Selasa, 25 September 2012

What Would Steve Jobs Do

After reading Walter Isaacson's great book about Steve Jobs, I began to imagine what would Steve Jobs do if you were running an insurance agency. The first obstacle I thought about was that Steve Jobs could not do it because he would have to deal with the products he could not control from insurance companies. Let's just ignore that issue and his bad traits for the rest of this article.

Steve Jobs' primary focus was to create great products. All else was secondary. The product of insurance agency is the service it provides to clients. The direction he would take would be to provide a seamless integrated experience for the client. People have too many things to worry about and not enough time to be able to focus on their insurance needs and problem.

Remember the time before the iPod? What was it like to go buy a stereo system? There were dozens of preamps to select, CD players to review, cassette decks to analyze, turntables to choose, and speakers to complete the package. Who had time to figure out what was the best way to go?

The SJ Agency would create a system with few options and allows the prospect to quickly discover their insurance needs. The key step here is to develop the technique of collecting information from the prospect and analyzing their insurance needs. There are tons of questionnaires that do a good job in discovering potential risk areas. Steve Jobs would develop a way to collect information quickly and painlessly.

Once the needs were analyzed, the client would be offered a prepackaged plan with few options. The part of the plan that Jobs would emphasize is not the insurance policies, but the services that the agency is providing the customer to make their life easier. The agency would create e-mails and letters that would go out automatically over the course of the year reminding them of the need to provide updated information and to reinforce the idea that the agency is there to support them.

One belief that Steve Jobs held was that it was important to create a product that the client did not yet know that they needed. SJ insurance agency would be equally innovative. The agency would have periodic meetings with the employees and some key outside advisers to analyze what the agency is doing now and 10 new ideas to focus on in the future. He would let the employees work on ideas to improve the product.

Another key belief Steve Jobs had was to obsess about the details. He wanted everything to be perfect including the parts that the customer could not see. That might mean that Steve Jobs spend a lot of time developing streamlined procedures for the business. His agency would be very consistent in the product/service that they provide their customers.

The various departments in the SJ Agency would work together as a single team. Changes would only occur after getting feedback from everyone. Collaboration and integration are to be expected from the employees. This is important at several levels. It allows employees to have some control over what goes on. It also creates a sense of responsibility and accountability since they were part of the decision-making process.

Steve Jobs would also employ his "reality distortion field." He would push and challenge his employees to do their best, and more. This approach will work however, only if the agency has all "A" players. He would hire only the best. The employees would need to be passionate about providing excellent service for the client. These type of people are hard to find and usually demand higher compensation. The good news is that they are self-sufficient, they can manage themselves, and their productivity would be off the charts. The time and money required to find and hire these people will be worth it in the long.

Steve Jobs was that once-in-a-lifetime personality that was able to change the world. He had the perfect blend of vision, drive, and persuasion to create new things and build very successful businesses. One of his traits that help them succeed was to be able to spot a good idea and remold it into his unique version. Xerox Parc was the first to create a graphical user interface and a mouse. That great idea would have died on the vine except for Steve's use of it in the Apple II.

Rabu, 22 Agustus 2012

Do You Have the Best System for Making Insurance Calls

Insurance sales agents who succeed long term have developed a system for scheduling insurance calls. Insurance sales careers are attractive because of generous commission structures and residual commissions. Many agents pay a premium for insurance leads from online lead generation websites. With experience comes the knowledge of exactly how many insurance sales calls will result in sales.

The first things a new insurance agent needs is:

1. Product knowledge and 
2. The mechanics of how to conduct a successful sales call.

The sales process can be broken down into steps. Understand your client's needs first and foremost. Ask a lot of questions about their goals, concerns, and needs. Next, address those needs specifically, and close. Address objections and close again.

Identify each step of the sales process so you can correct errors if a sale does not close. If you know what parts of the sales call give you trouble you can prepare differently for the next sales call and steadily improve your closing ratio.

