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3 questions to ask prospects about their current carrier

June 6, 2019

Understanding how a prospective client assesses their insurance provider is a crucial step in potentially winning their business. Here’s what you need to ask.

Sales Performance Director

As Sales Performance Director, Bart, with the help of his team, develops and delivers a broad range... About this expert

Account Development Tip June 2019

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You may be convinced that your company’s insurance products, services – and, of course, you – are clearly superior to what the competition offers. You might also believe it will be easy to make that case to a prospective client.

And you may actually be right: Everything you bring to the table may be better than what your prospect has in place now. Unfortunately, that may not be enough to motivate them to make a change.

Customers may continue to utilize and/or prefer to stay with an existing insurance provider and personnel (i.e., broker, agent, underwriter, claims rep, etc.) for many reasons, even in the face of easily available and better alternatives. They may believe a change is too contentious, or will require too much time, or, as much as they might be dissatisfied with existing arrangements, there’s no guarantee things won’t be the same with someone else over the long run. It’s the classic rationale that the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.

So it’s crucial to get a full sense of your prospect’s assessment and attitude about their current provider, especially reasons you may not want to hear because you’ll think it will be harder to win them over. But to secure their business (now or in the future), you need to understand all the reasons they may not want to make a change.

Here are three questions that can help you get essential information to prequalify your prospect and better manage your time. As it pertains to a competitor, you need to find out:

  • What does the prospect like about their current insurance arrangements?
  • What could work better (or what, in the prospect’s mind, constitutes an “ideal” situation with a carrier)?
  • What would need to happen for them to make a change?

Let’s explore these items in a little more depth.

What the prospect likes about their current insurance arrangements: The decision to work with a particular insurance organization or individual is usually well thought-out (at least initially, or until the relationship deteriorates). Find out what they like about their current arrangements in as much detail as possible, specifically in terms of:

  • Range of products and willingness to accommodate special or customized needs
  • Responsiveness
  • Service
  • Ease of doing business
  • Strength of existing relationships with that provider, at various levels throughout the organization

There are other questions you can ask here. The key is to determine how strong the commitment is by actively listening and observing non-verbal cues. (If you ask for an assessment of a competitor’s service, and the prospect responds by rolling their eyes, you’ve learned a lot.) Then ask yourself the following: “Can I match or exceed the incumbent in the areas I’ve inquired about? Is the prospect truly open to alternatives?”

What could work better: You never want to be critical of decisions a buyer has made in the past because, even if unintended, it can come across as insulting. Also remember that no relationship — whether it’s of a business or personal nature — is perfect. You just want to identify areas of weakness so you can determine whether the shortcomings and deficiencies in the existing relationship are serious enough for the prospect to make a change and warrant your continued pursuit of the business. However, remember that although a prospect may absolutely love their existing insurance arrangements and relationships, it doesn’t preclude the possibility there might still be room for improvement. Find out how. Remember: This information can be useful with other prospects and clients as well.

The questions here would be along the lines of “What is an ideal situation for you?” or “Are there any aspects of your existing relationship that you would like to see improved?” and then “What would that improvement look like?” The responses you get can help you determine how to design your closing arguments and/or if you have a viable opportunity in the first place. 

What would need to happen to make a change: The prospect may say they yearn for a change to something or someone better, but practically speaking, they’re still not interested in making a move. This could be for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to: apathy, no sense of urgency and/or a belief it’s too aggravating to switch carriers. If you feel the interest is real, find out what it will take to make a change. Maybe it requires buy-in from other stakeholders or a major price differential between existing and prospective providers (and if so, how much). It’s also possible the timing is simply not right in terms of where the company stands on a range of other initiatives.

Finally, play the long game. A prospect may not be ready now to make a major change. Fine. Ask for the earliest time they would be able to revisit the situation. Is it three months? Six months? A year? Take careful notes as to the prospect’s attitude and situation at each meeting, so you can revisit specific issues and put yourself in a better position to explain why you and your company might be a better alternative.  

As always, I would love to hear from you. Email me your comments and suggestions.

Find more Account Development Tips here.

The information in this publication was compiled from sources believed to be reliable for informational purposes only. All sample policies and procedures herein should serve as a guideline, which you can use to create your own policies and procedures. We trust that you will customize these samples to reflect your own operations and believe that these samples may serve as a helpful platform for this endeavor. Any and all information contained herein is not intended to constitute advice (particularly not legal advice). Accordingly, persons requiring advice should consult independent advisors when developing programs and policies. We do not guarantee the accuracy of this information or any results and further assume no liability in connection with this publication and sample policies and procedures, including any information, methods or safety suggestions contained herein. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any of this information, whether to reflect new information, future developments, events or circumstances or otherwise. Moreover, Zurich reminds you that this cannot be assumed to contain every acceptable safety and compliance procedure or that additional procedures might not be appropriate under the circumstances. The subject matter of this publication is not tied to any specific insurance product nor will adopting these policies and procedures ensure coverage under any insurance policy.

2019 Zurich American Insurance Company. All rights reserved.

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