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What is the prospect looking for?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Written By
Dave O'Brien

What happened to basic sales skills? I recently sat in a sales presentation where the salesperson opened up their laptop, asked a couple of canned questions and then proceeded to techno-barf all about their value-add. The amazing thing — he was attempting to sell me sales training! I also recently read an article where a consultant selling technology to the insurance industry was quoted as saying that once you start your demo, don’t let the prospect ask questions as it will throw you off and hurt the momentum of the presentation. One can only hope your competitors are following that advice.

The truth of the matter is that insurance was complex enough before we added all of the value-added tools to our arsenal. In the age of speed, however, that first prospect meeting is critical. What do successful agencies talk about? The answer is as little as possible! The good ones are asking questions and finding the pain. Obvious, right?

Ok, what about your own shop? How good are your people at asking the right questions? If they do not have a list written down that they are constantly adding to or deleting from, I will tell you right now they are probably not that good. Here is a simple exercise. Write down a sample scenario of a typical employer that you are going after. Have a page and a half of notes of things like coverages in place, carriers used, past rate history, employee retention issues, renewal surprises, etc. Add little fun facts like HR thinks they make all decisions but the CFO really controls the process, the current broker was fraternity brothers with the VP of sales, etc. You get the picture. Once you get started, it is very easy to do.

Next step, pull your salespeople in and role play. Yes, that’s right, I said it. Role play. The premise is they should come in to discuss what your firm can do for them. You can only hope they ask questions. Unfortunately, I can tell you many brokers do not. If they start presenting, stop them and ask them to find out what you want first. Sounds obvious, but a lot of brokers do not go much past the obvious questions and issues. To find the pain, one has to learn to dig deep, and that takes practice.

Why are some brokerage operations having great success during a tough time? Because they are focusing on execution. They are making a point to improve processes and workflows to increase the chances of close with every prospect touch.      �

A little side note. If you are a producer hoping the owner of your firm does not read this, you are missing the point. The best brokers out there are continually improving themselves and working on their skills. Check your ego at the door, grab another salesperson and try this yourself. You just might find it to be the best investment of 2009. We all could use a few of those.

Want to improve your close ratio? In my next post, I’ll tell you about what one agency did with spectacular results.

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