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
- 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.
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