The truth is, anyone can present a solution.
The real value comes in your ability to point out the bad things that can happen before they do.
That's one of the main reasons insurance exists in the first place.
However, it's a skill often lost in the race trying to tell a client what they want to hear.
Things get more interesting if you focus on a process that allows them to hear what they need instead.
Dr. Billy Williams, the founder of Inspire a Nation, breaks down everything you need to create that process and train your people to do it.
Full Episode Transcript
Mr. Billy Williams, how are you doing today, sir?
Oh man, I am always blessed and highly favored. I'm always good. Always.
Well, that's good. I mean, what has been going on in your world lately? It's been a while since we've had a chance to catch up, but so it's good to see you.
Well, what's really going on man is, there's so much consolidation of agencies. There's so many agents that are jumping ship because ... I don't want people who are seeing this. But between Corona and everything else that's going on. Corona, the virus, not the beer, but everything else that's going on, a lot of agencies are realizing they're not good at this. They just don't have the processes, they don't have the consistency.
The thing about an insurance agency, you literally have to be the biggest knucklehead on earth to let an insurance agency fail. It's almost impossible for an insurance agency to fail. You can quit an insurance agency, you can run one in the ground eventually, but to just outright fail, hell if you just show up every day, somebody is going to want a quote. I mean, that's just the way it works. You know what I mean?
But there are agencies that are realizing they're not prepared for the work from home environment, for the remote worker environment, for the customers that are more demanding. Back in the day, when all they had to do was quote. You quote 50 people and 10 of them buy and it's all good. You didn't have to ... no insurance, no claims, no anything. People just needed an insurance. But now customers are more demanding. Now I need to know why I'm spending this extra $10, you know? Because I've been furloughed for four months now. So I don't have the money that I used to have. And there are a lot of agents that just can't handle the pressure of that moment.
All right, Billy. You made it real, real quick. So I got to know then of the agencies that do have the good processes, because I know you at least know a few of them.
Oh, a lot. I know a lot of them.
Yeah, I know you do. So how are they faring in this new environment?
They are, first of all, let me put it from three different standpoints. Number one, sales. Number two, retention. And number three, staffing. From a sales standpoint, there are more insurance prospects right now than probably there have been on the market in the last 10 years. Because of those agencies that don't have good communication processes. Weren't prepared to work from home. Aren't prepared for a remote. So now their customers are not being communicated to, but their customers are shopping. Their customers are out comparing what they have with other things.
So from a sales standpoint, great, because again they're more prospects out than they've ever been before. From a retention standpoint, probably doing better than ever on a retention standpoint, because they are putting processes place. They're using video to communicate with a large audience now and explaining why. They're explaining the deferred payment programs. They're explaining the refund programs. They're explaining the payroll protection programs and all those things. And they're using video for that. They're using podcasts for that. We're using conference calls for that. So we're actually communicating with our customers better than probably what we did before by just shooting them an email.
From a staffing standpoint, I'm seeing staff better trained, more communication, more interaction, working remote than they did working in the office, because now we're having our five minute touch bases in the morning. "Hey guys, you need anything? Everything okay?" We're all good. We're having our afternoon training sessions." "Just to remind you, if this scenario comes up. Here's how we deal with this. This carrier's going through this change."
So I'm actually seeing better training in a remote environment than I saw in an everyday office environment. From a staffing standpoint of what's available, for some reason, which I don't know why, but it's happening. Agents are letting go of staff. Maybe it's because they realize I don't need 20 people to do these things. I can actually get them done efficiently with eight people, but I'm seeing agents let go of staff. I'm seeing staff quit because staff is like, "Wait a minute. I could have been this efficient all along? You could have trained me better all along? You could have communicated with me better all along? And I had to be working from home with three kids hanging around my neck before you finally decided to do it? I'm going to go find a better job." You know?
So from a staffing standpoint, I'm seeing better training. I'm seeing better communication, but I'm also seeing more people leave. Which means that my agencies that I invest in, agencies that are really set up for hiring, there are more candidates than there were six months ago.
It's definitely a lot to take in Billy. And I kind of want to know of those process, of that thing, what's the one thing that has boiled up to the top that maybe they realized ... During this whole thing, there's been a lot of self reflection in what is necessary, right? So what's the one thing that maybe you personally have found out, Maybe I don't need that. It was kind of taken from me and I don't know that I want to reintroduce it back."
Or on an agency side of things, is there something that they have really found consistently across the board that in terms of that efficiency that keeps popping up, that we don't need to do this anymore?
Well, I'm going to use one of my grandfather's sayings, who was a Baptist preacher. And he used to say, the reason why there's a church on every corner is because on every corner somebody needs a different church.
So what that means is, every agent has self discovered something different. So some agencies have discovered, "Man, I suck at training my staff. And this now I feel like I'm doing a better job." Some agents are, "Man, I suck at technology use. If they weren't in the office, then hell, I didn't know what was going on with them.
