Show Your 'Benefit of Usage'

Analytic Brokerage is more than simply a bunch of meaningless data. It’s about client outcomes, proven, credible and focused around the client’s cost structure. It’s the ultimate sales powerhouse.

Now, you may say, “So what, why is this any different than what we're already doing now?”

Well try this on for size... What is it that any organization attempts to prove with its products or services? The answer: How much a buyer benefits from its usage. That is the ultimate differentiator.

When we as brokers speak about benefits of usage, we are not talking about claims frequency, loss ratios or even coverages. We certainly are not focusing on the commodity to fill the buyer’s basic needs. Frankly, those are all insurance terms that simply describe your results, they are not the benefit of usage.

So, let’s get something straight right here. Unless you can actually show the buyer how they benefited financially from working with you, it’s a move toward obsolescence. It just ain’t good enough anymore.

Here’s the deal... You now have the ability to show a buyer the specific impact your firm has had on their analytic and financial results. In addition, you can show a prospect what the results of your organization have been for other clients like them.

What? Am I telling you that you can actually use data as a sales process to prove your worth?  Huh? Is it really possible to determine anddemonstrate the financial impact of your representation? Whoa... Doesn’t that change the game forever?

Yup.  And it’s happening right now, in top performing firms across North America.

So, here are 3 Things you need to do right now if you don’t want to get run over:

  1. Change your perspective – Stop thinking about your delivery of a product and move into the buyer benefit of usage space. Ask yourself this question: If I had to prove our established value, how would I do it without making it about the transaction of insurance? By the way, that includes emod calculations, as they are simply part of the transaction.
  2. Truly understand your prospects and clients – Go where they really live. Embed yourself in their profit margins, growth goals, productivity and ownership value.

  3. Become committed to business excellence – This is a much different place than simply insurance brokerage excellence or risk management excellence. If you can’t prove what you have done, you can’t take credit for results in business.

As you will recall, I started this conversation around the idea of data, analytics and being able to prove your impact on a client’s financial outcome. Now let’s finish it.

If you don’t have access to the credible data you need, or the analytic output required to prove your worth, you can’t prove anything. Certainly not your ‘Buyer Benefit of Usage.’ You will continue to compete around the product and features, not outcomes. And you will be left behind.

Remember what Dr. Deming said: “Without data, you are just another person with an opinion.”

So, maybe it’s time for you to join your clients and prospects on their side of the table. Stop talking about meaningless features, commodity results and competitor shortcomings. Prove your worth and attract clients using your actual results.

Best Regards to Analytic Brokers™

Rob Ekern, CAB (Certified Analytic Broker™)
Chairman, TCORCalc®

Develop a Burning Sense of Urgency in Prospects

We have been telling you for some time about the difference between success and mediocrity in the brokerage and agency business.  If there was only one thing you needed to know, here it is… Highly Successful Analytic Brokers™ and agents know how to create a Burning Sense of Urgency in buyers.

Every other industry uses that simple and powerful technique as a pillar of their sales process. But, not the insurance industry. We make it about coverages, program analysis and other processes that are not quantified. Then, if we run into someone who does not share our passion for processes, we make it about the price and premiums (the only thing we have been taught to quantify!)

Then we wonder why we don’t get into more and better accounts. We pull our hair out because of the level of professionalism we offer, to a seemingly deaf audience.

Well, here is a little dose of reality Bucky... High level buyers don’t have time to learn your processes or provide you with review opportunities on their coverages, unless they think there is a problem.  There’s no sense of urgency in the passive delivery of coverages and services if the buyer has been well served in these areas (or if they feel they are well served.)

So, the highly successful agents and brokers make it about something else, something that they can control and know the buyer will respond to. They make it about improving the prospect’s EBITDA, Shareholder Value and productivity (if it’s a not-for-profit it’s about surplus and constituency service.)

These highly successful brokers discuss the Financial Leakage™ that is flowing from the prospect’s business model and how it impacts their profits and KPI’s. They show them in exact dollars how much they are leaking out the back door.

