Prospecting for new business – whether you’re making cold calls or networking for referrals – is a critical phase of the sales process that’s especially vulnerable to time-eroding detours. If you’re not reaching the right people efficiently and qualifying them promptly, you’re liable to end up like the college student who got four Fs and a D because he spent too much time on one subject. Continue reading →
How often have we watched someone, or been that person, who’s standing in the lobby ringing the bell again and again as though that continued effort would actually speed up the elevator’s arrival? Doesn’t make sense, does it? Yet all of us, in many contexts, are subject to the same kind of conditioned behavior that wastes time and resources and completely fails to move us closer to our goal. That’s called wheel spinning, and in sales it is a costly and draining activity.
Neil Rackham’s seminal book, Spin Selling, focuses on this significant problem by talking about continuations and advances. The latter move the sales process closer to a resolution while continuations have you dog-paddling in place, and over time are like being stuck in the mire. Advances can be small or large, but they all move you towards the finish line. They include activities like scheduling the next sales meeting, making a webinar presentation or simply getting the name and title of a particular decision-maker. An advance may also disqualify a “suspect” by confirming he’s not at all open to an insurance review, and while that may not be what you want to hear, it resolves the situation, or as we say at PMA, it gets that target business ‘off the radar.’ Continue reading →
Don Draper, the high-flying ad agency Creative Director in the Emmy Award-winning TV series Mad Men, is telling someone about the subtleties of human motivation: “Trust me, I’m in advertising,” he says with sincerity. Hearing this wonderfully ironic remark, we smile knowing all too well that advertising people shouldn’t be trusted; they’re masters of spinning the details to get us to buy what they’re selling. And while, it has been said, people do like to buy, they don’t like being sold.
The overwhelming tsunami of the world’s sales messages is greater than ever and growing all the time. Our natural reaction to this onslaught of propaganda is to protect ourselves by ignoring it, or reacting defensively. The more persistent the attempts to influence us, and the stronger the assertions – the more defensive we become. But as teleprospectors and sales people it’s our job to communicate the value of what we offer. How can we accomplish that without triggering negativity and resistance? Continue reading →
When you think about the competitive advantages your agency offers, there are really only three basic arenas of competition: price, product and service. While some things might fit into one or another of the categories (bonding, for example could be considered either a service or a product), it’s helpful to think about your value proposition in terms of these three arenas, and to match your strengths with the needs and values of the target businesses you’re going after.
Agencies and producers get into trouble when they heedlessly try to compete in all three arenas at the same time. Hence, it’s critical that you consider your core strengths and decide how you want to position yourself in the marketplace. Are you going to go pursue new accounts primarily on the basis of cutting costs and delivering the most competitive price quotes? If that’s the case, you should make sure your programs and carriers consistently offer the lowest premiums for particular business classes, and then focus on those classes aggressively. Continue reading →