Agents who are new to a career in sales and insurance sales specifically are frequently alarmed to discover they have a fear of making cold calls. Not making systematic cold calls can destroy any sales career. Initially, to save money it makes sense to complete your own sales calls. There's relief available to erase call reluctance completely.

Smart Sales Managers provide training in Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) to dissolve discomfort associated with making insurance calls. The use of (EFT) is central to your success if you find you have a love/hate relationship with cold calling new prospects. EFT is emotional acupuncture. It's an energy therapy that combines thoughtful focus with a series of tapping sequences on multiple body points. The EFT process miraculously dissolves feelings we wish to change.

With EFT one does not need to identify the origin of their trauma or discomfort, however they do need to identify a feeling or idea upsetting their performance. EFT is emotional self-care. We grow up making conclusions that may not be true. Some people fear failure, some fear success. If you have feelings that conflict with tasks your job demands those feelings can dissolve. You've got the power to place supportive feelings and ideas where negatives once held you back.

EFT is easy to learn and produces instant results in many cases. It's been used by healing practices for twenty years. Millions of people have benefited and now it's time to use EFT to address everyday challenges.

Insurance calls are a task. Much like walking the dog or emptying the dishwasher. Insurance calling can be boring so schedule the time to make your calls and get comfortable completing those calls. The secret to cold calling once unwanted anxiety is dissolved is to make those calls quickly. Don't take all day. Don't allow more than five seconds to elapse between calls. Keep it mindless. I read a sales training book years ago that talked about a top producing insurance agent. He would sit down to make 100 or more calls until he had his week fully booked with in-person meetings.

His system seemed horrid to me as a novice sales person. Every time someone answered the phone he would say, "You don't want to buy insurance, do you?" No introduction, no small talk. His only goal was to schedule appointments and he did this consistently all the way to the bank. Invariably people would say, "Hey wait a minute, I do want to buy insurance!" Customers were surprised by his direct approach. The result? Going into each appointment, this agent knew his prospect was open to buy insurance! This man made millions.

If insurance calling is part of the routine that will make your dreams come true then figure out how many cold calls create the number of face-to-face appointments you need each week. Next, use EFT daily until you've erased all feelings of discomfort associated with sales calls. If new fears or thoughts emerge that create self-doubt or threaten to derail your success, tap them away! If rejection feels personal, EFT can change your response. If you're a shy person, EFT will help. EFT can erase any feeling or idea that sabotages your success.

Develop a script that reflects your style. Use EFT to make Insurance calling easy, and fun! Insurance sales is a great career. If you feel like you've got to motivate yourself to go our and do battle with the world something's wrong. Insurance calls are key to an agent's success. Learn the sales process, know your products, use EFT, and watch your confidence and sales numbers skyrocket!

Rabu, 25 Juli 2012

What to Look for in a Good Insurance Agent

Insurance agent - does the word ring any bells? May be a figure of a relative or a person who pesters you to meet his monthly sales target comes to your mind. Or you remember a person who you rush to do last minute investment to save on income tax.

A good insurance agent is like a good doctor or a lawyer with whom you should have good relationship with. You never know when you will face an emergency needing the help of an insurance agent. Selling you an insurance product is just a very small role that an agent has to perform. As a professional dealing with insurance product, he can perform a very key role in securing your and your family's future, to plan for important events in your life such as your child's marriage or planning your retirement. Following are some of the important attributes you should look for in an insurance agent:

1. He should be a good educator

The world of personal finance is evolving by the day. Companies are wooing customers with newer investment products and sales gimmicks. A good insurance advisor is someone who should help you cut through the clutter and determine what your exact financial goals are and recommend products which should help you achieve those. He should be well informed about the new products available in the market, what are their key features, how safe or riskier are they and what kind of instruments do they invest in, so that he can provide you with insightful advice.

2. He should be the seller of products from multiple insurance companies

This way he will be able to provide you options and help you select the best product suited for your needs. If he sells products from one insurance company, then he would be more interested in getting you to buy that rather than determining which is the best one for you

3. Level of customer service

You insurance agent should facilitate your interaction with the insurer. He should be facilitating your premium payments, send you reminders when your installments are due and keep you updated about the status of your policy. In short, he should act as a single point of contact between you and the insurance company.

