Want or Need?

The founder of The Strategic Coach Dan Sullivan says “do business with people who want what you have instead of people who need what you have.”  This sounds like common sense to me.  After all if people want what you have it seems to me that they are more likely to buy it.

When I started in the insurance business in 1980 I sold life insurance.  I had a friend whom I had worked with at a local restaurant during college who became a State Farm agent at the same time I started selling life.  One day as I was expressing some frustration he told me why he loved his business “everyone has to have it” he told me.  I sure did envy him!

Now, nearly 35 years later I think Dan is right and my college buddy is wrong.

You see if someone has to have something they will buy it.  But they will shop very hard before they do.  Since they must have it they will naturally seek to pay the lowest price for it.  This is what has happened in the homeowners and personal auto insurance marketplaces.  Today people have to have those products, and they have learned that there isn’t much difference between insurance companies.  So, they shop harder than ever before for the lowest price.  This isn’t good for the average agent’s top or bottom line.

However, people don’t have to have any particular experience.  All evidence though shows us they will pay a premium for great ones.  Think about eating out.  When your family has to have a meal out you probably go to somewhere relatively cheap.  But what do you do when you want to have a memorable experience?  I’ll bet you go somewhere that delivers some sizzle with the steak don’t you?

Can buying insurance be the same?

Of course it can!  Yes people still need homeowners and auto insurance.  But they want a terrific experience with it as well.  When they find an agent that delivers the experience they will do business with him or her over someone who doesn’t.

Do you create memorable customer experiences that people actually want?  Or do you just sell insurance the same way everyone else does?  Are you open early, late or all the time?  Do you take the time to know all there is to know about your customers?  Do you remember their children’s birthdays and their anniversaries?  Do you do a myriad of other things to make them feel terrific when they call your office? 

If you do people will be doing business with you because you have something unique that they want.  Not because they need the insurance you sell.  Most importantly, if they are doing business with you because you have what they want instead of what they need they will keep doing business with you over a long time.  Even when it’s cheaper on the internet.  That’s because the internet can’t give them what they want.


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