By Drew Gurley
Selling life insurance to friends and family could rank as one of the most passive-aggressive activities known to mankind.
Despite that, selling to friends and family is a method to generate insurance leads when you are just starting out in the business. It’s how I started and, guess what? Most of these folks are still my friends!
On the one hand, friends and family want you to succeed. They will answer your call (for a while) and give you their time (for a while). What more could you ask for?
But here’s the catch: They hate to say no, so they do the next worst thing. They string you along (with good intentions). What started as a positive turns into a death march that never seems to end.
So why am I advising you to sell to friends and family?
While getting to “yes” is our ultimate goal, learning how to deal with “no” may be the most important skill in insurance sales. Here are some of the common objections you will face when selling insurance. After each one, insert the friends and family deal-killing thought: “But I’ll listen to them because they are my friend.”
- I don’t need life insurance.
- I need to think about it.
- Let me talk to my wife/husband and get back to you.
- I can’t afford any insurance right now.
- I already have insurance through work.
- There is such a small chance I will be disabled.
- We have family money.
There are two overriding mental tricks you must learn when selling to friends and family. They are:
- Leave “friend/family” at the door.
- Learn how to read a room.
Friends and family don’t want to say no. They will stall, waffle and kick sand for as long as you’re willing to take it (and feel bad about it). Your job — both for your wallet and your peace of mind — is to accelerate the process by laser-focused fact finding up front. Establish yourself as an expert. Keep the chit-chat to a minimum. You’re at the table because of your relationship, so leave the relationship at the door. Your goal is to help your friend or family member see you as a trusted advisor. Help them come to the conclusion that “it’s not personal, it’s just business.”
Now, to reading a room. You’re not born with this skill. For all the personality, smarts and knowledge you think you have, your biggest weakness is improper use of eyes and ears. Prospects generally will tell you everything you need to know in a meeting if you’ll only pay attention. New salespeople, no matter what industry they serve, make the fatal mistake of focusing on their needs rather than those of the client.
Getting to a second meeting is my initial goal in most of my sales opportunities. And, if I did my job correctly in the first meeting, I have multiple opportunities to bring back ideas in the second meeting.
Working with family and friends will help you build thick skin and strengthen your ability to take rejection in stride. It’s true that they may not purchase from you and they may not give you any referrals. However, they will help you build a foundation which, over time, will allow you to keep standing back up after being knocked down.
Delivering your first death claim or having a client execute a disability rider will give you religion. I have never had a client — friend or otherwise — deny a death claim when they have lost a loved one. They are always grateful that I gently pushed them to purchase the coverage.
We as agents are tasked with impacting people’s lives. Learning to get over the fear of “no” is the first step toward helping people. Let your friends and family help you build your skills. Don’t be discouraged when they give you unlimited access to their voicemail.
And, don’t lose sight of priorities. They may not buy, but they will always be your family or friend.