Just Do What Is Right
After finishing a strategic planning meeting with a client, he emailed me a Meme, “Just Do What is Right.” The entire strategic plan was summed up with that one sentence.
We agreed at the meeting that the strategy would be to sell clients the coverages they truly need. To avoid any assumptions, this means selling the extra coverages clients need as opposed to what some regulators or consumer advocates might think. This strategy means not selling clients what they do not need. I would fire any client who even thought of purposely selling their clients what they don’t need. That issue does not happen in my world to the best of my knowledge.
Selling clients the additional coverages they truly need sounds simple, and it really is. I have worked with hundreds, if not thousands of agencies by now, and have worked with thousands of producers, so I know clarity is required before going further. To a large proportion of producers, “Do What is Right” does not usually mean selling clients the coverages they truly need. Instead, they think of it as selling clients the coverages they request. Doing what is right and selling only requested coverages are very, very different exercises.
Most of the time clients have little clue what coverage they need. Insurance and consumer/business exposures are far too complex for people, even CEOs, to know which coverages they truly need. Selling only the coverages requested by clients who do not know what coverages they need is not doing what is right. For example, do you really want to go to a doctor for a headache and have them issue some pain pills or would it be better for the doctor to figure out if you have brain cancer? You just know your head hurts.
Or, and unfortunately I have seen this actually happen with painful results, you go to an attorney and ask them to write a contract. You don’t know exactly what needs to be in the contract or you would write it yourself. Yet the attorney does not really know anything specific about insurance agencies so she writes a contract that is so inapplicable you probably would be safer without any contract. Would it not be better to have an attorney who knows what needs to be in the contract?
From an insurance perspective, does it not make more sense for all concerned to ask the questions required to figure out what coverages a client truly needs, then explain to your clients why they need the coverages and then offer the coverages? I know some people never listen, but at least you gave them the option.
Some of the thousands of producers I have met, even agency owners and some E&O defense attorneys, have answered my questions this way: “Doctors and attorneys are professionals and agents are not professionals.” True in most cases, but how does having a producer who is an amateur help solve a client’s needs?
By definition, if one is not a professional, they are an amateur. Are you an amateur? Everyone reading this article has the opportunity to be a professional. It is a personal decision. I know E&O instructors advise you not to say you are a professional but do not confuse their advice. They are too diplomatic to actually explain what they are saying, which is, “I know you are not qualified to be a pro, so do not say you are a pro, because if you do, you’ll only get successfully sued.” The reality is that truly professional agents get sued less. Why is this? Because when clients have more coverage, they are less likely to incur uncovered claims. It is really that simple.
Doing what is right means selling your clients the coverages they truly need. To do this, the following requirements must exist.
Education. Deep education is required. Selling the necessary coverages means understanding those coverages and to understand coverages, one must be well educated. A really good example today is cyber. Every commercial client needs cyber. But selling cyber correctly requires understanding the cyber policies being sold because virtually no uniformity exists between the thousands of cyber forms available and some of the exclusions are significant.
Just obtaining CE credit is useless. Just as taking classes where the instructor preaches from the pulpit is inadequate.
RTP. You must Read The Policy! I saw a court case the other day where all residential construction was excluded from the policy that was sold, however, the client exclusively built residential construction. What idiot agent sold that policy? Clearly, they failed to RTP!
To sell clients the coverages they need requires reading the policy to learn if the policy actually contains the required coverages. Again – very simple fact.
Conviction. One must possess the conviction that doing the right thing is necessary because you will encounter clients who don’t care (until they have an uncovered claim), competitors who cut corners, and the extra time and effort required of you which is always the case in every endeavor where one takes the extra steps to do what is right is significant.
Your conviction will be tried, so you must be strong.
Improved Sales Skills. Most producers take orders. “Tell me what coverages you want and I’ll find a price.” That is order taking, which is a little higher level than working at a fast food joint, but not by much. It is not selling.
Customers are going to obtain their requested coverages from somewhere and you will or will not get their order. An order is not a sale. Treating an order as a sale is a misapplication of reality to feed egos and bank accounts.
Selling clients the coverages they need but do not know they need is another level of sales and truly is sales. When a producer rises to this level, the producer always rises above competitors. They make a lot more money, life is easier, their customers are better cared for.
Many insurance producers seem to think “pushing” extra coverages is wrong, but they are mistaken. If a client needs a coverage, but does not know they need it, push the sale. The unethical approach is to not offer clients coverages you know they need. That is the “O” in E&O for “Omission.”
Doing what is right means E&O exposure is greatly reduced, and agents can go to bed knowing they are selling coverages that will protect their clients in what may be one of their worst times. Insurance done well truly is a blessing and a calling for those working to achieve the highest levels. What is your calling?