Negotiation is a meeting of minds. It’s about being heard, being understood, and finding common ground. The cornerstone of any negotiation is the relationship between the negotiating parties. The strength and dynamics of that relationship are what drive mutual success. We’ve spoken to several insurers about what influences their decisions and condensed this into four tips, below, which we hope you find useful.
An insurer needs to know you’re being honest. This is best developed through a sustained relationship of collaboration and reciprocal assistance. Keep your promises. Once the insurer trusts you, they’ll consider favours in the proper light, giving your request the consideration it deserves.
Be reasonable. You’re dealing with real people with targets to achieve, deadlines to meet, and careers to develop. Acknowledge insurer interests. Understand time pressures and workloads. Forgive innocent errors. If you’ve a complex issue to debate, do your homework. Be conscientious. If it’s a big ask, let them know you understand the significance of the request, but explain why it’s important to you and the client. For one-offs make it clear this isn’t something you’d normally ask, and don’t ask for something similar again (see Trust).
Since you’re negotiating with human beings, not robots, get to know them. Be authentic. If you know they’ve just had a baby, congratulate them. If it’s their birthday, wish them well. If it’s first thing on a Monday morning, be cheerful and understanding. Connect on professional social networks. Make a point of saying hello on your next visit to the office. You don’t have to become their best friend, but showing real interest will make them feel valued and more inclined to be flexible.
It seems obvious, but stressing the benefit of your request--without giving ultimatums--can highlight what’s at stake. Emphasise how the insurer’s assistance would bolster client loyalty, promote the insurer’s brand, and enhance their reputation in the client’s industry. If your insurer has been particularly helpful, be vocal about it on social media. The insurer will thank you for the positive publicity and feel appreciated for their hard work.
It can be challenging to commit to these tenets at all times. Workload pressures, demanding clients, and technical problems can all add to the stress of being a broker. When this stress overspills it causes damage to relationships and work ethics. Learn to transcend this by making the four principles a priority--if you’re having a tough day, say so, you might be surprised by the response you get.
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