Working as an insurance broker is essentially a sales-based job. Brokers do not write or underwrite policies. They do not pay out when customers make claims. What they do is sell policies. Some sell home and auto policies direct to consumers. Others sell health insurance policies to employers. The possibilities are endless. The one thing all insurance professionals have in common is the need to scout prospects.
Scouting is essential to insurance brokers in that it is the foundation for increasing one’s book of business. An insurance professional unwilling or unable to scout is likely to see their book of business decrease over time. That’s no way to sustain a thriving enterprise.
More important is the fact that so many struggle with scouting because they do not understand it. That’s where this post comes in. Below are three things insurance brokers should know about scouting prospects long before they begin:
1. Scouting and Prospecting Are Not the Same
The terms ‘scouting’ and ‘prospecting’ are often used interchangeably by those who don’t know the difference. According to BenefitMall, a Dallas-based general agency, scouting and prospecting are not the same thing. They recently published a blog post to that effect.
In a nutshell, prospecting is a multi-step process for identifying potential clients, establishing relationships with them, and then cultivating those relationships in order to ensure they last for a long time. Scouting is part of prospecting in the sense that it is a tool for identifying potential clients.
Using gold prospecting as an example, the total package that is prospecting involves everything from locating new mines to extracting the gold and shipping it to buyers. Scouting is the single step of identifying prospective mines.
2. Scouting Sources Abound
Scouting potential prospects doesn’t have to be as difficult as some insurance brokers make it. The starting point for making it easier is understanding that sources abound. Brokers are not limited to finding new prospects at monthly Chamber of Commerce meetings.
The local business news is a great source for information about new and expanding companies. Every article offers at least one lead. Driving around town and paying attention to commercial construction generates more leads.
The most successful scouters pay attention to details. They are keen observers that look for opportunities wherever they exist. At the same time, they know how to tell the difference between a solid opportunity and one not likely to turn up anything.
3. Follow-Up Often Makes the Difference
Initially identifying and contacting prospects is just the start. Follow-up is almost always required. To the extent insurance brokers are willing to do so, they can turn promising prospects into genuine sales. However, it must be understood that there is a delicate balance between following up and becoming an annoyance. It can take time to learn how to tell the difference.
Follow-up is sometimes nothing more than sending a quick email. Other times it requires a phone call or a lunch meeting. The trick is knowing what each prospect needs at any given time. The important thing is not letting follow-up be a matter of chance.
Become a Good Scout
If you are an insurance broker, becoming a good scout is one of the best things you can do for your business. Remember that scouting is a prospecting tool. It is a means of identifying prospects likely to turn into paying customers.
If you are not regularly scouting, how is your book of business doing? It is not likely to do well for too long. You need to be able to scout if you’re going to effectively prospect.