If you’re under the impression that price is the only thing most commercial insurance buyers care about, you may be missing something important.
To demonstrate how perceptions and even cold hard facts can be very misleading, come with us for a quick trip back through time to 1985.
That’s the year that the Coca-Cola Company, world-wide leader in the carbonated beverage space, decided to do something outrageous – reboot the brand with a new flavor.
Watching their 5 to 1 market share rapidly eroding as arch rival Pepsi magnetized legions of young cola drinkers with their Pepsi Taste Challenge, the beverage behemoth introduced “New Coke” in a dramatic and well-tested move to win over the taste buds of a new generation of soda drinkers.
As you may know if you were around back then, the introduction of the New Coke turned out to be one of the most stunning and perplexing debacles in the history of product marketing.
Despite the extensive market testing conducted with over 200,000 people, confirming a clear preference for the taste of the new product over both Pepsi and the ‘old’ coke, consumers at stores and soda fountains steadfastly refused to buy the New Coke.
In fact, they practically revolted. The Coca-Cola company received over 40,000 angry calls and letters (including one addressed to “Chief Dodo, The Coca-Cola Company”), one enterprising PR man filed a class-action lawsuit against them, and even Fidel Castro got his two cents in, dismissing the change as a sign of American capitalist decadence.
What went wrong?
What the researchers failed to grasp was that buying decisions were motivated by a lot more than flavor preference alone. Feelings and attitudes toward the brand — habit, nostalgia, and loyalty — played a huge role in motivating their choices.
Insurance buyers are also influenced by a constellation of factors – besides price. So let’s return to the present moment and take a look at six of them.
“I’m not really sure how well you know my kind of operation.”
Uncertainty and doubt are people’s default mind states. Unless someone knows otherwise, they’re going to be unsure about your agency, your experience, and your professionalism. They won’t know if or how you can help them.
It’s your job to override their uncertainty and show the value you offer and why it’s worth their time to meet and compare insurance options.
With an attitude of confidence and an assertive, friendly tone you’ll project authority, competency, and experience to transform prospects’ uncertainty and hesitation into engagement and positive perceptions.
“I’m pretty committed to our current agent. They’ve been there for us in the past.”
Sometimes this is too big a hurdle. You need to determine if any prospect is so firmly committed to their current agent that it’s not worth the effort to pry them apart.
On the other hand, some people hide behind the loyalty concept because they’re embarrassed to tell their agent they want to switch – or even compare. Reassuring the prospect that you can take care of communicating with her incumbent agent can cut through this roadblock.
If you feel you have a shot, let the prospect know you understand her feeling of allegiance, but that loyalty like hers can have a downside – she may be missing out on advantages she’s not getting from the incumbent agent. Then you have to show her that the benefits you offer will clearly outweigh the price of her loyalty.
“We want to know who exactly will be meeting with us from your agency.”
People want to do business with people instead of machines or faceless organizations. Ever try getting tech support from Microsoft or Google? Nobody would choose to deal with an unengaged robotic functionary. We’re usually much happier when we’re lucky enough to have a smart, likable person help us with our questions and services issue.
“I want to work with an agent who knows our business and understands my concerns.”
There are at least two aspects to empathy – first understanding, and then caring.
Multitudes of studies show how easily customer loyalty is undermined by perceived indifference from the vendor. It need only take a single instance of not returning a call in a timely way to shake up some business relationships. Above all, pay close attention to what each prospect or client needs and wants. Show them that you get it, and act accordingly.
“I’m not sure I want to bother comparing…”
Whatever you call it – apathy, indifference, or just not ‘giving a sh*t,’ people need motivation to do anything. “If it’s not broken, why fix it,” right?
To offset this lack of impetus you’ve got to show them the advantages they’ll get, and the hassles and difficulties that will go away when choose you as their agent. “Have you compared with other agents in recent years? You might be quite surprised by the difference we can make.”
“My Brother-in-law is my agent but I’m curious to see what you can offer.”
You’re not working to satisfy anyone’s curiosity, or to help keep the incumbent agent ‘honest.’ It’s up to you to separate true prospects from the idly curious.
If you’re even a bit suspicious of people’s motivations, don’t hesitate to ask and qualify: “If we meet and can deliver worthwhile improvements, is there any reason you couldn’t change agents?”
At heart people want to be honest, and when you put it to them sincerely like this, most prospects will let you know there’s a binding connection (reciprocal business, family politics, etc.) with their current agent.