I remember listening in on one of my dad’s sales calls years ago, when he responded to the prospect’s objection to a meeting with “at the very least a meeting with me will keep your current vendor honest.” For some reason, with all the things that come and go in my memory, this has always remained fresh. The very premise of capitalism is that healthy competition keeps prices down and encourages innovation.
No one can argue that loyalty isn’t a highly regarded, well-sought character trait that one should wear with pride. Some would say that not enough people are loyal, but I will argue that perhaps many of us are loyal to the wrong people. When loyalty to an insurance broker comes at the expense of your balance sheet, or your shareholders and employees, is loyalty still a positive attribute?
I believe that in insurance sales there are two types of people: brokers and advisors. Brokers are often considered pushy; they are more concerned with their own needs than yours and often act entitled to your business. They win your business on the promise of lower premium and not long term cost containing strategies. On the other hand, advisors believe they are entitled to nothing and business must be earned day in and day out. If you are doing business with an advisor, maybe loyalty is well-deserved, but an advisor conversely would never begrudge a client from benchmarking their service.
Best in class service providers are confident in the service they provide and know that an RFP will result in a higher level of satisfaction from their client, with renewed confidence that they are receiving the best service at the best price. When advisors lose a client, they don’t think of lost commission, they focus on their areas of weakness and view lost clients as valuable learning experiences. They take full ownership.
Think of it this way: when Tom Brady throws an interception, you don’t see him throwing a fit and walking off the field. No, he refocuses and comes back strong. He reviews the tapes after the game and does everything in his power to avoid making the same mistake. And continuing the sports analogy, statistics show that in an NBA game, the team that is down by one point at half-time is actually more likely to win the game!
Sadly, throughout my sales career I have found that loyalty is too rarely rewarded. When I get a seat at the table with a prospect who has been with their incumbent broker for more than 5 years, much more often than not, I uncover unimaginative strategies at higher prices and unsatisfactory service. Despite this, business owners often continue to be more loyal to their insurance brokers than they are to any other service provider aside from their CPA and attorney
This should come as no surprise; many people are averse to change. People remain in dead-end jobs and loveless relationships. They remain complacent because they are unaware of what else is out there.
The difference between being complacent with your job or your relationship and the client/advisor relationship, though, is that the former affects only you, but when you remain complacent with your benefit program, you impact every individual in your company, every member of their family and your shareholders. Even deeper than that, you impact the very culture of your organization. It doesn’t matter whether your broker is your favorite golf buddy or takes you to the best steak restaurant in town; he/she needs to be as motivated as an NBA team one point down at halftime and not just when your renewal comes up.
So ask yourself, is your broker in your office only when the renewal is due? Is he/she consulting with you on how to keep costs down and explaining your options thoroughly? Do you and your employees fully understand the benefits program you have put in place? Do you feel that your program is in line with your company objectives? Is the communication back and forth with your broker timely and effective?
If the answer is no to any of these questions, then I think it’s time to find an advisor, not a broker. After all, at the very least, it will keep your broker honest.