For Experienced Producers, Service and Prospecting Are the Same Activity
By David Connolly
Ask any successful producer in our business what is the single most important activity or skill they attribute to their success, and you’ll hear a variety of responses like: developing relationships, presentation skills, the ability to close, coverage analysis, developing solutions, etc. Pick one or all, and they are all right, and at the same time all come in second to prospecting.
Check the premise. All of these skills come into play only after producers get in front of prospects. Without the prospect, they are of little or no practical value. The single most valuable skill a producer can possess is the ability to get in front of prospects and fill their pipeline.
Yet, for most experienced producers who are busy servicing clients, devoting time to sustained prospecting activity is a frustrating challenge. Yet, if experienced producers prospected with the same sense of urgency they did when they started their career their pipelines would be full, and they would continue to grow at a significant pace. So why did they stop? If you ask a veteran producer why they aren’t out prospecting, they’ll probably tell you: “I’m too busy.”
Like all professionals, successful insurance agents must devote the majority of their available time to client service. There are only so many hours in the business day, and it’s a complex and demanding job, and prospecting often takes a back seat to account management and service. Here is the irony. The very thing that prevents us from prospecting is the very thing that can fill our pipelines with an endless supply of exceptional prospects. Agents with significant books no longer need to prospect in the traditional sense, and prospecting for veterans requires no additional time, if they can make a shift in the way they look at prospecting. Here it is:
For experienced producers, service and prospecting are the same activity.
Let me explain: The top 20% of your clients generate 80% of your revenue and are your pot of gold. The people they know that they can introduce you to are your gold mine. When was the last time you mined for gold? Throughout the year, you meet with clients and provide valuable services. When you visit with your best clients, those who know you well, you need to ask them for help. Engage them in an honest and transparent conversation centered around time management and your focus as an experienced agent.
The conversation I have had the most success with sounds something like this:
“I’ve been in the business a few years now, and my job has changed significantly. As a young agent I focused the majority of my time prospecting and trying to succeed. Today, I spend the great majority of my time providing services for my clients. I’ve learned that I can’t be all things to all people, and I have to devote the majority of my time taking great care of my best clients, like you. At the same time, I need to continue to prospect and that’s where I need your help. There are several successful companies in our community like yourself I would love to insure. At the same time, successful companies rarely take cold calls and are difficult to approach. Would you be kind enough to review my list of prospects and share with me anything you know about them that might help me break the ice? If you have any personal relationships with them, would you be kind enough to introduce me socially? I’ll be happy to buy lunch, dinner or a round of golf.”
Create your own approach, but be transparent and ask for their help.
I can tell you that using this honest, transparent and professional approach has always been well received by my clients and typically resulted in introductions to prospects I wanted to meet. Also, it’s important to understand that your best clients “get it” and want you to succeed. You wouldn’t hesitate to help them if they asked you for an introduction, and neither will they. Any reason you can imagine for not asking your best clients for introductions is what I call “mind trash.” Take out the trash and ask them for help. If you are like me, you will be humbled by the response you’ll receive.
By the numbers: If asked for help, your top 10 clients will provide 20 personal introductions to companies similar to themselves. Why? The old adage about birds of a feather is true. Successful people associate with successful people. As a successful agent, if you are introduced to 20 prospects by centers of influence, your success rate will be at least 50%. Since your top 20% generate 80% of your revenue, you’ve just doubled your book, and done it professionally, easily and without traditional prospecting.
Keys to Doing It Right
- Come prepared with a list of prospects that your client knows: Suppliers, competitors, customers, neighbors, association members, etc.
- Share with your client that you are only going to pursue prospects that your clients know and recommend.
- Ask for the highest form of a referral. Don’t accept, “You can use my name” or “I’ll make a call for you.” Offer to meet over lunch or on a golf course or at a ballgame. Clients will be happy to invite one or two of their friends or business partners to an event, especially if you buy.
- Don’t talk business with prospects at this meeting. Just get to know them personally. Let your client talk about you, your agency and your service.
- Do follow up with prospects after the introduction. They will take your call now, because they know you.
Once you get into the habit of asking for introductions, your pipelines will fill with excellent prospects effortlessly. Hence my premise: For experienced agents, service and prospecting are the same activity.
David Connolly is the founder of iQ Consulting. iQ Consulting is a recognized leader in helping agencies accelerate organic growth and perpetuate client retention. David works with many of the top 100 agencies and brokerage firms in the US and Canada and has coached thousands of insurance professionals. iQ’s services platform provides professional guidance in almost every area critical to agency performance and success. David’s approach to consulting and coaching is built from decades of personal experience in production, sales management, and agency leadership. For more information on David or iQ Consulting’s suite of services visit