You’ve just spoken with Bill Gormin, the controller of a 20 person architectural firm, and gotten the green light to circle back six months down the road and schedule a meeting to provide him with a cost and coverage insurance review before his next renewal period. Bill was open-minded, sincere, and willing to hear what your agency could do for him. But he was preoccupied and didn’t spend long on the phone. Six months later, when you finally get Bill on the phone again (after several missed attempts) he tells you that he’s terribly busy and won’t be able to meet after all this year. As a friendly concession, he invites you to check back next year, but that sales opportunity has evaporated. Unfortunately, this is an all too common scenario.
You’re disappointed and frustrated. Six months ago, Bill sounded like a solid prospect. He was engaged and motivated to have you review his risk and coverage. Now he seems like a different person. Maybe his current agent circled the wagons and advised him against speaking with competitors. Maybe you just called back at the wrong time. Or maybe you didn’t do anything to rekindle his motivation?
Motivation is like a fire
Unless you continue to add fuel – it goes out.
Commercial insurance sales are often (but not always) subject to renewal buying cycles. As soon as you hang up the phone with a prospect who’s expressed interest and given you his x-date, he goes right back to what he was doing before your conversation, and forgets all about you, your agency, and, for the most part, any advantages (great markets, plenty of experience with his business class, etc.) you might have discussed during the call.
What’s missing is a process for incubating or nurturing that lead. Sometimes sales people talk about “touches.” It takes a number of touches or contacts to cultivate the trust and engagement to turn a prospect into a client. That’s why advertisers repeat their messages again and again.
And that’s why marketers send continuing email messages, offer ongoing webinars, and keep in contact with prospects at all levels. If you’re spending time developing your own leads or working with a prospecting pipeline you’ve got to nurture prospects in a similar way.
Relevance, Repetition, and Trust
In order to draw prospect into your orbit and keep them there you’ve got to talk about their concerns, provide them with timely news and information that matters to them, and establish yourself as a trustworthy knowledge source. Sending messages is one thing, getting recipients to open and read your emails is another.
To be effective, your marketing messages should reach your people with a reasonable frequency. Clearly, the more often businesses see your name, the better they’ll remember you. At the same time you don’t want to bombard people so much you annoy them. For most clients and prospects contacting them once a month is a good interval.
Since prospects all want the same thing—they want to know what’s in it for them—you want your communications to talk about concerns and interests relevant to your target group. Instead of emphasizing your extensive markets, your professional credentials and your years in business, you want to write about current risk, compliance, safety and rating issues that may be impacting their operations. This way you’re offering something of value and at the same time you’re establishing yourself and your agency as a knowledgeable and generous resource.
If you can do that, prospects will naturally want to stick around and be part of your marketing ecosystem. And later, when you call to schedule a meeting to review their insurance and risk, they’ll be much more likely to remember your agency and set that meeting.
Next month PMA will be launching our new B to B Advantage© newsletter, a complete turnkey service to help agents stay ahead of the competition and in the minds of your prospects and clients.