Agent to Agent: Competitive Analysis and Pre-call Preparation
By David Connolly
Founder, iQ Consulting
The incumbent agent stands between you and new business. For you to win, they must lose. Understand, we are not just asking prospects to do business with us, we are asking them to break a professional relationship. Why then do we enter into competitive situations not giving incumbency the weight, and respect it deserves?
We tend to focus the majority of our time and effort on insurance products, coverage and price, but very little time on the incumbent. It's hard to beat an opponent we've never seen play. No player (producer) or coach (sales manager) in his/her right mind walks into a game without first studying film and developing a strategy to win. I know we’re not athletes, but we are professionals, and we do win and lose. The more we know about our competition, the better chance we have of winning.
- What are their strengths and weaknesses?
- What is their business acumen, experience, expertise, niche’s etc.
- What is on their menu of agency services?
- What do they, or don’t they, do well?
Not understanding who we are competing against is a mistake that usually results in a loss. I urge all of you to go to school on your competition and learn as much as you can. Intimate knowledge of your competition allows you to develop a sound strategy to position yourself to win more business.
Knowing your competition’s strengths and weaknesses allows you to develop a pre appointment strategy and craft questions that direct the conversation towards your strengths and the incumbent’s weaknesses. Just as important, it keeps the conversation off of the incumbent’s strengths. This approach creates an unfair comparison as it focuses the prospect’s attention on what they don’t get from the incumbent and what they could receive from you. It gives the prospect reasons to change and directs the conversation away from price and towards value.
Without a pre call strategy, quoting is an expensive gamble, and the incumbent wins all ties. Knowing the competition can also tell you very quickly when you can't win and when to walk away saving you valuable time and agency resources to invest on true prospects.
For every new prospect, invest the time to learn as much as you can about the incumbent agent and their agency. Save this information and create a competitive database for your agency. If all producers would do this, soon you would have a huge resource to draw upon to develop sound pre-call strategies for every prospect. This knowledge also helps you create differentiation when prospecting to open doors and opportunities.
Last, people are creatures of habit, and you’ll find consistent holes in your competitor’s game. Armed with that knowledge, you’ll know exactly how to win.
David Connolly is the founder of iQ Consulting. They work with the top 100 agencies and brokers in the US and Canada and have trained thousands of insurance professionals.
PIA and iQ Consulting have recently created a sales-focused, e-learning program available to insurance professionals in CO, DE, IL, MA, PA, RI, SD and WV. To learn more about the PIA Agent Success Acceleration Program, please visit www.piaasap.com.