Or even staff that's discovered, "You mean my system did this all along? You mean this button was already there? This isn't a new button? How come we never pushed this button before?" Because whatever reason, we never trained.
So I can't really answer that question from the standpoint of what's bubbled to the top in general, it just always goes back to those three things, sales, retention, and staffing. And each person has discovered something different in either all three of those areas, or one or more of those areas. Is that my good political answer of not answering?
Yeah, it is. It's very good. So let's go to training then. Because I know we've had plenty of conversations about this in the past. Where do you think the biggest opportunity to improve this training in the new environment is, or how can agents come to grips with what they're faced with. And then how can they get their staff to where they need them to be?
Okay. Four things. You know I'm a numbers guy. If I can break it down by process. Four things. Number one, it starts with what processes do you want your people to actually do?
So your new customer process should be just that, a process. A series of steps. Your endorsement process, your claims process. So number one is process.
After that, it's calendaring. Okay? I know what you're supposed to do. Now when on the calendar have I set aside to train you to do it?
Number three, spot checking. I know what I want you to do. I've got a calendar to train you to do it. Now when am I going to spot check you to see if you are doing it?
And then number four, of course, kind of puts it all back into perspective. Who, what, when? Have I identified the who, the what and the when for all of my processes?
Like I said, number one starts with knowing what process you want them to do. Number two, calendaring that process and training it. Number three, spot checking it. And then number four, going through all my processes and identifying the who's going to do it, what are they going to do, and when is it going to get done?
You've used this order with me before. What's the most under-trained thing in an agency?
You know it's going to sound really crazy, but it's overcoming objections. In my opinion, overcoming objections. People don't know how to overcome objections. They know how to, "I understand how you feel." And, "Yeah, I can understand." And then what do they do? They move on. "Let me see if I can find you a cheaper price. Let me find you a cheaper price."
So they don't really understand overcoming objections. And insurance it's a really simple thing in my mind. Overcoming objections is making a customer understand what claims looks like without the right coverage in place.
So little self-promotion here. If they go out to my website, inspireanation.org, okay? Inspireanation.org. And in our search box, just type in "overcoming" or "sales objections" or the word "objection", whatever, just whatever word, you're going to see, we have a training out there called "overcoming insurance sales objections".
And I go through the psychology of it, the emotion of it, why people are afraid of making bad decisions. And this is free, guys. I'm not charging for this. You don't even have to give me your name, email address, or any other stuff. I don't put it behind a lead magnet, because I feel like it's so important.
So that's my opinion, Joey. I feel like agents don't know how to overcome insurance sales objections. And when you don't know how to overcome objections, what do you fall back to? Price. Let me try to find you the cheapest price I can.
Yeah. The price conversation is one that is always interesting, because it does feel like it's too often a race to the bottom sort of thing when it comes to price. Where do you like to create process around kind of educating, having that consultation? What does that look like for an agent to kind of adequately kind of handle price in a responsible way?
Well, price, you have to remember, price in and of itself it's not an element. An element means it can't be broken down into something smaller. Price is not an element. Price is a compound, which means something, plus something, plus something, equals price.
So that means am I having a value conversation with you? Am I having a conversation that talks about your critical needs? Am I having a conversation that talks about what something looks like without having the right things in place? That's what equals price.
Okay. People say value. To me, value is a part of the compound that makes up price. So as an example, let me not leave this generic. I start all my conversations when we're talking about coverage or whatever with three buckets of money, I always say, look guys, there's three buckets of money an insurance provides, money for you and your family, money for others you'll end up owing, and then money to repair or replace what you choose to insure. Those three buckets is what makes up an insurance policy.
So now where do you want me to start when we start talking about coverage? Do you want me to start with coverage for you and your family? Money that goes directly to you and your family? Do you want me to start with money for others you're going to end up owing? Or do you want me to start with money to repair or replace what you choose to insure? Like your home, your car, your business, whatever, your income, right? Your health, in your case, when you ... so health insurance.
Oh, I don't know. Let's start with money to repair or replace. All right, so let's take it from an auto, something really simple. Let's take an auto. What am I choosing to repair or replace? I'm choosing to repair or replace the vehicle itself. Repair the collision, rental car, towing, all those kinds of things.
Next step is, I'm not just going to jump into here's what the coverage amount is, I'm going to say, first I want to tell you, what does this look like in a claim if you don't have the right coverage? Because the real value is in me identifying the problem, not in me identifying a solution. Anybody can present a solution. Okay? Understand that. Anybody can present a solution, but very few people can help you identify a problem.
That means if I'm sitting down, I'm saying, "Well, Joey, I'm looking at this. I know you, Joey, you just bought this 2020 Lamborghini." Okay? "So now you're insured with whoever, Hagerty, all right? And Hagerty has this replacement cost value of your Lamborghini is, I don't know, $400,000, all right? Let's just say that.
Okay, Joey. So here's the deal. Let's say you have a claim and the vehicle is not totaled, but it has to be repaired. And you didn't choose the right coverage. Now they may give you 200,000, but you got to pay another 100,000 out of pocket to get it where it needs to be. Do you want to pay that $100,000 out of pocket if you had a claim? Or I can add in this endorsement or add in this additional that will fill that gap for that $100,000? It's up to you. You have to decide what you want to pay for it. What do you want me to do? See that's what I'm saying.
So I identified the problem. And the problem is if you don't have the right coverage during a claim, this is going to bite you in the butt. I went real organic or real extreme. Let's break it down to something simple. Rental car coverage on an auto policy.
Right now you've got $30 with whatever company you're with. We'll pick on captives. You've got $30 with Allstate, right? Per day. But you drive a 2019 Cadillac Escalade truck. So that means if you had a claim right now, you're back to renting a Ford Fiesta.
So here's the deal. I would rather you have a hundred dollars a day rental car coverage so that you can stay in the same 2019 Cadillac Escalade truck as opposed to this $30 a day. But I can't write the check for you. You have to make that decision. Is it more important to you that you have a hundred dollar coverage and get the vehicle you want or $30 and pay less. That's up to you, Joey, that's your call. What do you want to do?
Well, you brought up one of my favorite words, and that's "problems". Right? We've talked about objections, which are problems. We've talked about price, which is sometimes a problem. And those are ones that ... Price is one. It's under one what's going to happen. Right? I am a big fan of going after problems and talking about problems and identifying them for people before they even know that they have them, but putting it ... Like creating content, right? We're talking about content. Creating things and going after the problems in a way that is maybe even more, I don't really know the word I'm looking for is, but I'm addressing problems that people don't even really talk about even when they're brought up to them. Right?
Because they don't even know they have them.
Yeah. I mean, so if you can put those things out there to the world and then let people see that, that's one of the biggest things I think, is going after those things. And then so many agents you talked about them being in trouble in terms of like with what they're doing, with what they're prepared to do. If you had to maybe give some sort of guidance or just sort of tips on leveling up their ability to go after problems. Where do you think that-wise and how can they take it to the next level in terms of the types of problems they're addressing with their clients?
Very simple. It's a very simple solution. Talk to your claims advocate, your underwriter, whoever it is that has your claims data, and say, "Guys, when it comes to this type of policy, what are the top three claims that we see, whether that's homeowners?"
So maybe I'm a Traveler's guy, right? And I go to Travelers and I say, "Okay Travelers, tell me the top three reported claims for homeowners." And they may say something like roof, water, backup, something like that, whatever it is.
And then I'm going to sit down with my team and go over, "Guys, these are the top claims that people are reporting. We need to know what to say when we're on this part of the sales conversation, retention conversation or quoting process." Because here's the deal, the conversation should be the same. Only the on-ramp is different.
I think of it like a highway. When we're on a highway, I can get on a Jenkins Parkway, I can get on a Smithsonian Boulevard. I can get on at Turnpike E, but I'm still on the same damn highway, I just got on at a different place. That's how our sales conversations really are. Whether they come on through the quote process, whether they come on through a retention or policy review process, or whether they come on through an endorsement, still the same highway, still the same conversation.
So if I'm doing an endorsement, I'm going to say, "Mr. Jenkins, I'm looking at your policy. And I see you only got $30 a day rental. I see that as a real problem. Let me explain why." We're seeing claims that are being reported where people have a 2019 Cadillac Escalade, $100 a day rental cost and they got $30 per day rental coverage.
I say that during a policy review, "Hey, while I'm doing your policy review, one of the things I want to point out to you that I think is a weakness. You got $30 per day rental, but you drive a 2019 Cadillac Escalade." Okay. So that's during my review process.
I'm quoting you. "I see right now you've got $30 per day with State Farm. $30 per day with Allstate, with Farmers. Okay, but you drive a 2019 Escalade. I think that's a real issue. I think you're very under-insured. So what I'll do is I'll do two quotes. I'll do one that shows what you currently have, and one what I recommend, and then we'll sit down and talk about those two different things." See Joey, same highway, just different on-ramp.
I think I know what you're going to tell me the answer to this question, but I'm going to ask it anyways. Can you create a process around instilling confidence in the sale?
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And that comes with training. That's one of the things I was talking about with this pandemic, there's more training going on right now in our industry than probably has happened in the last 50 years, I would guess. I'm just throwing a number out.
It's because agents can't sit there every day and just kind of blow you off. You know what I mean? Everybody's at home. So I need to know now. And staff is picking up the phone and calling saying, "I'm not sure how to do this. I don't want to mess this up. I'm not sure how to do this."
