Facing The Harsh Truths
SAN ANTONIO -- All insurance and financial professionals have the same challenges. But most of those challenges are self-inflicted, Ryan Pinney said at the NAIFA Performance + Purpose annual meeting.
Pinney is the vice president of brokerage sales for Pinney Insurance Center. He spoke on “Seven Harsh Truths That Will Make You A Better Agent.” Here are those truths.
- We approach insurance like amateurs.
- We don’t know how to market.
- We don’t have repeatable processes.
- We don’t know how to earn referrals.
- We haven’t modernized the way we do business.
- We forget to make it about the customer.
- What Pinney said it the most important harsh truth: We’re afraid of success.
Pinney said that the fear of success hit him as a harsh truth of the insurance profession when he attended an industry function as the Affordable Care Act was about to come into law and hit the advisor community.
A woman seated with Pinney complained that “I don’t know what I’m going to do. My business is primarily health. I’m losing half my commission.”
Meanwhile, she went on to say how great her customers were and how she knew so many of them personally and had helped so many of them.
“And the thing that stuck with me is that she was so concerned about one particular part of the industry – one she happened to be focused on,” Pinney said. “But at the same time it sounded like she had a really good relationship with her clients and how they were very engaged with her. She also was very engaged with them and she had a vested interest in their success.”
Pinney then asked her a question: “How many of your existing clients do you think would buy additional products or services from you?”
“I don’t know,” she replied.
Pinney asked whether she offered life insurance or annuities or long-term care insurance and she said she did not. He pressed on, “How many of your clients do you think would buy another product from you? One in five? One in 10? One in 20?”
She estimated one in five clients would buy an additional product from her.
Then Pinney asked her how many clients she had. The answer – 1,200.
“And so I literally laughed out loud and I said, ‘Are you serious? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard anyone say,” he said.
“I said, ‘Wait a second. You’re worried about losing your income and this big change to your business model. You have such great clients that one in five would buy something else from you. But you have offered other products and services to exactly zero of them.
“So what you’re telling me is that the ACA’s not the problem and the change in the law is not the problem, and all these other things you’ve been complaining about are not the problem. The problem is you’re afraid to be successful because you’re not willing to put in the little extra work it takes to ask the questions to the clients you already said will say yes and to learn about a new product or service that you can offer with your existing licensing. Basically, you’re the reason you’re not successful.
“And she stopped dead cold in her tracks and said, ‘I’ve never thought of it that way.’”
Many agents are taught a certain way of doing business, Pinney said. If that way of doing business changes, agents don’t adjust their business model accordingly.
“But if you look at any other industry in the world, the companies that are successful are always adjusting their business model,” he said. “They are constantly coming up with alternatives and new ways to approach the problem to be successful. They are looking to offer new services and products to the customers they have and to generate new customers through marketing efforts and ways to try to grow their business.
“We largely fail at doing that as an entire industry.”
The second-more-important harsh truth, Pinney said, is “We don’t know how to market.”
“We still use this antiquated terminology of ‘prospects,’” he said. “We talk about we’re going prospecting. And what we really mean is that we’re going to go out there and cold call people. Or we’re going to stand in line at the grocery store and start up a conversation that leads to someone saying, ‘Oh, I’m interested in life insurance,’ and then we pounce.”
“We’re told we need to mingle at the Chamber of Commerce and we need centers of influence and we need referrals but we don’t do any of them well,” Pinney said.
Few people generate enough leads on their own to be successful, he added. He blamed that for the high attrition rate in the industry.
“We end up with this group of our friends and family who buy products and services from us,” he said. “And then, all of a sudden at the end of this process, we run out of our 100 friends and family and then we’re out of the business.”
“That doesn’t seem like the business model for any other business that I know of.”
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @INNsusan.
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