Expanding Your Horizons: Cross-Selling Successfully

If you want to succeed as an insurance agent, diversification is the name of the game.

The more knowledge, education and product you have to offer, the greater your likelihood of building strong client relationships—and a financially sound business.

The Truth Exposed

"Cross-selling," also known as "total account development," provides you the best avenue for diversification. In a nutshell, it means offering your clients a larger line of products and services to meet their needs.

This comprehensive strategy is the least risky, most profitable action you and your company can take. When executed correctly, it tightens the bond between you and your clients and greatly increases your profitability.

A recent study by Axis Consulting revealed that 99 percent of insurance advisors feel it's critical or important to cross-sell effectively. However, only 46 percent consider themselves successful at it.

That means a lot of agents are missing out on potential profits that could be gained by expanding their horizons.

Identifying Needs

What do your clients really need? You may have sold them car or home insurance, but the fact that you're already working with them gives you a foot in the door for future sales of related products.

"Ask your clients to spend a few minutes with you to update their coverage and review their needs," says Howard Shapiro, president of Shapiro Insurance, Inc., in Tallahassee, Florida. "This process provides an occasion to talk about expanding your relationship to other types of insurance products."

Focusing on your customers' long term needs and their lifetime value to your business helps you compete and remain profitable. If you're focused solely on one aspect, you're leaving the door open for competition.

"Product density is important. Agents should offer a broad range of products to their customers and capture every opportunity those customers present," adds Shapiro.

By entering each situation with a full-service approach, you're more likely to get at the root of your clients' needs and find opportunities to make their lives—and yours—safer and more secure.

Developing and Executing a Plan

With each subsequent transaction between you and your clients, loyalty and profitability increase. Good planning allows you to take your customers from one sale to the next, building a successful, long term business.

To increase your profits, develop a long term business plan. What would you like to offer your clients that you can't offer them now? Where would you like to be in 12, 24 or 36 months?

Then examine the effect your marketing, sales and service activities have on your plan, and adjust them accordingly.

Now, formulate strategies to help you reach long term goals. For instance, if you need more education or certification to sell other types of insurance, get it. If you need to hire customer service representatives to answer the phones, do it.

Then expand your offerings and become your clients' most trusted advisor. You'll gain a greater share of their wallets in the process.

The key is to develop a plan and get going!

Solidifying Relationships

Research shows that the odds of selling a product to a new customer are 15 percent—but the odds of selling one to an existing customer are 50 percent. (Plus, it costs six times more to sell to a new customer than to sell to an existing one.)

So, rather than working so hard to find new customers, work to keep the ones you have. When you become your customers' source for all their insurance or financial needs, you've won the battle.

But how do you bring them to that point?

Make that first sale, show them you're reliable and trustworthy, and then solidify your relationship with them. Show them the expertise and value you bring to the relationship, and demonstrate how your products and services can better their lives.

When you can offer your clients everything they need, they're most likely yours for life. Exceptional service, product knowledge and product variety translate into solid relationships.

Planning for the Future

Cross-selling is a great way to diversify your business.

If you want to build client loyalty and improve your bottom line, just put in some hard work and keep an eye toward your clients' future.

They'll reward you with stronger relationships and increased sales that'll carry you toward a successful future.

This information was provided by InsureMe, the leader in online insurance leads for the insurance industry. Since 1993, InsureMe has helped thousands of insurance agents succeed in the insurance business by providing top-quality leads that are both detailed and affordable. For more information on InsureMe leads, please visit our agent Web site at www.agent.insureme.com.

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