4. Help you in the claim process

Insurance claim is a very important process. Generally you go for a claim when you are in a distressed state such as death of the breadwinner of the family or a health insurance claim when someone in your family is hospitalized. Similarly you would need prompt settlement of your claim if you want to finance a planned event such as your child's education. A good insurance agent should assist you with this process, help you with the paper work and promote your case among the insurance company's officials. He should be your advocate to the insurer facilitating fast and apt claims for you.

Selasa, 19 Juni 2012

Insurance Marketing Agency Outsourcing Versus Internal Staffing Models

For most insurance agencies, brokers and wholesalers, it's unlikely to internally staff up on all their insurance marketing initiatives. This is as true for insurance organizations as it is for most businesses, especially those between $1 Million and $50 Million in revenues. Some might refer to this as the SMB market. Businesses of this size may lack a sufficiently large marketing department to cover all the skills needed for a comprehensive marketing program. Consider that an insurance marketing plan can incorporate many and varied marketing activities. For example, in any given year, once a marketing plan is created, an organization may wish to embark upon an organic search engine optimization initiative, helping their website rise to the top of the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). Or they may wish to build an opt-in email list and offer an educational webinar series to their targeted prospects. In fact, any of the following elements may be needed, and many of these types of marketing activities require highly specific and sometimes highly technical skill sets:

PPC ads, Banner Ads
Insurance eMarketing
Insurance Newsletter Distribution
Blogging, Vlogging, News Releases
Insurance Social Media Marketing
Insurance Website Development
Web Seminar Marketing
Contact List Generation, eMail List Generation
Insurance Telemarketing, Appointment Setting
Client Testimonials and Case Study Creation
Insurance Agency Lead Generation Programs
Organic Insurance Search Engine Optimization
Insurance Agency Video Creation (and YouTube video)
Insurance Web Marketing Plans
These are just some of the marketing activities agents, brokers and wholesalers might utilize in their marketing efforts. There are also many traditional initiatives such as print advertising, association marketing, sponsorships, etc. How can an owner, manager or agent determine if they should internally staff a position or outsource the position? An easy ROI is based upon the marketing activity and frequency of the activity. For example, let's say they want to increase insurance agency leads, and opt to send out two webinar email campaigns per month and run a webinar as the Call to Action for the campaigns. Further, let's assume they want to do this every month for a year. If it costs $60,000 per year to hire an eMarketing manager to do this, versus $20,000 per year to outsource it, it's an easy decision. However, if the goal is to run six webinars a month to various target verticals, with 12 eMarketing campaigns per month, then it could become a closer call, as the outsource costs may begin to approach the internal staffing cost. Makes sure both costs are evaluated as fully burdened costs (outsource should include all infrastructure while internal staffing costs should include health benefits, expenses, and related overhead).

Take the same approach with Search Engine Optimization and insurance websites. Would a full time developer and organic Search Engine Optimization specialist be needed to create and update your insurance agency website, or do you simply need a new website with periodic updates. Today there are many good options for new insurance websites that include Content Management Systems (WordPress, Joomla, etc.) allowing businesses to use nontechnical resources to make most of their own website changes. Agents should review their goals, create a marketing plan (a possible outsource), and determine the ROI of staffing versus outsourcing for their specific marketing initiatives. This is often an iterative process, not a one time annual event.

Rabu, 23 Mei 2012

Techniques for Finding the Best Insurance Sales Leads

When looking for cost-effective and superior insurance sales leads, consider the fact that:

1. Selling a product to someone who is neither interested nor ready to buy is a pretty tough prospect. 
2. A great deal of time is spent looking through databases, hunting down lists, and trying to figure out which prospect service is worth the money. 
3. It is quite a task to find people who are ready to buy now. 
4. An awful lot of time is spent looking for good prospects instead of pitching them.

