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Prospecting corner.

Q I want to grow my practice into new lines. How can I prospect for later expansion?

A Email surveys can be a great way to gauge not only your current clients' satisfaction with the lines of business you already offer, but also to learn what they might be interested in purchasing in the future.

Right now, our agency uses an email service provider or ESP to help us communicate important information to our clients via email from time to time. It is a very easy service to use, and it enables us to manage and keep track of our client email list, as well as any email we send.

Through this service, we have access to information on best practices for sending email, email design templates, an unsubscribe service to allow clients to opt out of receiving messages, and an email survey creation and tracking service. We are also able to view a statistics log for our open rates (who and how many people open our email) and our click-through rates (who and how many people clicked on a link embedded in our email messages).

While I had never used the survey provisions offered by our ESP before, I was curious to learn how our clients felt about some of the legislative changes, so I gave it a try. As I created my survey, it became immediately apparent that surveys can be powerful prospecting tools.

EMAIL SURVEYS AND PROSPECTING

I wrote a survey that was composed of about 10 questions. We started by asking how pleased our customers were with the claims service provided by the carrier(s) that we represent. We asked how satisfied our clients were with the services we provide as an agency, and how well they felt their employees understood their benefits--particularly when it came to their insurance. We followed these questions with some opinion polling about pending legislation.

Like most brokers, we represent many different lines of insurance, but not every client buys every line from us. We picked four different lines of insurance and asked clients to rate each one as either:

* Excellent: Very satisfied with the plan, no problems

* Good: Works well, but has a few problem from time to time

* Poor: Very dissatisfied, frequent difficulties

* Not participating in this plan currently, but would like to see a proposal

* Not something we would consider at this time

The survey I used presented these questions in a "radio button" format. The person completing the survey simply clicked on or "checked" the radio button next to the answer they believed to be the best match.

As completed surveys came in, I could immediately see:

* Which clients were happy or unhappy with our agency's service (more than 95 percent said our service was excellent)

* How clients felt about pending legislation (at the time, "preserving the ability to choose your own doctor" was the No. 1 issue in health insurance reform)

* How pleased clients were (or were not) with the various lines we asked about

* Which clients were interested in hearing more about lines of insurance we weren't providing

The survey was very well received by our clients. In addition to indicating potential areas of service improvement, the survey served as a low-pressure way to open the door to new sales opportunities in insurance lines for which we had not prospected in the past, without forcing us to put clients on the spot in face-to-face meetings.

GROWING BUSINESS

Current clients can provide a comfortable place for you to begin building a foundation for business in new product lines. If you are considering transitioning into other insurance lines to diversify your product mix, an email survey of your existing book of business is a great way to start. Through an email survey, you can ask your clients how satisfied they are with the lines you wish to develop. In doing so, you can learn which clients are interested in these lines--and as you develop sales opportunities with your clients in these new lines, you can begin to build a solid base for the diversification of your product mix.

Ted Stevenot

Author and prospecting coach

Ted Stevenot is the author of the books "Prospect Factory" and "The One Pager Manual" and spends much of his time training sales professionals on prospecting techniques. He is also the cofounder of the life and health insurance agency McCarthy Stevenot Agency Inc., established in Cincinnati, OH, in 1991. He can be reached through his Web site at www.prospectfactory.com.
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Author:Stevenot, Ted
Publication:Agent's Sales Journal
Date:Jan 1, 2010
Words:748
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