Successful insurance brokers have mastered ‘The Art of Powerful Conversation,” according to Stuart Knight, an entrepreneur, author and producer who graduated from the School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University.
Speaking at the 92nd Annual Convention of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario on October 17, Knight said brokers should be creating “powerful conversations” with people on a daily basis – interactions that make people participating in the conversation feel powerful, interesting and good about themselves. People thus engaged are more likely to go out of their way to seek that broker’s business and refer his or her brokerage to others, Knight said.
“We often wonder why people aren’t buying from us, or we’re wondering why they aren’t recommending us to other people, and it all comes down to how we make people feel,” Knight said.
“Do you make them feel powerful? Do you make them feel interesting? Do you make them feel heard, like they can trust us? If we make people feel that way, they will devote every single bit of their attention towards buying from us, towards recommending us, to want to go out of their way for us.”
Why aren’t these kinds of conversations happening more often? Fear, Knight said. Fear of talking to strangers, and fear of unintentionally raising taboo topics.
For these and other reasons, brokers “have stopped asking great questions,” Knight observed. “It’s those customers not feeling known that ultimately works to them not buying from that individual [insurance broker].”
Ultimately, by asking the right questions of clients and prospects, brokers may stumble upon information that not only enhances the personal relationship, but also improves the brokerage’s sales.
“You can discover new business opportunities from existing customers,” Knight said. “Through a powerful conversation, you find out that your client just bought a cottage somewhere and they need insurance. Through a powerful conversation, you might learn that a teenager is going to university and the family is planning to buy them a car.”
Knight noted that Ontario reformed its auto insurance product in 2010. Part of the reforms converted mandatory accident benefits to optional benefits, with consumers being given the option to “buy back” the optional coverages. The average buyback rate for many brokers was about 7%.
But some brokers used the opportunity to call their clients and personally explain the changes, having “powerful conversations” with clients instead of sending out standard emails, Knight noted. Those who did achieved a buyback rate of 20% -- about three three times higher than average.