Bill Whitely tells NAIFA crowd that his strategy has clients pushing him to the next step of the sales process…
By Linda Koco
LAS VEGAS – Typical insurance agents can increase sales by drawing a simple one-page diagram — a diagram that Bill Whitley says so motivates clients that they actually ask to move on to the next step in the buying process.
It is the client — not the agent — who typically requests a follow-up, reiterates the founder of The Bill Whitley Co., Charlotte, N.C.
Whitley discussed the approach with InsuranceNewsNet in advance of his presentation here today at the annual meeting of National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. He will address eight secrets of top-performing agents. The diagram is one of the eight secrets. The session is for multi-line agents, so he presents the diagram in terms of auto insurance. But Whitley says the approach works equally well with life, disability, long-term care and other personal risks.
What’s in it for the agent? The diagram approach can help a typical agent increase his or her production in a very short time frame, he contends.
In his work with agents, Whitley says he has seen agents who average 15 new auto policy sales per month jump up to 20 or 25 sales a month shortly after training. Some of those agents have also used those sales to move on to covering other risk exposures as well.
The diagram basics
The diagram is a one-page visual that helps start a discovery conversation about what types of protection the client needs, Whitley says. The agent and client create the diagram together.
It appeals to clients because it is simple and easy to understand, he contends. “It reveals what the world of risk looks like to that particular client.”
To get it started, the agent asks the client to name the risks that he or she thinks about. Examples might be risks related to health, disability, long-term care and too early death. On the property-casualty side, the risks might include fire, auto accidents and liability.
The client presents the risks and the agent writes the risks into boxes drawn in freehand on a slip of paper. In other boxes, the agent enters family member names the client mentions and the key assets the client wants to protect—just the words in the boxes, no explanations. The words are connected by lines and arrows, in flow chart fashion. (See box.)
The entries are all personal to the client—it’s not a diagram that the neighbor or a friend might have—and that makes it relevant. It’s the client’s own risk chart—a “Your World” chart, as Whitley puts it.
As client and agent create the chart, Whitley says the underlying question the diagram elicits is, “Is your world okay? Do you have protection if any of these things happen?”
Build a wall
The agent can remind the client that the goal is “to build a wall around your world so no one can penetrate it.”
The simplicity and the personal nature of the content help the client see his or her own world of risk exposure, Whitley maintains. “People see it.” And after they see, “most want to go on to the next step,” he says.
He tells of the experience in one office where he presented use of the risk chart. The field service representative asked his staffers to use the chart with each client.
Before the exercise began, the staffers had been experiencing a 20 percent “next step rate,” Whitley recalls. The next step rate refers to the percentage of clients who ask to go on to the next step following their initial conversation with the staffer. After using the chart during the conversation, the staffers reported that their next step rate jumped to 75 percent, Whitley says.
What’s’ more, he says the clients also asked to have a copy of the diagram. (The answer, in that office, is “sure.” The agent takes a picture and sends it to the client. The agent also attaches the original to the client’s file as a resource for reference later on.)
The clients overwhelmingly said “thank you,” Whitley recalls. Some added that no one else had ever done anything like that for them, he says.
The approach is “radically different” from the feedback that typical agents receive, he contends. In his work with typical agents, he says he has noticed that most want to impress the customer with how much they know rather than to educate the person about more effective ways to protect against risk. Some of these agents end up being viewed as product pushers, he says, with the result that the customers don‘t want to hear any more.
He believes the diagram approach has better results. “The chart provides the agent with a way to be relevant and to present the bigger picture, without being viewed as pushy.”
The agent “explains that ‘this is to help me understand,’” he adds. “The agent says, ‘You tell me what you’d like to protect and we’ll go from there.’” They can delve into other areas later on, he says.
All of this is part of being a trusted advisor, he sums up.
Linda Koco, MBA, is a contributing editor to InsuranceNewsNet, specializing in life insurance, annuities and income planning. Linda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Entire contents copyright 2012 by InsuranceNewsNet.com Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reprinted without the expressed written consent from InsuranceNewsNet.com.