more on cost of switching




In my last article (see below), I discussed how clients and agents weigh value in the insurance buying process. 

In this segment I want to dig deeper into the concept of COS and how you can enhance retentions and improve chances of securing new business

For training in these important concepts - contact me 

Paul Balbresky, ITP

Insurance Training for Bottom Line Results

(856) 985 - 0955

Find out more



We all are familiar with inertia - resistance to change. We experience it all the time - especially with renewable buying processes like P&C insurance. Unless the incumbent has done a poor job of servicing a client - they are not likely to move elsewhere. Or are they? 

What if something has changed with the client and the incumbent didn't know about it? Would the new "something" be enough to be critical to the client? Would they feel taken for granted if the incumbent didn't anticipate it? Would they be open to messages from competitors (attackers) who did?

Sales Mentality


Here's what happens during and after a sale. Imagine you have bought something for a friend or relative for a special occasion - maybe you spent $100. You are happy with the purchase until you leave the store and then think - maybe I should have gotten it in a different color - or a different model? 

Buyer's remorse is the common experience we all go through - the uncertainty we have made a good decision. Imagine the size of buyer's remorse when you have paid a lot of money for an insurance policy

Perceived Value


Above is an old fashioned balance. Pharmacists used to measure out quantities of powders to create their pills. On the one side was the thing they were measuring and on the other various weights. 

Its only when the Perception of Value outweighs and tips the balance from the Cost of Switching that the buyer makes a change.

I use this analogy to describe the psychology of the decision to buy.

Most Everyone has Insurance


The decision each year is to renew, change or move the program.  Most buyers (personal and commercial) renew (80 - 95%) and many do this without substantial changes to their program. But things do change; personal lives, businesses, the world. 

So doesn't it make sense that insurance should change periodically as well? The reason buyers don't often do that is inertia. It's easier to stay with what you know than to take a risk (or invest the energy) on something unknown. Learning new products, contact people - all is work and contributes to the cost of switching 

Meaning for the Incumbent


Keep in touch with the policyholder throughout the year - not just at renewal. 

Let them know what a value they have received - even if there is little service or claim activity, create a perception of what they have with you is positive - and was a good choice and purchase. 

Especially if you have provided service or claims work - remind them of the good job you have done and that they are a valued client. 


Meaning for the Attacker


If you wish to move the account from their Incumbent to your company you have to show them something better. And not just a little better or a little cheaper, something meaningful that will overcome the Cost of Switching. You have to create a Perception of Value in their minds that is greater than the pain they will go through to get it. 

Show them gaps in coverage, duplications, new risks that are uninsured, new perils in the world or in their industry. Pepper your presentation with stories about how others like this prospect have benefited from working with you. 

Diminish the Cost of Switching and increase the Perception of Value of your Proposal. 

You'll have better results.

Cost of Switching

Business Development

In my Deal Making Classes we discuss what motivates buyers (and agents) to buy or stay. 

This has particular relevance for Underwriters, Marketers and Agents.  In traditional Sales training Cost Of Switching is rarely mentioned. but it can be a big factor in both New Business and    Retentions.

Mentioning the concept of Cost of Switching - at least to me - is a good example of how my training is a little different from others you may have experienced!

Why People Buy

Buyers (policyholders, agents or brokers) choose a carrier for a combination of three reasons: price, unique needs/policy features, or because they have a persistent service issue. 

In order to do business with YOU they will likely have to move from someone else. They know what and who they already have so there is uncertainty in making a change. 

Making a change comes with a price. I call this the Cost of Switching - it can be a significant issue for new business and a great opportunity to increase retentions 


I introduce the topic of Cost of
Switching using Physics and/or Psychology analogies. 

“Okay - now Paul has gone off on a tangent again - what does this have to do with INSURANCE?”  

Bear with me - perhaps a couple of examples will help.

Here are 2 I use to drive home the importance of the Cost of Switching


One Physics analogy relates to the laws of motion. A body at rest stays at rest… Inertia. Nothing will move that relationship unless you disturb it. How will you disturb it? Ask yourself: Are they dissatisfied with current service? Has it been a long time since their program has been reevaluated? Are there new solutions available? Do they have new business needs that haven’t been addressed? Inertia is a powerful force and it may take a lot to overcome it, do your homework - it's not just Price.


