6 Steps to Differentiation

Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Written By
Nicole Bulanda

Change is hard. I recently became what I term an “accidental vegan” after I received news of a possible casein allergy and watched the documentary Vegucated in the same week. All of a sudden, I had to examine every piece of food I put in my mouth. I’m busy with a new baby and didn’t want to be bothered with research, but I was hungry. And let me tell you, nothing motivates like a growling stomach.

I see the same “learn or die” mentality taking root in the insurance world. Canadian brokers are facing a changing market, climate and economy that is causing many to reconsider their current business practices.

The times they are a-changin’

As the popularity of direct-purchase insurance grows and the global economy remains in flux, clients are demanding more from their brokers. To keep up, many brokers are searching for ways to differentiate themselves from the competition. As brokers nation-wide step up their game, your challenge is to figure out what sets you apart.

A great way to do this is to grab on to a growing industry trend: selling services. While converting your brokerage’s current model to a menu of services may seem radical or daunting, adopting a model like this right now means being at the forefront of a changing market, which gives your brokerage valuable experience and positions you as a thought leader.

What’s your strategy?

The key to success is to have a solid plan in place to help position your brokerage for the future. Some strategies you might wish to employ include the following:

–          Transparency: Determine the cost of service for each client by quantifying time and resources devoted to the account. By showing that the services and time your organization provides are worth significant amounts of money, you establish yourself as a professional organization—and by being transparent about costs you will further position yourself as a trusted advisor.

–          Selectivity: Because certain existing clients may prefer a traditional compensation structure, you may decide to pick and choose which clients you wish to engage in your menu of services – or you may even choose to roll out your menu of services only to new clients.

–          Control: If you want to waive specific fees for some clients, you can do that. This type of control allows you to execute different pricing strategies for different clients, which provides a lot of freedom and creativity in determining a compensation structure. For example, consider offering a basic pricing model, but waiving some fees if a prospect signs a multi-year contract.

What makes you valuable?

If you begin charging for additional services, it is important to consider the services you will offer to make sure you have the resources to provide a quality offering. Here are a few ideas for services I hear clients asking for:

–          Total cost of risk calculation

–          Timely industry, emerging risk or safety communication (newsletters)

–          Risk education

–          Employment law counseling

–          Employee safety communications

–          Return to work education and program materials

–          Legal compliance communications

–          Continuity planning guides and a sample plan

Your 6-step game plan

If you’re going to make this transition, it’s important to have a game plan and to know how your strategy aligns with your corporate objectives.

  1. Confirm your corporate philosophy and customize your menu of services.
  2. Select a renewal date at least 90 days out that will represent the first group.
  3. Select a date in which the new strategy should be incorporated into the sales process—consider under which conditions you will approve grandfathered status for prospect cycles already in progress.
  4. Identify any workflows that need to be adjusted (such as renewal conversations or brokerage management task recording).
  5. Identify any resource gaps in your menu and available solutions.
  6. Set up an internal meeting to present your strategy and timeline.

Stay at the front of the pack

Change takes time, work and constant evaluation. If you partner with Zywave and have access to Broker Briefcase®, you already have a leg up on other brokers with access to additional value-added services you can provide to clients. You don’t have to create the materials for your services from scratch, which means you can spend more time focusing on your strategy and rollout.

As for my personal change, in a few short months I’ve learned a lot about how to cook in ways that are healthy and support my dietary restrictions and beliefs. With every change I implement, I’m monitoring how I feel, because I know that what works for me might be different from what works for someone else. Wherever this journey ends up taking me, I know I’m changing for the better and it feels great!

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