Then they ask one very important question... “Would you like to recapture those costs or continue to lose them?” What do you suppose the answer to that question is?

Now you have a Burning Sense of Urgency. The buyer is motivated to recapture the cost structure that is being wasted inside their organization and the broker is motivated to help. The proverbial Win/Win that we have all been striving for.

Oh, yeah and one more thing.  When they make their presentations, these highly successful Analytic Brokers speak very little about the insurance program. That’s a given. They spend their time showing the prospects how their resource capabilities and projects will change the buyer’s financial outcomes.

They also say … “Oh, by the way, we provide the correct insurance placements too.”

If you’re going to work this way and develop a burning sense of urgency, then you need to have data that shows the buyer beyond reproach what your quantifiable results will be. You need to provide them with an analytical path to their financial statement that shows what your results will be. After all, isn’t that what selling has always been about, showing the prospect how they will benefit from doing business with you?

When you can do that, you have a prospect with a burning sense of urgency!

P.S. Many of the highly successful Analytic Brokers™ and agents look to TCORCalc© as their source for data and Financial Leakage™ Reports... use the TCORCalc link on the menu bar above to learn more about TCORCalc and the Analytic Brokerage™ Platform.  

Best Regards to Analytic Brokers™

Rob Ekern, CAB (Certified Analytic Broker™)
Chairman, TCORCalc®

An Open Letter to C-Suite Buyers

Note: The following is an Open Letter that you should consider sending to your best prospects and clients. It will help them understand how Analytic Brokers focus on their key issues. We will soon be releasing our Whitepaper entitled, ‘How to Select Your Broker in the World of Analytics and Data.’ As a service to your buyers, we will be making this widely available to them.

Dear C-Suite Buyer:

I am writing you today to inform you of some tremendous changes inside the insurance brokerage industry. For years you have wanted a better way to judge the performance of your broker other than simply a pricing competition or how they work under the pressure of an important claim.

In every other buying decision, you look for providers who can help you drive your margins, earnings, productivity and shareholder value. Yet, when choosing your risk financing and services providers, you are given a very limited method of selection.

Here is a truth that virtually all brokers know... They are at the mercy of third parties such as insurance carriers and underwriters. Here is another truth… they all essentially represent the same carriers and providers. So, to choose a broker based upon ‘competitive’ pricing is both an antiquated and expensive way for you to make such a critical business decision.

Oh, and here is another something you should know...  Virtually all of the best brokerage firms have internal resources in claims, risk management and other ‘capabilities’ (or they have special relationships with other service providers.) So, selecting a broker based upon simply having these services is not the issue.

Look, I know you are frustrated with the outdated way the insurance brokerage world provides you options and decision support. Given the fact that you are spending considerable money and effort to create analytic dashboards that measure KPI’s and business outcomes, who could blame you for the frustration you are feeling?

Actually it is quite sad. Can you imagine investing tens of thousands of dollars (in some cases hundreds of thousands) in resources and capacity to improve how you serve your customers or constituents… and then not knowing how it actually impacted them? Or worse yet, can you imagine not maintaining your relevance with your best customers who are now requiring a financial approach to decision support?

First of all, it is not your broker’s fault. For over 350 years they have been trained to focus on coverage, price, policy surveys and insurance companies. Until very recently, with the advent of cloud computing, they really have not been in a position to provide you with much else. But that has changed.

Just like you, the smart brokers are investing in dashboard and technology capabilities to demonstrate and deliver a quantifiable ROI that goes well beyond the risk financing and third party costs. They are seizing on the capabilities of technology that did not exist several years ago. They know that without it, they won’t be able to keep up with your changing financial expectations.

Of course, some brokers will be much slower to adopt this. You probably should weed them out now, as they won’t be of much good to you in 3 years. Why? Because they don’t have a strategy or a plan, and they will never be able to catch up as the gap grows.