Many people have spent money on lead generation services where prospective customers provide their name and contact information in order to qualify for or receive a prize or giveaway. This kind of lead collection produces many cold prospects, because people are mainly interested in receiving a prize and not in the product.

The right insurance sales leads are the surest path to bigger and faster commissions. When trying to sell insurance without decent sales leads, an inordinate amount of time is spent for very little gain. To find the best prospects, one should consider the following valuable information designed to help develop a lead system where motivated, ready-to-act clients are calling in, which will substantially reduce the need for making cold calls.


Start with family and friends. They may know someone needing this type of service, or can maybe suggest potential clients that would be open to listening to the information being provided.


Current clients may be the best source of leads. If selling multiple lines of insurance, talk with them about other policies that are available that they may be interested in. 
At the end of scheduled appointments, ask if they have any referrals that might be able to use these services.


Doing a good job of networking when out of the office can be tremendous. Never launch into a sales presentation in a social situation unless the other person has taken the lead, which will rarely happen. Contact them at a later time to keep business and social conversations separate.


Joining community organizations will likely increase networking opportunities. If an abundance of insurance agents are already members, search for groups that have yet to be heavily infiltrated to avoid wasting time and money.


It may be appropriate to pay for insurance leads, but ask other agents what lead companies they may have had luck with. It's always a good idea to ask an established agent who is not in direct competition, otherwise he or she may not be as willing to help out with information.


If there are assistants who work, taking calls and greeting clients, train them on how to cross-sell and ask for referrals. They can become a valuable resource as well.

Rabu, 18 April 2012

Insurance Sales and Business Building Ideas

1) Retain Current Customers

It takes five times as much time, money, effort and energy to get a new customer as it does to retain a current one. Current customers are your foundation and the first step to building a business is keeping that foundation firmly in place. You keep that foundation in place by regularly communicating with customers, delivering top-notch customer service, and overall making sure your customers are extremely happy with you and the service you are providing. You should be asking, and otherwise surveying customers, on a regular basis as to what they like and what they think you can improve upon. When you do speak with customers, let them know you appreciate their business. Never take customers for granted or let your service slip.

Do what you can to build a personal connection with customers. Send thank-you notes, cards on special occasions, and find other ways to add that special touch and let customers know you care. We know that people do business with people they know, like, and trust, and in fact, studies show that 97% of people list that as the number one reason for doing business with a particular company. It's simple, before a friend leaves you for a better price or perceived better service, they will at least pick up the phone and call you.

Note: I realize there may be some customers you don't want to retain and that's fine, just make sure to remain professional and above-board. You don't want to tarnish your image or give anyone any unnecessary ammunition against you.

2) Review Coverage

Not only is reviewing coverage on an annual basis the right thing to do for your customer, it can also provide the opportunity to increase coverage and add other items thus adding premium dollars. Of course you only suggest increasing coverage if it is necessary, never in an attempt to simply increase premium and make more money at the expense of your customer. In addition to opportunities for more business, reviewing coverage helps ensure that both the customer and you are covered in the case of a claim, as most complaints come from inadequate coverage and a lack of communication.

3) Inquire

Studies show that the average policy holder has 6-7 policies while each agency has only 1.5 of those policies. During your annual review and other conversations with the customer, you want to inquire about other policies the customer might have that you can get.

For over 20 years I had my auto policies with one agent, my home-owners with another, and several other policies in other locations. This was due to several reasons, but it is clear that I am more the rule than the exception. Not once in that twenty-year time frame was I asked by any of my agents about other policies I had elsewhere. Not once. If they were trying to get rid of me, I would understand however, due to the fact that I have never had a claim, pay my above-average premiums in full with the first invoice, and am otherwise a good customer, I can only assume that they are missing the boat. If someone has a home-owners policy, there is a very good chance they at least have an auto policy or two. It's as simple as saying something along the lines of, "By the way, if we bundle your auto and home-owners I may be able to save you some money. Can I simply give you a quote if for no other reason than to keep the other guy honest?" With one or two simple questions during each review, it's entirely possible to double your business.

