Broker Control: An Acquired Skill

As every Consultative Broker™ knows, the key goal of working with any prospect or client is to obtain and maintain “Broker Control.” What does Broker Control mean? In short, it is the ability to direct the prospect or client to the proper conclusions. These conclusions can range from simply agreeing to take the time to listen to and consider what you are saying, all the way to appointing you as the Broker.

As every Consultative Broker™ knows, the key goal of working with any prospect or client is to obtain and maintain “Broker Control.”  What does Broker Control mean?  In short, it is the ability to direct the prospect or client to the proper conclusions.  These conclusions can range from simply agreeing to take the time to listen to and consider what you are saying, all the way to appointing you as the Broker.

Every sale or client interaction offers you an opportunity to gain or lose Broker Control.  The key is to understand all the nuances of your actions and how they are valued by your client.  Remember, in these difficult economic times, a client or prospect is judging you more critically than ever before.

It breaks my heart to see a Broker lose a tremendous client simply because they didn’t understand the keys to Broker Control.  Frankly, it didn’t need to happen.  In fact, in most cases, the losing Broker did it to themselves.

Here are some of the most common ways a “holding” Broker loses Broker Control.  At the end of the day, even if they don’t lose the client, they have probably lost their position as a Consultant.  Now they have been delegated to the role of an insurance vendor and may be treated like a shoe salesman.  Eventually the client will fire them.

  1. They hold back information.  In this situation, the Broker fails to keep the client informed of changes and important information throughout the year.  These Brokers see the renewal period as the only time a client is interested in being informed.  Of course, by the time the renewal comes around, they are on the outside looking in.
  2. They don’t keep new projects in front of the client.  They assume that the client is not interested in spending time on new projects.  Therefore, they lose their value to the client.  I have seen this one time and time again.  Eventually the relationship gets stale and dries up.
  3. They are afraid to say no.  Of course we have been taught that the customer is always right.  But, that is wrong.  We all know of cases where our clients have endeavored to go down the wrong path.  Sometimes, you need to tell a client that even though you value their business, your business reputation will not allow you to support their decision.  Truthfully, some clients need to hear this in order to respect the “professionalism” of such an approach.  Others will test you, just to see what you are made of (e.g. the new CFO.)
  4. They don’t keep current on the client’s business operations. In these cases the client has evolving issues around productivity, profitability, competitive pressure, human capital, geographic expansion, acquisitions, or governmental regulations (to name a few.)  When the Broker does not stay current and ends up losing Broker Control, they may complain, “The client didn’t tell me about that!”  - as if it is the role of the client to do their job.
  5. They don’t establish a Value Proposition.  Eventually these Brokers will hear the most infamous words known to Insurance Agents.  When asked why the client is making a different choice, they hear, “We think we have outgrown you.”  Notice I said Insurance Agent?  I used that term because that is all you are if you can’t demonstrate a Value Proposition and embed it into your client or prospect’s business operation.
  6. They abdicate their responsibilities to others.  Now, we all know the importance of delegation.  Abdication and delegation are two different things.  Delegation is when you send a resource out to the client in order to assist you in making a client presentation.  Abdication is when you expect the resource to make the presentation without your participation.  In these cases you have lost your visibility as a Broker and will be seen as “frictional” inside the transaction.  In these cases, the commission income is coded to the wrong individual!

By the way, for those of you who are “glass half full” people, read the above examples and change the comments from negative to positive.  You will then have some answers on how to obtain Broker Control.  Either way, you get the drift.

The ability to obtain and maintain Broker Control is a skill that must be acquired.  In my years as a successful mega-Broker and now as a Consultant, I have observed one thing - The Producers who learn this skill and practice it regularly develop the largest books of business.  They don’t waste time second-guessing their own clients and can therefore spend their valuable time finding new ones.

- Rob Ekern

For more information on how to quantify TCOR, manage projects, build a value proposition, and consistently deliver stewardship reports and new business presentations to your customers, check out the Major Account Development System (MADS), an on-line consultative broker's toolkit. Available now!

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