By the way, we will be releasing a Whitepaper shortly. It is entitled, ‘How to Select Your Broker in the World of Analytics and Data.’ We will provide you with the ability to interview and select the broker who best fits the direction of your company as regards business outcomes, analytics and financial results.

Thank you very much C-Suite buyer. I know that you agree wholeheartedly with my assessment of our industry’s prior failures to you. Virtually every other industry is providing you with ROI data and analytics for predictive decision making. But, again, it has not been the broker’s fault - up until now. The astute ones are changing and evolving rapidly to maintain your confidence and business expectations.

Best Regards to Analytic Brokers™

Rob Ekern, CAB (Certified Analytic Broker™)
Chairman, TCORCalc®

Become The Broker That Roars

I wish I had a hundred dollars for every brokerage who has said this to me:  'We’re just as good as any broker. We have great resources, a smart team, and we’re really focused on our clients. It seems like we have difficulty getting and keeping the attention of the larger buyers. It has become hard to actually differentiate ourselves.’

Or, how about this one: ‘We have excellent resources in risk control and claims. They are the best. But, when we compete against others, many have similar resources... so we all look the same.’

Does that sound familiar to you? Come on now, be honest.

Here is your solution . . . Become the Broker That Roars!

First let’s agree on one thing. Your firm is just as capable as any other broker, and in many cases better. You have all the resources, brokerage skills, marketplace leverage and expertise required to do a better job for your clients. At the end of the day, if the prospect or client understands this, you are the obvious choice because of your ability to act nimbly on their behalf.

But, here’s your problem… you can’t prove that, so your voice is being lost in the noise of other firms who sound like you!

I hate to tell you this, but just having solid resources doesn’t make you the best . . . it’s what you do with them that matters. That along with the ability to actually prove your results!

So, here is how you become the Broker that Roars...  

  • You show your prospects and biggest clients what the analytic results of your firm have been (or will be.)

  • You take away the resource ‘feature’ language and replace it with your quantifiable impact.  

  • You redesign your large account strategy around the proven and known results of your organization.

  • You take it to the competition and make THEM prove what they have done.

  • You seize the initiative by forcing them into a position where they just can’t compete.

  • You make it ‘put up or shut up’ time for them.

Of course, some of you may be thinking, ‘This all sounds great, but we just can’t achieve all that.’ Well, you might be thinking it, but remember one thing... This is not 1975. You DO actually have the ability to do this if you understand Analytic Brokerage™ and work with TCORCalc® as your source for Analytics and Client results.

If you chose not to, that is your concern. But, know this, you will chose to continue to fight the same way that you have for the past 30 years. How is that working for you now with the latest C-Suite expectations around metrics and results?

So, it is time for you to stand up on your two hind legs and ROAR! You have the ability to do it. You have made the investment in resources, expertise and have a stellar reputation.  Your firm is one of the top brokerages in your region. Now you just need the skills of Analytic Brokerage™ powered by TCORCalc® to amplify your voice!

Go get ‘em Tigers.

Best Regards to Analytic Brokers™

Rob Ekern, CAB (Certified Analytic Broker™)
Chairman, TCORCalc®

Straight Talk to Brokers

It’s time for some straight talk, OK? Many of you have been reading the Consultative Broker™ Briefing for years (now the Analytic Broker™ Briefing.) So, I hope by now you know that we are one of the few voices in the brokerage industry that has consistently provided you with meaningful information on larger account production.

Ready for some straight talk? OK, here it comes.

Those of you who intend to be in the middle and upper/middle market business better hop to it! You need to change your entire perspective and do it quickly. The world of outcomes and analytics are here to stay, and most of you don’t know yours. If you did, you would be hitting the ball over the fence right now.

Virtually every middle market broker can’t answer these important questions from a client: ‘How have you impacted our financial outcome over the past several years?’ Or, ‘What will your impact be on our firm if we appoint you as our broker?’

