Zurich Municipal investing across the generations

Zurich Municipal (ZM) is the specialist division of Zurich Financial Services providing insurance and risk management solutions to the UK public services sector, such as local authorities, educational organisations, housing associations and the voluntary sector. ZM’s relationship with Huthwaite International dates back all the way to 1995, when the then management engaged Huthwaite for its sales call execution model - SPIN® Selling Skills - and its major opportunity management methodology - called Account Strategy or AS. A couple of years ago they came back, to re-introduce both SPIN® and AS tools to their customer - facing RICs (Risk and Insurance Consultants), and to the technical specialists (in Underwriting, Risk and Claims) who play a vital role in servicing ZM’s customers.

It worked then, and it works now

So why, after all this time, did ZM come back to Huthwaite? Mick Kelly, Head of Sales explains:

ZM had seen a lot of change in personnel over recent years. Mick continues, “our salesforce had changed rapidly, so we decided to go back to basics, to re-install and refresh SPIN® and AS to everyone.” Mick Kelly elaborates, on how the training has been received this time around. “Our people see the value of SPIN® and AS, to get to understand our customers’ objectives well ahead of the expiry of their current, typically long-term insurance agreement. We talk about getting ‘’hung up on your case’’, to identify key decision-makers, decision milestones and have a structured plan for each of our cases.

According to Rod Penman (joint Head of Sales), everyone has bought into SPIN® and the AS process, “leaving no stone unturned’’, to understand who we have to deal with in all our forthcoming tenders. Everyone has their AS plans, for both the cases we’re defending and new business.

Chris Knowles, Midlands and East Region Manager is one of those who was first exposed to SPIN®and AS this time around. He comments on the impact:

SPIN® and AS have given my team a framework and structure for us all to understand. SPIN® now forms the basis of our conversations with customers and helps us to find out what’s behind their needs, from which we build our proposition.”

Clear business impact

In some ways, a clear view of the impact so soon after the recent intervention is difficult to obtain as, according to Rod, “it’s too early to tell, however, we have been successful despite the environment and competition. I genuinely believe the investment in SPIN® and AS has paid dividends.”

Coaching still makes all the difference

John Read, who has led the recent project for Huthwaite, comments:

“What really stands out for me is the top-to-bottom approach taken by ZM. How often do we see the MD and all the functional heads committing their time so visibly? This sent such a strong message about how importantly ZM took this.” But in John’s view the recent intervention improved on the original:

I’m also really impressed by the coaching roles taken by Rod, Mick and Barbara. One of them opened every training event, stayed throughout to help illustrate how they had personally applied SPIN® and AS and, since the training, they have been supporting the RICs to help them embed the new skills and tools.

Clearly, while other sales methodologies have come and gone over the years, SPIN® and AS just keep on working.