4) Pursue New Business

This one is pretty self explanatory and should go without saying. In addition to adding new customers to your current base, you will occasionally have to replace customers that die, ones you decide to let go, or ones that leave for some other reason.

Start by deciding how many new customers you would like and then determine how many prospects you need and how you will get those prospects. Break your annual goals down to monthly, weekly, and daily activity and then get to work. These days, with the average agent and agency cutting back, it's a great time to go get new, competitive business. And remember, you're in sales and sales is a numbers game. While it's true that you need quality behind the numbers and the eventual relationships, in order to get the relationships, you need to talk to lots of people. It's simple, the more people you talk to the more business you will do. If you talk to enough people during the day, you will eventually run into someone who says, "I need what you have" or, "I know someone who needs what you have."

Rabu, 21 Maret 2012

Planning for Uncertainty

The traditional business plan includes short-term and long-term goals and projections. But, how do you plan when you can't guess what will happen? Some things are shifting faster than you can keep up with, while other things can drastically change based on politics. Part of the reason for our current economic challenges is due to short-term thinking. Traditional business planning is becoming obsolete.

However, if a business abandons long-term planning it has no direction and will be totally reactive and not proactive. The focus on short-term trends will cause a business to chase after opportunities, instead of creating them.

So, what is a business to do in these uncertain times? The key is to develop a plan that has both a flexible foundation and scalable systems.

Consider the typical insurance agency. It would have various lines of business; personal lines, commercial lines, group benefits, etc. Some agencies might have several niches like construction, retail, D&O, etc. These business segments are the foundation of the business.

The business segments can be considered as something closer to long-term goals. It is easier to predict that health insurance is currently uncertain, while personal lines seems stable at this point. The key to long-term planning is to accept that one or more segments might not perform in the future. The agency needs to plan for flexibility between departments.

Regarding insurance agencies', if health insurance sales drop off significantly, how can those resources be redirected to other lines? Or, what options are available to decrease overhead? It is important for a business to add or delete segments of business as trends change. In most cases, these trends would take about five years, plus or minus a couple of years.

Create a Scalable Plan 
Once these segments are identified and trends established, the next steps is to create a scalable system. A plan needs to be established to grow or shrink each segment of business based on current trends. Let's assume the contractor's niche is shrinking. What can be done to increase sales in the other niches? Scalability means to plan for increasing or shrinking a segment of business based on demand.

A scalable business is able to increased revenues while the ratio of cost to revenue is less to deliver than current ratio. In other words, the cost of growing is far outweighed by the resulting profits. A scalable business is one that can take on new clients without increasing workload.

Businesses will always have operating costs, but scalable businesses try to keep low their variable costs -- or the costs incurred with each customer they gain. A business that follows a scalable model will not have its cost per customer increase, even if it gains 100 customers overnight.

Insurance is a little less fickle than other businesses. Cabbage Patch dolls and Pet Rocks have a very short cycle compared to most lines of insurance. This means insurance agencies have a little more time to scale the business, compared to some other types of business. Insurance agencies are also not as scalable as a business that does not manufacture widgets.

The good news is that when there is a focus on niches or specific lines, the agency is able to have some level of scalability. It is important to create a system to quickly adapt to short-term changes. If one line drops, the agency needs to be able to move resources to the lines that have the potential for growth.

This type of system will require cross training and individual flexibility. The business plan needs to incorporate these requirements and train its people to know when operations need to change.

These are uncertain times. Most businesses are experiencing increases in risk. They key is to develop a business model that can adjust both its foundation and scalability, depending on the circumstances.

Rabu, 15 Februari 2012

Rules and Regulations for Fair Energy Marketing

To better provide you with a sense of security when enrolling with an electricity and natural gas marketer/retailer, we have outlined the regulated procedures for registering new consumers, and soliciting door to door sales. This article outlines the rules and regulations for energy marketer/retailers in Ontario, to better protect you and your natural gas and electricity bill from marketing scams. This article provides a number of warning signs to help you identify unfair sales practices before signing up to a contract with hidden conditions.