A Psychology analogy I use has to do with Perception. The Benefit of your solution must outweigh the Benefit of their existing program - in the buyer's minds. Changing relationships involves Work: learning new product features, understanding new procedures, getting to know new contact people, etc. It takes effort to make change and the Perception of the Value of what you are recommending has to outweigh the Work they have to go through to make the change


If you are the Incumbent - recognize and leverage these triggers to protect your renewals!

Appreciate all the buyer has to wrestle with to make a decision to switch. Do your homework and see what changes have occurred or are about to take place in their business or industry. Go beyond the request for proposal – talk solutions, not products versus products. There are implications for staying with an existing program vs making  a change - talk about those issues



People will only buy if they see a distinct advantage over what they already have. 

I want you to consider the advantage of taking on a new vendor relationship to support your deal making training and the significant impact it can have on your results. Let's talk about your specific situation!

Thanks for reading - feel free to pass this along

Paul Balbresky, ITP

(856) 985 - 0955

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The next chapter of the Star Wars adventure is about to hit movie theatres. I've had fun writing this series of newsletters for you and hope you have enjoyed them as well. Don't forget to check out archived articles on my website. And if you would like to discuss your training goals with me - you can reach me at (856) 985 0955 or


"I don't understand"    Anakin

"With time and training you will"   Quai Gon Ginn 

The learner may be uncertain. Over time they must open their minds and trust in the advice of the trainer.  Be patient; some grasp new concepts easily while others require more coaching. A mentor provides the novice with tools, such as the light saber in the movie, or job aides in real life with which to help the novice succeed in their quest.

The manager’s job is to provide opportunities for development and to encourage growth among their staff. The training department should try to ensure the manager prepares the employee for the training, and afterwards reinforces and coaches to the new behaviors.

After a time, the novice breaks free from depending on the mentor so that they can graduate from learner to accomplished master. Prepare them for this moment so that they are comfortable in being self-sufficient.



Working live in front of colleagues, or worse being immortalized on camera is stressful for many adults. Make the participant feel safe and as comfortable as possible during practice sessions. As with the hero of the movies, the learner must undergo trials to prove their worth. Make sure the process you employ encourages risk taking in a safe environment. 


"My obtuse little friend you obviously have a lot to learn about human behavior” R2D2


Training classes can be stone ugly if they are strictly talking heads. Breaks, varyation of activity and occasional use of wit all go into making the learning more palatable. However, training is a serious business, and if it becomes too much edu-tainment, it will lose its impact. If you as the trainer are comfortable with humor use it to accent your presentations or facilitation. If you are not comfortable with it, don’t try. There is nothing more silent than the reaction of a class full of adults when a joke bombs.


“The odds of successfully navigating this asteroid field are approximately 3720 to 1”   C3PO


Statistics and other third party objective information can be accepted or challenged. Be prepared for the worse and have further substantiation available.


"No more training do  you require, already know you that which you need"   YODA


It’s always fun creating these articles and I hope they have been beneficial for you. Let me know how you liked this article and if there are other topics you would like to see in my future letters.

"The FORCE will be with you Always"



With the New Movie just over a week away - We continue the analogy of learning

This issue briefly explores words of wisdom from Yoda, Luke, and of course Han Solo. See archived articles with more pictures BELOW


  "Do or do not ... there is no Try!"      Yoda

What really matters is whether the learner applies their new knowledge or skill back on the job. Good intentions are never enough. To help, prepare a proper supporting and reinforcing environment once the seminar is over. Metrics should indicate what improvement there is in actions leading to results as well as the results themselves.


"I cant believe it!"  Luke Skywalker

"That is why you Fail"     Yoda

Learning sometimes is impacted by how a participant approaches the training. Fear, self doubt, or even resentment can be factors. Managers can help in making this a positive experience. Explain why the training is needed, what the manager expects afterwards, how they will help them, what will happen to their workload during the training, etc. 


How does your training end; with a sense of accomplishment or a sense of relief? The environment he or she returns to can encourage new behaviors or discourage them. A few new skills being used is a good start. Give a lot of support and you may find a greater willingness to embrace what they have learned. 


