model is to find solutions to those doesn’t already do this. needs. If there is a market forIdentify Needs ♦ Insurance coverage analysis the risk, communicate the next steps for providing the solution and benchmarking study toOnce you have established cred- and ask the prospect to confirm compare the client to otheribility with the decision maker, they that you are solving their needs. companies in their industry.should be more forthright with This is a very effective tactic This is a great benefit fortheir organizational needs. Infer- used by successful sales people. the client to know if he isring needs from prior clients in the Whether it be consolidating all attracting top talent in hissame industry is a successful tactic their insurance needs under one probe their needs. Also, finding The MarshBerry Letter Page 3 February, 2012
  4. 4. ♦ An agency offered business goals. It is effective to close is the penultimate event; comprehensive inspection recap the prospect’s business the final event is actually deliver- followed by an accident issues and how your plan solves ing the products and services prevention seminar to reduce those concerns. Speak the cus- that will make them successful. accidents, as moving carriers tomer’s language. If you confuse If you ever feel like the potential no longer impacts consistent them with insurance jargon they sale is steering the wrong way, risk management. aren’t familiar with, it may over- it probably is. Maintain control♦ A professional claims whelm them and they will lose of your sales process by getting management staff that turns interest. Convince your prospect back on course. If the prospect claims around two-times faster, that you are a trusted advisor tells you just to give them a allowing the client to re-open and ensure that their particular quote, then you evidently haven’t for business faster. emotional requirements are met. established credibility and they♦ Continuous risk monitoring Closing do not see your value. You need during coverage to reduce to jump back to the credibility The close occurs when the claim exposure, thus providing stage and differentiate why you prospect agrees to buy. If you for a more consistent renewal. are not just a quoting machine. do not close sales, you are Control your sales process and just a professional visitor. GetPresentation to Prospect you will become a more consis- commitment with regard to your tent, successful sales person.It is now time to deliver what has solutions and realize when thebeen agreed to and what has potential customer is ready to Justin Berry is Vice President of Salesbeen promised to the prospect. buy. Do not be afraid to ask for Management at MarshBerry and canWe recommend holding the meet- the business at this point. If they be contacted at 440-220-5431 oring at your offices so you can do not agree to buy, you have your team and their rel- not uncovered all of their needs. Jim Wochele is a Sales Managementative functions on that prospect’s Position yourself as a trusted Analyst at MarshBerry and can beaccount. When presenting, show advisor which comes with a contacted at 440-392-6559 oryour prospects how your solutions long-term and mutually beneficial help them achieve their key relationship. Remember that the Don’t Forget to Participate in the Insurance Agency Compensation Survey Compensation typically represents the largest expense of an agency. Thus, it is no surprise that compensa- tion questions are among the most frequently asked questions to the MarshBerry staff. While compensation structures vary from agency to agency, we can identify trends and changes in compensation over time. MarshBerry is currently conducting the 2012 Insurance Agency Compensation Survey, which was included with your January, 2012 issue of The MarshBerry Letter. Your participation is greatly appreciated. The more responses we get, the better the information will be for all of us to use in evaluating current compensation programs. Please go to for the links to download or complete the survey directly at If you have any questions, please call 440-392-6553 or email The submission deadline is February 29, 2012. The results of the Compensation Survey will be published in the April 2012 issue of The MarshBerry Letter. Thank you in advance for your help with this very important endeavor. The MarshBerry Letter © 2012 Marsh, Berry & Company, Inc. (440) 354-3230 / (800) 426-2774 4420 Sherwin Road / Willoughby, OH 44094