By Jerry W. Price
Closing a sale and setting an appointment requires preparation and a system - in other words, “work.” Here is a framework that requires you to add your creative skills.
This framework, like a building, requires a strong foundation. In this case, that foundation is questions. Every question causes an emotional reaction. To remove a negative emotional reaction, preface questioning by explaining the purpose for the questions.
A building foundation will not hold up if there is a wrong mix of water, sand and cement. Your questions also need the correct mixture. Some of these ingredients are:
- Move from easy-to-answer questions to ones of greater depth.
- People like to talk about themselves. They may need help starting to talk.
- Use only positive phrasing.
- Visualization from the creative, right side of the brain, i.e. the decision-making side.
Sample starting question: “Have you heard about ____?”
Above the foundation is the substructure. In our case, the substructure is rapport. It’s like a 30-second commercial about you that focuses on clients. This will help them understand how you do business. A well-developed, simple brochure works wonders.
Let’s raise the walls. In our case, the walls are an organized interview. A simplified worksheet encourages conversation. Give a blank copy of the worksheet to the client so they can visualize the process, have a tactual connection and take notes.
You will need to have a set of quality questions prepared. These questions will show the client how you are focused on them, thus making them more willing to talk.
An example of a simplified worksheet is a quadrant data collection worksheet that builds off of a key word. The page is divided into four quadrants.
|Expectation||Plan Of Action|
Quadrant 1 (upper left) is the Discovery section. This is where you learn the most about the client and their issues, for example “What is imporyant to you?” “What caused you to think about insurance?”
Quadrant 2 (upper right) is the Experience section. Your questions must focus on the client’s understanding, likes and dislikes associated with insurance. For example, “How have you seen insurance solve problems?”
Quadrant 3 (lower left) is Expectation. You want to solve the client’s problem. Until you know what the client expects, you may be working toward the wrong solution. An example of a question to ask is: “What do you want to happen?”
Quadrant 4 (lower right) is Plan Of Action. Is the client wasting your time? Ask the question “What do you want to do first?”
You may not need to use all your well-developed portfolio of quality questions. In sales, you cannot afford to wing it, so be prepared.
Congratulations! You have completed an application. Now is the time to install the rafters. This process reduces buyer’s remorse and strengthens the agent/agency's reputation.
Until you have a post-application procedure, the client may end up becoming a onetime client. (Note: A client is only yours until they find a better offer.) This component reaches beyond the initial handwritten thank-you card. Develop an individualized calendar of actions based on the information learned during the discovery session. For example, if your state insurance commissioner’s office has publications, order a topic specific publication to be sent directly to the client. Email the client in advance stating you thought the publication might be of interest to them and you are having it sent directly to them.
It sounds old-fashioned, but the client’s only birthday card could be the one they received from you. Simply give them a telephone call to wish them a fun Fourth of July, or tell them about an area event you thought they may be interested in. The logistics are hard, but so is finding a new client.
Now that your sales plan has been roughed-in, you need to finish the structure. Make it your own. This is time consuming, but you will be surprised how proud you will be of your creation and how appreciative your clients will be.
Jerry W. Price, BS, MS, EDS, FIC, LUTCF, is the owner of Summit Schools, an insurance prelicensing and continuing education school based in Fort Atkinson, Wis. Jerry may be contacted at [email protected].
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