Some of you are saying, ‘Of course we can answer that question!’ Then you provide a litany of information that all revolves around loss ratios, coverages, carriers and terms. With a bit of ‘Value Added’ services thrown in for good measure. You and every other insurance broker within a 100 mile radius. Oh, come on!

Now look... I’m being hard on you for a reason. If you don’t wake up and smell the coffee, your time will have come and gone. Take it from a grizzled veteran of the insurance brokerage world. Your top clients and prospects are not going to allow you to continue to operate like it’s 1975.

So, I want you to think about this: Let’s say you’re sitting in your office and the phone rings from your largest client. Here’s what she says:

‘We have a new CFO and he would like you to demonstrate the financial impact you have made on our firm over the past 3 years. Please don’t make your presentation based on the marketplace or risk management strategies because he‘s interested in results.’

Here is what the CFO actually wants to know... ‘How has your representation impacted our firm in the following ways?

  • What was the impact on our profit?

  • How have you helped us reduce and recapture our Financial Leakage?

  • How have you added to our shareholder wealth?

  • What are your firm’s results with other clients like us?

If you can’t answer those questions, you’re doomed. Why? Because that same CFO is able to turn to his analytic dashboard and find a big hole in it. The hole is the information that you have not provided him. As a result, you have a client who feels under-served.  That is trouble for you!

How did this happen? Because, you did not make the effort to learn and grow in the business you are now in... Providing clients with a financial impact that is superior to your competitor’s. Period. If you can’t demonstrate your true impact, then as Dr. Deming says, ‘you are just another person with an opinion.’

Now, I know it’s not really your fault. Until recently, the technology and analytics simply did not exist for you to be able to consistently quantify your client impact and track record, and then demonstrate that to your largest prospects and clients in a meaningful way. Fortunately for you, times have changed.

You might have had the opportunity to do all the things that the ‘New CFO’ was asking for, you just didn’t have theability to do them. You didn’t have a way to get there . . . unless you were an Analytic Broker with TCORCalc®.

So, wake up. Smell the coffee. Those of you who keep up with your clients’ and prospects’ demands for knowing ‘what you are worth’ will prosper. This is selling to the highest degree.

Isn’t that what you have been trying to do for years?

Click here to watch a quick introductory video entitled 'Welcome to Analytic Brokerage™' and you're on your way. 

Best Regards to Analytic Brokers™

Rob Ekern, CAB (Certified Analytic Broker™)
Chairman, TCORCalc®

Analytics Are For Selling

Those of you who have written large accounts, as I have, know that you are always under the sword of proving your value. Whether it’s a new member of the C-Suite, an investment banker or change of ownership. And that doesn’t include the competitive pressures your fellow brokers exert when they want your position on the account!

For decades you have worked under the banner of “Value Added” services, showing clients how you have done an excellent job in reducing placement (insurance) inefficiencies, improving coverages and compressing losses.

But here is the truth (and you know it.) If push comes to shove, you really are hard pressed to answer the question: “How have you improved our business model?”

Now look, let’s not kid each other. If you actually believe you are in the selling business, shouldn’t you be able to show a buyer how much better off they are by doing business with you? Isn’t that an essential component of any selling strategy?

For years you have talked about the importance of differentiation. But then you go back to the same strategy that was developed 327 years ago at Lloyds Coffee House (circa 1688) and talk about coverage, terms and price.

And speaking of coffee, it's time for the insurance brokerage industry to wake up and smell it!

You now have the ability to actually call on a client and show them how your firm will impact their cost structure, earnings, ownership valuation and productivity, to name a few. Isn’t this what you have always wanted to do?

Imagine the power of calling on a new account and KNOWING that your firm will improve their outcome and business results. How does that change your entire new business approach? What about your hit ratio and income?

Now you would say, “How is that possible? Because, if that is true, I want it on every new business call I make!”

Not only is it possible, but it is currently being done by selected Analytic Brokers™ across North America.  

