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Want Fries With That?

Author: Brady Polansky
President and CEO, NetVU

Recently I had the privilege of spending quality time in the heartland of America listening to agents talk about how they are holding up in this economy and what they need to be successful.  What I enjoy most about interacting with people from what many consider “fly over” states is how real and down to earth they are.  They don’t often pretend to be larger than life; they tend to be less complicated, and frankly, are some of the friendliest people on the planet.  Heck, at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, home of the Nebraska Corn huskers, the faithful home team crowd is as concerned about an injured opposing player as they are their own!

brady nebraska Want Fries With That?From Iowa to Idaho, or Nebraska to Montana the sentiment is the same.  I consistently hear that agents need help growing their business in this soft market and ailing economy.

The definition of insanity is to do the same thing the same way, yet expecting a different outcome.  Keeping this in mind, if agents continue to do things the same way they always have, then why should they expect different results?

Selling is actually pretty simple at its core.  Even I was successful at it for some 15 years!  All you need to do is find a willing buyer and ask them to buy something they need from you.  It’s that simple.   So let’s break this down.

1) My experience is that agents do a great job servicing customers and providing them with one or more products that they need to buy. What’s interesting is that study after study shows that agents only sell a fraction of the policies their customers purchase.

2) Agents have hundreds or thousands of insureds, each purchasing one or more product.  These existing customers are 3 times more likely to buy another product or service than a new customer.

3) Agents have many opportunities to offer other products to their customers, but generally do a poor job of following through.

Please don’t misunderstand.  Agents mean well, but fall short on the organization needed to follow up on all those opportunities.  And that’s where an agency management system can help.  Agents make huge investments in these systems then only utilize a fraction of their powerful tools, like cross selling.

Use your system to first identify customers who have purchased one type of policy but not another.  Then have the system kick off a letter to the customer introducing the product.  You could set a reminder to follow up and close the deal.

This is a very simple process that you’ve already paid for.  All you need to do is consistently implement it and watch the new business flow in. (On a side note, don’t start with customers whose names begin with “A’s” as all the past un-coordinated, un-automated attempts to cross sell your book have probably beat up enough on that part of the alphabet!)

To bring this back to the folks in the heartland, consider this.  Boise, Idaho is the potato capital of the world.  I’ve met some great people there who call it home and are very proud of its potato business.  That said, they are even prouder of something that happened a few years ago growing and knocking the eyes off their potato businesses because of one simple sales initiative.

Does anyone remember McDonald’s simple, yet brilliant campaign asking, “Do you want fries with that?“  Sales exponentially took off to existing customers simply by having the freckled faced teenagers behind the counter consistently asking for more business in a non-threatening way.  Think about it… What lines of business could be your “fries with that?”

(Photo: Brady Polansky shown with Mike Donahoe, a member of the executive committee of the national IIABA, and some of the Nebraska Cheerleaders before a big game)

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