A new approach to an old profession


The sales paradigm: a new approach to an old profession

Today’s insurance consumer is constantly exposed to insurance advertising.

“Shop around! Find the CHEAPEST PREMIUM! You can get a quote in 10 MINUTES!”

Notice they never discuss coverage details or claims service? I love asking clients, “If you arrive home one night and your house has been broken into, what would come to mind first? The premium you paid or the coverage you expect to have?” Trust me, it’s always the latter!

And since when did “the best premium” become the benchmark of “the best broker” on social media?

Why has this become the new normal?

Today’s insurance brokers are feeling the impact of this phenomenon— regardless of which province, city or time zone I am in, I hear the same thing:

“People only want to talk about premium. I spend all my time helping my clients find ways to lower their rates. I can’t get anything else done.” It doesn’t make answering the phone a whole lot of fun when the entire conversation centers on driving the premium down. And let’s face it—you can’t win that race in the long run.

Broker-owners may not be part of that conversation every day, but they will see their revenues decreasing.

I say it’s time to level the playing field! But how? Here are four easy steps to help you change the conversation!


I often hear that brokers are “very close” to their clients. They recognize their voices when they call. They know their kid’s names. They know what golf club they play at. Great. That’s nice. But do you know what is really important to them?

We all have expectations as consumers and we base the true value of a product or service on our ability to understand those expectations. Our clients are exactly the same. For example, in a claims settlement, what will they expect? “Will you actually follow up with me and help me through the process?” or “Will I have to call you if there is a problem?”

Accessibility is another example. “I called your office three times and got your voice mail each time… I would love to be able to drop in after work around 6:00 when it’s more convenient, but you close at 5:00!” or … “I get my renewal in the mail each year, should we not be reviewing it together to make sure the coverage still meet my needs?”


I often laugh when I see insurance ads on television—some direct-to-customer insurers act like they invented the whole “multi-policy discount” (Wow! 10% off if we combine your home and car! Aren’t we awesome?!!!) Hey, guess what, WE CAN DO THAT, TOO! But do we do it enough? And do we really understand the OTHER features and benefits available? Now I admit, carriers tend to introduce policy enhancements (positive and otherwise) on a quarterly basis depending on the most recent climate-associated-loss-event, so it’s hard to keep track of everything all the time, but there are coverage comparison tools available to guide brokers through the features and benefits process.

I was auditing a service call last week in which the broker explained to the client that by combining their home and auto they would “save” money. BUT that broker never took the time to explain the benefits of combining the policy, such as having only one deductible in the event of a claim or the free addition of a diminishing deductible endorsement. Clients are truly in it for the benefits. How does this “endorsement” improve my life? Look to use terms such as: simplify, easier, quicker, improved. If you can explain that to your clients, you will actually hear a more positive tone in their voice.



When I took a sales course back in the ,80s, it was all about asking open-ended questions and not close-ended questions. That still holds true today, but how do you know what questions to ask in the first place? Sure, there’s the stuff we NEED to know to complete an application form, or get a quote, but that information is cold underwriting data that doesn’t get with the true concerns of the client.

Here’s a great example:

“Do you have a finished basement?” Simple question, simple answer.

“Yes” or “No”.

What if you asked the client: “If you were to have a foot of water in your basement tomorrow morning, what’s of value or valuable to you that many be lost or damaged?” Try to bring the client into the situation.

Picture these scenarios:

  1. Your client spent money to build a room to use as a family (toys, games, indoor hockey).
  2. Your client invested a ton of money making it into a man-cave. Just imagine … big screen TVs, 12-year old scotch, discussions about beards.
  3. Your client built a room for his wife who needed a home office and this was the only available space.

Not only do you now know WHICH importantly, you know what parts of their lifestyle need to be protected. If you can demonstrate to the client endorsement will in turn get them back into their basement doing what they love more quickly and easily, they will see the “benefit” of having that improved coverage endorsement.

These open-ended questions (and honest answers) will open the channels of communication with the customer. This is the ideal opportunity for the broker to move the conversation away from premium and shift the client’s focus to the features and benefits of their policies that would have a positive impact on their lives.


OK, so you’re getting the hang of asking the right questions! You are starting to see how having your clients become more involved in the conversation will reveal their true needs and how they are being addressed. Now that you have that part figured out, the benefit to you is being able to use the information you gathered to your advantage when presenting your pitch:

  1. Service level expectations
  2. Benefits of working with your brokerage
  3. Benefits of dealing with a specific insurer
  4. Features of the coverage that address the REAL CONCERNS of your client

So, BY ASKING THOSE QUESTIONS, you are in a position to tailor your offer according to what’s important to your client. You can try to introduce phrases such as “Based on the early part of our conversation, you explained to me that in the even of a claim you expect to have someone follow you through the process and ensure you’re fairly treated. I’m pleased to say that our brokerage firm has a policy in place that ensures we follow up with our clients after 24 hours, 5 days and 14 days to make sure everything is running smoothly with the claims process.”

Many brokers will build scripts and use tools such as call recording and performance scorecards to support the level of service and customer experience needed to satisfy today’s consumer. We will look at how these help in our next article,


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