So, if you want to not only smell the coffee, but be able to make it, here is what you must accept RIGHT NOW:

  1. The world of Analytics is changing business at a speed that we have not seen since the adoption of the computer.

  2. Your Analytics must be around your impact for clients and include much more than simply the insurance costs and loss ratios.

  3. Your Analytics must be in real-time and change with the improvement of your results for clients.

  4. Your Analytics must be attached to the actual results of the prospect with their current broker.

  5. Your improvement must be translated to the buyer’s Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) - They all have them.

  6. You must have the ability to replicate this method with all clients and prospects.

Notice I said RIGHT NOW. That is because if you don’t, the industry will pass you by. As will your clients. They want you to work this way, as they have set up their business to measure results with dashboards that keep them advised in real-time. They are looking for brokers who can help them impact these results and help them measure them.

Analytic Brokers™ are now providing their clients and prospects with all that I have mentioned above. Through TCORCalc®, they have the client data they need in real-time to ALWAYS compete on a basis of Broker of Record. They know their own Metrics and Analytics and are able to project and present them to a new prospect. They are guaranteed a future in the large account buyer’s world, while their competitors move into obsolescence.  

Best Regards to Analytic Brokers™

Rob Ekern, CAB (Certified Analytic Broker™)

Chairman, TCORCalc®

Writing Large Accounts Using Big Data

For the past year or so, you have been inundated by insurance carriers and service providers endlessly discussing their “Big Data” strategy with you.  But, when you look deeper into it, you are learning that the vast majority of it is about underwriting information, management benchmarks or exotic marketing strategies that most don’t have the ability to implement.

As we used to say... ‘That’s all great, but what does it have to do with the price of tea in China?’  In other words, ‘What do we need in order to compete at a higher level and actually grow our market share over our competition?’

Property Casualty brokerage firms have been extremely slow to adopt meaningful analytics, metrics and outcomes that show a client how they have impacted their profits, EBITDA, productivity and other important business goals.  The Property Casualty brokerage industry is woefully behind every other industry in this regard.

Yet, virtually every one of your C-Suite buyers operates their business based upon metrics, KPI’s and analytic performance.  If you don’t believe that, ask your top clients what KPI’s they use to judge their performance.  Then hold on because you will hear everything from turnaround time to CAPEX, shop rates to shareholder valuation, EBITDA to revenue per item, etc.

Then ask yourself this question:  'How have we really impacted their important business metrics?'  Then throw in one more: 'Can we actually prove it with data-driven results?'

Some of you have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in resource capabilities. Yet, you can’t answer those two important questions.  A bit frustrating isn’t it?

Oh, you can tell them about the reduced loss ratios or the reduced claim costs and even about how you have impacted their risk financing structure.  If you are lucky you can even show them how you have reduced costs around the collateral on a self-insured program.

But, here is what you probably can’t tell them... the specific impact your firm has had on their business goals and what it has been for all your top clients.  In a new business presentation you probably can’t provide Business Intelligence that will predict what the prospect’s results would have been.

So, it is time for the insurance brokerage business to join the rest of the business community in actually providing a quantifiable value that is based upon credible data and outcomes.   Up until now, it was not your fault.  The capabilities and data standards did not exist for middle and upper-middle market accounts.

But now they do.  TCORCalc® has changed the way that Analytic Brokerage firms attract and retain middle/upper-middle market accounts.  The TCORCalc Members and Analytic Brokers have access to information and client delivery tools that are broker-based.  TCORCalc members have a huge advantage over their competitors.

They know not only the price of tea in China, but exactly what their client results have been.  They are able to translate it to buyer KPI’s, metrics and analytics.  A strong currency in any language!

Learn More About TCORCalc Now

Best Regards to Analytic Brokers™

Rob Ekern, CAB (Certified Analytic Broker™)

Chairman, TCORCalc®

How to Make $1,200 a Minute

For the past year or more we have been speaking to you about the power of Analytics and KPI’s in your large account production.  Our brokerage and agency clients are developing a very specific plan, discussion and process for the implementation of important business metrics inside their large account practice.  They are able to provide buyers a basis of “decision support” that is differentiating them well beyond simply risk financing placements.

