Hunters or gatherers: Understanding a relationship-based sales model

By bmann6

Partners Advantage Insurance Services

Pretend you could zoom out from the scene of your normal business activities. What does your business landscape look like? What activities are taking place? Are you a hunter or a gatherer?

We're not talking about buffalos and berries -- although, believe it or not, we will see some parallels. We're referring to a salesman constantly on the hunt for new clients versus the agent advisor who patiently and precisely gathers information to foster long-term relationships.

In less domesticated times, people who took the roll of "gatherer" developed skills and instincts that led them to crucial resources. While there still needs to be a hunter in all of us, we need to take a closer look at what it means to be an information gatherer.

So, how does this apply to insurance sales? It is crucial you develop the skills and instincts to better understand what makes your clients tick. Understanding this principle is essential to developing long-term relationships with clients and selling them the products that fit them best over time. Transactional business that depends on replacing nearly all revenue each year is no longer a viable sales model. But creating a foundation of strong client relationships is. Ultimately, those relationships will bring depth and profitability to your book of business through more sales and referrals.

There are three things you can begin doing today to make sure your business is moving in the direction of this proven sales model: Change your mindset from salesperson to entrepreneur, create opportunity to interact with your clients and utilize customer relationship management technology.

Changing your mindset is likely to be the most difficult of these tasks. Your interactions with potential clients are no longer all about the sale -- it's all about the relationship. This means sales may turn slower in some cases; however, strengthening the relationship often translates into customer loyalty. That could mean multiple sales and referrals later on.

The more I see advisors want to know about their clients, the more the clients want to know about their advisors. Make sure you are utilizing customer relationship management technology to get your business (and client relationships) working in the right direction. These systems help you get organized and manage the pertinent details of building relationships. This might mean tracking birthdays, anniversaries and the names of lots of kids, but you also need to know and track clients' financial needs and dreams that you may be able to help come true.

In order to gather that quality information, advisors need to create opportunity to do so. At least seven to 10 touches a year is essential to maintain an active relationship. Hosting events, offering periodic reviews and educational workshops are great ways to do that. Making calls on special occasions and sending cards show you care.

In all cases, your eyes and ears are open wider than ever before. If I walk into a client's office and see a big Marlin on the wall, I know they are interested in fishing. I can make a note of this in my CRM to send a fishing book as a gift in the future.

It's these little things that add up to become big things. It's proven time and time again by the most successful agents around: Adding depth to your relationships today will result in multiple sales and referrals in the future. Don't be afraid to keep those keen hunter qualities intact. But, start developing skills to be a precise information gatherer today.

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