CROSS-SELLING BEST PRACTICES
Discover the “acre of diamonds”
right in front of you
By Christopher W. Cook
Have you heard the story of the “Acres of Diamonds”? Having originated in the 1800s, it tells the tale of a farmer who hears about the value of diamond mines from other farmers. So, he sells his farm to search the countryside far and wide for his new fortune. Sadly, he never does find a diamond mine and eventually drowns in despair. Long story short (too late), the person who had purchased the farmer’s land ends up finding a large diamond supply in the creek on the property.
The original farmer had his “acres of diamonds” all along. Just like the farmer, agents and brokers also have value right in front of them—in the form of their clients. How many policies do each of your clients have with you? That’s right; it’s time to discuss cross-selling.
I recently attended a webinar, “Cross-selling Best Practices for Insurance Agencies,” led by Joel Zwicker, insurance evangelist with Agency Revolution.
“We often hear people say ‘we do a good job’ or ‘we sell it all up front,’” Zwicker said. “The reality is, in this industry, the average policy per client is 1.62. If I have six policies, and my agent only has two or three policies with me, they’ve leaving half of it on the table. Don’t accept the industry norm as good; accept what the reality is—that is your acre of diamonds.
“You may be a commercial lines-focused agency, and you may want no part of personal lines, but there’s an opportunity, even if you just do personal lines as a service to your commercial lines clients.”
When it comes to cross-selling, the chances of selling an existing client are 60% to 70%, compared to a prospect at 5% to 20%, according to the book, Marketing Metrics: The Definitive Guide to Measuring Marketing Performance. When a mature cross-selling system is implemented at an agency, sales increase by 250%, according to McKinsey research.
A recent Simon-Kucher Insurance Consumer Survey shows that while 93% of consumers would prefer to pur-chase multiple policies from one insurer due to the convenience, only 17% claimed that they already have a majority of their policies with one provider.
“Customers want more from you,” Zwicker said. “When you’re not doing it, when you forget to do it, or you just don’t have time to do it, you’re not doing what they want. It’s nice to know that I can go to one place and find whatever it is I need.”
The same Simon-Kucher survey also shows that only 9% of insurance consumers said that they were contacted by their agent about additional coverage, with 84% of those surveyed saying that they had been in contact with their agent within the last year.
While 84% had been contacted within the past year, according to an EY Global Customer Survey, 86% of insurance consumers are not “very satisfied” with communications from their insurer, and when it comes to communications, 84% don’t want a phone call, according to the Mblox: Closing the Care Gap: The Insurance Industry Factor study.
This is where an email marketing strategy comes in handy.
“We know that the vast majority of people don’t necessarily want to hear from you via phone call, so the next time you’re going to send out a piece of communication, whether it’s an email, text or print mail, if you want to keep engagement high and have email open rates that are high, you need to take into consideration four factors,” Zwicker said.
When it comes to marketing emails, all should be:
To keep relevant, make sure you are not sending the same cross-selling message to every client. “If you’re cross-selling [all your commercial clients] that they need commercial cyber liability, don’t send it to the people who already have it,” Zwicker said.
Be timely; [reach out] leading up to a renewal. “Be trustworthy. Sending a piece of communication from info@ or the agency@ is not anything anybody trusts. There are people within your agency that people have relationships with and trust; that’s who your communication should come from.”
As for personalization, “you have a great data source right in front of you, and that is your agency management system; unlock that power and personalize your communications,” Zwicker said.
These four factors can be shown by having:
- Eye-catching subject lines. Keep it short, sweet and compelling, and add a sense of curiosity or urgency. Personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. Keep it relevant to the recipient.
- Valuable content. Drive individuals to your website where there’s a relatable blog post. Include Google reviews and testimonials that highlight the kind of relation-ships team members have with clients.
- Call to action. Give people multiple options to communicate with you (e.g., click on a link, go to the website, connect on social media, text, reply to the email, etc.).
Some common scenarios in personal lines that can lead to cross-selling opportunities are:
- Home without auto and vice versa
- Personal (home and/or auto) to an umbrella insurance
- Personal (home and/or auto) to life insurance
“The key to an effective strategy iswalking people through a journey,” Zwicker said. “You don’t want to over-whelm people with it. You don’t want to be cross-selling everybody at once. But if someone is monoline, we want to take them to two lines and so on.”
As for commercial lines, some common scenarios are:
- Commercial without workers comp
- Commercial general liability without cyber liability
- Commercial lines without personal lines
“You may be a commercial lines-focused agency, and you may want no part of personal lines, but there’s an opportunity, even if you just do personal lines as a service to your commercial lines clients,” Zwicker said. “I will assure you that some of your clients have their personal lines with someone that can do their commercial as well; keep that in mind.”
When are some good opportunities to approach your clients regarding cross-selling policies?
“Account reviews and renewals are an obvious opportunity,” Zwicker said. “We tend to remember at [renewal] time because someone’s right in front of us. But if we missed that opportunity, you should have email communication a couple times a year through an account review.” Agents should reach out to their clients one or two months prior to renewal. Not only can this give you a heads up to any changes that may have occurred before the policy is renewed, but the communication also helps solidify the relationship with the client. Review with them the policies they currently have and ask if there is anything missing.
Perform a coverage check-up before your client renews. Were there any new purchases made? Did an insured change their job, address, or their marital status?
With things ever-changing in our day-to-day lives, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, which is something we don’t want to do to our clients.
“[For new clients], we want to keep it conversational but allow 60 days to pass before adding someone from a new client to cross-sell,” Zwicker said. “Establish your availability early and make it easy to be contacted, whether by phone, email, or if you’re going to leverage your website; all these things make it easy to be connected with you or at least with your agency.”
When adding clients to a cross-sell campaign, limit it to one new campaign at a time. “You can’t be telling someone, ‘Hey, we need to quote your home,’ and then the next week you’re [telling them that they] need umbrella; you need to walk people through a journey, you need to solidify the relationship,” Zwicker said. “Being proactive is essential here, but you don’t want to overwhelm. There’s a fine line between effective communication and spamming people.”
Spread out communications—they don’t all have to regard cross-selling—at least 12 times throughout the year to establish those client relationships.
“There are two reasons people choose your agency: your expertise and the relationship you provide. That’s what people value. When [communications are] relevant and timely, [your clients will] absolutely open it,” Zwicker concluded.
For more information: