We kicked off this series on how to grow your insurance business in 2018 with sales tips – but now it’s time to think bigger!
This installment of our 4-part series focuses on growth-hacking strategies to take your business to the next level. Missed the first installment? Click here for part one, with 10 sales tips. In two future posts, we’ll dive into tips for organization and personal growth.
10 Best Tips to Grow Your Insurance Business in 2018
1. Create an Annual Plan
Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman, not the attitude of the prospect.
Do you have sales goals? If so, are they written down? There’s a big difference between saying “I want to boost my sales by 10%” and “I want to close 30K more premium than last quarter and earn 5 new referral clients by March 31.” Your business plan is where you’ll record and track these goals.
A business plan doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as a single piece of paper, or a Google Doc you can access anywhere. If you like, you can break down big goals into smaller chunks (6 months or quarterly). If it helps, you can break those down further by month. Depending on your mindset, it may help to have smaller, more visible goals.
For extra credit, include ideas or steps you can take to achieve your goals. For example, if my goal includes getting 5 new referral clients per quarter, I might make a list of the clients I want to approach for those referrals, broken down by month or by quarter. Essentially, your annual plan makes it easy to do the work on a daily basis. Do the big-picture thinking and planning now. This makes it easier to carry out each small step later.
2. Check in Quarterly
Your business plan doesn’t do any good if you never use it. Revisit it quarterly, at the very least. Make a note of whether you achieved the goals you set for yourself. Ask yourself a few hard questions: were your goals realistic? How should you revise them for next quarter? Did you achieve what you set out to do? Or did you fall short? If so, why?
If you are not taking care of your customer, your competitor will.
Checking in is important. It’s easy to drift through the year, gathering numbers without analyzing them. To truly grow your business, you have to step back, analyze, and adapt. Did you see a surge in sales of a particular product or carrier? Why do you think that happened? What can you do to take advantage of this trend? Unless you’re keeping an eye on the 10,000-foot view, it’s easy to miss trends and opportunities.
3. Standardize & Systematize Your Business Processes
There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.
Don’t waste any more time with one-off processes – it doesn’t help you or your clients. When you standardize and systematize your process, you achieve the following:
- Better customer service for your prospects. No matter how they reach your sales funnel, no matter which product they apply for, you know they’re getting the same level of service. Why? Because you have documented procedures for contacting and following up with every prospect. A CRM with marketing automation can help you do this seamlessly.
- Better customer service for your clients. Once a prospect becomes a client, how often do they hear from you? Do you send birthday greetings or a holiday card? Do you also reach out to them periodically to ask about any life changes that affect their coverage needs? A CRM with marketing automation can help here, too. You can create and schedule tasks that prompt you to follow-up, using saved email templates to get the conversation started.
- Ease of outsourcing or hiring. If you need help, whether it’s a new agent or an assistant, it’s much easier to get them up to speed when you have documented processes. You don’t even have to create a physical handbook (unless you want to). This can be as simple as placing templates or sample emails and responses in a folder on a shared drive or in the cloud.
4. Get Better at LinkedIn
If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.
LinkedIn is here to stay – Microsoft bought it in 2016 in a bid to be more competitive in the social media space. Whether you’re into social media or not, your LinkedIn page is a billboard for prospective clients. It’s free real estate you should be using, even if you don’t care about the number of connections you have there. According to Putnam Investments, 85% of advisors use social media - and LinkedIn has been their top choice since 2014.
Here are a few great use cases for having a LinkedIn profile and/or company page:
- Your niche is helping business owners with succession planning.
- You want to build brand authority for yourself and/or your agency.
- You want prospects searching for you to see that you’re trustworthy.
5. Form Strategic Partnerships
One way to increase leads and referrals is to partner with another professional. What questions do your clients ask that you aren’t qualified to answer? From accountants to lawyers, you can find someone local to help them - and ask if they’d like to partner with you. Chances are their clients have insurance questions you can answer.
In sales, a referral is the key to the door of resistance.
Forming partnerships is a great way to generate referral business. It’s also a great way to gain visibility in the community. If you prefer to do business in person, this is a targeted way to get your agency in front of the right people. If you don’t do business in person, you’re not limited to professionals in your area. Type a client's question about taxes, accounting, or the legal system into Google – whose site answers the question? Consider contacting them and asking them if they’re interested in a digital partnership. You could do a Q&A swap, providing helpful answers for each other’s clients.
Of course, to be effective, you need a standardized, systematized way of responding to and monitoring leads you get from a partnership (see point #3 above).
6. Implement a Form of Google’s 20% Rule
If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.
