Make New Friends, But Keep The Old

Happy New Year! Now that we are well into 2016, it is time to develop your growth strategy for the year, if you have not already done so. It is no big secret that, depending on whom you ask, it costs six to ten times as much to attract a new customer as it does to retain an existing one. Are you in the habit of meeting with your clients at least once each year?

Many agents often do not take the time to personally reach out to clients in their books of business, and for valid reasons. Some consider silent clients happy clients. Others find themselves too busy with new cases to meet with people who don’t have any apparent insurance needs. And it is hard to pick up the phone and ask for a meeting, only to be told no, or deal with calls that go unanswered or unreturned. Typically, though, agents did reach out at first, but got responses along the lines of “all is well” and “nothing new to report” from their clients. Thus the cycle of complacency began.

But a lot can happen over 12 months. People get married, divorced, have children, and see loved ones pass away. Loved ones face serious illnesses. Families relocate for jobs, high school seniors go off to college, college seniors graduate. Everyone grows a year older, and many retire. These situations cause insurance needs to change, but clients often to not realize this fact. When they do, though, if their financial consultant has not been proactive in communicating with them for a while, they often feel awkward making the first move. They second guess if a financial review is really necessary. Some wonder if their contact is still in business. Some even grow resentful and wonder why their financial consultant has not called them in a while.

I know because I am in that exact situation. My daughter is graduating from college this year, and I am so proud of her. But she needs her own life insurance, car insurance, and now is the time to learn about retirement planning. My parents are growing older, too, and I want them to be financially ready for their later years. With all these plans to make, I am not sure where to begin.

I left my longtime financial consultant a few years ago because he kept saying how nice it was to meet me. Every time I visited his office. For nearly twenty years. My new agent is very nice and extremely competent, and made a lot of promises about service when we first met. She sends me the obligatory holiday greetings card and birthday card, but I have not heard from her in many months about reassessing my needs. She said she would keep tabs on me, so where is she?

I have talked to several other consumers who feel the same way. If nothing changes, what is going to happen is the financial planner who calls us up out of the blue or e-mails us, or even stands next to us in the coffee shop might wind up getting our business. And why? We are not unhappy with our current products, rather we are people whose financial consultants have left us to fend for ourselves.

Make the New Year’s resolution to call on your book of business. Revisit old leads. Find out what they have been up to this past year. Make small talk and take notes about what they say. Send graduation cards. Offer condolences. Do this for no other reason than to reaffirm that you view your customers as more than a few policies and meetings. These calls are not ploys for business, they are essential to maintain relevance in your clients’ lives, too. Otherwise, the next flashy pitch that comes along might be the one that drives them away for good, leaving you to start at the beginning again.

Contributed by Sarah Albracht, Marketing and Commissions Assistant, Davis Life & Annuity.

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