Building Your Prospect Pipeline
If you are like most insurance businesses, your producers have already reached out to current clients to touch base, affirmed that you are there to support them, and addressed any modifications that might be appropriate to secure their book of business for the long-term. But how do you build a pipeline of new prospect opportunities while “sheltering in place” and “social distancing?”
Don’t let inertia take hold. There’s no better time than now to start building your prospect pipeline as a component of your short and long-term business strategy. Define the types of businesses that you best serve, research and gather intel on companies and key decision makers in your market, and plan steps for initiating prospecting activities. Your producers should amp up their efforts to build prospect lists and establish relationships while business activity is quiet so that when the right selling moment occurs, they are ready to deliver.
Step 1: Define your Niche Selection
Producers should evaluate their current client list and look for any patterns by industry types. Are those industries growing or stagnant? Does your existing book have a strong concentration of local businesses or national ones? Do you have higher concentrations of certain types of business? Are you more knowledgeable about some businesses and not others? With which businesses do you have the most success? Retail, transportation, energy or financial firms? The answers to these questions are the foundation for identifying, researching and adding new prospects to your list.
Step 2: Research Companies and Key Decision Makers
Start with a set of basic demographics. Identify owners and key leadership staff of the company. Document office locations, associations, and known community involvement. Look at their website to understand what they highlight and what is prominent.
Next, compile a list of questions to which you should know the answers prior to meeting a prospect for the first time. Solicit input across all your producers and identify the “golden questions” as a base for every potential client. Combine the best questions into a simple usable template. Ultimately, this is a dynamic document (or better yet, database screen in your Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, system) that is updated after each interaction with the prospect, It can help identify the right product offering to present at the right time. With each iteration you should strive to have information fall into the following five buckets:
- What does the prospect look like now?
- What do they want to look like in the future?
- How are they planning on getting there?
- What hurdles are they running into?
- What is the “hair-on-fire” problem that needs addressing today?
Doing the research early in the process helps differentiate a strong prospect from the others. The data and research give way to segmenting and tiering of the prospect opportunities – aka prequalifying effort and opportunity before a call is even made. This will speed up the sales process later as this pre-vetting is already done.
Step 3: Leverage your Network – Ask for the Introduction
Now that you have your target audience defined and gathered information about them, cross reference them with your own network. Search for them on LinkedIn. Do you have contacts in common? Ask your contact what they know about them and ask for an introduction. We have found it is much more effective to ask for an introduction than passively ask for a referral. Beyond LinkedIn, look among your existing clients that are in the same geographic area or in the same business vertical. Who can introduce you to the prospect? Who are their top 10 competitors in the area? Reach further by looking through industry association lists, alumni groups, social networks. Again, is there someone that can introduce you?
Once the prospect pipeline is robust enough, it’s time to make some calls. These are not sales calls. It is not the time to product pitch insurance. Rather it’s time to start building relationships. Your business strategy must have a solid prospecting pipeline to sustain your firm. Defining your niche, researching companies and decision makers, and leveraging your network are precursors to activating your prospecting efforts.
Aligning resources, using technology, and building awareness and trust among prospects when they are still in the research stage themselves will cement the prospecting aspect of your business strategy. Next week find out how to activate your prospecting activities to ensure you are set-up for success when your prospects are ready to buy.
If you have questions about Today’s ViewPoint or would like to learn more about prospecting and sales strategies for insurance agents and brokers, please email or call Curt Vondrasek, Senior Vice President, at 630.315.9031.
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