Every profession has something to learn from other disciplines. While the products from one industry to the next may vary, and while the need for one product may be vastly different from the need for another, every industry has developed strategies and tactics that are both portable and teachable to other professionals in differing lines of work. This week, let’s take a look at five other industries and see what we might learn from their marketing, sales and customer relations efforts.
Chances are you own insurance, and not just one policy, but insurance of multiple types. Your car, your home and your boat are insured. Your life may be insured. Hopefully, you have health insurance. Travel agents certainly recognize the need for travel insurance when their clients travel. Indeed, insurance is an almost omni-present but nearly invisible product in modern life. We seldom think about it – until we need it.
As a product, insurance can be complex and intricate with its contingencies, exclusions and coverages. Few of us consider ourselves to be experts in any type of insurance, even those policies we own. That’s why we typically turn to a person we seldom otherwise seek out – the insurance sales person. Most of us will have our first contact with an insurance company through an insurance sales agent.
Professional insurance sales people know their products. They study the complexities and they have at hand the ability to answer most of the common questions we bring to them about coverage and exclusions. But, and here is what impresses me the most about the profession, insurance sales people are absolute masters of client relationships. Particularly when the product is life insurance, most representatives are expert at maintaining an ongoing relationship and recommending the product to fit the client’s needs at multiple stages of life. A client in their 20’s or early 30’s has very different needs from the 45 year old client with two children in high school. Good insurance sales people adopt a life-long approach to client relationships, maintaining a continual involvement in the financial planning and protection of the family’s earning power and assets. But seldom is there a “one-size fits all” mentality. The insurance sales person meets with the family, studies the situation and then puts together a proposal that meets the exact needs, present and future, for the family unit.
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The presentation comes back personalized for the family, typically in the form of a recommendation, and the sales person explains how the proposal meets the family’s needs. The presentation is logical, but presses the necessary emotional hot buttons to achieve the necessary engagement of the decision makers. After the purchase, the insurance sales person stays in touch with the family, occasionally reviewing the policy and making additional recommendations as circumstances change. Many insurance representatives have added new product lines such as financial planning to their offerings, expanding the scope of their expertise and involvement with their clients.
Top travel agents engage their clients with much the same attitude as the professional insurance sales person. The world of travel can be complex. The product lines are varied and there is no one product that is right for everybody. Moreover, preferences in travel change as the client matures and sees more of the world, as income levels vary and as a family grows. The life-long approach is an excellent model for every travel agent to emulate, moving away from a transactional mentality to one of relationship and consultation. Finally, the frequency with which the best insurance agents call on their clients, stay in touch and manage to stay “top of mind” is an art form.
Think through your existing insurance policies and review the relationships and rationales that have influenced your decisions. Chances are, you will find you have a lot to learn from your friendly neighborhood insurance agent.