Having taught sales programs for thousands of independent agents for many years, we have done nothing but preach the importance of avoiding the price-driven sale. Where we thrive is as a trusted advisor to the client, helping them make sound risk management decisions that will benefit their organizations and their families. While we certainly acknowledge that price is a component of every sale, if the goal is always to provide the cheapest price, independent agents may win a few skirmishes but will surely lose the war.
Why then do so many agency websites offer to provide a prospect with a “free quote”? First of all, who in the world is charging for them? We find this practice to be disingenuous and presumptuous at best and counterproductive and costly at worst. How can we provide a quote to someone with whom we don’t even have a relationship? How will we know what best suits their needs, wishes and desires? And when it comes to “free”, time is money for both our prospects and our agencies.
Nearly every day in every agency across America, a would-be client calls in and requests an “apples to apples” quote on their insurance. Intellectually we all know that there really is no such thing. Not only are insurance policies and company and agency services vastly different, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution to anyone’s insurance program. In fairness, agents will often tell us that they feel they have to lead with price just to get the buyer’s nose under the tent then they can focus on value-added services and protection. But doesn’t the “free quote” bait just perpetuate the myth that at the end of the day insurance is pretty much all alike no matter from whom it is purchased?
Direct marketers have been extremely successful at convincing buyers that they can save 15% or more if they simply shop around. While this may be true in part, we would submit that there really is no right price for the wrong coverage. So a sale that originates with an emphasis on price and doesn’t even mention the importance of the right protection or the right insurance professional seems to be lacking in creativity and playing right into the stereotype. And years of studies have shown that the best predictor of how an agency will lose a client is how they obtained them in the first place—get them on price, lose them on price.
Wouldn’t a better approach be to provide a second opinion, risk analysis or program review? Words are very powerful and if we want to align with other professionals the client might deal with, such as bankers, accountants and attorneys, then we should use words that are more reflective of our expertise and less focused on a low price. And what if, in a bold marketing move, we actually charged them for our services as do other professionals? The old adage that “you get what you pay for” is often true.