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How Does Your Client See the World?

Posted By Donna M. Gray, Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How does your client see the world?

One of the tools available to AIMS Society members is personality tests. Understanding each client’s perspective and molding your pitch to their preferences is simply smart selling. Let’s focus on four key personality types which are commonly identified regardless the test used. Keep in mind that while different tests may use different category names, the basic personality types we’re going to discuss are similar. What’s most important is understanding how to sell to each.

  1. Assertive.  These are your goal-oriented, demonstrably competitive clients. They often speak louder than others and have confident body language. They want results; not necessarily friendships. They are decisive and when they have the information they require, they will make a timely decision. Use this quick turnaround to your advantage and close the deal. Don’t forget to bring facts and figures. And be responsive if more details are requested. Make your presentation efficient and avoid “cleverness.” Emphasize problem solution and how you’ll make the company more competitive.
  2. Amiable. Lots of questions, including ones about your personal life, may be an indicator that this is the person you’re meeting. They’re friendly and their work style is less structured. While they may mull a decision longer, don’t let this mislead you—they like the excitement of a new challenge and appreciate the process of developing creative solutions. They tend to choose work associates that they like on a personal level and value trust in a business partnership. Be sure to highlight a vision with these clients and take the time to establish true rapport. If problems arise, they’ll stay in your corner if they trust you.
  3. Expressionists. They too focus on personal relationships, but they’re particularly concerned with how decisions impact others. Others may dismiss them as simple “people-pleasers,” but their strongly held convictions, coupled with a powerful personality, make them particularly good consensus-builders. This is the group that values case studies—it’s a great way to demonstrate how your ideas benefitted others. Emphasize the breadth and depth of client relationships. Include, but don’t dwell on data. Focus instead on the human impact of decisions.
  4. Analytic. This is the person who loves facts and figures. Be ready for their detailed questions and make sure you’ve researched and understand their company and industry before you arrive. A decision may not be quick, but it will be thorough. This may be the quieter person in a meeting, more concerned with facts rather than emotion. They mean business and will be more formal. Include, but don’t linger on introductory material. It’s likely this kind of client already knows the basics, but they want to know you know too. Avoid grandiose claims or effusive compliments.
Many people are a blend of these personality types, but you’ll often find one most dominant. Know your client as well as you know your brand and you’ve laid some great groundwork for success!

Tags:  AIMS Society  CPIA designation  insurance marketing and sales  Leadership  PRO-to-PRO  self-improvement  Social Media  Technology 

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Lessons Learned

Posted By Donna M. Gray, Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lessons Learned

As kids head back to school, take a moment to think about your favorite teacher.  Perhaps it was an elementary teacher who seemed to appreciate your unique personality or made you believe in a talent you never thought you possessed.  Or maybe it was a high school teacher or college professor who ignited your curiosity because they were as interested in your viewpoint as they were in the subject at hand.   

Your favorite teacher likely made you feel very important.  Valued.  Relevant.  It was more about you; not so much about them.  And that’s what made them so memorable.  When’s the last time you did the same for one of your customers?  Approached the sale from their perspective and figured out what you could do to make their job easier and engage their enthusiasm?

What are other “great teacher” qualities we could all apply to our jobs?

  • Confidence:  Stellar teachers know their topic.  They teach from a deep base of knowledge, able to deftly change the lesson plan based on the audience.
  • Patience:  Sometimes a teacher has to repeat, repeat, repeat, until the student grasps the lesson.
  • Empathy:  Great teachers know their class isn’t the only show in town.  They understand that distractions come from other stresses. If they can help ease any of those stresses, the chances of success increase.
  • Flexibility:  Students learn in different ways—visually, orally, through hands-on projects etc.  Outstanding teachers match teaching style to the student and can explain a topic in different ways, from different perspectives. 
  • Pride: Memorable teachers are often great at noting a student’s success and sharing accomplishments.
  • Dedication: The bell may ring, but the best teachers stay engaged as necessary.
  • Curiosity:  Enthusiasm extends beyond their subject, leading outstanding teachers to ask questions, learn from others and understand outside viewpoints.

So yes, we’re in insurance, but there’s always more we can learn to make ourselves better salespeople.  Class dismissed!


Tags:  AIMS Society  CPIA designation  insurance marketing and sales  self-improvement 

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Can't we all just get along?

Posted By Donna M. Gray, Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Can’t we all just get along?


In his article, Why Generations Clash at Work for Entrepreneur, Steve Tobak remembers his impressions of managers early in his career, remarking, “I do remember feeling that my older superiors didn’t see the world the way I did. And I was right; they didn’t. My managers saw the world differently because they had something I didn’t have: experience in it…”  He gets it now that he’s older himself, but he missed it when it mattered.


The article’s reference to “rifts” or the “gap” between generations we’ve all felt is unfortunate.  When we’re all busy trying to prove we’re right—because we claim an advantage of more experience if we’re older, or a fresh perspective if we’re younger—we lose the opportunity to learn from each other. Tobak urges us not to buy into the “broad characterizations of generations of people,” reminding that everyone does not possess every characterization of their assigned group, be it Boomers, Millennials or even the up-and-coming Generation Z (yep, it’s true, we’ve hit the Z’s). 


Other suggestions to ease inter-generational angst: 

  • Understand each person’s “WIIFM” (What’s In It For Me), as Tobin calls it.  This is what motivates a person…and it is the proverbial key to an employee’s heart.
  • While challenging the boundaries and testing limits, younger workers shouldn’t, as Tobin says, “expect management to cater to you wherever you go.”
  • At the same time, good managers must “never forget that you were once that brash young upstart who succeeded by taking risks and pushing the envelope.”  Managers who resist challenges to their ideas risk succumbing to the status quo. 

