Benchmark Business Group

Are You Providing Expert Level Advice?

January 17, 2023

Is your financial services agency strictly transactional or do you bring more to the table? In today’s world it’s easy to get financial advice online and you can even buy insurance products on the internet. Therefore, it’s even more important to provide advice and expertise that adds value to your clients and set your Agency apart from others.

Here are some of the more common reasons agencies hold back from providing advice and expertise and how to change it. We can’t cover all the reasons, but some of the most common ones we hear include:

The team won’t cross-sell or are not comfortable asking. There tends to be a lot of reasons the team isn’t more assertive, but what it boils down to is training and communication. One mistake is that identifying sales opportunities is often seen as something extra that isn't in their job description, when the reality is that every one of the team members is on the sales team. Every single person. Because in this industry, sales are the difference between having protection when something goes wrong or not. Sales isn’t just sales, it’s a major part of service. Your team must understand that they cannot provide exceptional service if they are not listening for and acting on risks and opportunities. Imagine going to the doctor who notices a worrisome symptom, but doesn't mention it to you. You are let down because you had an expectation that the doctor is an expert and is looking out for your best interest. Your team must understand the importance of your agency providing expertise and advice, and understand it's their job to listen for opportunities to offer products and services.

Once the expectation has been set the team needs to be trained. They should know what to listen for which includes what life events lead to risks or opportunities. They should also be trained on what actions they need to take. What action they can and should take should be clear to them and easy to action. For instance, some team members may simply forward information to sales or schedule a client/agent meeting. And finally, they should be given time and tools to practice what to say to the client when identifying a risk or opportunity.

We don’t want to be too aggressive or pushy. Because many agencies don’t want to come across as aggressive or pushy, they tend to end up being passive. This can happen when there is worry that a client will get offended or when assumptions are made such as a client can’t afford it or won’t want the product you think they should have in place. The middle ground is to be assertive. Too often, being passive happens when one allows their own comfort zone to get in the way. Think about it. When you hold back, it’s because of how you feel or how you assume a client feels, but how often is a client actually telling you they don’t want your advice or expertise? If a client does say that they don’t want to discuss something it’s okay to back off, but not fully.

Go back to the example with the doctor. No one wants to deliver the news that someone has cancer. But it has to be said. Plans need to be made. When a client has a risk or opportunity, they deserve to know. Even when they don’t want to hear it or are uncomfortable talking about it. This doesn’t mean that you need to be aggressive. Instead, it’s the perfect time to be assertive. It’s easier to be assertive when you’re connected to the “why.” Why does the client need to hear this? Why is it important to them? Lead with the why. You might say something like, “I know this is a difficult topic, but it’s important because…” Typically, clients will give you leeway if they understand your intention. And the only intention is to provide them with the best advice and expertise that you can, so they can make the decisions that work best for them.

We’re just too busy or the clients are in a hurry. This is probably true to some extent. Most agencies are extremely busy. There’s a lot of work that gets done, but it is possible to be busy doing the wrong type of work. What work is more important than slowing down, and making sure each and every client has the best coverage for their life? Nothing. It’s what you promise each client. It’s what they expect. And no one wants to ever be in the situation where you have to explain to someone that they don’t have coverage. And sure, clients are busy. They’re probably in a hurry. But what they don’t know can and will hurt them. It’s important to be assertive, to let them know it’s important that you discuss this with them. Not every client will want to take your advice, but it’s important that your agency has the peace of mind and protection knowing that the client did receive the best advice and expertise.

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