"When you fail to differentiate yourself from another service firm, the competition is reduced to choosing between commodities. But, law firms, accounting firms, management consulting firms, financial service firms, insurance firms, and the like are certainly not commodities – unless those in the industry commoditize themselves by failing to differentiate their offering from that of another."
The author went on to say that any buyer, faced with competing firms that all seemed "near clone-like," will either stay with what they have or make their decision based on the best price.
The above quote and reference is from a long blog dealing with the process of responding to RFPs in writing. You can read the entire article here. The message is applicable whether the "proposal" is in response to an RFP, in writing, or verbal. And the point is clear - your ability to differentiate yourself from other insurance agencies and, perhaps more importantly, from Internet carrier and consolidator sites, is what will enable you to survive and thrive in this economy or any other.