To Make The Sale, Leave

To Make the Sale, Leave

By: Josh Seibert, Sandler Training®
  

The STORY:

Nick was having trouble trying to close the prospect. Still never having attended any company sales training courses, he hit upon a solution to the problem. One of the most experienced salespeople was in the back, and Nick decided to go and ask his advice.

“If you could excuse me for one moment,” Nick said, “I just remembered that I have an important message for one of the other fellows who is in the back room . . . I forgot to give it to him earlier.”

“You are going to come back, aren’t you?” asked the prospect.

“Of course,” responded Nick, “why would you think I wouldn’t?”

“Oh, I know I’m a royal pain in the butt when it comes to making a decision about buying something,” responded the prospect. “Most of the time, the salespeople get tired of trying to convince me and wander away, and I never see them again.”

Nick wasn’t sure what to say. He really needed to get the experienced salesperson’s advice so he turned and headed toward the back room.

“Wait a minute,” said the prospect, “I don’t want you to leave. I’ll buy it.”

“You’re sure?” asked Nick, hoping he hadn’t said too much.

“Definitely. Wrap it up.”

When the customer is out the door, thought Nick, I’ll go back and ask the experienced salesperson what to do the next time this happens.

The RESULT:

Nick did something very important for the wrong reason. From the prospect’s point of view, which is the only one that counts in selling, Nick was getting up to leave, never to be seen again. Again, the prospect would be left standing alone, not having bought anything. This pressure on the prospect, which Nick applied without realizing it, was enough to make the prospect give up and buy. Unfortunately, if Nick does ask for advice, he’ll probably be told the wrong thing.

DISCUSSION:

Getting up and leaving a prospect is almost impossible for a salesperson to consider. Why would you ever want to give the impression that you are going to walk out the door?

The reason for getting up and leaving is to let the prospect know it is time to make a decision.

The pressure is now on the prospect where it belongs.

This is not a tactic that you want to try with every prospect you come across. But if you have reached the “end of your rope” with one, you have nothing to lose by trying. The worst that could happen is you won’t make the sale. But then, you had no chance anyway.

APPROACH:

There are many ways to get up and leave. One approach is to physically start to move away.

Another is to simply look at the prospect and say, “Off the record . . . I get the impression that you haven’t come to a decision. Let’s assume that you decide it’s over. You don’t buy. What happens now?”

This verbal getting up and leaving forces the prospect to see a future in which he does not have your product/service. If he is in enough pain to be seriously considering buying, then looking at a future without buying is more painful. The only catch to the verbal leaving is that you MUST wait for a response. Do not rescue him or physically leave him.

Do not change “What happens now?” to “What happens then?” The word “now” brings the future, without your product/service, into the present, and as a result, pressure to decide becomes overwhelming.

THOUGHT:

“Leaving” the prospect makes the prospect want to come to a decision.

 

Josh Seibert is the president of Training & Development Solutions, Inc., Sandler Training located in the Piedmont Triad.  He can be reached at 336-884-1348 or www.training.sandler.com

©Sandler Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

Increase your book of business using existing clientele

One of the best ways to increase the size of your book quickly is by tapping into your existing base of customers. There’s almost always more business to be had with your existing clients. Start by doing a review of coverage with each client. Then sit down with them and ask the right questions to elicit and uncover coverage gaps you can offer to fill. Use that opportunity to make them more loyal to you when you offer to shop their coverage and find them better coverage at a better price.
Start with your top premium clients and work your way down – selling personal lines to commercial-only accounts, and ascertaining if your personal lines clients have businesses you could potentially write for them. You already have a number of P&C clients on your book. What better place to look to increase revenue, than the people you already do business with? Not only does this increase retention and loyalty, it makes less likely your client will want to shop and move their business elsewhere down the road.

Off The Record

Off The Record
By: Josh Seibert, Sandler Training

The STORY:
Tim had mentally decided that the prospect he was talking to was never going to buy. For the past 20 minutes Tim had tried all of the trial closes that had worked in the past.

“I have to tell you Tim, I don’t know that this will do what I need.”

Tim had already tried the “what do you really need” response with no luck. Figuring he had nothing to lose and might learn something that he could use on other prospects, he innocently asked the following.

“Off the record . . . since you have decided not to buy . . . what are you really looking for?”

For Tim, the resulting silence was painful, but he really wanted to know the answer. If I can get this information, he thought, I can use it. So I’m just going to outwait the prospect.

Finally, and much to Tim’s relief, the prospect responded.

“Well, since you asked, off the record as you put it, here’s what I’m trying to do,” responded the prospect for the next five minutes.

At the conclusion of the prospect’s response, still convinced that he’d never close this one, Tim answered.

“That’s very interesting. So I suppose since we’re still off the record, you’ll never see yourself purchasing this . . .” and as Tim struggled to find the words to continue, the prospect jumped back in.

“Hold on a minute, Tim. I didn’t say I’d never buy it . . . and now that I talked out what I was looking for, well, you know, what you have might actually do it for me.”

