A unique value proposition is a fundamental element of every successful business. And every Business 101 course will tell you that your value proposition should demonstrate why your products and services are the best options for your clients. I agree that differentiation is an important part of a strong value proposition. However, I often see value propositions that focus almost entirely on the benefits of the products and services being offered with little or no emphasis on what clients want. Those value propositions are all about the seller, not the client. Their objective is to move a transaction forward rather than build a relationship.
I propose a shift in how we think about value propositions. A value proposition is a promise to our clients – a promise to deliver superior service and provide quality products and services that they truly value and need. A strong value proposition is a mindset, not a slogan. It is a tool for long-term relationship building rather than short-term sales. A good value proposition differentiates your business from the competition. A great value proposition speaks from your client’s perspective, not yours.
Much research has been done on what clients want, and it all seems to boil down to two things: value and trust. Value encompasses more than cost. Clients want to know they are getting the value they expect not only for the price they pay but also for the time and effort they spend throughout the purchase process.
For the past several years, my mantra has been “Clients are in control.” Today’s consumers can purchase what they want, where they want, and when they want. They can buy almost anything they want online, from groceries to automobiles, and have them delivered to their homes, often with same-day delivery. Services that were once considered value-added are now expected as standard service. Consumers also have access to more information than ever before, including price comparisons and reviews and recommendations from other consumers. They will not hesitate to share their experience with your business – the good and the bad – online.
At a minimum (and I do mean minimum), clients expect a positive experience with every interaction and across every channel. Whether they are connecting with your business in person, online, over the phone, or via email or text, your clients expect convenience, ease of use, and friendly and knowledgeable service.
Although much focus today is placed on the digital experience, never underestimate the value of human interaction. The human element along with a knowledgeable, friendly team was rated among the top five customer expectations in the 2018 PwC report “Experience is everything: here’s how to get it right.” In the 2021 Accenture study “Guide insurance customers to safety and well-being,” 49% of the research participants said they place a lot of trust in a human advisor when making an insurance claim, while only 12% said the same of automated services, and just 7% said they trust a chatbot. With so much information at their fingertips, our clients may not need us for the basics anymore. But they still need and value support navigating the complex maze of insurance and financial services options to find the best solutions. Your clients value the convenience of digital service, but when they have issues, questions, or concerns, they want human help.
Does your value proposition demonstrate to clients that you value their time as well as their business? That you are making their lives easier through online services, but they are never on their own? Here’s one example that nicely balances automation with the human element: “We blend a convenient, state-of-the-art digital platform with expert advisor insight.”
If a good value proposition differentiates your business from the competition, and a great value proposition speaks from your client’s perspective, then an exceptional value proposition generates trust. Although some still view our products and services as commodities, I believe what we do is very personal. People are trusting us to inform and educate them to make the right decisions for themselves, their families, and their businesses. They are entrusting us with the protection not just of their belongings but of their hopes and dreams for the future. They are putting their faith in the belief that we will deliver on our promise.
Three essential elements to build trust are care, understanding, and expertise. Our clients want to know that we care about them; we understand their needs; and we have the skills and knowledge to guide them to the best solutions. Our value propositions should reflect those elements to our clients, and our actions should demonstrate that their trust is well placed.
Trust is built on relationships, not transactions. Gathering as much information as you can about your clients – what I call a 360-degree view – demonstrates your commitment to understanding and meeting their unique needs. Connecting with clients more than once a year (not just at renewal time), following up after client interactions with your business to ensure they are satisfied, and providing personalized service show that you care.
I am an ardent advocate of lifelong learning. It really isn’t optional in our profession. We must constantly retool our businesses to remain relevant and give our clients the kind of service they desire and have every right to expect. Still, even the most dedicated person can’t be an expert in everything. That’s why I am a proponent of specialization and expertise partners (people you partner with who offer products or services you don’t). These strategies demonstrate your commitment to providing your clients with the expert knowledge they need.
Those familiar with my business know that I believe in segmenting clients based on relationships rather than earning potential. My goal is to have a discussion partner relationship with the majority of my clients. This relationship is exactly what it sounds like – we are partners in finding the best solutions. I am not here to “tell and sell.” I’m here to discuss, explore, educate, and serve. It is a relationship built on mutual trust and respect and demonstrates to clients that I always have their best interests at heart.
Does your value proposition let clients know how much you care? Does it communicate the expertise you and your team bring to the table? Does it demonstrate your commitment to fully understand your clients’ unique needs and provide personalized service? Here are two value propositions that each demonstrate those qualities in very different ways:
Client loyalty has never been more important, and it is harder than ever to maintain. Competition for your clients’ attention is coming from everywhere, and to survive, you must stand out from a very crowded field. Putting your clients at the center of everything you do, including your value proposition, isn’t a marketing strategy, it is a growth and retention strategy. The Bain & Company study “Customers Know What They Want. Are Insurers Listening?” revealed that insurers that excel in providing elements that customers value achieve higher than average net promoter scores, resulting in increased customer loyalty and revenue growth.
Of course, your value proposition is only the first step in that process. It is the promise you make to your clients. The next step – delivering on that promise – is up to you.
Troy Korsgaden is a highly sought-after Insurance Carrier Consultant. He is the principal of Korsgaden International, which specializes in global marketing, distribution, agency building and technology strategies for many of the world’s largest insurance carriers and financial services companies.
As a consultant, platform speaker, and author of seven books, Korsgaden’s mission is to help the insurance industry and its representatives wake up to the radical transformation taking place in the insurance industry. He helps those in the industry learn how to better communicate with consumers, so that consumers develop a higher appreciation for the value of insurance products.
In his career, which spans over three decades, Korsgaden has consulted and spoken with hundreds of thousands of executives, agents, brokers, and team members. A widely respected expert on the seamless distribution ecosystem. Korsgaden trains corporate insurance and financial services leaders on customer service, change management, technology, and transformational work, among many other key topics.
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