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By Paul Martin • January 25, 2018

5 Ways to Improve Sales This Year

The new year is a great time to reflect on what we accomplished last year and brings on a feeling of excitement about the potential to change and improve in the coming year. Can one of these five strategies change your business for the better?

Develop a referral network
Do you have a lawyer buddy, real estate buddy, or a mortgage broker friend? Know any financial advisors or accountants? These professionals come in contact with the same clients you’re after and their work is tangentially related to yours. If an attorney is drawing up paperwork between partners in a new business venture, they’ll need insurance. The attorney might have a few names of reputable insurance agents to provide to his clients; why can’t yours be one of them? First time homeowners likely have never bought insurance other than for their car or health. Many will take recommendations from their real estate agent or mortgage broker on how and where to get homeowners insurance. There are professional networking events in most cities where you can begin to make these connections.

Another way to do this is to become an expert in one specific field or industry. Join the local or national association, go to meetings, make connections and learn the ins and outs. One success story comes from an agent that wrote the insurance on a commercial nursery and then became very interested in the business. He got involved in a commercial nursery association and learned everything he could about their products and how they operate. Before he knew it, he was “the guy” for commercial nursery insurance and receives nationwide referrals because his expertise is unmatched. The same could happen with air conditioning contractors, dry cleaners, land excavation and many more.

Take advantage of the industry
Are you a part of your local Independent Insurance Agents organization? If you’re in Texas, how involved are you with the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas (IIAT)? These associations provide a plethora of resources and tools for improving your business. Networking opportunities, education classes, conferences, publications, newsletters and connections with business partners/vendors that your agency might need. Simply going to a networking event and sharing ideas and strategies with other agents in your area can provide a new perspective, and might just spark your next great idea or serve as a reminder to get back to the basics.

Run the Numbers
Do you have specific growth goals for the year? Do you have a plan for how to get there? Walk through these questions to arrive at the exact number of clients you need to contact each week to meet your end of year goal.

  • What’s my average size account?
  • How many accounts of that size do I need to meet my revenue goal? How many hits do I need?
  • What’s my hit ratio?
  • Based on the hit ratio, how many accounts do I need to pitch to get the hits?
  • What percent of the time do they let me pitch/present when I reach out to new clients?
  • Based on the percentage, how many do I need to reach out to or visit each week?
  • Of the accounts chosen to contact, how many potential prospects did I have to first examine/evaluate before deciding to contact them?
  • How long does it take for me to research each one?

Starting with the answer to the final question can help you calculate whether your final goal is realistic. Or you might realize you need to go after larger accounts. Solving the last two questions can be an art and will vary depending on the producer’s experience. Some producers have a feel for the area and the types business they work with. Over time you can become much better at knowing which prospects are promising and which will be a waste of time.

Pick up the personal lines on your commercial accounts
This sometimes happens organically for agents when they develop a strong relationship with a client. Have you thought about actively going after this low hanging fruit? Even if it’s a newer commercial client or one you don’t have much of a relationship with beyond sending their yearly renewal, offer to quote their personal lines just to see how it compares. Or, upon next renewal take some extra time to ask them questions and learn a little about their personal life.  

Shuffle the teams
How is your office structured? Is it time to reevaluate and reset the arrangement of teams in the office? Or just shuffle the people on the teams? Team relationships are crucial to success. We all know what it’s like to work with someone we jibe with, and someone we don’t. Here are two examples of arrangements that work for some agents:

  • Three account managers handling two producers’ work. The account managers could have more or less responsibility depending on their abilities and on the preference of the producers.
  • An older experienced producer paired with a young producer of just a few years’ experience. The younger producer can be the assistant on big accounts while the experienced producer would be the assistant to the younger one on smaller accounts. It’s beneficial for the less experienced producer to take the lead in some cases, and not always shadow.