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Jack Burke Jack Burke , 2/5/2014
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This blog focuses on relationships among clients, companies, and employees in your organization.  At the recent annual meeting of one of my clients, I had an awakening while looking at a PowerPoint picture of a young girl eating pizza. 

A staff member was using the picture as an analogy in her presentation.  She pointed out that her daughter loved pizza so much that she would eat it until she got sick.  As the parent, it was her job to guide and instruct the child so she wouldn’t overeat.  As a result, I began thinking about the role of a parent in guiding a child to maturity and started applying this thought to business.

As insurance agents, you have to guide and instruct your prospects and clients – to help them mature in their management and avoidance of risk. Let’s look at a few ways that this can change the way your agency operates.

Customer Service Representatives (CSRs or any other name you might give them) are usually reluctant to “cross-sell” or “cross-market.”  For decades .I’ve watched agencies try to get them to sell, with limited success in most cases. CSRs just don’t see themselves as salespeople or producers.  They think of themselves as caretakers who handle their clients’ problems, process claims, and try to keep them as satisfied as possible.  “Selling” seems to be contra-indicated in their minds.

So let’s throw out such sales terms as “cross selling,” “cross marketing,” and “rounding out the account.”  Instead let’s talk about “maturing the relationship” – guiding, instructing, and protecting clients, just as a parent would help a child to learn and grow.  

Helping the account to mature has a far more nurturing connotation that might work wonders with the attitude of your CSRs.  If they view additional coverages as a way to help the client, they’ll be more amenable to discussing them.  This approach also changes your agency’s image from a seller of insurance to a consultative advisor, enhancing your professional image in the minds of clients and prospects.

The concept of “maturing” can also work wonders with your employees by changing CE from a dreaded requirement to a means of professional growth, process as the staff begins a journey of self-improvement. This agency has created an own in-house “academy” to promote continuing education.  They even have internal designation levels that can be reached – silver, gold and platinum.  The designation criterion goes beyond basic insurance CE to teaching about the specialty industries the agency serves, as well as an inter-disciplinary model that crosses over from sales to service to management.  These certification levels are transferable if an employee moves from service to sales or management.  One of the required courses is Public Speaking, so that everyone is prepared for face-to-face encounters with clients and industry groups.

This approach is designed to help employees to mature within the agency by  much more assuming a parental role of guidance and instruction.

Sometimes we change words for politically correct reasons or because of a trend.  Once in a while we change words because it’s right to do so.  I believe this is one of these times when it’s right to think in terms of maturing, maturation, and other derivatives of the verb “mature.”  Webster defines mature as “to bring or come to full development.” Isn’t that what we want for our prospects, clients, and staff – to bring them to full development?