A lot of independent agents work in a silo. They communicate with their clients and prospects but rarely interact with other brokers. And that’s a shame. Not only is there a lot to learn by getting to know your peers, but it could also help you get more leads and sell more business.
Most agents specialize in a small handful of product lines. If you sell health insurance, for example, you may also sell dental and vision, and possibly the occasional life insurance policy, but not much else. Or maybe you sell Medicare supplements and Medicare Advantage plans, but you don’t market health insurance to people under age 65.
Nonetheless, you probably get asked about products you don’t sell all the time. Sometimes these inquiries come from your existing clients; sometimes they come from prospects. Either way, it’s worth thinking about how you respond when you’re asked about a solution you don’t provide. Do you refer your clients and prospects to another agent whom you’ve already vetted and know will do a good job? Do you point them in the right direction without actually providing a referral? Or do you simply tell them you can’t help them?
The answer is important and could directly impact your sales. Here’s why:
If you can’t offer solution, they may go to someone else who can
Clearly, one possibility is that your clients will seek out another agent who can help them with the solution you’re unable to provide. The problem with letting them do this on their own is that they may find an advisor who not only helps them with their other need but who can also help them with the lines of coverage you currently assist them with. Believing it easier to work with just one agent, the client may give the other broker all of their business, causing you to lose them as a client.
If you don’t refer someone, they may end up getting bad advice
It’s also possible that, without your assistance, the client may end up getting bad advice. This could be from another agent; it could also be bad advice provided by a friend or family member of the client. Often, people ask their relatives and even their Facebook friends what they should to do, whether that person is an expert or not. And, crazy as it may seem, they often end up following this advice.
Without your help, they may go without needed coverage
This is another possibility. Your clients have selected you as their insurance agent, and they may decide that if you do not offer a particular type of coverage, it’s not that important. Or maybe they leave it on their to do list but never get around to it because they don’t know another agent or how to find one. Either way, the client could be leaving himself or herself open to potential risks because you didn’t help them find a solution.
You could be missing out on potential referrals
One final possibility, whether the client ultimately finds someone who can help them or not, is that you will miss out on the referrals that would likely be sent your way from agents who offer solutions you don’t but who do not specialize in your particular product line. In the same way that you might refer someone who needs a long-term care policy to an agent who specializes in LTC insurance, that agent may refer a client who needs health insurance to you. This sort of give and take, where an agent refers a client to another insurance professional, happens all the time—not in an effort to split commissions but rather in an effort to assist the client. Unfortunately, if you do not refer clients and prospects whom you’re unable to help to someone who can solve their problem, other advisors are less likely to refer clients to you.
Your job is to help the client
Ultimately, it’s the agent’s job to make sure that his or her clients are taken care of. Obviously, for any product lines you do represent, the best way to do this is to talk to your clients, listen to what they say so you can determine what they need, and then make a coverage recommendation based on those needs.
In the process, though, you’re likely to uncover needs for other solutions that you don’t provide, areas where the client is exposed to a potential risk. When you do, it’s beneficial to the client if you can say, “I don’t offer that line of coverage, but I know someone who can help – let me introduce you to her.” Your client will appreciate it; the other agent will appreciate it; and you’ll likely be rewarded with loyalty from the client and additional business from the other agent. And if you’re not, that’s ok – at least you can sleep at night knowing you did everything you could to take care of your clients. That’s what a good agent does.