The RESULT:
Perhaps Tim will make this sale. What Tim did do by going off the record was to subtly pressure the prospect into defining just what he needed. And by adding the assumption that the prospect was never going to buy, Tim was forcing the prospect to see a future where Tim’s product was not part of the solution. Either the prospect would view this future as good, in which case Tim never had a chance to make the sale, or bad. If bad, then Tim had an opportunity to make a sale. Off the record, how do you see it?

DISCUSSION:
Tim did not act like most salespeople. How many salespeople have the guts to state, “Off the record, since you have decided not to buy . . . what are you really looking for?” What is the salesperson afraid of when he makes this statement? Simple — the prospect is going to walk out the door. Consider this, if the prospect does immediately leave, then he never had any intention of purchasing. You’ve just saved yourself a lot of time.

The prospect who remains after hearing this question has no option other than to respond. What he says at this point will help you in determining whether he is a serious potential buyer or someone to follow up in a phone or mail sales effort.

APPROACH:
Pairing “off the record” with “since you have decided not to buy” accomplishes two goals for you.

First, “off the record” suggests that now you and the prospect can talk freely. Neither of you will use what is said to make or break the sale. Of course, this is ridiculous. Anything the prospect says will be used by you to either pursue the sale or end it. But just the phrase, “off the record,” often achieves the goal of getting the prospect to reveal what his concerns are.

Second, “Since you have decided not to buy” forces the prospect to bring the future into the present. In other words, he perceives right now what it will be like without your product. If his concerns are painful enough, seeing the future today is often enough to get a prospect moving toward purchasing.

THOUGHT:
Giving the prospect a way to see the future often helps the prospect buy today.

Josh Seibert is the president of Training & Development Solutions, Inc., Sandler Training located in the Piedmont Triad.  He can be reached at 336-884-1348 or www.training.sandler.com

©Sandler Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

Marketing At Its Core…

Marketing At Its Core…
By: Katie Wilmoth, Director, Marketing and Communications

This past summer, my husband and I took our kids to the beach – our kids (at the time) were 6 years old, 4 years old, and 9 months old, so we had our hands full! I find that at their current ages, they’re like a mini case study in the ways of the world. I never cease to marvel at how perceptive and astute they are for their ages.

At home, we don’t keep cable or satellite and instead, stream or download things we’d like to watch. So our kids have no concept of what television was like in the old days, and therefore, they aren’t familiar with commercials.

Throughout the course of the week, our oldest daughter would run up to one of us and say something about one of the commercials, or “previews” as she called them. IN fact, our kids were more interested in the commercials than in the shows they watched. As someone who’s made a career in marketing, I marveled at just what an impact direct marketing had on my kids in that short amount of time. I even caught them singing “Nationwide is on your side!” repeatedly as they played in the waves one day – “Mom, did you know Nationwide is on our side?” my six year old asked me – proving that, whether or not they knew exactly what the product did or was, the message the marketers had intended for them to remember had indeed been successful.

One night, my daughter said “Hey Dad, we need to get some of this lotion because it will make our skin super soft and shiny.” And I listened as my husband said “Okay listen Lila…these are called commercials, and the people who make them are trying to sell you their product by making it sound like the greatest thing in the world. So they’re lying to you to make it sound better than it is…that’s what your mommy does for a living…”

I looked up at him shocked and amused that he would say such a thing to our daughter, and he was looking back at me laughing. My reply to him was “You’re a LAWYER! Why don’t you tell her what YOU do?!”

The story is funny, but it got me thinking about the definition of marketing at its core. Sure, there are plenty of infomercials that use over-exaggeration and half-truths to peddle cheap wares (though I’d say that’s closer to the definition of sales, not marketing) – but at its heart, that’s NOT what marketing is. Marketing is about highlighting what sets your product or service apart from the competition. And if you’re doing it RIGHT, it’s also about highlighting the things that you do well and at which your product or service excels. You pick out your best assets and tell people about them. Think of it as socially acceptable bragging!

If you would like to read more Marketing tips, check out Issue IV of the Smart Choice Magazine!

Top 5 Sales Tips For Insurance Advisors

Top 5 Sales Tips For Insurance Advisors
By: Ashley Wingate, Vice President, Personal Lines

Selling in the insurance industry is not the same as sales in many other industries. Unlike most commodities being sold and advertised, insurance isn’t a choice in most cases, it’s a necessity. Many customers don’t view insurance as something they want to spend money on, but rather something they HAVE to spend money on. So, you’re really trying to counsel your customer into meeting their own coverage needs, even when they don’t want to spend the money. YOU have to be able to flip the conversation into a positive one so they feel like they’re walking away with something tangible, and not just spending their money on a “have to.” After many years working in this industry, here are my top 5 sales tips for insurance advisors:

