COMPLETE THIS TRIO OF PHASES AND YOU WILL GAIN THE FAVOR — AND BUSINESS — OF THE PROSPECT.
BY BARRY SEIGERMAN
Highly successful insurance salespeople become proficient by mastering the basic tools and techniques that eventually become habit and are used instinctively to close sale after sale. But they have to be taught, trained and managed. Most sales comprise three distinct phases:
- The Pre-Approach of a qualified prospect — selling the appointment
- The Fact-Finding process — where the sale is made
- The Close — finalizing the transaction
When the appointment is made, send the prospect a confirmation of the date and time and a list of items to have for the meeting, such as current summary of insurance, losses in the past three years, recent payroll or sales audits, and current policies. This accomplishes two things:
- If the prospect balks and refuses, then you don’t have a prospect. Walk away.
- If he/she does comply, then you know you have a serious prospect.
This is the most critical phase of the sales process and where the sale is made or lost. If you listen very carefully to what he says he needs, the prospect will tell you how to sell him. Using a Fact Finder, which you modified to suit this particular prospect, begin to identify and collect facts and information via questions, physical observations, and document review. Gather standard information like name, address, square feet, sales, payroll, and so on — or just about everything you need to complete (later) a typical Commercial Insurance application such as an ACORD 125.
Then move to collecting specific facts about the business by careful questioning: How did it get started? What exactly does the business do? How and where is it done? How do they make a profit? What are his future plans? Now you have the prospect talking about what he likes best — his business — and he is becoming more open and comfortable.
This is a great time to stop the questions and ask for a physical tour of the premises to observe the operations. Use this observation part of the Fact Finding to trace the route of how the product enters the premises, what work has to be performed, and how the product leaves the premises and gets to the customer. Stop along the way to ask details about any machinery, equipment and labor processes and ask what kind of things can happen to hurt the business. Ask about the value of each. Take notes at all times.
This segues naturally to what I call the “shtick” part of the Fact-Finding process. “Shtick” is what personalizes your sales technique. It takes practice to make it seem impromptu, but it isn’t. During this phase, resist every impulse to evaluate or sell anything. And don’t talk too much about yourself or your agency.
Inform the prospect that you are almost done but just a few more details are needed to complete the Fact Finder. Ask about real or business personal property values in dollars, if inventory fluctuates and what is the approximate monthly cost to run the business.
Now, and only at the end, ask to see the current insurance policies and other materials he assembled for the meeting. Say that you look at the current insurance policies last because it is essential for you to develop the facts yourself and to hear from the prospect himself what is needed based on his valuations.
You can now state that you will deliver an Insurance Proposal in comparison format, based on the Fact Finder and the prospect’s input, making it easy to compare the current insurance to the program you recommend. The comparison will contrast the current with the proposed by showing the scope of coverage, limits of insurance and cost.
Your proposed program will be based on current needs, not old information. And whatever the cost for the proposed program, it is what it is. If it is less than current cost, that’s fine. If it is higher than current, that’s fine too, because it provides exactly what the prospect said he needs. When done right, the final cost of the insurance rarely becomes a deal-breaker.
You now proceed directly to the close and complete the transaction.