“Welcome young Skywalker, I am looking forward to completing your training” Emperor

The mentoring relationship is one in which a more experienced individual assists a novice through the maze of a system, like a corporation. 

Trainers may have a mentoring relationship with their students, passing along wisdom in the form of knowledge, process or skill, using anecdotal supplements to enrich the learning with real life experience. Trust - they provide feedback and a safe environment in which to test new skills. elf, let folks know.


For help designing and implementing powerful training with long lasting impact on your team and bottom line results contact me through my website OR CALL (856) 985 - 0955  

everything I know about training - i learned from star wars!

Episode I - How we Learn


In honor of the new Star Wars movie coming out this month and the 41st anniversary of the series, In the next few articles I will be featuring connections from the original trilogy with training concepts. 

This Newsletter came out May 4 - do you know the significance of that date?

Hint: say the date 3 times out loud!

Padawon = Learner

At the outer quadrant of the Galaxy - struggling rebels and dedicated Jedi masters use learning principles with their young Padawons - leaders of the future. 

A Padawan, or Jedi apprentice, is a trainee who is apprenticed to a Jedi Knight or Master. Padawans receive one-on-one instruction in the ways of the Jedi. When a Padawan's training is completed, he must pass the Trials to become a Jedi Knight. 

Padawan means learner in Sanskrit.

"Is it possible to learn this power?"

 The hero’s journey in the movies is akin to the path a learner must take to achieve their goal of new behaviors or increased performance. With Luke, the path was challenging, but with coaching he was able to realize his goal. 

For his father, Anakin (later Darth Vader), the journey was characterized by poor coaches, and as his mentors left him, he was turned to the dark side. 

Same path, different learning support, dramatically different outcomes and behaviors.

"It is useless to Resist!"


Trainees tend to push back on new behaviors being suggested or required. They must be sold on the rationale for them rather than it’s just what the home office wants this week. Preparation for the training by the manager, explanation of how it will help the trainee and how the manager will expect performance to be changed afterwards all help create a positive atmosphere.

"You must Unlearn what you have Learned"

Often training is mandated because a job function has changed. There may be new ways to do a task and the learner has to shed old processes before they can accept the new behaviors. A person hired to do a technical job may be asked to assume more production responsibilities. This can cause anxiety. Trainers and Managers should take steps to explain and reassure the employee about any new expectations and support.

Understand your Learner

 Adults learn best when they see a benefit to them, usually as a direct connection to their current or next job. They also tend to express their opinions about whether the subject is really needed. They may have anxiety in being selected for training, or in being compared to their peers in a public situation. The training must be time efficient, convenient, and consider the work that is piling up during their absence. 

"Use your Instincts"

Adults like variety, changes of pace, and accommodating their learning preferences or styles. Put yourself in the participants’ chair and think about a workshop's flow. Break it up with activity, demonstrations, various size groups and individual work in addition to straight lecture. And did I mention death by power point? Use animation, visuals, as well as bullet points and don’t ever, ever read from a slide.

"Let go of everything you fear to lose"

Accepting new ways of doing things is always hard, especially for seasoned veterans. Set up in advance what specific benefits they will get out of the new skills or behaviors. Sometimes veterans may even like being asked to model new skills to newer hires.

The Power of Great Training

May the Force be with You!

 I hope you've enjoyed this departure from my usual format. With the upcoming release of a new Star Wars Movie I thought it timely. 

In the next couple of newsletters we will join the young Jedi warriors and their masters as they continue to develop their teams 

If you would like to see YOUR teams achieve better results - let's talk.

May the Force be with you! 



I hope you enjoy these articles

Let's talk about your training needs!

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See IT vs. See ME - Training

When I want to see how to do something (i.e. Sharpen a kitchen knife) or research a subject - I Google. Then I wade through various experts to find a solution that fits my needs.

Not quite the same with improving a skill (i.e. Negotiating).  I need someone to tell me and show me how - of course - but also see me try to use the skill and give me feedback.

And, because sometimes I fall back on old habits, periodically I need someone to keep me on track.

Learning a computer skill is different.  Feedback is built in - it works or it doesn't. Immediate. 

