When you think about the competitive advantages your agency offers, there are really only three basic arenas of competition: price, product and service. While some things might fit into one or another of the categories (bonding, for example could be considered either a service or a product), it’s helpful to think about your value proposition in terms of these three arenas, and to match your strengths with the needs and values of the target businesses you’re going after.
Agencies and producers get into trouble when they heedlessly try to compete in all three arenas at the same time. Hence, it’s critical that you consider your core strengths and decide how you want to position yourself in the marketplace. Are you going to go pursue new accounts primarily on the basis of cutting costs and delivering the most competitive price quotes? If that’s the case, you should make sure your programs and carriers consistently offer the lowest premiums for particular business classes, and then focus on those classes aggressively.
If it makes more sense for service or product to be your competitive trump card, you’ll want to concentrate your new business prospecting on companies who’ll be likely to need and want those advantages rather than those driven by a bargain-shopping culture.
Once you’ve determined the competitive arena in which you’ll communicate your advantages, be specific and down-to-earth in spelling them out. “World class service” may seem like a seductive proclamation, but what will that actually mean to the prospects you’re courting? Telling prospects that they’ll always be able to speak with “real people” and not get caught in voice mail loops, means much more than paying lip service to your “great service.” Similarly, providing specific details and numbers about your agency and services communicates more potently and persuasively than generalizations. Isn’t it more meaningful and assuring to let people know that your agency has a 98% client retention rate than simply telling them, “Our customers love us”?
Communicating your value proposition with explicit details, numbers and facts helps prospects visualize and better understand the advantages of working with your agency. If your sales approach is about cost-cutting, let prospects know that you’re able to shop more than a dozen carriers to make sure they have the right coverage as well as competitive premium rates. Or, if you offer a Safety Group program that has been paying dividends the last few years, mention the specifics: “The annual dividends for our landscaping clients have averaged a full 25% in the last two years.”
If you have an industry program that offers specialized, tailored coverage that’s not readily available in your market area, ask your prospects if they’re sure their current program includes that particular coverage and let them know why it’s beneficial.
Whatever your arena of competition, the devil and the angels are really in the details. The more precisely you can spell out the specifics of what you actually bring to your customers, the better they’ll understand and recognize the value they’re getting.