Jeff Bezos is not without fault. Yes, he’s the wealthiest human on the planet, and while I can’t confirm where he spends his money, it is hoped he chooses to do some good with it. Regardless of whether his moral compass points due north, there is one thing we are certain of.
When it comes to business, he knows what’s up.
Each year, Bezos writes a letter to his shareholders explaining the wacky world of Amazon. Business performance is covered in great detail, of course, but he also likes to share some of his thought process around what being in business really means. In his letter earlier this year, he referred to day one and day two of business, and how he is always in day one as that is where the innovation happens. Inspiring sure, but not nearly as groundbreaking as a comment left in his shareholder letter of 2017 which is even more relevant today than it was then.
Obsess about your customer, not your competition.
When the rubber hits the road in self-employment it can be so tempting to copy-cat what our competitors are doing. If they are doing xyz, we should do it too. And it’s hard to break free from this obsession on what everyone else is doing. Sure, we’ve grown up with an encouragement to want bigger, better, more so it’s only natural that this should translate into our businesses as well. And with monster organisations like Facebook helping us to become comfortable with spying on our competitors with their page comparison tools, we’ve ended up hooked on this practice.
Bezos says no to that. And I think he’s right. Bezos is 100% focused on his customers. When he expanded his platform for third-party sellers, he obsessed over what tools they needed to be successful selling on Amazon over eBay. Not just transactional tools either. Bezos habit of remaining in day one of his business every day, meant he was constantly in a space of dreaming up bigger, better, more, for his customers. His obsession for third party sellers was bigger than Amazon’s own product lines and his letter to shareholders this year highlights this.
When it comes down to it, the size and modality of your office space isn’t what your customers are buying. They aren’t buying your clever marketing tactics, or your stylish Instagram top 9. They are buying your experience in a highly confusing industry. As experts in insurance cover you already have something that people need and want. They want security. They want to know their families will be looked after, their income is safe, and that you care as much about their possessions as they do. They want you to obsess over them.
Obsess over your customer, not your competitor.
Get to know all the details of their lives. New employment or business opportunities. An expanding and growing family. A car purchase, or an RV. A bereavement in their family. Inheritance, investments.
When you know what’s happening with your customers you are better able to serve them.
And how best will you know to serve your customers?
Listening. Actively listen to what your existing customers are saying to you. They might be a new referral jumping ship from their old provider. Listen to why they left. What things really upset them, and why are they now sitting in your office? Becoming a carbon copy of the brokerage this client just left for your office isn’t going to win you the business. Listening to them and obsessing over all the details they give you, will.
The other reason why obsessing over your clients is better for your business?
Shorten down that sales cycle.
I can hear you all groaning. The sales cycle for winning new clients in the insurance industry is impossibly long. There’s the initial meeting, the planning, the follow up meetings, application processing time that can feel like a month of Sundays. And when all that’s done, there’s underwriting time. It’s an enormous amount of work to set up new clients, as it is in most businesses. Ever heard of the term “land and expand”? The reason why expanding a service for existing clients is so appealing is because the sales cycle is much shorter, and the margins are much higher from that time-saving a new client requires.
Of course, as a new insurance brokerage or even an agent in an established organisation, you’re going to need to fill up your book somehow. Networking, raising your profile, and showing demonstrable value through social media are things to focus on, and you should continue to practice these tactics every opportunity you get. A magical rainstorm of clients falling out of the sky pleading to work with you, if you are blessed with such magic, does not make a predictable sales cycle, furnishing you with leads and customers forevermore.
And people who are not customers yet, you can still get obsessive over them and their needs, for when they are. Insurance cover is so dependent on life stages and in order to have a new customer sign on the line with you, it might take months or even years. But you stay in that person’s life, and who are they coming to when they do need support around their insurance needs? That’s right. It’ll be you. You’re the one who has shown multiple times that you care. You’ve dropped them a line occasionally. Sent them an article relevant to their interests. Perhaps they’ve signed up to your newsletter and you’ve tailored your content for them. This is what obsession over your customer is. Treating them like they are worth their weight in gold – figuratively, they are! Stop talking. Start listening. Pay attention to what your potential customers are saying, and soon enough they will be ranking high on your books.
Obsess over your customer. What your competitors are doing is frankly none of your business.
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