Please note this post is primarily aimed at insurance brokers looking to grow their commercial book in the 10-250k premium space – though does have wider relevance.
I recently talked on Linked IN about the Cold Call Challenge to Insurance Brokers.
The challenge can be summed up as a conflict between 2 points:
1. Cold Calling in general is getting tougher. And yet;
2. many companies still invite brokers to tender – simply on the back of a phone call!
Given point 2, a solution for new business that includes a phone call shouldn’t be immediately kicked out the ring. But it leaves open the question on whether starting a new cold calling campaign, from a cold list of companies or names, will return acceptable ROI. And within timescales you are happy with.
Simply put; the Cold Calling fighter is ageing. And each passing day more and more of his body-shots are being deflected harmlessly…
Here are 5 reasons to throw in the towel for Cold Calling.
1. Increased Blockages Industry Wide = Increased Cost
‘No Names’, ‘No Sales Calls’ and ‘Permanent Voice-mail’ policies are becoming increasingly common. Not to mention the ‘never ending meeting.’
For example. The raw cost to us of speaking with a single board-level Decision Maker on the back of a (truly) cold call has increased by more than £10 in the last 2 years. (Whereas calls to DMs from ‘warm’ have increased by less than £2)
Existing contacts still provide good returns, though we would need some very strong reasons to begin a cold calling campaign in 2015 from scratch. (A note on exceptions at the end of this post)
2. Too many calls
We regularly get told when we ask (and sometimes when we don’t!) that buyers are getting 60-70 calls from brokers each year. –
Is this too many?
Well it’s too many for the people complaining, and they are. Even if the ‘offenders’ might simply be 10 different brokers, who all have permission to call, trying to get through.
And of course it is not just Insurance calls, but other industry fighters too. Often representing, say, the energy or IT sectors. They all add to this blockage.
You may find our growing broker project tips service useful if you need to stand out from the crowd.
3. A Lack of Perceived Value
The key point here is that Decision Makers no longer perceive the call in to offer a ‘better quote’ as adding ‘value’ to them or their business.
This is only partly due to point 2 – too many calls, though it is definitely a contributing factor.
Also consider the soft market keeping a lid on rate rises, and competing offers that are easily matched by the incumbent. Why waste time with a review if you trust your broker and the premium comes in under budget?
In our 2012 report;
We suggested that;
Buying on value has almost been forgotten.
The bulk of advertising in the general insurance industry has been predominantly centered around price and ease of purchase (remember Gio Compario?).
This backs up the feeling that insurance is a necessary evil to get out the way as quickly as possible.
Is this changing?
Perhaps. The current and prominent Direct Line – ‘can your insurance do that?’campaign, draws price out of the picture and positions insurance as a service.
There’s a lesson here which deserves an entire post of its own.
Which brings us to point 4…
4. A Generic Message
It is no secret that brokers (and other professional services firms) often find it difficult to differentiate themselves effectively.
You may have noticed that a lot of business owners see alien (unknown) brokers as ‘much of a muchness.’ And the standard USPs of price, tailored cover, access to markets, personal service and years in business do not help the average broker differentiate by words alone.
In my view this is one of the major reasons we have witnessed such a rapid growth in schemes over the past few years.
Differentiation is key.
Our most successful campaigns to date have been in industry specific niches with the support of a strong brand. It takes time to reach this position but there are ways to quickly boost your standing, usually by partnering with a credible brand.
5. Buyer Behaviour & Technology
Again, this point could take up several posts on its own.
The way that we behave as buyers has changed.
In many cases this is a result of the way new communication channels are adopted (thanks LinkedIn!). Plus the use of Big Data.
6. The Rest
Ok so I said 5 reasons. But I didn’t say this was an exhaustive list. There are many other reasons why you might consider throwing in the towel for cold calling – some of which were pointed out by Barbara Miller of INSUR Sales in her comments to my last post!
We might also add to the list Data Management, Regulatory concerns and bad experiences with poor quality B2B cold callers and B2C callers as well.
And then there is the caveat that appointments booked from cold, tend to be harder to convert. (Unless you win a price war… but then again, win on price alone and they may be hard to retain)
Time to throw in the towel?
For many in the 10-250k premium space, traditional telemarketing or Cold Calling has got too tough.
You will simply not get enough appointments to secure the first or second round knock-outs (quick wins) you are looking for.
If you can afford to take a longer term view – and put measurements in place – then you can certainly secure a victory in the later rounds (2-3 years +).
There are however easier battles to be won.
Are there any exceptions?
There are a few key exceptions when you should definitely try cold calling.Times when those first and second round K.O’s are still probable. And if you want to talk exceptions, do get in touch.
My next post will be on Linked IN – 3 reasons why Telemarketing (not cold calling) is still very much alive.
What are your Thoughts? Is Cold Calling Dead? Are you having success with Telemarketing in your insurance brokerage?
Please share your thoughts with me or comment below.
This is the second post in a series on broker marketing strategy, telemarketing, and alternative lead generation techniques for driving new business in 2015.
The Key 2 Growth provide organic growth consultancy and lead gen solutions to the client centered insurance broker working within the commercial mid-market space. – Including (but not limited to) telemarketing as part of a multi-media campaign.