Fair Energy Marketing Practices

The rules and regulations are considered fair sales practices that each and every energy marketer/retailer should abide by when soliciting door to door sales. These guidelines are explained in detail in the Code of Conduct which is regulated by the Ontario Energy Board. This code describes exactly what every sales representative ought to do in order to honestly solicit home and commercial sales in Ontario.

Speak to a Legitimate Home or Business Owner

Sales representatives are told to exercise caution when soliciting home or commercial sales, and should make sure that they are consulting with a legitimate account holder before advancing with any sales presentations.

Who is Qualified to Sign?

Whether the contract is for a brand new fixed price agreement, a renewal or the extension of a pre-existing contract, the contract has to be signed by an appropriate signing authority. Energy marketer/retailers are also advised to use caution when selling to anyone who may have a language barrier, are over 70 years of age or under the age of 18, and does not clearly grasp the Terms and Conditions of the contract.

In residential cases, contracts should always be signed by the account holder, the account holder's spouse or the account holder's common law partner in order to be considered valid.
In commercial selling, contracts have to be signed by the business owner or a representative with permission to enter into contracts with respect to the business.
Provide a Business Card

Sales representatives should always offer every consumer a business card upon arrival. Standards for the business card consist of; the sales representatives name, Ontario Energy Board licence number, the energy marketer/retailer's name and address, toll-free telephone number and website address.

Provide Business and Product Material

Sales representatives should always supply accurate business and product information. They are required to mention to the consumer, that the business they represent is offering a fixed pricing agreement for the supply of natural gas and/or electricity and express that they are not the consumer's utility. Sales representatives are also instructed to inform consumers that they are not affiliated with the Ontario Energy Board or the Government.

Communicate Pricing and Contract Terms and Conditions

Sales representatives need to indicate the rate to be paid per unit under the contract as well as, the terms and conditions of the contract. At this time account holders should have the opportunity to read the contract and examine the terms and conditions, price comparison form and disclosure statement.

Don't Pressure the Consumer

When implementing door to door sales, sales representatives are to abstain from exerting stress on an account holder and are required to permit consumers the chance to look at all paperwork presented before making a decision to sign.

Provide Updated Sales Material

All sales content supplied is required to contain accurate, factual information that will not mislead the consumer, and in addition offer current pricing, an up-to-date disclosure statement, price comparison form and the contract's terms and conditions.

Be Truthful and Consistent with Communication

Sales representatives should always be consistent with all information and facts communicated to the account holder. Inaccurate information or a deceptive portrayal of the products and services offered are considered inappropriate sales tactics and a sales representative's compliance with the code of conduct is imperative.

Display a Legitimate Identification Badge

Every sales representative is provided with an energy marketer/retailer identification badge that should be displayed on external clothing making it recognizable to consumers. The representative's badge is required to contain the sales representatives identify, in addition to photo identification, the marketer/retailer business name, a valid identification number, and the badge expiration date.

Signing a Contract

When opting into to a brand new contract, be certain to request a copy of all sales material, prior to the sales representative exiting. Make sure you have been supplied with the following paperwork;

A signed and dated copy of your contract
A signed and dated disclosure statement for natural gas and/or electricity
A signed and dated price comparison form for natural gas and/or electricity
The energy marketer/retailer's Terms and Conditions
The sales representative's company card
After enrolling with the energy marketer/retailer you should receive a hard copy of any sales document on the spot. Among these sales materials you should have; the contract, price comparison form, contract terms and conditions, disclosure statements and any additional product information available.

3rd Party Affirmation Call

A call center representative will contact the account holder and approve the contract after the 10 day cooling off period, end date. The affirmation call permits the account holder the chance to have any information clarified and questions answered. The affirmation call is digitally recorded, and is initiated as an outbound call from the energy marketer/retailer.

