Ask an agent or salesperson what customers want from them and you’re likely to hear such words as friendly, positive, responsive, and problem-solver. Whatever else they may be, these are “the comfort words of sales.” It’s how salespeople picture themselves.
Ask clients what they want in an agent or advisor and the words they use may be quite different. What they are looking for is integrity, responsiveness, initiative, knowledge, and guts.
This suggests that it’s in an agent’s best interest to align their performance with client expectations. It’s not only the way to keep them happy; it’s the best way to keep them as clients. Here’s 15 ways to go about it:
1. Always take ownership of problems and complaints. Passing off the blame to someone else always backfires. It sends the message to others that you’re not a stand-up person, someone they can count on.
2. Never use phony-phrases — like “I’m going to be in your area,” “We have a lot to offer your company,” “I know you’re busy,” or the other clichés. They’re a turn-off and peg you as a second-rate salesperson.
3. Always respond to your messages. Whether email, VM, text, or a letter, respond to it. Think how you feel when your messages are ignored. If you’re not interested or want to be taken off the list, say so. It’s not only polite, but it’s also good networking, a way to influence how others think of you and your company.
4. Never be late. Being late isn’t funny or fashionable, and rarely excusable, whether it’s late for a meeting, completing a project, meeting deadlines, answering email or anything else. At its core, it’s disrespectful and says the rules don’t apply to you. Being on time, sends the opposite message.
5. Always say “Thank You.” Those two words send the message that you recognize how others help and assist you in both little and big things, and you don’t take anything for granted.
6. Never make excuses. Face it. No one believes an excuse. In the least, they create doubt and at worst, they’re perceived as lies. A trail of excuses expresses a lack of commitment, a failure to take responsibility, and announces that you’re someone others can’t count on.
7. Always focus messages on the recipient. It may seem obvious, but too many emails, memos, reports, resumes, letters, presentations, and other communications are “all about me,” instead of “all about them.” Is it any wonder they’re ignored?
8. Never play the friend card. Some agents make an effort to create a “friend” relationship with clients, one that’s designed to keep competitors away. Ironically, this changes the focus from serving the client to putting their energy into continuing the relationship, a strategy that’s sure to backfire.
• More from John Graham: What stops salespeople from moving forward?
• Comments or other ideas for keeping clients happy? Please share them here: 15 ways to keep clients happy
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