Are You a Gold Digger?
In my recent solo podcast, “Cass Solo: Freedom, Impact and the CX Culture” I talk about how I’ve had several phone calls with agents over the past year that got me thinking again about a question I’ve thought a lot about in the past: Is it better to have a sales culture or a service culture?
Last year, SafeCo came out with the report “What It Takes to be an Agent for the Future”, which showed a merging of the sales and the service cultures in many agencies.
My recent discussions with agents were a reflection of that. Many are debating the pros and cons of creating a service culture rather than a sales culture, or a sales culture rather than a service culture…
…Or really, a sales culture and every mixture in between it.
I want to talk about this now because, although I’ve talked about it in the past, I’m a smarter business owner now and I want to talk about the way that I see it today.
I want us to think about what this has to do with the customer experience.
So I’ve been talking about customer experience for five years now.
I mean, I know guys…I beat it up…
But the thing about it is, it’s just now coming into the limelight, where people are understanding that customer service means nothing anymore…
…because it’s expected.
Why do we create a customer experience? Because we’re trying to create a culture that meets customer’s expectations.
Some agents say to me, “Jason, I’m trying to create a sales culture, right? We’ve been a service culture for so long, but I’m going to create a sales culture. That’s what we want to do. Our main focus 70%-80% of the time is going to be cross-selling new business, doing everything we can to get the new customer and to be sales focused, cross-selling new customers, new business customers, that’s what I want to be.”
Then I talk to agents who say, ”I want to create a service culture in my agency.
We understand that the riches lay in the renewals, the business that stays is the business that pays.”
Well, what I told these agents and what I want to tell you is that you actually need to be both.
It’s a sales AND service culture, but you can’t silo it. You can’t say, okay, here’s service over here there’s sales over there.
I remember I was talking with a guy and he was telling me about how his agency is split into different departments.
It just sounds so 80’s and 90’s right?
Because the sales, service, claims and everything is all in ONE culture.
I’ll say it again…
It’s all about a customer experience culture that meets customer’s expectations.
So what does that look like?
I’ll give it to you. I’ll take you right down in it.
Put on your scuba gear because we’re going down.
First, let’s talk about the two different bodies of people that we can sell to. This is really right on the surface.
The two types of people we can sell to, from a high level, are prospects and current clients, right?
From a high-level, there are people out there in the world that don’t know how awesome we are yet and people who are in our office and they know we rock!
Whenever we are in a service-focused culture, very few of us think about the people we already have…
… but my boy, Billy Williams always says to me, “your gold is in your book, Cass”
That’s what Billy says…Your gold is in your book.
A lot of us think that the best way to grow is to hire new producers so that they can go out and sell the business for us.
I’m not saying that it doesn’t work. It can be very, very successful. But it’s not easy and a lot of you know that.
You know it because you did this and the producer left, he or she ended up taking their book and going elsewhere.
They ended up quitting after six months after you provided them with all the training.
We all know that this is not easy.
Think about what we’re doing. Think about the fact that we are sending a person who is new to maybe sales or insurance or business altogether and we’re sending them out into the world to find a prospect and try to close that prospect.
The average agency has a 90% retention, therefore the agent keeps 90% of their business. That means that when you are sitting in front of their client as your prospect, that means that you have a 10% chance of making that prospect your client.
This is different than a closing ratio.
We may close 40% of them in total, but it doesn’t mean we have a 40% chance of being their agent because we actually only have a 10% chance of actually winning that new client.
Now we know that if we played a numbers game and we continually get more and more in the pipeline…
Then yes, we will then win 40% of the time of the total amount of people we SEE.
So that’s what we’re doing. The agency is using its resources to find prospects and when they find somebody, we’re paying them a commission to close.
And in the end if we write 40% of the people we get in front of, then great! It works. There’s no doubt that it works, but let’s say this…
What if we do the opposite…and we don’t try to sell and all we do is take care of our customers that we have now that already know us?
Customers who already do business with us.
Who already pay us a commission.
Who already talked to us on the phone.
Who already know our staff by name.
Why are we not internally trying to increase the revenue per client of THEM?
Here’s what I have found out and here’s I what you know.
If I can continually make the people inside my agency happy, I’m going to sell products to people who are already doing business with me.
I’m going to have much higher than a 10% chance of winning that business.
I’m going to create more policies…
But there’s also a side effect of this…
The side effect is that when you concentrate on a service culture as a customer experience culture, your customers begin to realize that it’s no longer just about the services you’re providing to them
It’s about the experience you’re providing them.
What does that lead them to do?
Be proactive and go tell other people.
And when they go tell other people, studies show that you have a 70-90% closing ratio on that business.
Now think about the person who went and found that new client for you.
It was your own client who paid YOU.
This is your client who’s paying you!
They are going out in the world to find your prospects that you have a much higher chance of writing thereby increasing your chance to win that business!
So we can focus on the people we already have or…
…we can go hire somebody
Pay them a few thousand dollars a month
Give them 40% commission whenever they write the business and 20% when it renews and we have a 10% chance to win that business.
Wow, interesting. Right? That’s the power of the customer experience culture.
It’s not a sales culture.
It’s not a service culture.
It’s a customer experience culture that meets customer’s expectations.
Remember my first book, Customer Service is Just Foreplay?
This is part two. This is one aspect of The Great Separator.
I sit in these meetings and I sit on these phone calls and I just listen and I say to myself, every time I get off the phone…
The Great Separator is getting closer and closer.
Jason Cass is a thought leader, speaker, agency owner and champion for the independent insurance industry. He is the founder of Agency Intelligence (AI), a place where insurance agents and agency owners can connect, share knowledge and work together to improve their agencies and move the industry forward.
Jason hosts two major insurance podcast series, Agent’s Influence and Agency Intelligence where he talks with those that influence the insurance industry and connects with independent insurance agents all over the country. He is also the author of the Amazon Bestselling book, Customer Service is Just Foreplay, and is working on his second book titled, The Great Separator.