The affirmation call describes the product(s) and service(s) purchased, contract pricing, and the terms and conditions of the contract through several Ontario Energy Board regulated questions. The energy marketer/retailer will keep this affirmation call on file for the course of the contract. Account holders should be able to request a digital copy of the affirmation call throughout the duration of their contract if desired.

10 Day Cooling Period

Under the Energy Consumers Protection Act 2011, otherwise known as the rules and regulations for selling to a consumer, a 10 day cooling off time period is allocated to provide account holders a time line during which they have the option to cancel their contract. Under the Energy Consumers Protection Act, consumers have the opportunity to terminate their contract cost-free, and without penalty, up to 10 days once the account holder has recognized receipt of a text-based copy of the contract.

When You Initiate the Sale

The affirmation call is not mandatory if the contract was entered into over the internet or if the account holder replied to an energy marketer/retailer's direct mail advertising campaign.

Signs of Unfair Sales Practices

Any phony, misguiding or fraudulent statements made to the consumer this includes; The terms and conditions of the agreement. Example: Leaving out significant details about; the contract length, termination of contract, renewal policies, crucial dates, extra charges, etc.

Information regarding the quality or characteristics of the energy source and/or products supplied. Example: Stating that they will provide you with green energy when they don't.

The track record of an energy marketer/retailer, or the businesses association with an alternative electricity supplier or gas marketer. Example: Misleading statements which include misrepresentation, pretending to be from the utility or the government.

The contract pricing and any extra fees are required to be clearly stated in the contract.Example: Not telling consumers that the contract rates will only come into play in the event that the utility cost surpasses the energy marketer/retailer.

Taking an unconscionable action on the part of the account holder. Example: When a sales representative has unfairly exploited an account holder who might not fully grasp the agreement terms and conditions, has a language barrier, elderly, disabled or pressured into entering into onto a contract.

Failure to communicate specifics details on products, services, or the energy marketer/retailer's business. Example: Leaving the account holder with the perception that the sales representative is associated with or represents a local utility, the government or Ontario Energy Board.

Permitting an unqualified individual to sign into a new contract/renew or extend the length of a contract when the individual is not the account holder or an appropriate signing authority for the home or business.

Selasa, 24 Januari 2012

A 7 Step Approach to Marketing Today's Insurance Agency

Marketing your insurance agency has changed so much in the past 10 years; it is difficult to know where to start. Most of the new clients that hire us, have URLs that are less than 5 years old. This shows how dramatically and quickly the industry has changed when marketing their agencies. Today, most consumers will utilize the internet to find your information through various directories, organic search results and even social media.

You may be wondering, "Where do I begin?" We've put together a short list of ways to increase your web presence and reclaim your position as a top insurance agency marketer.

Step 1: Update your website

If your website looks like it hasn't been updated since 1997, it's probably time to do so. There are many resources to easily build a website such as "WebSite Tonight" by GoDaddy or services such as Wix, which will get you a nice looking website using templates. But, be careful of websites that utilize too much flash as it will likely hamper your ability to get much traffic to your website, besides direct traffic.

Step 2: Invest in SEO

If you're unfamiliar with what SEO means (Search Engine Optimization) you probably should talk to someone about optimizing an existing website or building you a new one that is optimized from the start. SEO is all about getting organic search traffic to your website. For instance, if someone types in "Insurance Agency Seattle" you want to be the agent who Google shows first or at minimum on page one. If you're not on page one, you're missing out on almost 93% of all search traffic.

Step 3: Get Email Hosting

I can't tell you how many of our clients still use email addresses at email providers like Yahoo and Hotmail, such as: "". Show your prospective clients that you're an established business by using domain registered email accounts. Most hosting companies will provide at least a handful of them for free with your website hosting, so take advantage. Customers are more likely to buy from an agency that shows professionalism on all fronts, including their email.