  1. Listen to your clients and their needs. It’s tempting to just sit down and begin explaining all the benefits of your insurance policies and plans that your agency offers. My suggestion is let the prospect lead the discussion and they will tell you everything you need to know to close the sale. Instead of pitching your product, ask the person you are speaking with about their life and their family or their concerns for the future. They will tell you everything you need to know and then you become an insurance consultant and not just another salesperson.
  1. Don’t just be an order taker. Too many agents fall into this trap. If you follow the first tip and listen to your client and their needs, then you can develop a consultative approach for your client and offer them Insurance solutions for their needs. Also, don’t be afraid to ask them for their business.
  1. Make sure your clients know what they are buying from you. Stop to go over the carrier you have placed them with and highlight the benefits and features that their policy offers them. Most people don’t understand insurance and this is the time to help them understand what they have just bought from your agency. It’s a time for you to shine and a time for you to educate the customer on why they’re better off with proper coverage.
  1. Ask for referrals. Referrals are an awesome way to grow your business and these customers are much easier to close. Think about a referral program for your agency and reward the customers that send you new customers. Independent agents should rely heavily on referrals, because they have the ability to really shop for their clients and customize coverage. You have the chance to foster a more personal relationship with your clients, and therefore a better chance at gaining referrals.
  2. Network, network, network.  Take advantage of the opportunity to attend trade shows, work with real estate agents, work with the local PTA, and network with other insurance professionals in your field. These are all great places to make connections and learn from industry leaders and stay up to date on what’s going on in the insurance industry.

3 Questions To Ask Your Prospects To Eliminate Price Objections And Sell More Insurance Policies

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3 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR PROSPECTS TO ELIMINATE PRICE OBJECTIONS AND SELL MORE INSURANCE POLICIES
BY: MICHAEL MILLER, SMART CHOICE® STATE DIRECTOR

In my recent article, “The Art of the Close,” I discussed how I coach insurance agents to close on value versus cost. I don’t leave my close until the end of my meeting with a prospect. The entire meeting is the close. I use a comprehensive client profile to help prospects identify and understand the risks they face. The profile gives me the chance to sell on value, not cost, as well as the opportunity to cross sell my products.

As we complete the profile together, I’m able to ask my prospects specific questions about how they plan to pay for unexpected events. This almost always eliminates the price objection because prospects’ own answers to my questions provide the reason to buy on value.

Here are three questions I ask to help my clients see the value of comprehensive insurance coverage.

  1. If you hit and seriously injure an uninsured motorist, how would you prefer to pay for his or her medical bills?

Most people don’t realize they’re personally on the hook for medical expenses over and beyond what their policy covers. Explaining this and then asking what they’re comfortable paying for out of pocket makes it easy to sell adequate liability, under-insured, and uninsured motorist coverage.

  1. If you died tomorrow, how much money would your wife/husband need to pay for your funeral arrangements and cover monthly expenses?

This is a great question to get auto and home prospects to consider purchasing life insurance. Prospects are already thinking about what they need to cover injury and their physical property. This question can lead to a conversation on how life insurance protects and provides for their families.

  1. What is your plan for protecting your assets in the event of a lawsuit against you?

Most prospects don’t have an answer for this question, which makes it an effective way to cross sell umbrella policies.

 

5 Ways to Grow Your Insurance Agency in 2016

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5 Ways to Grow Your Insurance Agency in 2016
By: Michael Miller, Smart Choice® State Director

‘Tis the season for resolutions, and many insurance agents are setting goals for how much they’d like to grow their agencies in 2016. Nationally, independent agents generate an average of $5 to 6 million in annual premiums, but earn less than $1 million in commission.

What’s your goal for growth in 2016? Here are five steps you can take to grow your independent insurance agency next year.

  1. Hire the Right Staff

Not only the right number of staff members, but the right people for the job. The duties of a CSR are very different than those of a producer—make sure you hire people with the appropriate strengths and skillsets.

If you’re a one-person agency and hoping to hire your first staff member in 2016, consider hiring someone whose skills complement yours. If you’re excellent at underwriting but struggle with sales, hire someone with excellent sales skills.

  1. Start Selling Commercial

Selling commercial lines takes more investment on your part—both financially and in time—but there’s a greater pay-off in the long run. Research your commercial carrier options and create a plan for how you would recruit and maintain commercial lines clients. Commercial insurance clients are often more hands-on than personal lines clients. If you’re able to meet their needs, selling commercial could be a big money-maker for you.

  1. Upgrade Your Agency Technology

There are many back-office tools that make running your agency more efficient and profitable. If you haven’t updated or upgraded your technology recently, consider doing so. Same goes for any marketing tech you haven’t adopted, such as a mobile-responsive website or email marketing tool.

  1. Take the Leap into Social Media

It’s just a fact: Your clients and prospects are online. Personal lines clients hang out on Facebook and Twitter and commercial clients are on LinkedIn. Commit to creating social media accounts for you and your agency and to being active on those accounts at least a few times a week. Social media marketing takes a little time, but it’s a powerful way to stay top-of-mind with your clients and prospects.

  1. Join a Cluster Group

Adding more carriers is difficult, especially when you’re adding a new line. Joining an insurance cluster group allows you to work with carriers and lines that you could never access otherwise. However, many cluster groups make you roll your current book to them when you sign up. They want to take control of your new policies as well as the ones you have already worked hard to build, so do your research.

Sources:
Property Casualty 360
Insurance Journal