Here is a true recent experience from one of our Analytic Broker™ clients.  He is a successful producer in a major Southeastern-based insurance brokerage.  In short, he produced a $110,000 revenue account after a 90 minute meetingwith the President of the prospect organization.

Our intrepid Analytic Broker™ met with the President of a rapidly growing Southeastern manufacturing organization.  This buyer had been recently hired by the owners of the firm to help them expand their business in a professional manner.

In the initial part of the conversation, our hero asked the question:  “Are there any specific analytics and KPI’s that you use to manage your business?”

This triggered the buyer to explain some of the KPI’s that were most important to him.  The successful broker tells it this way.  “As soon as I asked the question, I could tell he was a KPI guy.  He proceeded to explain some of the most important metrics and analytics he uses in measuring their business performance.”

What happened next will endure in the Analytic Brokers Hall of Fame for eternity.

“The President and I spent the remainder of the meeting drawing out Analytic Measurements on how we can help him improve his business organization.  We passed a magic marker between us with a whiteboard as we drew them up.  I brought out my notebook of our existing KPI measurements and we tailored them to fit his management requirements.”

Not once in 90 minutes was the subject of insurance placements, carriers or coverage discussed. The entire meeting became about how the resources and capabilities of the brokerage firm could be used to improve the prospect’s financial results . . . and how they would be created, measured and quantified.

Five days later, after never even speaking about the insurance placement, the President called the broker and awarded him a mid-term Broker of Record Letter.  When asked about the main reason for the decision, the buyer told the broker...  “The previous brokerage firm did not understand how we work, and I don’t have the time to teach them.”

Of course the broker has since spent a considerable amount of time understanding the coverages, making recommendations and improving the placements.  But, and this is the point... The Analytic Broker is already being paid to do this work!

One other thing to note.  In the coming years of their business relationship, this Analytic Brokerage™ firm and the client have a common language to judge the effectiveness of their relationship.  It is now about the results that the firm can bring them.  This will never change and any broker who attempts to pierce that relationship will likely fall short as the Analytic Broker is already deeply embedded inside the buyer’s business organization.

So here are a few thoughts for those of you who want to supercharge your large account production.  I sincerely hope that you will take this advice to heart.  Those of you who ignore it will find yourselves relegated to obsolescence in consistent large account production (This is a 100% guarantee!)

  1. Understand your own analytic results for your client base.  When you are asked the question, “Why should we appoint you as our Broker?”, you will need to provide specific results and outcomes in terms of the financial impact that your clients have experienced. Across your entire large account book of business, not just a few isolated examples.

  2. Understand how your analytic results attach themselves to your client and prospect’s KPI’s.  This requires that you have the data and results of your clients and prospects, and then project how they would improve the buyer’s business outcome.  This is the main part of the sale, not the discussion of the process.

  3. You must quickly accept the fact that building and understanding Analytics, KPI’s, Metrics and Financial outcomes are the most important thing you must do in 2015.  Your best clients and prospects are ALL rapidly adopting them and you will not survive in the large account production business without being really good in that area.

Now, as a long-time reader of the C.R. Ekern & Company publications, you may have noticed several new trademarked terms, Analytic Broker™ and Analytic Brokerage™ .  We are retiring the Consultative Broker™ and Consultative Brokerage™ monikers in lieu of these more appropriate terms for the age of “Big Data” and certified client results.  Through the implementation of the Major Account Development System® and TCORCalc® our firm has the ability to support brokers who are interested and willing to implement this most important business result.

To see how TCORCalc will provide you with the Metrics, Analytics and Quantifiable Data you need to succeed in the age of Big Data, check out our recently-unveiled website.

All the best to Analytic Brokers,

Rob Ekern
C.R. Ekern & Company