Pretty good ideas to help us avoid what J.B. Priesly captured so well when he said, “There was no respect for youth when I was young, and now that I am old, there is no respect for age - I missed it coming and going.” 


Tags:  AIMS Society  CPIA designation  insurance marketing and sales  Leadership  self-improvement  teamwork 

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Showing Love After the Sale

Posted By Donna M. Gray, Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Updated: Monday, April 21, 2014

Showing Love After the Sale

By Donna Gray


An important part of building a strong, sustainable business is keeping customers once you’ve brought them into the agency. On his blog, CPIA facilitator Don Meincke points out that “Building a client base with sound retention makes better financial sense than constantly chasing a new sale while ignoring the ones you already have.” That’s something we focus on in our Insurance Success Seminars and through other AIMS Society offerings.


Don offers a number of ways to help boost retention by “showing some love” to customers after the sale. Here are a few of his suggestions:


  • Ask.  It sounds so simple, but it works. Ask your clients if they are happy. Set up a website page for customer feedback and encourage clients to use it. Reach out through social media, send a survey card, make a phone call, or stop by for a visit. Just do so within a reasonable timeframe after the sale, make sure the contact is personal, and absolutely do something fast about any negative responses.

  • Take customer calls. Your customer (“your” being the pivotal term) is calling YOU for a reason. Don’t blow it. Never ignore the call and don’t send it straight to a customer service center.

  • Intervene on your client’s behalf. You might get the same answer from customer service or the claims department that the customer would, but your involvement demonstrates your genuine interest in resolving the situation and it puts you in a better position to explain the outcome.

  • “Fess up” if you’ve made a mistake. In your zeal to solve the customer’s problems, you may answer a question incorrectly. If that happens, pick up the phone, admit it, apologize, and offer an alternative solution.

  • A Business News Daily study shows that a reward for doing business is effective. Fifty-four percent of customers surveyed would have stayed if some retention incentive had been provided. We see a lot of new customer discounts and specials advertised; that can be galling to a lifer. Consider how to work loyalty rewards into your product offering.  Studies also show it doesn’t have to be a large, expensive gift.  It’s the recognition—the thought—that counts.


What do you do to show some love and boost client retention?


Donna Gray is executive director of the American Insurance Marketing & Sales (AIMS) Society, which offers the Certified Professional Insurance Agent (CPIA) professional designation. 

Tags:  AIMS Society  CPIA designation  insurance marketing and sales 

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Three Simple Customer Service Ideas Your Customers Will Love You For

Posted By Guest Post by Chris Paradiso, Paradiso Insurance, Thursday, August 8, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Let’s face it; a customer’s experience is everything. I say that because many insurance professionals believe that people do business with their agencies because we provide great service. My belief on great service stems from the idea that we receive a significant commission by providing great service, so I feel that every single one of my clients should expect to receive outstanding service from my agency and myself.

I believe there are three major points in a customer’s experience. It doesn’t really matter if I think that I have provided great service or my staff has provided great service. All that matters is the service that my client experienced with our office.

You Can Hear Us Smiling!

First and foremost, this stellar customer service experience begins with how we answer the phone. As we all know, the first impression is everything.  I coach and remind my staff all the time that we need to answer the phone in a positive manner, because it can have a lasting positive effect on our prospect or client’s rest of the day. This is perhaps one of the most important and simple ideas that your agency can practice because there are so many agencies out there that answer the phone as though it’s an inconvenience.

I tell everybody in our office that no one is bothering us because the people that are calling us are the same people who are paying our salaries. A great way to manage how people are answering the phone is to record calls. I would highly recommend that agencies record calls for two reasons:

1) to make sure the customer experience is going well, and

2) no one can truly understand what a customer may be going through when they’re reaching out to our office.

Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

The second point of our discussion relates to our set of expectations in handling a new prospect or client. If a customer calls for an insurance quote, we set a timeline expectation for when they should hear back from our office.  I personally feel this is extremely important because people need to know in today’s fast paced world when to hear back from our agency. This is so important because I place myself in the same situation as a specific prospect that may be calling for insurance quote, and I personally would like to know when I can expect a phone call back.

As an agency owner, I realize that things occur during the day and sometimes we cannot meet the expectations of what we have originally set, but it’s critical to inform a client that if we say we’ll return your call at 3 o’clock, we will actually call them back at 3 o’clock, even if we do not have their quotes finalized. If this occurs, pick up the phone to reach out to the client and apologize for not being able to complete the quote but explain that you’re reaching out to keep in touch.  It’s all about the communication with the client or prospect.

Don’t "Drop The Ball” at the Buzzer

The third point is the follow-through. Following through with what we have promised and/or have set as expectations is critical. For example, if we have recently quoted a piece of business and the client has suggested that we contact them within two days so that they could have time to review the quote with their spouse, we as an agency need to follow through with the expectations that our clients have set forth. Without the follow-through, you will simply become a professional estimator, and remember professional estimators are not paid very well.

As I write this article, I think of a great friend of mine who is an agency owner in New Jersey named Nick San Filippo, who always reminds me of the importance of how the customer perceives your service to be. Remember, it’s not about us, it’s all about the customer and their experience.

Chris Paradiso is the newest member of the AIMS Society board of directors.  See more from Chris at Paradiso Presents, LLC.

Tags:  AIMS Society  CPIA designation  insurance marketing and sales  Leadership  Paradiso Presents  teamwork 

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