18th February, 2016

Interview with an Ally


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Interview with an Ally

Nathan Ray – Austbrokers Countrywide

It was Monday afternoon and for the first time in a long time I had left the safety of my desk to venture out for lunch. This is a rare occurrence as lunch is usually inhaled whilst dashing between meetings, spent sitting in front of my computer responding to emails (well…more like watching TED videos) or like today as I eat and type this blog with one finger (there’s a lot to be said for mono tasking)

I did however, have a plan for this particular Monday.  I was catching up with Nathan Ray from Austbrokers Countrywide. Nathan has been a member of the MATCH Alliance from its inception and he has been one of the best provider of referrals to MATCH Alliance members all year. But not only is he generous in sharing leads, almost every time it’s Nathans turn to present at a QPR breakfast (QPR is a Qualified Personalised Referral – This is probably a good time to mention that if you have no idea what The Match Alliance is then please feel free to check out the website at http://www.matchalliance.com.au) another member will interrupt with a great story of an interaction they have had with Nathan. The consistent high praise around Nathan’s good natured approach, technical knowledge and his ability to save clients’ money, caught my attention. So at lunch I planned to steal his secrets, but don’t tell him that.

“The consistent high praise around

Nathans good natured approach,

technical knowledge and his ability

to save client’s money, caught my attention.”

I arrived early and chose a seat in the restaurant that allowed me to keep an eye on my car through the window as I was parked in a ticket meter spot and am sick of getting fines. While waiting for Nathan to arrive and keeping one eye on my car I did a quick search for him on my phone.

I was a little surprised not to find much about him online. A LinkedIn page was one of the only references. A quick read didn’t tell me much except for two interesting bits of information. The first is that he has 15 years’ experience in insurance and for a guy at 33 that’s not half bad, and the second is that Nathan has 17 recommendations on LinkedIn and that is no small achievement. People don’t take the time to recommend you that many times for no good reason. This was the key to it all and by the end of lunch I had found Nathan’s Secret.

12 o’clock arrived and so did Nathan right on time as expected. He is a fairly straight down the line insurance guy after all. We shook hands, danced around the “will you have a drink? I will if you will” conversation and ordered lunch.  For the record I had water and Nathan had a wine but I’m not judging.

As the waiter took our order and left I mentioned to him that I had searched him online and that other than a LinkedIn profile not much came up. I expected a response along the lines of “Yeah I should really work on that…blah blah blah” as most people do when we discuss social media. However the response I got was unexpected. “Yep, that’s done on purpose” That’s all he said.

So I probed a little deeper. I thought this was where the secret of his success lied and that’s why I was there. During our discussion on sales techniques and methodologies Nathan had one very clear approach which he swears by. Sell on relationship and not technical jargon. “Word of mouth is 90% of my business.”

“It turns out people don’t care about insurance” he said like a man who had discovered a great truth. I could have told him that years ago. It was obvious to me, because let’s face it, is there a topic that will put you to sleep faster than the finer details of an insurance policy? The reason this was so surprising to Nathan was because I believe that deep down the finer points of an insurance policy really excite him. No matter how hard he tried to hide it the man is an insurance nerd, all be it a cool one.

 “It turns out people don’t care about insurance”

he said like a man who had discovered a great secret.

“Word of mouth is 90% of my business”

Nathan went on to explain that in his first few years as a broker he would focus heavily on the technical aspects of the policy he was trying to sell. He would pour over the detail with clients at great lengths. He was preparing a lot of proposals and had a lot of meetings with very little success.

As lunch was served he told a story about how eight years ago he went to a networking group and decided to stop talking about the technical detail. He tried to build a relationship with the people he met instead. He started to offer obligation free quotes and his pitch wasn’t around every aspect of the policy. He decided to show his clients the one or two most important aspect of their cover.

Where they were under-insured and

Why they were over paying.

In that short change he had started to build long term relationships and started to save clients a lot of money.

As we finished the meal and one eye went back in search of my car to make sure that no ticket inspectors where crawling around the gutters, ready to pounce as soon as the time expired. I realised that if you ask Nathan why he has been successful he would say that he builds real relationships with clients, saves them money and doesn’t do the hard sell. He is happy to provide a quote, show the gaps and let the client make their own mind up.

However it struck me that although Nathan is spot on in his approach to sales there are things that he takes for granted. Some of which I feel are key to his success and I highly recommend anyone in a sales/consulting role try to replicate.

The technical is still very important. Nathan is an expert in his field and it’s easy to see that when you speak with him. Your clients don’t want the finer details. They want to trust that you know the finer details. There is no quick fix to this.

The lesson: Do the homework and know your industry and your product.

 Listen to your client and speak to them on their terms. Give them what they want and not what you want to sell. Nathan never forces a client. He understands their needs and delivers this at a saving where possible.

The Lesson: Don’t bore your client with information they don’t care about.  

Don’t sell. Be passionate and genuinely believe you are providing a good, honest service. Your clients will feel that you are genuine. It’s easy to see that Nathan is genuine. Ask him about what he enjoys when it comes to his role and he will tell you it’s about being with a client during a claim and knowing that you have genuinely helped them get through a very hard time.
The Lesson: Don’t sell and be genuine in your service offering. Show them what you can offer and in the first instance don’t focus on how you can do that unless the clients asks for detail. Remember Nathans approach. He showed them two talking points:

 Where they were under-insured and

Why they were over paying.

As the bill was paid, lunch was done and I walked back to my car I felt like I had learnt a lot. I had learnt a lot about sales and consulting, about the importance of taking a break out of a busy day for lunch and good conversation and most of all I learnt that parking inspectors in Melbourne are crafty and even though you are only 3 minutes late you will see a $72 fine on your windshield. As it turns out, Nathan learnt that lesson too.