You cover a broad territory, traveling from farm to farm, hoping to arrive auspiciously when parts and equipment are needed.
But too often your timing is off.
Because of changes you didn’t anticipate, like a major increase in production demands, or new government growing regulations, some prospects need equipment sooner than you expected – and frequently, one of your eager competitors gets there first and beats you to the sale.
Now imagine that one day, as you’re making your rounds, you meet a strange man who offers to sell you a machine that will tell you whenever a situation within a 500-mile radius is going to motivate a farmer to upgrade, repair, or replace their existing equipment.
“Wow!” you think, “With this machine I’ll know just when to show up and I won’t have to worry about my competitors beating me to the sale.”
Timing is everything & change is inevitable
Equipment breaks or wears out, new technology replaces old technology, pricing fluctuates, sources dry up, business relationships go sour.
Whether you’re selling farm equipment, seeds, or insurance, changing situations trigger buying needs.
For commercial insurance producers, annual renewal dates are one of the key buying triggers. But they’re not the only one.
Lots of things happen between insurance renewals which create ripe sales opportunities for producers.
So far no one has invented a machine that automatically sends alerts about every event that might trigger a need to buy. But even without a magic algorithm, it’s not that hard to identify situational changes that signal sales opportunities.
When there’s a sudden spike in demand for a type of product (like how the recent obsession with gluten-free food has created an increased need for coconut, rice, and tapioca flour), there’s a corresponding upsurge in demand for supplies and equipment needed to make those products. And big production spikes warrant insurance reviews.
Great sales organizations know the importance of monitoring key conditions impacting their industry and their prospects’ needs. And the great sales trainers make situational awareness an integral part of the process they teach.
Why is situational awareness so essential to sales success? Because knowing the conditions that increase demand for your product or service leads you to the prospects that are most likely to buy.
The prospector who knows where to dig is the one who’ll get to the gold first.
Over the last three decades, Professional Marketing Associates has developed tens of thousands of sales appointments for commercial insurance agents throughout the hemisphere. From this huge amount of sales intel we’ve identified the most common kinds of situations – the buying triggers — that prompt companies to want to meet with agents for competitive insurance reviews.
But just knowing the trigger circumstances isn’t enough. You also need to know when they’re happening. You need an early warning system that will alert you to when and where things happen which trigger buying interest.
And that’s what I’m going to show you now.
We’ve organized the different buying triggers into five categories, and included specific ways to monitor those kinds of events.
You just need to organize your info sources, set up your alert systems and respond quickly when the time is right.
By applying these practices, you’ll be able to hone in on more real prospects in an auspiciously timely style.
Buying Triggers: Categories & Alerts
Bear in mind, these are signposts, not doorways. These situations point to potential opportunities and increase the odds for providing a competitive insurance review, but there are no promises.
The new controller may want to continue working with the broker from her previous position. That astounding spike in sales doesn’t guarantee the manufacturer will be interested in talking with you.
Personnel changes at target companies
New hires, promotions or transfers – You want to know when there are new people in key positions (e.g. controller, CFO, operations manager, etc.) at target companies, because new decision makers often want to change vendor.[Bonus tip: When a new controller arrives at a particular company, they’ve often just vacated a post at their former company and someone new has or will be hired to replace them there.]
- Follow your prospects and target companies on LinkedIn to learn when a decision-maker changes their profile, or when the company is hiring. LinkedIn will send you email alerts of your targets’ activities.
- Monster and other online employment sites alert you to who’s hiring. Just create a search profile outlining your target prospects, then get regular emails when those positions open up.
- Local or regional business magazines and newspapers, both online and in print. Biz Journals is an aggregator of national and local business publications in the major metro areas.
- Press release services like PR Newswire.
- If you have a contact at a local employment bureau, they might be happy to let you know when your target companies are hiring.
- Use Google Alerts to get an email whenever a business or decision-maker is mentioned online. Enter the names of the people and companies you want to monitor, and choose a daily email delivery time under the settings tab.
- Consider paid alert services like SalesLoft, or a sales intelligence system that provides not only alerts but also insights into a department’s organizational structure to see who is calling the shots.
Other changes at target companies
Corporate reorganization – Companies file for bankruptcy status all the time for many reasons. Often the outcomes are positive, and this kind of transition period may give you an opening to meet with one of the principal decision makers.
Internal reorganization (new company divisions, revised organizational structure) – Similar to new hires and advancements, internal restructuring can give you a fresh opportunity to meet with someone in a new role.
Major shift in growth, productivity, and financial status – When there are big changes in sales, profits, and production demands, companies have to be especially agile and resourceful maneuvering the changing business scape. Sometimes whole industries suddenly experience dramatic growth (e.g. hazmat suits for Ebola; enormous construction boom in NYC).
Physical relocation, expansion, contractions – These generally correspond to sales and production changes and besides altering the company’s insurance needs, expansions (or contractions) to the brick and mortar side of the operation present another kind of transition; hence, a meeting opportunity.
New spin-off company, division, or branch established; new partnership, merger, or acquisition – More signs of growth and expansion.
New product line or major supply source – For distributors, manufacturers, or even retailers this could be a reason to want to review insurance or speak with someone different who has special knowledge.
- Economic news from news feeds and other sources
- Product news – sites like ThomasNet have RSS feeds for your news aggregator which compile information on new products by industry
- Google Alerts
- Press releases
- Bankruptcy filings – PACER, the government’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records, sells information on bankruptcy filings (charges capped at $3 per document)
- New building permits can be searched by state on the Census website
- Local business magazines and newspapers
Change in the level of satisfaction at target company
Insurance claim handled unsatisfactorily, or WC claims out of control – When there are claims, there are chances of disappointment and frustration. And when accidents are too frequent or too severe, a company needs more control over what’s happening and better risk management support from their insurance agent.
Auto accidents – A problem with too many vehicular claims is another reason a company could benefit from tighter loss-control measures, as well as a signal for a competing agent to offer help.
- Faster Truck allows you to monitor commercial vehicle accidents country-wide
Changes with incumbent agent or agency
Incumbent agent leaves agency for various reasons, or agency is acquired, bought, or merged – Insured is uncomfortable or unhappy with new agent/agency.
Carriers change, agency loses or gains contract – If, for instance, you’ve been unable to compete with the Zurich restaurant program, but Zurich leaves the state, you could re-contact all the restaurant prospects you set aside because they were with Zurich.
Using the alert services we’ve already mentioned—local news, news feeds, Google Alerts, LinkedIn, and so on—keep an eye on your competitors as well as your prospects.
Changes in government regulations and requirements
The ACA is obviously one major shift that brings opportunities for brokers who can provide the guidance companies need to find their best path through the new health insurance landscape.
Annual changes in state work comp rates might also be tipping points for some companies to welcome the chance for competitive cost reviews.
Sometimes the challenge lies not so much in being a first responder, but in being a best responder. Agents and brokers with up-to-date knowledge, who can help businesses sort out and choose the best options, are in the right place to win when in changing market conditions.
Have some of your own favorite trigger events that have helped you zero in on new sales opportunities? Any rebuttals, omissions or suggestions? Go ahead and share them in the comments below.