If you’re spending too much time on prospecting and networking, and seeing little reward for your efforts, maybe it’s time for a different approach. While traditional networking and prospecting can put you in front of a lot of people, they aren’t necessarily the right people.
If you want to reach more of the right people, a time-tested strategy is to connect with movers and shakers who have some level of influence over prospective clients …. their “centers of influence.” While this isn’t a new concept, and it’s used extensively in life insurance marketing, surprisingly few personal lines insurance brokers take the time to strategically nurture potential centers of influence.
What type of “influence” are we talking about?
Centers of Influence are individuals who specialize in a niche and serve the same clients that you serve. To find a good center of influence, think of other services your clients need. Homeowners insurance clients need realtors, roofers, painters, inspectors, appraisers and carpet cleaners, for example. They may also belong to homeowners associations, fitness clubs, rotary groups and they may be involved in schools and other non-profit community organizations.
Think about how you can form affiliations with potential centers of influence for a win-win situation. Could you develop a mutual referral program? Could you offer their clients some type of discount and vice versa? Can you help sponsor a non-profit event? Get creative. People like to work with trusted referrals, so if a realtor (or other type of COI) says, “Here’s a great insurance guy” and hands out your card, it means a lot more than when you promote yourself.
How do you find and nurture your own Centers of Influence?
Follow this 5-step action plan for developing your own Center of Influence network …
1. Do your homework. Write down a list of your ideal COIs and a brief profile for each. Think about exclusivity. You may not want more than one realtor, for example. Build a Centers of Influence database within your insurance agency CRM or insurance software program.
2. Bring value to the table. Make a comprehensive list of the skills, connections, information and resources you bring to the table to offer value to your COI relationship. Remember, it must be a win-win scenario.
3. Make an introduction. Write an introductory letter and enclose a professional flier that summarizes the benefits of working with you. After mailing the introductory information, follow up with a phone call to schedule a convenient appointment time. Offer immediate value when you meet by bringing along a helpful article or inviting the COI to a webinar or workshop.
4. Stay connected. Once you've made contact and have established the foundation for a relationship with a COI, keep your ideas and value in front of them through calls, emails, a regular eZine and in person. This is where your CRM insurance software comes into play. Make sure to connect with your Centers of Influence at least once a month to maintain top-of-mind awareness.
5. Reward your COI. Always show your appreciation when your COI sends you a lead (e.g. phone call, handwritten note or appropriate gift). Again, use your insurance CRM software to keep track of how you’ve responded and to diary appropriate follow up.
These are tough times, and you need strategies and quality CRM for insurance agencies that make the best use of your time and efforts. Utilizing insurance CRM software and developing and nurturing your own Centers of Influence can help cut through the networking and prospecting clutter to get meaningful and lasting results. And, in addition to building credibility with your COI, you’ll boost your own status among people in your target market as well, becoming a Center of Influence for them. That certainly won't hurt your bottom line.