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March 23, 2015

Scientific methods to build your customer base

All insurance agents—and sales professionals in general—are constantly looking for new ways to build their customer bases. They may be shiny new technology-based techniques or proven methods that have worked for colleagues for decades. Whatever works, right?

If you’re looking for proven techniques to build your base, science is a great source for inspiration. And there’s no lack of scientific research that examines the nuts and bolts of how people think and behave. With a little imagination, you can translate the results of many studies in unrelated fields—politics, fundraising, for example—and adapt their findings specifically for the insurance industry.

Consider these insights:

  • Take advantage of labels: People self-identify when you label them positively. Why apply for a mere credit card when you can apply for a “Platinum-level card that caters to discerning consumers”? Instead of leading with “We’re looking for employers to do business with,” label the prospect in a positive light: “We’re looking for proactive (or quality-conscious or some other complimentary term) employers in growth mode to do business with.” The prospect will respond more positively when you include the aspirational stroke in your pitch—even if the stroke seems overly broad. What employer isn’t proactive or quality-conscious? The benefit is, prospects likes to hear you say you perceive them that way.
  • Set smaller expectations: When asked to make a big change in behavior, prospects experience a quandary called “action paralysis.” The requested change has so many implications that the prospect feels comfortable making no change at all. Better to make your ask more manageable—something that’s easier to say “yes” to. One nonprofit tested two pitch letters: The one that added “Every penny helps” outperformed a more generic “Please support our organization” by almost two to one. Instead of asking if the CEO is willing to move his entire insurance program to your agency, start small. See if you can slice off a piece of the program first. Give the prospect a chance to see you perform on a small scale. Then you’ll be in a position to land the whole account.
  • Take responsibility for a fix: When you’ve failed to meet the expectations of a prospect or existing client, you’ll recover faster and more completely by leveling with the person than by shifting blame. This is true whether the expectation itself is reasonable or not. Blaming an external force or explaining that something was out of your control reinforces the notion that you’re not in control. In contrast, taking responsibility for fixing a problem—even one you didn’t cause and cannot reasonably be held responsible for—boosts your credibility and underlines your problem-solving action-oriented approach.

The best thing about these techniques is that they’ve been proven in carefully controlled scientific studies. Try incorporating them and see if they don’t start lifting your numbers.

Source: Inc.com

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