Would You Buy It For $1?

  • Posted on July 17, 2017
  • by John Scranton

Those of you who have read our sales and marketing tips book Sell More & Work Less are familiar with the question: Would you buy it if  the cost was $1?  This an easy question to ask that usually elicits a candid response.  It is a great way to begin asking the “hard questions” in the sales process.

If the answer is no, the conversation is over.  You have failed to convey the value of your solution, and the prospect does not believe it would help them – even at a nominal cost.  If you cannot give it away, stop trying to sell it.  Bow out gracefully and try to learn something from your experience.  Inquire about why your solution did not appear to meet needs or where your ROI scenario broke down.  Leave with knowledge instead of nothing.

If the answer is yes, then you have an opportunity.  The prospect sees a potential fit and some level of value. You may have a deal coming if you are able to able find terms that work for both parties.  You will also quickly uncover the purchasing process and the authority of your contact.  The answers you hear will often begin with “yes, but…” – and that is a good thing.  You now know what challenge you need to overcome to earn the business.

Originally Posted on September 18, 2012 by John Scranton

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10 More Business Quotes to Start Your Day

  • Posted on July 13, 2017
  • by John Scranton
  1. Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use. – Earl Nightengale
  2. Do more than is required. What is the distance between someone who achieves their goals consistently and those who spend their lives and careers merely following? The extra mile. – Gary Ryan Blair
  3. A budget tells us what we can’t afford, but it doesn’t keep us from buying it. – William Feather
  4. Hell, there are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something. – Thomas A. Edison
  5. The majority of men meet with failure because of their lack of persistence in creating new plans to take the place of those which fail.  – Napoleon Hill
  6. Blessed is he who has found his work; let him ask no other blessedness.  – Thomas Carlyle
  7. High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation. – Charles Kettering
  8. If you don’t drive your business, you will be driven out of business. – B. C. Forbes
  9. Carpe per diem – seize the check. – Robin Williams
  10. Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed. – Peter Drucker

Originally Posted on August 30, 2012 by John Scranton

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Sales & Marketing Discipline

  • Posted on June 26, 2017
  • by John Scranton

BusinessEvery great company has a key defining concept.  Something that is woven into the fabric of people, products and culture.  For example, 3M strives to use innovative technology and imagination to improve the daily lives of people (www.3m.com).  This concept becomes obvious when reviewing their history and how the company operates each day.  The immense challenge for businesses who want to achieve tremendous success like 3M, is to define that key concept – and then to make all decisions in alignment with that concept.

Successful sales cultures are often built the same way.  A truly honest assessment of how your sales time is spent, and the associated results, can be a very enlightening exercise.  Who is your best client or customer?  How did you find them?  How much of your time are you spending trying to repeat that same process?  How much time are you wasting with less productive initiatives or people who are less likely to buy?

Here are a few steps to help you complete this exercise:

  1. Define your Idea Prospect – Use your best customer as an example.  Who are they?  How big are they?  What does their industry and client base look like?
  2. Determine your Most Effective Marketing Tools – What marketing initiatives provide the best results?  Where do your closes come from?  What is producing the right kind of prospects?
  3. Refine your Marketing Plan– Once the above two items are clearly and honestly defined, make sure your marketing plan is directed at repeating the process.  Refine the plan so that it is accurately aligned with your findings.
  4. Stop doing Everything Else – This is a hard one.  But to achieve the 3M type of success mentioned earlier, it is required.  Throw away everything else that does not fit, and only spend time pursuing your best prospects and executing your most effective marketing campaigns.

It sounds simple, but if it was easy everyone would already be doing it – maintain focus on your best prospects and best marketing channels.  As your discipline to this concept increases, your results will improve dramatically.

Originally Posted on September 20, 2010 by John Scranton

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Posted in: Insurance Agency Marketing, Insurance Agency Marketing Plan, Sales
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The Insurance Elevator Pitch

  • Posted on June 19, 2017
  • by John Scranton

Insurance Agency VideosThe insurance elevator pitch is a succinct summary used to quickly describe your insurance agency or brokerage, products and services. It should include your unique value proposition, and must be delivered within the time span of an elevator ride of 30 to 60 seconds. This can be much harder than you think, and should be scripted, rehearsed, and timed. The elevator pitch is a fundamental component of your insurance marketing efforts.

