Everyone, including me, has been writing articles about how to plan for 2012.
We have told you how to select your carriers, products and markets. How to improve sales by choosing your best target markets and how to study your numbers. All these are important. What we have not done is focus on the single most important factor in the Success Equation – You.
I have given several talks recently where I point out that most agents believe the single most important factor in why clients buy is price competition. When you survey the clients themselves you find that to your insurance buyer the single most important factor in their buying decision is their relationship with the agent. Quite a stark difference. If you go another step deeper into what is the single most important factor in why client choose the agent they do, the answer is the agents KNOWLEDGE. Knowledge of the clients industry; knowledge of the client’s business needs and knowledge of insurance, in that order.
A Profession is defined as an occupation requiring the mastery of a complex body of knowledge and specialized skills through a combination of formal education and practical experience, with its primary orientation to the community interest rather than to individual self-interest, and having a code of ethics. We in the insurance industry must commit to our profession.
I then talk about the difference between Education and Qualification.
All of us who are licensed are qualified under the law but we may not be educated to properly handle our clients’ needs. To help you understand the difference let’s talk about your prospective client. Would it be smart to go into your client’s office and state “I have an insurance license and here is your price.” At a very base level every agents that goes into your clients office has this same qualification, it is the expected minimum level to even talk to clients, therefore there is no differentiation in the knowledge you bring to the table. What I am asking you to do in 2012 is to look at your capabilities and make a plan for improvement, a plan to differentiate yourself.
Think about it this way we all plan to gain our CE credits to continue being qualified, what are you going to do, in addition, to become more educated. It’s time to talk about Professional Development in 2012.
I guess this leads directly to the question, what should I study? Here are the broad strokes.
1. What do your clients want you to do?
2. What do your clients need you to do?
3. What can I learn to understand business?
4. What can I learn to improve myself?
Once you struggle to answer these questions, you need to outline a timetable and process for completion.
1. Join – www.insurancecommunityuniversity.com
2. Plan – Plan out your year educational classes and get them on your schedule, Now.
3. Read – get in the habit of reading every day. Read about your industry and Profession. Magazines, websites, journal articles etc. Set aside 30 minutes every day to read.
4. Listen – If you don’t like to read, you may well be a person who learns best by listening. Find websites that have information available through webinars or podcasts. This is a great way to get broad business knowledge. Often times you will listen to a webinar that will present information that one or more of your clients can benefit from send it to them via email.
5. Partner – Often you will not know how to do something, don’t be afraid to join forces with someone that might be an expert, split commissions, and learn from the best. That commission split could be the cheapest education you ever receive.
6. Join Groups – You can learn an enormous amount of information about an industry by joining Special Interest Groups on LinkedIn or an industry specific site. Many industries have onsite meetings, go, join in and listen to the discussions. You will begin to gain an understanding of your clients real needs, much more broadly than just insurance. Remember clients want you to have knowledge of their industry.
7. Combine – Use more than one of these approaches.
“We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing
up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives… not looking for flaws, but for potential.” By Ellen Goodman
I wish you all a prosperous New Year and believe if you create a Professional Development Plan you will get there.
Please join us on the Community for our free webinars you can register right on the Community site.www.insurancecommunitycenter.com