It’s that time of year again when insurance brokers throughout the UK have been given ambitious sales targets to meet and exceed in the year ahead. Some I speak to are relishing the challenge, others daunted by the numbers involved. Whichever camp you’re sat in - or maybe you’re somewhere in between - practical steps can be taken to increase sales and improve service for your clients.
Here are my Top 10 tips for insurance brokers wanting to accelerate sales growth in 2020, that I’m also using with my sales teams at Premium Credit. Some points will be familiar, others may create food for thought. If you are new to the industry or simply want to cross-check the way you sell to optimise results, read on.
1. Planning: Have you created a formal plan illustrating how your client’s insurance needs will be met over the next 12 months? Without an agreed plan there is no road map for the year ahead – it’s important to know what you are aiming for, to be able to bench mark, monitor progress, show value and illustrate how client expectations are being met. My recommendation is - have a sales focused plan in place from Day 1 and know how you are going to monitor progress through the year.
2. Know your client’s budget cycle: This sounds obvious but can be overlooked. Like many things in life, ‘timing’ is everything and no more so when it comes to selling insurance.
It’s vital to know when your clients are planning future budgets and indeed when monies authorised will become available. Without this knowledge funds may not be available at the optimum date for insurance renewal. Not only could a sale be lost but your client could become under insured or left without any cover at all. If you have an existing client and their price is going up, then think in advance about what you can do to still hit the annual budget that your client has.
3. Give them payment options: With increased insurance premiums common place at the point of renewal I recommend brokers have alternative payment solutions to offer their clients. Cover needs to be obtainable, even if the renewal quote seems initially out of reach.
Premium finance is a strong option to offer and it is something that can be offered on all or even part of the insurance premium. It gives clients the access to insurance cover, when they need it and at the right level, using a payment choice that spreads the cost over monthly instalments freeing up capital to spend elsewhere. It’s a win for the client whilst providing the broker with additional commission and a valuable, alternative income source.
What about new clients?
4. Be clear about where revenue and profit will come from:
- Existing clients: already acquired are sometimes overlooked as a priority option for repeat and expanded business. The ‘hungry sales’ desire within us all can give undue prominence to acquiring new business. Farming existing clients who know you is a cost effective and efficient option giving opportunity to renew insurance contracts and up-sell.
- New clients: are vital to business growth both in the current year and in subsequent years. Ensure the sales funnel is overflowing - you can never have too many quality prospects even if it may take multiple years to land the prospect, there’s no harm in being the first viable alternative.
- Changing risk: We live in unprecedented times where no one month is like the next whether it’s due to political, economic or environmental factors. What risks are applicable to your client base, what cover do they need? Tell them about new insurances relevant to them – should cyber insurance for instance be on their ‘must have’ list?
5. What does success look like? Good communication is at the centre of every successful customer account. Agree in advance what the client is looking for with regards to insurance cover. Closely monitor the sales process, manage, report and agree what success looks like? Flourishing relationships rely on free flowing, honest, two-way communication.
6. The How: Avoid thinking in a traditional way about the renewal cycle. An annual sales call on the lead up to the policy renewal date to rubber stamp an ongoing contract just doesn’t meet client expectations anymore and guess what, it’s exactly what your competitors are doing! We should be journeying with the client outlining ‘Moments of truth’ that affect them on an ongoing basis – what products are most relevant and which give wider scope for increased sales.
7. Building capability: What skills do you need to drive your sales plan? Where does people development and incentivisation sit? At Premium Credit we have a national Capability team whose sole aim is to provide bespoke training; much of it CPD accredited, to our broker partners. The team has had a significant and positive impact on client experience, revenues and brokers’ commission. Our support ensures that front line insurance broker staff are properly equipped to best serve the needs of their clients.
8.Engage with your sales team: The best sales managers engage effectively with their teams involving them in the client journey from planning through to execution and evaluation.
Do they feel part of the sales process, is there an aggregated team view on why and how the sales plan has been constructed, have they bought into the opportunity, are they clear on what their role is, are they aware of the end goal, being part of something bigger and are they encouraged to learn from and inspire each other?
A winning team is a unified team – something we see in sport all the time and a principle we should always integrate into the sales process.
9. Think differently: Doing the same things with the same people is going to get the same results. Standing still is not an option. We constantly need to innovate, evolve and develop our value proposition. We also need to reflect. What’s working, what’s not, have we got the right people in the right job within our teams, do we have ‘best in class’ products to sell, what is being achieved?
Relying on traditional income streams won’t facilitate meaningful growth, we can all play a part in expanding the market. Many risks go uninsured, we should all spend time exploring categories ripe for expansion. Cyber, single project / spend items such as construction insurance are just a couple of areas where I see great potential to introduce wider insurance coverage and make the size of the sales pipeline bigger!
10. Listen and ask: Last in my list but perhaps most important of all – I always advise my sales teams to listen before they pitch for new business. It’s so easy to assume we know what our clients want. Before presenting your proposition it’s vital to know what the client’s insurance needs are and how they intend to pay for cover. Ask pertinent questions before you launch into your sales pitch – the information they provide will put you on the front foot enabling you to present information that’s relevant and gain that sale!
These are some of my thoughts in brief and I hope they resonate and help you develop your business. I’m always keen to hear opinions from others in the industry and learn from them. Next time we meet, let’s have that conversation and compare notes.
May the year ahead bring prosperity to us all – let’s smash those sales targets!
Owen Thomas joined Premium Credit in June 2019 as Chief Sales Officer. His previous role was at RSA, where he led global broker relationships worldwide and strategic account management across UK commercial lines and sales & distribution for the Global Risk Solutions P&L.
He has a proven record, at both RSA & Aviva, of leading sales and relationship functions to deliver improved results across multiple marketplaces, including the creation of new client and broker propositions.