In Deal Making, the results are often more subtle. There are a lot of contributing factors, so we can't always say "if I do this... I should expect that...."

Here are 5 things you can consider doing to improve your odds of success in training skills like Deal Making, Selling, or Negotiating:

  • · Figure out what not working. Observe your teams. Identify areas for improvement.

  • · Build solutions. Do it yourself or hire someone like me to create a process. Use multiple methods of instruction and application to real work.

  • · Communicate with your teams about the training. Help them understand why it's needed, what to expect, and how to prepare.

  • · Deliver the training. Make it accessible, concise, applicable and delivered by a credible facilitator.   Give practice, opportunities for discussion, and lots of coaching.

  • · Provide reinforcement. Get engaged at the Manager level. Find out what was learned, how they will do things differently, when they will apply new behaviors on the job. Tell your team what you will be looking for and what support you will provide them.

Take a lesson from self improvement programs ( like; quitting smoking, losing weight...). Create a supportive environment to keep positive behaviors in front of your teams and you will have better business results and job satisfaction.


We hope you enjoy these articles

If you want to discuss your training needs or know someone that we should speak with, let us know.  As always feel free to share these essays with coworkers and colleagues.

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The Masters - Training Implications

Last weekend I watched some of The Masters on TV.  Terrific seeing legends like Watson, Nicklaus, Player, and past greats like Mickelson, and Woods. But the weekend belonged to Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed. An incredible display of talent and great strategy. I thought about why Golf is so popular among business people and how their performance might apply to my training clients.  



This Major Championship of golf is the only one created and played exclusively at the same course each year, Augusta National. You might think that its familiarity would make planning easier for the competitors. Caddies and players carry books on each hole; where to land and how the greens twist and turn. But hole placement, weather and the competition requires both strategy and the ability to adapt.




We too need a strategy for success in these challenging markets, and the ability to take advantage of viable opportunities as they come up. Understanding competitive forces, being able to differentiate our offerings and preparing our front line people for difficult interactions are all essential for managing our portfolios for profitable growth. This requires leadership, coaching and skill development. 



Maximizing your teams' talent by skill development is an investment that will give you – dollar for dollar - the best return for finishing the year strongly and improving results into the future. How golf leaders communicate with their caddies, how our employees communicate with their "clients," make all the difference in winning.

There is no more compelling and sustainable way to differentiate your company than an investment in your people. Make your team - "Masterful!" 

Learn More


For a free copy of my article “Creating Effective Performance Based Training” email me at It's only 412 words – just a short 3 minute read - hope you enjoy it. 

Share with Others

As always feel free to circulate this to your colleagues or reprint it in your professional associations’ publications – just let me know and be sure to include the author’s attribution and contact info. 

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If your company is not maximizing its potential, give us a call to see if the work we have done for others can give you tomorrow, the same kind of returns they are enjoying today.

Make a Difference

Balbresky Consulting Services provides customized learning experiences to help you improve revenue, increase profitability and enhance relationships, through our customized training in sales, influence, negotiation, and management skills.

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What Villanova Coaching Taught Me About Job Performance

NCAA Basketball Champions

Jay Wright is in his 17th season coaching Villanova's Men's Basketball and if you hadn't heard - they just won their second NCAA Championship.  I heard Coach speak several years ago at a Phila. Insurance Society meeting. I'm a Philly native and the Big 5 has always been an exciting tradition with us. Wright was a great motivational keynote - what would you expect from one of the most successful coaches in the country!

So with his victory I dug a little deeper to see what I could learn and bring to my training classes.

Villanova is a small Catholic College outside of Philadelphia. It doesn't often attract the most elite recruits into their freshman program like some of the big name Universities. 

Jay looks for players who are smart (they graduate nearly 100% of their team), decisive, can make creative plays and interact well with their team mates. Talent is important but these other attributes make a difference!

Here are some of the lessons I got from watching and reading about Coach Wright.

Learn by Watching

Before a big game, the team and coaches eat dinner together, look at films of their opponents and share tips. We have similar exercises in our classes, where someone (usually me) demonstrates a typical interaction with a "client" and intentionally uses both good and poor technique. The conversation which follows is frequently brutally insightful - but always an aha moment. 