Google made headlines years ago when it shared one of its company rules – employees were encouraged to spend 20% of their time (one day a week) working on a side project. Why? Because employee side projects are sometimes more creative, innovative, and helpful than projects assigned by management. Gmail was a side project, for example. Nowadays, Google has made it a lot harder for employees to work on side projects, but the concept is still valid.
Consider giving yourself 1-2 days per month to experiment or learn new things. Need to brush up on new products and riders? Take a day per month and do it. Want to see what all the fuss is with Facebook ads? Schedule a couple days that month for research, and a couple days next month for experimenting. Want to try your hand at making a video? Schedule time to do a few tests with different locations and lighting.
It’s really easy to push new ideas aside when your to-do list is looming. You can’t ignore the to-do list items, but your “what if” moments are the creative lifeblood of your agency. Schedule time to indulge them, and adhere to that schedule as if they were client appointments. Some ideas may fizzle, but you may also find a new skill that sets you apart.
7. Consider Outsourcing – It’s Easier Than You Think
If you had to pay yourself an hourly salary, what would it be? If you earn $50,000 per year, your hourly rate for a 40-hour workweek would be roughly $25. The next time you find yourself working on an admin-type task, ask yourself: how many hours will this take? What would that cost in terms of my hourly rate? It may be cheaper to pay someone else to do it.
Commonly outsourced tasks include posting on social media, scanning and recording receipts into accounting software, creating a PowerPoint presentation, or preparing client materials like downloadable eBooks, free guides, and more.
Now, let’s think about the cost of each of these things if your time is worth $25-$50/hour. Say it takes you 10 hours to create a client-ready eBook. Is it worth the equivalent of $250-$500? What if you could hire a freelancer to create it for you for $100-$200? If you provide bullet points, notes, or voice dictation to get them started, you can still control the messaging, but leave the design and creation to someone else entirely.
The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed.
8. Pay More Attention to Economic News and Forecasts
If you’ve ever read Van Mueller’s newsletter, you know how much this helps you and your clients. When you know what experts are forecasting, you can ask better questions. For example, in his past few newsletters, Van Mueller has been super clear that he (and many economic experts) believe a crash is coming. He’s shared a number of articles about deficits in the systems we count on for retirement, from Social Security to Medicare to government pensions.
If you work just for money, you'll never make it. But if you love what you are doing, and always put the customer first, success will be yours.
When you have this knowledge, backed up with articles written by economists, journalists, and professors, you have the basis for a real conversation. All you have to do is ask questions. What happens if the entitlements your clients are depending on vanish? What happens if the market takes a severe downturn for the next few years? Chances are they’ll ask for your recommendation. This is a great way to introduce the solution you believe works best for them.
Plus, if you post on social media, the articles you discover in your research are also great for sharing with your audience.
9. Do One Thing That Scares You
Obstacles can't stop you. Problems can't stop you. Most of all, other people can't stop you. Only you can stop you.
To help your business truly grow, you’re going to have to step out of your comfort zone from time to time. To start with, pick one thing you’ve been avoiding. It might be learning a new skill, or doing something that’s good for the business but that you don’t enjoy. Put it on the schedule, block off two hours, and commit to it. At worst, you’ll prove to yourself that you can do it. At best, you’ll do something that unlocks doors and generates new business for you.
Here are just a few ideas:
- Attend a conference and make five new connections.
- Participate in a seminar and build your resume as a speaker and authority.
- Approach a new agent or local business and ask about partnership opportunities.
- Pick a new social media network and learn how to use it, first as an observer and then as a practitioner.
- Make your first video – just prop up your cell phone, turn on the camera, and take a practice run at telling a prospect why they need life insurance.
Once you’ve done one scary thing, add another one to your calendar for next month. Keep pushing, keep trying, and keep reminding yourself how far you’ve come.
10. Think About Expanding Beyond Sales
There’s a huge opportunity for agents willing to build a personal brand and branch out from pure sales with their own products and courses. When you sell to one person at a time, your returns are quantifiable and limited – you’ll sell a policy to John Doe with an $8,000 premium, for example.
But what if you had an online course that taught people the most important ways life insurance can protect their family, their business, and their retirement? What if you had a workbook that outlined the steps required to select and review the appropriate coverage? These are resources that you create once, but can offer in perpetuity.
Technology has brought us to a place where people with detailed knowledge of a niche subject like life insurance can create their own courses and books easily. If you can create a PowerPoint presentation and record your voice as you go through the presentation, you can create a course on Teachable or Udemy.
Of course, building a personal brand isn’t for everyone. But if you’re good with people and comfortable talking about your niche, you could help even more clients and grow your business by thinking big in 2018.
I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man!
That's our look at 10 biz dev tips to grow your insurance business in 2018!
Check out the other posts in this 4-part series: