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The Power of Walking Away

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The Power of Walking Away

Written by: Scott Addis

My experience indicates that far too few producers have the courage to walk away from prospects.  As a result, they end up working on “unqualified” opportunities for extended periods of time only to have the deals fall apart.  To avoid this trap, you must set the rules of the game through a prospect criteria filter.  If you let the prospective client and incumbent agent or broker control the rules, you’re going to lose!

Your prospect criteria filter will enable you to pre-determine the degree to which the percentages of winning are 80% or more.  Never begin the “heavy lifting” (coverage and claim reviews, employee manual analysis, critique of contracts, leases, policies and procedures, and business continuity planning) until your opportunity for success is determined.

Develop a criteria filter comprised of lights – red (stop), yellow (caution) and green (go) – to assess the prospective client’s relationship with his or her incumbent agent or broker, gain access to the firm’s management team, and judge their enthusiasm for your unique process.    If you get three green lights, you are off and running – a new client is around the corner.  Using the filter, you can be confident in a high success ratio.  If you encounter yellow lights proceed with caution and perform due diligence before committing time and resources.  If you get red lights, recognize that your time, confidence, reputation, and money are at risk.  There are times that you may decide to proceed with a red light.  Only do this with the strong belief that you can turn a red light green.

Remember, encountering red lights are facts of life.  Be ready to bury your pride and graciously walk away.

How do you know when it’s time to walk away?  These nine warning signs indicate it might be time to walk away from a deal:

  1. When the incumbent’s relationship to the prospect is exceptionally strong. If the incumbent is related to the prospect or an old school chum, proceed with extra caution.
  2. When you’re asked for a list of markets and given the insurance policies in the first meeting.
  3. When you are simply one of many asked to provide a proposal. And you cannot find a means to stand out in the crowd…beyond a competitive bid.
  4. When you are not permitted to speak directly with the ultimate decision-maker or gain access to the firm’s leadership team.
  5. When your prospect refuses to commit to your process. Rather, you are required to play by his or her rules.
  6. When anyone at the prospect’s business acts or behaves in an unethical manner. Or when you’ve found evidence of legal wrong-doing during the insurance or risk assessment.
  7. When your prospect refuses to engage in a meaningful dialogue early in the process and simply demands a competitive bid.
  8. When your prospect makes it clear that you are competing “to keep the incumbent honest.”
  9. When your prospect shows little enthusiasm for your unique process.

Before you invest time, energy, and resources with a prospect review these warning signs.  Remember, when you walk away, you free up more time to work with other prospects that have a higher likelihood of maturing to fruition.

The key is to recognize the signs and be prepared to cut the ties before you have invested too much.

These are just a few warning signs…what other signs tell indicate a bad deal?

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