Learn by Doing

Coach gives his players the confidence and freedom to make plays. He helps them feel in control. Sometimes taking risks can lead to mistakes, but failure is part of how we grow. As a competitive person he struggles with this alongside his nature to win. A good coach teaches and knows when and where to let go. In our training we do a lot of simulation, discussing choices, and providing feedback on how certain techniques shape the end result.

Learn to Develop Attitude

While learning from the last play has its place, Villanova doesn't dwell too much on it. They look to the next opportunity. They call it being in the moment. Practice in our job development classes helps to ingrain a positive attitude, a focus on what is going on and to be ready to react to it.

Learn to Develop Trust

Coach and his players know that when those you trust tell you something about your performance, it's a moment of truth. We take building trust - even in our short classes - seriously, because that is when you can stimulate job growth.

While Wright has never had a recruiting class ranked among the top 20, look at his record - and achievements like - 2 National Titles. He really knows how to bring out the best in his players!

Outstanding performers help me fine tune and reaffirm my coaching role in the classes I teach. I hope you enjoy these brief articles and gain some insights from them as well.

What can you apply from the Olympics to your Training?


At the top of the gate, the downhill racers, or the half pipe skiers awaited the "beep" and we watched them as they moved their bodies - imagining each turn or trick they would perform.  Visualizing how they would react to the lay of the land; the bumps, conditions, and their competitors. The ice dancers and the ski jumpers had their ear buds on to free their minds to visualize what they had trained to do for years.

It was wonderful entertainment, and motivational as well.

Few of us are elite athletes, but each of us in our job, whether evaluating risk or analyzing loss, go through routines to ensure consistent, logical results.  We perform our rituals every time to make sure our recommendations are precise – according to the lay of the land and conditions.  We invest time, knowledge and tap into our experience. We expect nothing less. And yet ...

when it comes to presenting to our “client” do we practice what we will say?  Or do we pick up the phone - or worse, send an email. 

Giving half an effort in our presentations never gets us a perfect score.  Something always comes up in the “client’s” mind when they read or listen to our recommendations.  Always! Our job is to listen for that something and be prepared to respond. Elite athletes never wing it, they prepare for every contingency

The difference between winning the gold and losing is sometimes luck but always practice and anticipation.  

That is why in our training we focus on demonstration, practice and feedback of interactions with “clients.”  How are we going to relay our expertise in the best manner possible manner? What is likely to be an issue? What signals do we listen for?  How we will manage the unexpected?

In each of our classes, we use all the best techniques to transition learners into improved performance: demonstration, small group discussion, case studies, and role play.  Real work with real insurance situations.

AND just like in the Olympics, Coaching makes the difference

Coaching from individuals who have strong, diverse insurance backgrounds, the ability to facilitate discussion and self awareness; coaches who give both positive reinforcement and suggestions for improvement - this sets us apart!

If you want to see better bottom line results: better retentions, more new business, more favorable outcomes from your settlements, contact us.

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By the Way...

At the end of our previous article, I asked a question about the meaning of the image of an Apple and an Orange.  Congratulations to Elexis Koch and Jim Stanton who picked this up. In a world where we are asked to conform (be an Apple) - to stand out from our competitors - we have to be something different.  Perhaps be an Orange!

Best of Luck

Paul Balbresky, ITP



The recent tax rate changes raise a number of interesting questions. Some companies have taken moves to raise salaries - while others appear to be debating the options.  During this conversation I suggest that one voice be given a greater audience - that of Learning and Development. 

Investing in employee development has always meant great long and short-term return to the company. Now back burner training projects may have a new champion in the form of tax relief.

Consider that investing in staff development:

· Contributes to job satisfaction and lower employee turnover

· Improves customer satisfaction

· Nurtures future leaders

· Improves revenue and profitability

Wow - what a case for defending  budgets. Couldn't you make an argument in favor of increasing expenditures in employee development? Shouldn't you be having these conversations?

I'm certainly not a revolutionary, but  the ROTI (Return on Training Investment)  and the long-term dividends from training seems like a fine idea. Isn't it time to lobby for them?

Warmest regards

Paul Balbresky, ITP

(856) 985 0955

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