Winning The Blame Game

After reviewing my previous articles I have come to a conclusion.  I have spent a great deal of time talking about how to get in front of prospects and very little on what to do once you are there.

There are hundreds of sales/communication “techniques” that you need to learn as a salesperson.  I need to preface this post by admitting that I do not know every sales technique there is.  I know what does and does not feel comfortable to me.

I do not consider myself a high pressure sales person.  Neither do I see myself as a panty waist.  I prefer to have well educated clients in insurance matters.  I spend most of my time educating clients rather than pressuring them. 

I have found that some people prefer to allow the agent to make their decisions for them.  That way, if anything goes wrong in the future, they can just blame the insurance agent.

The very nature of our profession places us in the middle, whenever there is a problem.  The Laws of Agency require us to act in the best interests of our companies.  In a dispute we are expected to side with the ones who pay us.

The Laws of Morality require us to do what is in the best interests of our clients.  Sometimes, due to circumstances out of our control, that is not always possible with our insurance company.

Personally, I hate customer service problems.  As a result there are 2 things that I do to help prevent them.

Research

Three to four times a year I review the financial and customer complaint numbers for each company I work with.  I try to only place my clients with companies that I am fairly certain will pay claims without too much complaint.

If they have an extremely high customer complaint ratio, as compared with other insurance companies in their category, I assume they are having problems of some sort.  I don’t involve myself with their internal problems.  I just remove them from my web site and eliminate them from the options I present to my prospects.

As a kid I was taught, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  I don’t know everything there is to know about the libel or slander laws and really have no inclination to learn them.  I figure, if I just keep my mouth shut about a company that I am not comfortable with, I cannot be sued for not selling their product by the company or sued by a client because they failed to live up to their promises and I recommended them.

Education

I have absolutely no problems correcting any mistake I make myself.  I do, on the other hand, hate cleaning up other people’s messes.

If I am to blame for something, I will take responsibility.  As a result, I do everything I can to avoid blame.  That includes wanting a sell so bad that I set myself up for blame by shortchanging my client’s education.

What we, as insurance agents, do is foreign to most of our clients.  When they walk into our office they often have a general idea of what they want to accomplish but not how to do it.  It is our duty to not just solve people’s problem but to make them understand why the solution you are recommending will solve their problem.

I have worked in P & C agencies before with sales support.  In some of the agencies I have worked with, if you were to look at their books you would see that all of their customers have the exact same levels of insurance protection.  That indicates to me that policies, in that office, are not being individual explained based on the needs of the clients but are being sold based on the needs of the insurance agent.

The same can be said about Life insurance agencies I have worked with.  During my days as a life insurance, exclusive agent, the most popular face amount was $ 100,000.  One day, being the analytical person that I am, I asked myself, “Why $ 100,000.”  If the insured’s desire was just to pay for final expenses it was typically way too much insurance.  If the insured’s desire was to replace a lost income to loved survivors, it was way too little.

If the insured were to die pre-maturely, and there was not enough money to replace his income, a good lawyer could come after the insurance agent.  After all, he/she is to blame is all they sold was a cookie cutter plan.

As a health insurance agent I have been under increased scrutiny the past couple of years as Obama and his sycophants have made health insurance a national topic.  Before him, I was just another “slick” insurance agent.  Now, thanks to Obama, Pelosi and Reid, I work for the most evil industry in America.

That is why I insist, over and over, that my clients read their policy as soon as they get them.  I blog about the need to do that often and have mentioned it several times in my newsletter.  If there is a problem with any clients in the future, there is proof that I have warned them to take steps to prevent problems before they happen.

It is not my fault and I cannot be blamed by clients if they do not follow my advice and read their policy.

As I mentioned earlier, many people are averse to making decisions for themselves.  They prefer to allow someone else to decide for them.  That way, if something goes wrong, they can say, “It’s not my fault.  My agent sold it to us.”

I realize that if you are a captive agent you may not be able to document and offer your customers options.  Often, captive agents are only able to offer the products of their own company.  If that is the case, my advice is to find a way to offer your customers a choice between two variations of your plan.

If, on the other hand, you are an independent agent like me, you are able to contract with multiple companies and offer options from a couple of different companies.

The good thing about options is it forces a client to make a choice.  Once they make the choice, you are no longer able to be blamed if something goes wrong, as long as the choices you offered them are quality options at the time you presented them.

The potential bad thing is a phenomenon that is often called, “analysis paralysis”.  If you offer too many choices there is a very good chance that you will confuse your customers even further.

Remember, insurance companies have embraced the internet.  People can purchase their insurance products by themselves on line.   The reason you are in the picture is to help walk them through the hundreds of options available to them and educate them in areas they are not familiar.

You did not learn everything you know about insurance in a couple of hours.  It took weeks, months and years of study and experience to get to the level of expertise you have right now.  Your customers are not willing to do what you did.  They trust that you know what you are talking about and come to you to get the benefit of your informed counsel.

There is a fine line to walk when offering options. By offering and explaining options you force your clients to make a choice and win the blame game before it even starts.  The temptation, however, is to offer too many options and cause confusion and product overload.  People do not or at least should not, buy things when they are confused.

I have found that no more than 3 options should ever be offered at one time when you are there to explain them.   If you have to mail or email proposals to customers and are not there to explain them, I encourage you to stick to 2 options from which they may choose.

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About The Insurance Barn

Husband of 1, father of 2, health insurance agent and insurance trainer.
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