An insurance sales process is the way in which you onboard potential clients. It’s your relationship-builder, your strategy guide, and your value proposition all rolled into one.
There are two types of insurance salespeople: those who pitch product and those who do great discovery. It is no secret who has higher conversion and closing ratios and who bangs their head against the wall time and again. The former has a product list, the latter has a strong insurance sales process.
It’s even more important in a hard market to be prepared with an insurance sales process that allows you to deeply understand the client and their pain points.
We have developed a very simple model for the Insurance Sales Process called ACE – Assess, Calculate, Explain. We’ll mostly cover the Assess stage of your insurance sales process here, but I’ve laid out the entire ACE model before.
Producers that ask better questions in the Assess stage give themselves a better opportunity of closing more deals. It is just that simple. When you know exactly what the client cares about, you can bring very specific solutions that drive value to the client. This isn’t a price game. This is a value game. Clients will hire the person that they perceive to bring them more value. Do not let your value depend on the insurance carrier.
As renowned speaker, Tony Robbins, once said: “Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” The “Assess” stage embodies this ethos, guiding advisors to probe deeper to unveil the true needs and concerns of their clients.
Bringing Value to Your Insurance Sales Process
Everyone has to buy insurance. On the one hand, this is great for our industry. Everyone and every business is a potential prospect. On the other hand, it has allowed us to only compete on price or insurance carrier offerings. That means the value proposition that we bring to a client is that of the insurance carrier and not of us or our agency. This is a huge problem.
Those that take the leap to identifying problems and bringing solutions will be far ahead of those that do not. The best way to bring solid solutions is to have an insurance sales process, and the first step is to assess the client’s risk and understand their pain points.
This has a lot of relevance today as we are in a very hard market. Carrier underwriting has tightened up and rates are rising significantly. It is necessary for us to show value if we are going to keep what we have and grow. Value is perceived by the client when we solve problems or provide a better solution to a risk they are facing. Sometimes they didn’t even know that risk existed and the mere fact that we helped them realize it brings immense value.
Diving more into the ACE model, the Assess stage is the discovery phase. This is where we are asking the client great questions to uncover risks that they are facing or problems that they are currently having. We are looking for areas where they struggle and need a solution for. Sometimes they may be blind to a certain risk and it’s your job to help them understand how big of an impact that risk can have. We can do all of this through asking great questions.
How do I find out what my client cares about?
You can’t show the client value until you uncover what they care about. Too often in the insurance sales process, we assume we know what the client wants to achieve. This can be a dangerous place to live.
The more that we assume we know what the client cares about, the more we could be wrong. Don’t leave this up to chance – fully assess the client’s situation and the risks they are facing. What keeps them up at night? What’s their No. 1 reason for talking with you? What could impact the things they care most about?
When we work through a process of better understanding the client’s situation, the client is learning alongside you. They start to think about risk and this relationship differently. They start to see that risk management goes beyond just purchasing an insurance program every year.
Let’s use our example of the two different insurance sales people to illustrate.
- Mr. Adams, a small business owner, was approached by an insurance agent, Bob the Broker, offering a standard business insurance package that mimicked what he currently had. The price was competitive, and he did like the agent, so he considered making a switch.
- Another agent, Andy the Advisor, employed a systematic approach to understand the unique risks associated with Mr. Adams’ business. Through thorough discovery, Andy identifies certain industry-specific risks that Mr. Adams wasn’t aware of. Through the process, Mr. Adams got a great understanding of what his insurance policies covered and what they didn’t. Andy then tailors an insurance package addressing these risks. The price was about 5% more than the other agent, but Mr. Adams felt much more comfortable with the coverage he was getting because of the thorough nature of Andy’s process. Andy was providing him with much-needed peace of mind and securing his business for the long term.
Who do you think wins Mr. Adams business?
Even though it will cost more, I am willing to bet that Andy the Advisor has a much better shot than Bob the Broker. That’s because Mr. Adams saw value in the process. It made him think about his business differently and see aspects that were previously hidden to him. This allows him to make better decisions and ultimately feel better about the relationship he has with Andy. He will pay 5% more all day long for that value.
3 Elements of the Assess Stage in Your Insurance Sales Process
There are 3 important aspects of the Assess stage:
- Gain agreement with the Client
- Structured assessment
- Scoring mechanism
These three aspects come together as a framework to walk through a successful Assess stage with each client. Let’s break them down further.
The first thing you want to do is outline this process for the client. You want them to understand what they are agreeing to go through with you and why they would want to spend more time engaging in this process. If they don’t see the value and agree to the process up front, they will end up frustrated. Remember, most clients have been trained a certain way by our industry. It’s your job to show them why they should consider a better process and how it will put them in a better position in the future.
A structured assessment is critical to creating repeatable results. Build an assessment that addresses the concerns of your target market prospects and clients. After you have a few of these conversations it will be easy to dial in the impactful questions. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel every time you line up an assessment meeting. That’s why it is critical to take some time to build a consistent set of questions that become second nature to you when you are having this discussion with the client, or tap into a tool that creates a uniform assessment process for your entire team.
Everyone knows what their credit score is, right? Do they know what their risk profile score is? Probably not. This is a huge opportunity for you to develop a scoring mechanism that can quickly and easily benchmark the client’s risk today and set a goal for where to go in the future. This simplifies the entire conversation in the client’s mind and gets them asking, how can I improve my score? What is driving my score down? What does it mean if I achieve a higher score? These are all questions that you want them asking because you can paint a clear picture of how hiring you will answer each one of them.
Implementing your insurance sales process isn’t without challenges. Most clients have been trained a certain way by our industry. They don’t realize that there is a better way they should be managing their risk and buying insurance. Shifting your sales process can make people nervous. It requires you to change how you have traditionally engaged with a client and go deeper. You want to have more in-depth conversations – that’s what really matters.
Selling based on price and coverage is easy because you don’t have to have a value proposition: Your value proposition is the carrier and the price. Moving to selling insurance as a service requires you to have that value proposition for your clients.
The Bottom Line
In summary, when it comes to an insurance sales process, there are two distinct types of professionals: those who simply pitch products and those who excel in the art of discovery. The latter, who truly grasp the significance of the Assess stage, consistently achieve higher conversion rates and close more deals.
Insurance is no longer a commodity defined by price or carrier offerings; it’s a value-driven game where those who perceive and deliver that value win the trust and business of their clients. This is especially relevant today in a challenging insurance market, where value is defined by problem-solving and offering robust risk management solutions.
As you look to build your insurance sales process, consider ACE: Assess, Calculate, Explain – with the Assess stage being the foundation where insightful questions uncover hidden risks and challenges.
The pinnacle of any insurance sales process is to understand what truly matters to clients, avoiding assumptions and instead following a structured process that makes them part of the risk management journey.
Embracing the Assess stage’s power is crucial for insurance professionals to thrive in an evolving industry, where providing genuine value trumps all.