Ask a variety of people in your agency or brokerage to tell you their version of the elevator pitch. Don’t be surprised if the pitch varies dramatically from person to person. Does the pitch adequately describe your value proposition? Does it highlight the products, services and solutions which best showcase your agency expertise? Did the pitches even sound remotely alike?

Your sales and marketing efforts are built upon a well articulated and easily repeatable value proposition, which should be a component of your elevator pitch. If you cannot communicate your value proposition in less than 30 seconds, or stumble when trying to express it, it’s time to write it down, rehearse it and communicate your value proposition with everyone in your agency. Once that is done, turn it into a 30 to 60 second elevator pitch. Practice makes perfect, try repeating both of these in monthly management meetings and sales meetings, and it’s important to note that your elevator pitch might vary based on your target niches (P&C versus Group Benefits for example).

Here are a few best practices when it comes to your insurance elevator pitch:

  • Be succinct – 30 seconds is best
  • Create empathy – For example, “We work exclusively with contractors” or “we work with trucking companies with 5 to 50 power units”
  • Verticalize – a vertical pitch is easier to differentiate
  • Be different – Everyone says “save money” and “great service” – what are your top 3, unique differentiators?
  • Transfer enthusiasm!
  • Close with a call to action – what’s the next step for your prospect

Let’s review a sample pitch, which would run 30 to 40 seconds depending upon cadence:

We’ve been helping trucking companies with insurance and risk management needs for over 50 years. Everyone at our agency is a trucking fleet expert, in areas including CSA, specialty cargo, certificate fulfillment, and owner operator services. Because of our access to extensive markets and deep industry expertise, we provide creative coverages at the best possible rates, and help protect our clients’ bottom line. We know trucking insurance is one of your biggest costs and our creative approach will help meet your unique requirements. Can we set up a 15 minute meeting to discuss your specific needs?

Your elevator pitch might be designed to include industry jargon to convince prospects of your deep expertise, it might highlight your most important products and services, your top differentiators, or your service centric approach. Regardless of what your final elevator pitch includes, practice makes perfect, it should roll off your tongue effortlessly. Remember, 30 to 60 seconds is all you get before your most important prospect walks out of the elevator, and your opportunity may be gone forever.

Originally Posted on April 14, 2015 by John Scranton

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Posted in: Insurance Marketing, Sales
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Sales & Marketing Tip of the Day: Narrow Your Focus

  • Posted on June 6, 2017
  • by John Scranton

What services do you provide?  Why would people want to do business with you?  How are you better than the next guy?

These simple questions are much too difficult for many agency executives to answer.  The answers are clouded by the abstract concepts and strategies we read in the trade magazines explaining how to mask the fact that we are selling insurance.  The quandary is further complicated for those who are striving to be everything to everyone – and are at risk of being nothing to no one.

The fastest and most effective path to cleaning the dust off of your value proposition and finding your true mission as a salesperson or producer is to narrow your focus.  Keep throwing the darts at the 20 until you can consistently hit your target.  Only then should you consider going for the 19’s, 18’s or bulls-eye.

StartUpSelling provides marketing solutions to insurance agencies.  Our deep industry expertise allows us to understand the challenges our clients face and to create effective solutions.  Our virtual model allows us to deliver a compelling value and responsive service.

Those are my responses to questions above.  Delivered from memory as fast as I can type.  They are easy to answer, because we have a highly focused sales and marketing strategy.

Originally Posted on May 14, 2012 by John Scranton

 

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Posted in: B2B Marketing, Business, Insurance Agency Lead Generation, Insurance Agency Marketing, Sales
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Sales & Marketing Tip of the Day: Refresh Your Prospect List

  • Posted on June 2, 2017
  • by John Scranton

Insurance Agency Email MarketingRefreshing your prospect list and your prospect email list will often uncover low hanging fruit, ripe for the picking.  In my case, this could be a new VP Marketing or VP Sales at a large agency who needs web marketing help and simply is not yet aware of all the available resources.  In the case of an agency producer, a refresh might turn up a new VP HR or CFO who happens to want to shop their employee benefits to prove their worth and has no loyalty to the current broker.  A list refresh can be a cost effective way to quickly open a dialogue with new prospects.

