The insurance broker is ticked off. His prospect came highly referred by a long time client and was ready to buy. And now, just three days later, this prospect is telling him she's going with another agent. "What happened?" he asks, trying to quell his shock and disappointment, "What changed your mind?"
"Please don't take it personally," she replies, knowing that's exactly what he's doing, "I just don't think we're sophisticated enough for your firm. We decided to go with someone who operates a little more at our level. But please stay in touch, perhaps we can reconnect in a couple of years."
Completely blindsided, and decidedly clueless as to what happened, the agent - let's call him Agent A - marches into the office, frustrated with his agency. He bought into their paperless system and proposed its online client services with gusto! "Look how easy it will be to issue your own certificates of insurance..." he told his prospect who runs a janitorial business. "And you won't have to wait for a three-ring binder full of paper policies... you just log into our website and you'll find soft copies of your policies there. They're easy to download and save on your server."
Agent A is now thinking...obviously my agency doesn't realize that they're pushing something that much of the consuming public doesn't want or isn't ready for...and that, in fact, it's costing us business.
Across town, Insurance Agent B is doing a happy-dance! He's the winner of the janitorial prospect's insurance business. The interesting thing is that his agency is also digital and paperless. In fact, today, he spent twenty minutes with his new client, brainstorming ways they could create new value for janitorial customers using technology.
So what's the difference? The difference is in the Emotional Intelligence!
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to recognize and understand one's own emotions, correctly read the emotions of others, and harness emotions to positively change outcomes by managing thinking and behavior.
Agent A memorized a "dog and pony show" about online insurance services and blindly played it out for the prospect. But the prospect viewed issuing certificates herself as doing a job the insurance broker should be doing. She was also uncomfortable having to track down her policies on the agency website. She liked the agent but really couldn't see where all the tech would benefit her janitorial business.
By contrast, Agent B was able to grasp the things that were priority to the prospect. He gauged her level of comfort with technology and understood his value in helping her bridge the cyber gap. He started the journey with her by exploring the potential benefit of technology for her own company. As she absorbed the possibilities, he used his agency's own online services as a safe way to help her with real-time cyber service.
At its core, emotional intelligence is about navigating interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. People who exhibit high "emotional intelligence" are in demand because they are able to achieve worthy goals.
Mastering E.I. is probably #1 on my personal development list. Of course, my ego wants me to believe I am already there, but my authentic self knows I have a way to go. Luckily, achievement scales as E.I. increases.
Lynne Wallace is the CEO and president of VANTREO Insurance Brokerage and co-founder of NDOI, the National Directory of Insurance.
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