On a previous podcast that we did, Joey, I mentioned that while people are delegated the opportunity to make a decision, what they're not delegated is the lack of fear of making a bad decision.
So now staff is at home fearful of making bad decisions, of making bad choices. So they're picking up the phone and talking to the operations manager, talking to the agent, talking to whoever the department head is, saying, "I just want to get more information, because I don't want to screw this up. I don't want to make a bad decision." And I think that has led to more training than has been going on, probably like I said, in the last 50 years in our industry. Because before, it was forced training, now it's needed training.
That's good stuff. I have two more questions for you, sir.
First one, we might've covered it somewhere, but I'm always curious as to what your take is on this. If you had to tell an agent to do one thing during this time, the thing that you would consider to be the most important of really anything else to kind of either deal with the environment they're in or kind of get to where we're going, what's that one thing that you think most agencies should be focused on right now?
Write out your processes. I'm a process guy. So for me, if I don't have written processes, if I don't have that customer journey from start to finish, now for whatever we're doing, whether it's onboarding them, whether it's retaining them, whether it's the 90 day review, whatever, but right now they should take the time to write out the customer journey, the customer experience.
And again, another little self-promotion here. If you go to my site, inspireanation.org and just type in the word "journey". I've got a free training out there that talks about the customer technology journey. Meaning from the moment the customer does an online search to the auto responders that they get, to the text message that they get, to the appointment scheduling tool link you should send them, all the way through video chat and chat bots and ... just type in "journey" on inspireanation.org, and you can see that free training on going through the customer technology journey.
And that's because most agents don't know their journey. They don't have their processes written out, and because they're not written out, they can't explain that to someone else.
You've heard me say this before. The reason why religion, I know you're never supposed to discuss politics and religion, but the reason why Christianity and Judaism and Islam, and all these religions are so big is because there's a book. I can always go back to the book.
The reason why we don't know what the number one American Indian religion in the world is, is because there's no book. It's all handed down through folklore. It's handed down through anecdotal stories. So because there's no book, there's nothing solid. And that's nothing against my brothers that are American Indians. I'm just simply saying, I can't name an American Indian religion, but I can name Christianity, I can name Judaism, I can name Islam. And there's a book to reference.
The reason why a lot of agencies have a bad culture is because there's no book. There's no job aid book, there's no employee handbook, there's no written processes, there's nothing for people to be able to reference and go back to, to tighten up what they should know.
So what's the one thing I would have them do? Start creating your book, write out your customer journey, write out the processes that you want your people to know.
I lied. I'm going to sneak in one last question. Is there anything you don't have a process for Billy?
I'm sure there is. It's probably just a built in process, like getting up. Like I know what it is. I don't have a process for doing my hair. That process went away. I used to have a process for doing it, but over time, I think I've just matured out of that process.
And that's what happens in agencies. You may have a process that you were doing 10 years ago or 15 years ago, before Facebook, before social media, before chat bots, before text messaging. And now that process that you're still holding onto like some of these guys that are holding onto that squiggle of hair, let it go my man, just cut it off. You know what I mean? Just let it go.
So same thing there. Yeah, I don't have a process for doing my hair because I have no hair. And there are agencies that are holding onto processes that really shouldn't exist anymore.
Yeah. That's an interesting way to put it, is that they just haven't updated it. Right? They're just held on to something too long.
I think we've gotten to where we needed to go. I have one more question for you though Billy.
And again, I think I might know the answer. If there's one thing that you could look around the corner too, that you might be the most excited for, that you think might be slightly under-utilized. I know a lot of it deals with consistency and stuff, but is there something that does get your attention that could prove to be valuable to executing that consistency or just getting a little bit better?
Absolutely. Virtual assistants. Virtual assistants, I'm telling you, that is the wave right now that I'm riding, that most of my agencies that I invest in are riding, the agencies I mentor are riding. Because here's the deal, when I say virtual assistants, it's really remote workers. Let me not just say virtual assistants, because then people will feel like they need to go out and spend all this money on virtual assistants. Right?
But you still got to train them, that's the deal. They're not just plug and play. You still got to show them your process, your way of doing things, what the handoff is, but remote workers are really, I think, going to be the wave of the future. I don't think you're going to see too many agencies that have 50, 60, 70 people sitting in an office. I think you're going to have agencies that have 50 or 60 people working at home and still running major multi-million dollar operations, kind of like Nationwide as an example. Not from the agent's standpoint, but from their corporate standpoint, they say, "Look, we're not going back to all these buildings and everything that we did before. This remote thing is working really well."
So that's what I see coming. But it still starts with processes. You can't hand off things to a remote worker if the remote worker doesn't know what the process should look like. So it always goes back to processes.
Billy Williams, I appreciate it. This is a lot of fun, man. Thanks for taking the time.
Thanks Joey. I appreciate you.