Step 4: Fix your local listings

The web is littered with directories. There are so many, it would be nearly impossible for you to go to each one and update the listings entirely. Furthermore, it would be a waste of time. Go to the big ones like Yelp, Yahoo, Google Plus Pages, etc. Complete the listings in the 20 most popular ones, ensuring that your (NAP) name, address and phone numbers are consistent on all of them. If you spell out Avenue in one, do not use AVE. in another. Many directory links are treated like SPAM now, so they aren't giving your websites any credibility.

Step 5: Be Social

Social media is the new trend. It can be time-consuming, but it allows you an opportunity to stay in touch with existing customers and also, attract new ones! Begin simply by setting up a Facebook page for your business and add content, news, links to other articles, etc., at least one time per week. Social Media isn't going anywhere soon, so don't let your agency get too far behind by not participating in this area where millions of Americans are having conversations!

Step 6: Install Analytics on your Website

Google offers a tremendous tool to track your website traffic called Google Analytics. This tool allows you to see what keywords people are using when they find your website. If you find that your website isn't getting much traffic, this tool can help you fine tune it so that you can capitalize on search traffic. Furthermore, Google has a keyword tool so you can search for terms before optimizing your website. If you hired someone for step 2, they should have taken care of this!

Step 7: Send out Electronic Agency Newsletters

The number 2 reason that customers leave their insurance agent is because they haven't heard from you! Stop attrition in its tracks by communicating with your clients about new products, new team members at your agency, local events, a local charity you're working or any other news. If you're not communicating with your existing customers, someone else is. Electronic newsletters cost about $.02 per email. Most agency management systems and some carriers can help you sort your collected email addresses. If you have a larger budget, around $1,000 per mailing, consider mailing a quarterly newsletter. A couple of email service providers to consider are: MailChimp and ConstantContact.

Rabu, 11 Januari 2012

How a Commercial Insurance Broker Can Help You

Insurance brokers have become increasingly more important today compared to many years back. Given the heavy loads of competition in the California insurance market, customers should be kept well-informed so that they won't be led astray into getting frivolous deals. Most especially in the aspect of commercial insurance, entrepreneurs are usually better off with brokers beside them.

What is a Commercial Insurance?

Commercial insurance is just an insurance to protect businesses in the state. It is considered as one of the most vital investments for business operators. Depending on the specific type of commercial insurance, this security protects various aspects of the business. It can provide financial security in times of theft, liability, property damage, work-related employee or customer injury and even during times of business interruption. Those who have not secured insurance for their business are at risk of sudden financial depression. It has also been observed that uninsured businesses place the personal assets of the owner at risk.

Before setting out for an insurance hunt, make sure that you are already equipped with ample knowledge of what you really need. For example, you may be better with one specific type of commercial insurance, rather than having all forms of commercial insurance in one package. If you don't have company vehicles for operating your business, you can do away with auto insurance and just go for property insurance instead. But you still need to know everything about these specific insurances because nobody is certain when your business might expand. Together with this growth is an expected change in insurance needs.

Looking For an Insurance Broker

Finding the right commercial insurance in California involves tapping the services of a trusted insurance broker who, as much as possible, is specializing in business insurance. It is important that you interview more than two brokers and check who among them makes you more at ease when it comes to dealing things. It is expected that he discusses the different options that surround commercial insurances.

As there are various classes of business insurance, your broker can guide you through the entire process. Using his expertise, he can easily recommend the most suitable plan for your immediate needs. A good place to start looking for brokers is the Internet. If not, search for them via networking organizations for local businesses. Your friends in the industry or business advisers may also refer you to seasoned brokers in the state.

Insurance brokers are in place to make it easier for business owners to get the right insurance. However, even with their ability, it may be difficult for some to get one most probably because of their company background. For example, if the business has already suffered some degree of loss in the past then it may be considered a high-risk entity. This means most insurers will back out from making any deals with you. Another reason for the increased difficulty in procuring commercial insurance is the owner's history of making frequent claims, which easily makes him a liability. In addition, new businesses will surely have a harder time getting insured because of not having a proven history of business sustainability and strength compared to more established businesses. Still, business owners have higher chances of sealing the best deals with a broker nearby.