Originally Posted on May 9, 2012 by John Scranton

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Posted in: Insurance Agency Lead Generation, Insurance Agency Marketing, Sales
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Sell more & Work LessIn Sell More & Work Less, we talk about asking the “hard questions” during the sales process.  These are questions that many business people are reluctant to ask because they can be uncomfortable and seen as aggressive.  They include questions like:

  • Is there budget allocated for this project?
  • How does your purchasing process work?
  • Do you have a target date to implement this solution?

Those do not look like difficult questions to pose to a prospect.  In fact, if you have established even a modest level of rapport, you should be able to inquire about these topics without apprehension, and you are likely to receive honest answers.

Understanding if (budget), how (process) and when (target date) a prospect is going to purchase will allow you to focus on those who can buy.  Allocating your time and resources effectively, based on the answers to these “hard questions”, will result in more business.

Originally Posted by John Scranton on January 26, 2012

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sell-more-work-lessIn our new book Sell More & Work Less, we talk about calling and emailing high and wide.  By calling high we mean calling the top level executives.  By calling wide we mean reaching out to several contacts, including some who may not have titles you think directly apply to your opportunity.  When you combine this method with an integrated marketing campaign, the results are often compelling.  In fact, our business has achieved record growth over the past two years using this exact formula.  Here is an example:

I emailed the C-level executives of an organization I thought would be a great fit for our solutions.  The CEO opened my email several times, so I called and left him a voice mail.  A week or so later, a member of his marketing staff filled out the form on our website and asked for a meeting.  We met with the team the following week, and during the meeting they mentioned receiving my emails and reading a book our CEO had published.  We reach them with a multi-dimensional integrated campaign, and I called high and emailed wide.  They became a client shortly thereafter.

Integrated Marketing + Calling and Emailing High and Wide = More Business.

Originally Posted January 19, 2012 by John Scranton

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What a Contractor is Teaching me About Great Customer Service

  • Posted on April 4, 2017
  • by John Scranton

Picture1Whenever I have a commercial interaction, I try to glean a few insights into why it was enjoyable or why it was annoying.  My most recent endeavor has been the engagement of a contractor to make some home improvements.  As my wife and I researched vendors we heard many horror stories of dishonest contractors delivering a shoddy product or poor customer service.  So far the product appears to speak for itself, and I have noticed a few things that make the service superior:

  1. They Never Bother Me – Working virtually, I am in the same building, so it would be easy for the contractors to interrupt me to ask questions or review specifications.  They never do.  The only interactions I have with them are on my terms.  Imagine if this was the case on a car lot?  How can you avoid bothering your clients?
  2. They Deliver a Little Extra – One of the contractors noticed the felt pads on the feet of some of my kitchen chairs had worn off.  Replacing them will require a $5 purchase and 10 minutes of labor.  This is an infinitesimal task relative to the project scope, but it makes my life just a little easier at no additional charge.  What extra value can you deliver to your clients?
  3. They Simplify Billing – We only meet once per week to talk about money.  On Fridays I pay for what has been completed and they tell me what will be completed the following week and what the cost will be.  There are no surprises.  This relieves any anxiety I might have about the financial plan for the project.  What are your clients prospects worried about?

Originally Posted November 30th, 2011 by John Scranton

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Speedometer90 days ago I purchased a new vehicle. This was the first car I acquired since I transitioned to a virtual business model, which made me wonder how this vehicle’s first few months as a member of my household compared to my last new car purchase, when I still followed the traditional sales model. Lets take a look at the numbers.

In the first 90 days that I owned my last vehicle, the mileage increased from 33 to 12,430. That is 4,100+ miles per month on the road a traveling salesman. My new vehicle has aged from 6 to 1,624 during the first 90 days of ownership. That represents a nearly 90% drop in miles driven per month.

Now let us explore how that translates to fuel costs. The traditional sales miles were covered in an economical sedan which averaged 27 MPG. 12,430 / 27 X $3.50 per gallon = $1,611 in fuel costs. Meanwhile, my virtual miles are driven in an SUV which averages 18 MPG. 1,624 / 18 X $3.50 per gallon = $316. This equates to $1,300 in my pocket, while making no mention of maintenance costs, even while driving a much less efficient vehicle.

This simple example illustrates just one of the many challenges created by a traditional sales model that puts people on the road. By leveraging a virtual model, people have more time to work and their businesses are significantly more profitable.

Originally Posted on October 10, 2011 by John Scranton

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Posted in: Business, Sales, Virtual Business
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