Part 1 described the customer’s thought process. Now, it’s time to look at the steps in the sales cycle itself. As mentioned in part 1, the digital sales cycle is described in many ways, but it boils down to these main steps:
Attract The first step in the cycle focuses on attracting the attention of prospects in the “looking” stage of their own cycle. This means that you need to align your message to their needs. As not all prospects are looking for the same thing, it is important to have a number of relevant messages to target the various needs of your desired client. Also consider the breadth of your message - too broad and you will be competing for attention with everyone and get drowned out, too narrow & you will not have enough prospects to fill your sales funnel. Key metric - website hits Captivate Now that you’ve attracted the prospect’s attention, you need to keep it focused on you. This stage is where you start to deliver on your initial messaging. Say that you’ve attracted a prospect because of your promise of expertise. Your website / sales material needs to demonstrate that expertise. Or, your message indicated that you have special programs, now is the time to exhibit the benefits of that program. It is important to ensure that your messaging stays consistent & that it’s clear to you & your client that you are following through on the message that captivated them initially. This converts the prospect from “looking” to “thinking”. Key metric - lead volume Recommend The first two steps in the cycle focus on attracting & then capturing the attention of potential customers. Prospects in the “looking” stage are the targets of this stage of your cycle. The “recommend” stage is where you engage with the prospects “thinking” step of their journey. The first two steps are promises, the “recommend” step needs to deliver on that promise. During this phase, it is crucial to align what attracted the prospect to your front door with the “recommend” messaging. Clients attracted by your promise of expertise do not want to sit through a 45 minute multi carrier quotation process without any understanding of what you are trying to sell them. It is important to filter your prospects by need/expectation so that you can treat them accordingly. As you likely have a number of messages to attract prospects, it’s important to key in on the main message that initially resonated with your prospect. You can also enhance your chances of closing by demonstrating value in addition to that message. Prospects who were attracted by your price will be more likely to buy if they also are aware that you have additional services & expertise that they can rely on. Having said that, the focus should remain on delivering on the key message that brought them to you. Key metric - quote ratio Close The close step is (obviously) all about changing that prospect’s mindset from “thinking” to “buying”. During this phase, you will present your offer, handle objections & conclude the transaction. Again, think about the prospects’ motivations. If it was price, showing the carrier quotes that you sourced & demonstrating the value of those quotes can meet the prospect's expectations. If it’s expertise, a dive into the product coverages or review of the candidate carriers can demonstrate that expertise. It’s important to have a plan A to present as well as a plan B & plan C to handle objections. Be prepared to justify your offering & make sure to tie it back to that prospect’s original motivation. Finally, make sure to actually ask for the sale. That may seem straightforward, but it’s shocking how many brokers present their offer & then just let it hang. Don’t be afraid of rejection - some prospects will say no and that’s ok. Just don’t let a “yes” walk away because you didn’t ask for the sale. Key metric - close ratio Maintain The average broker is good at servicing clients. They answer the phone quickly, handle endorsements rapidly and get the paper out the door. Average sucks. You’re not reading this because you aspire to be average. The best brokers truly act as advisors & actually initiate contact with their customers between transactions. Find a way to connect with your clients at least monthly. This does a couple of things - first, you are demonstrating that you actually care about their business and second, it means that you can guide the renewal or cross-sell conversation by warming them up over time. You can connect with them with general articles/blogs on demystifying insurance or your latest cookie recipe. If it’s somewhat relevant to them, that generates a positive connotation with your brokerage. During the term is also the time to handle the more difficult communications. Let’s say that you know they will have a price increase on renewal. Make sure they know it’s coming & that you can help them via coverage modification or re-marketing their policy. Waiting for the carrier to deliver that message via renewal is the worst time to have the hard conversations and it makes you look powerless. You are their broker, they need to believe that you are proactively acting in the best interests. Key metric - monthly contact points per client Renew You’ve heard it before - a renewal is like a new sale. This is mostly true and you generally get to skip the “looking” and “thinking” phases of the customer’s cycle. Most customers do not enjoy buying insurance and would rather just let their policy roll over on renewal. Traditional customers generally don’t leave the “buying” phase once completed. They non-renew when they’ve been upset by a large price increase or a bad claims experience. As long as you are practicing good customer maintenance, those issues should not catch you off guard. Digital customers are a bit different. They like to do things for themselves and keep tabs on their holdings. They will probably do some comparison shopping on renewal, they will check social media or google reviews. Effectively, digital customers are constantly bouncing out of the “buying” phase and back into the “looking” and “thinking” phases. So, make sure they are doing that within your ecosystem. In phase 3, we’ll dig into some of the tools that can help you keep the digital customers engaged and satisfied. For now, recognize that traditional methods are less effective for the digital segment. Key metric - renewal ratio Bottom line Whether or not you plan out your sales cycle, this is what’s happening in your business. You should always be digging into your cycle to improve it. The key to success is to make the cycle measurable, predictable, efficient and effective. As the customer moves from looking to thinking to buying, they are moving from lead to prospect to customer. Track your lead volume, quote ratio & close ratio. To improve those numbers takes different tactics, but increasing any of them will increase your sales volume. Part 3 of the digital sales cycle will look at the tools available to improve your own digital sales cycle.