“Not feel stupid at the beginning”
A Business-to-Business (B2B) sales person admitted that this was her biggest concern about making the career transition from another industry to become a commercial insurance broker. It speaks to the raw, natural fear of getting on the phone to call prospects and the high anxiety of going into the early first meetings with prospects while still in the learning curve of the commercial risk management and insurance broker career. A new producer can’t afford to wait until they’re fully prepared and confident knowing what they’re talking about in terms of commercial risk management and insurance. They need to start calling business owners and setting first appointments. This is such a common new producer concern that it’s worth a discussion on some remedies.
First, accept that you will never be an expert! Commercial insurance and risk management is a vast technical field. It’s ever-changing as risks in the world change. Plus, you need to be able to apply knowledge in a complex, broad discipline to a specific business’s risks. That’s not easy — even when you’ve done it for years. Rainmaker producers working their entire careers in one niche specialty are still experts-in-training. So, a new producer can take comfort knowing that they can’t and won’t ever “know everything.” This is a career that demands and rewards continuous curiosity and lifetime learning.
After a month or two you will know more than 95% of the people you’re calling. One of reasons business owners buy from an insurance broker is that they don’t want to learn that much about commercial insurance. If you immerse yourself in being a student of the business for 30-60 days, I guarantee that you will know more about commercial insurance than 95% of the people you’re calling. If you invest 5 hours per week for the first year in education, you will know more than 99% of the people you will call. And even the 1% to 5% who may know more than you typically won’t be able to figure that out on a first phone call.
Find a prospecting call script that works for you and use it. Ask your firm’s other producers what they say on the first prospect call. Practice your own cold call script. Don’t read it, for God’s sake, but just having a simple prospecting call script in your hand will help you make more calls and be more confident when you’re on the phone.
Know that the main outcome of the first call is not to demonstrate you’re a commercial insurance genius — it’s getting a face-to-face appointment. So rather than worry about what you don’t know — be ready to ask insightful questions that have the prospect curious enough to meet you.
Ask great questions. Emphasis here on “great” questions, that is, ask insightful questions that probe for information below the surface of the obvious stuff that you can see and research about the prospect.
Find a niche. It’s easier to become knowledgeable about risk management and insurance for a specific niche – say commercial electrical contractors — rather than to broadly prospect every contractor firm in your local market. Do yourself a favor and limit your scope of knowledge needed by picking a handful of target niches to focus and shorten your learning curve.
Be candid and willing to admit that your knowledge is limited. Nobody – unless they’re a jerk — will hold it against you that your knowledge is limited at the beginning IF you also convince them that your knowledge is growing and that your curiosity to learn and help them are unlimited.
You are the front person for the collective knowledge and expertise of your firm’s team that you will bring to bear for the prospect. That’s the best way to overcome an authentic lack of knowledge — bring along a person or a team of people from your firm with years of experience and vast knowledge.