Have you ever walked into an appointment naked? Would you be surprised if I told you I have? Be different, stand out, right?
A little history
In my world of commercial insurance, you (our agency) have to be appointed by the insurance company before you can represent them and sell their products. Whereas Lanier Upshaw, Inc represents most of the major players, there are one or two we don’t have access to. Which is par for the course, because if you represent a carrier they are going to want a certain amount of business and with so many mouths to feed you have to draw the line somewhere.
Because of this, you might do all the leg work and have the opportunity to work on a really great account only to find out they are already with the carrier you represent and their business is so specialized there is only one other viable market out there and guess what? You don’t represent them…….
Well, that sucks.
When I say viable, I mean not only do we have to be able to put all the proper coverages in place, it has to be somewhat affordable as well. I can find coverage for just about anything, but it might come with a scary price tag if I don’t have the right market for it.
What can be that specialized?
Actually, quite a few risks, but this one in particular builds launch towers at Cape Canaveral as one part of their scope of operations.
Two words that will send traditional underwriters running for the hills are NASA and nuclear. If your prospect does anything with either, then your market selection just became very, very narrow.
Why did you chase this account then?
One of my customers does some steel work for them so I could at least use their name to get me in the door. It was then I found out the extent of their operations and the very limited market availability.
But by then, we already had a couple of meetings and they had supplied quite a bit of information for me. And oh yeah, they are located an hour and a half away from my office.
And guess what? They had been with the market we don’t represent but recently switched to the one we did. Therefore, I did not have a single viable option for them in terms of comparison.
It would have been very easy to call them and say “sorry for wasting your time, but we don’t have anything.”
Business owners hate that. The whole insurance process is already distasteful and the fact they let you in the door they are expecting you to come up with something.
What did you do?
I left my clothes in the car. I had absolutely nothing to offer other than myself so they might as well see my fat white ass in all its glory, huh? It sure is cold in here…
Actually, I knew they had a long term relationship with their broker and it would be tough to break this relationship but I essentially had nothing to lose. I made the appointment and went over with
nothing a proposal that was a duplicate of what they already had with the company we represent and advised them if they want to do business with me, they would have to fire their guy and give me the keys to the car before I walk out the door.
Pretty bold, huh?
Well, it didn’t go down exactly like that, but pretty close. They were somewhat shocked when they opened the proposal and it had no pricing, and then I commenced to tell them my plan. We had some good give and take and some good questions were asked and it turned out to be a very informative meeting.
Sounds like a waste of time, what did you learn?
First of all, my ploy did not work; they had no reason to fire their guy and me coming in bare did not help, regardless of what I had to say.
But here is what I did learn:
- Respect people’s time; if nothing else, by me showing up it showed I did appreciate the opportunity regardless of the results.
- It left the door open for future opportunities and insurance is fickle enough it can create opportunities just because…
- Don’t be afraid to make the ask. This time it was no, but I made them tell me to my face.
- E-mails and texts make it too easy at times; don’t be afraid to get that face to face meeting regardless of how uncomfortable it might be. It’s usually never as bad as you think it’s going to be…unless it’s your dentist…
- Don’t be afraid to keep swinging; you will never get a hit if you don’t at least get up to bat.
- Finally, don’t be afraid to ask “if you were in my shoes, what would you do?” You’d be surprised the dialogue you can get from this question.
Were you really naked?
Kind of as I did not have one thing to offer other than myself. But one thing I have been taught to do is when it looks like your sales call is going absolutely nowhere and you have nothing to lose, just drop your drawers…kidding of course. What I enjoy is going into low risk practicing and I might ask the darnedest thing that has nothing to do with our meeting. This too will get some interesting dialogue; try it sometime, what do you have to lose at that point, right?
We’re going streaking; everyone is doing it…