Ask any successful producer in our business what is the single most important activity or skill they attribute to their success, and you’ll hear a variety of responses like: Developing relationships, presentation skills, the ability to close, coverage analysis, developing solutions etc. Pick one or all, but they are all right and all wrong.
Check the premise. All of these skills come into play only after producers get in front of prospects. Without the prospect, they are of little or no practical value. The single most valuable skill a producer can possess is the ability to get in front of prospects and fill their pipeline.
Yet, for most experienced producers with decent books, sustained prospecting activity is a frustrating challenge. For agency principals, helping experienced producers continue to prospect and grow is equally frustrating. Yet, if these experienced producers prospected like they did when they were newbies, their pipelines would overflow and they would continue to grow at a significant pace. So why did they stop?
If you ask a veteran producer with an empty pipe line why they aren’t out prospecting, they’ll probably tell you:
” I’m too busy “
Successful agents have only so many hours in the day. Like all professionals, they fill their available time with activity. Renewals, billing, service issues, applications, phone calls, etc. They have real reasons why they are too busy to prospect. In their minds, they are valid reasons, because they are busy. But the real truth is that veterans with books no longer need to prospect in the traditional sense. And prospecting for veterans requires no additional time… if they can make a shift in the way they look at prospecting. Here it is:
“Service and prospecting are the same activity” Let me explain.
The top 20% of your clients are your pot of gold, and the people that they know, are your gold mine. When was the last time you mined for gold? Throughout the year, you meet with clients and provide valuable services. Each time you do, all you need to do is ask one question and you will fill your pipeline effortlessly. It goes like this. “Mr. client, I have a list of people that you know who I would like to meet. Could you please introduce me to them?” I’ll be happy to buy lunch or a round of golf, could you invite them?
So, when is a good time to ask for an introduction?
Each time we provide a service for one of our best clients is an opportunity to ask for an introduction. With 10 good clients and 8-10 visits per year, if you asked for help with introductions, 50 new prospects would be a cake walk, and it required no extra time to prospect.
Keys to doing it right.
1. Come prepared with a list of prospects that your client knows: Suppliers, competitors, customers, neighbors, association members etc.
2. Share with your client you are changing the way you do business and that you are only going to pursue prospects that your best clients know and recommend.
3. Ask for the highest form of a referral. Don’t accept “You can use my name” or “I’ll make a call for you” Insist on a personal introduction over lunch or on a golf course or at a ballgame. Clients will be happy to invite one or two of their friends or business partners to an event, especially if you buy.
4. Don’t talk business. Just get to know them personally. Let your client talk about you, your agency and your service.
5. Do follow up with them…they’ll take your call now, becasue they know you.
Once you get into the habit of asking for introductions, your pipelines will fill with excellent prospects effortlessly and you’ll probably double your book in short order.
Which brings us to the next objection.
Maybe we’ll tackle that next week…or maybe not.