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Insurance Industry News from ProgramBusiness.comDifferentiation
The second in a four-part series by Randy Schwantz.
In our previous article, we talked about wedging out incumbent agents as a strategy for you to win more deals. Of course, you first need to differentiate yourself in order for your prospect to see why you are better than the incumbent.
What most agencies say makes them different makes them the same – major carriers, good people who give good service, an unblemished reputation, swift claims handling, lots of years in business, and so on. Excellence today is the standard, not a rarity that you can exploit. So what do you do to differentiate? Here are three ideas:
The Ladder of Abstraction. The late U.S. Sen. S. I. Hayakawa used a ladder to explain the power of being as concrete as possible when you communicate. For example, in describing itself on one of the upper rungs of the ladder, a restaurant might say with accuracy that if offers "the best hamburger in town." But what does the abstract word "best" mean? A competitor, describing its offering on one of the lower rungs of the ladder, might offer "fresh sirloin, flame-broiled to seal in the juices, and seasoned with Worcestershire, pepper and garlic." Which sounds better?
Strengths vs. Weaknesses. Michael Jordan defeated his opponents not only with his own skill and energy, but by matching his strengths against their particular weaknesses. When comparing yourself with the competition, list your strong points, match them up against any corresponding weaknesses of the incumbent agent, and focus on these contrasts when you meet with your prospect. Don’t dwell on strength versus strength. A tie goes to the incumbent.
Proactive Service. Everything else being equal, insurance remains a service business. Therefore, there will always be a way to differentiate. For example, much agency service is inherently reactive –looking over coverage at renewal, adjusting and paying a claim, responding to queries from customers, and so forth. This enables you to win and keep accounts by showing a sincere dedication to proactive service, differentiating yourself from the mainstream. What might such proactive services include? You should know your own agency’s services well enough to identify them. Ask yourself: What are the things that I can do for my customers that add value and that my competitors either don’t offer, offer but not as well, or have to be asked to offer? Put these and similar items on a proactive client service timeline that triggers you or your agency to initiate a service of some sort periodically throughout the year, and you will have gone a long way toward making renewal a non-issue as well as "wedge-proofing" your client against challenges from other agents to your own incumbency.
Now that you’ve differentiated yourself from the competition, you’re ready to try your hand at the six-step Wedge® sales call, a technique we’ll explore next time.
Randy Schwantz, author of The Wedge: How to Stop Selling and Start Winning, is President & CEO of The Wedge Group, a Texas-based company that offers The Wedge Sales Culture®, a sales acceleration system for insurance agencies. For more information, visit www.thewedge.net or call toll-free 1-877-999-9934.
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