When You Think You Are In Heaven and Find Out You Are In Hell

Twice in the last week insurance clients have called to say that they lost their number one account. In one case it cost the agent $80,000 in lost commissions and in the other the loss was over $50,000. In both cases these agents had maintained these accounts for several years. So what happened?

We could speculate as to why these agents lost this business, but we will never really be sure. However, both cases share some common threads. Both accounts originally started with the agent dealing one on one with the owner. As time passed and the businesses grew, the owners became less involved in the insurance decisions and delegated those decisions to a staff member. The agent was essentially handed off to someone with whom they had little or no relationship.

As each of these agents related their side of the story to me, it became apparent that the agent had mistakenly assumed that they no longer needed to nurture, strengthen and grow the relationships within the company. They essentially had taken the existing relationship for granted and had failed to realize that they needed to continue to “court and woo” their client. It is the same mistake that marriage partners make when they begin to take their spouse for granted.

A parable explains this well. A man who was dying was presented with the option of visiting both heaven and hell to see where he would like to spend eternity.

When he visited heaven he observed a very serene and peaceful atmosphere. The streets were paved with gold and angels floated through the air playing harps and cellos. People munched on nectar and fruit and were friendly, though somewhat sedated and tranquil. Not a bad place at all.

When he visited hell he was shocked. Instead of fire and brimstone there were people dancing and partying and drinking. There was a great variety and abundance of sumptuous and delectable foods. People were laughing and telling jokes and it reminded him of his college fraternity days.

When it came time to choose, he chose hell. You can’t really blame him can you?

When he died and got there it was horrible. People were wailing and screaming. It was miserably hot and not a drop of water to be had. The only food available were scraps that people fought over viciously.

Unable to comprehend what had happened he asked his host, “When I took the tour there were people dancing and partying and drinking. There was a great variety and abundance of sumptuous and delectable foods. People were laughing and telling jokes. What happened?”

With a grin on his face and a gleam in his eye his host responded and said, “before you were a prospect now you are a client.”

The moral: The way you keep clients is to treat them, after they become a customer, the same as you did before they became a customer.

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