By Jeff Beals
I was talking with my brother-in-law last week, and he shared an experience he had at a local chapter meeting of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors.
An insurance executive was delivering a speech about sales success. During her presentation, she talked about how insurance agents sometimes miss out on a sale. When that happens, she said, the typical insurance agent just quickly moves on.
“We might not get paid, we miss out on a commission and we’re disappointed,” she said, “but we quickly move on to the next lead.”
But sometimes missing out on a sale is downright tragic. She used life insurance as an example.
“What happens if you didn’t prepare before the presentation or you don’t come across just right, and you miss that sale?” the speaker asked. “You might find yourself years down the road, having a dreaded conversation with the surviving spouse and the children.”
In other words, missing out on a sale doesn’t necessarily hurt just us. It could end up hurting your prospect. The products and services you sell are important. People need what you offer.
But prospects often don’t know what they don’t know. They sometimes just don’t understand how your offering can protect them or at least make their lives more enjoyable.
What’s more, prospects often reactively, reflexively say “no,” even when they don’t know all the facts and even when they kind of want your offering.
I’m reminded of book, When Buyers Say No: Essential Strategies for Keeping a Sale Moving Forward, by Ben Katt and Tom Hopkins. The book provides a number of reasons why buyers say “no” even if they’re actually interested in your offering:
- The prospect has unanswered questions or concerns
- You haven’t fully figured out what the prospect values and addressed all those values. That can lead you to offer products and services that aren’t quite right for the prospect
- It’s possible you haven’t unearthed all the prospect’s objections
- The prospect might be uncomfortable with how quickly the sales process is going, and he or she simply wants to slow things down.
Now, sometimes, “no” indeed means “no.” You can usually tell when a prospect is resolutely uninterested. But that’s often not the case after a prospect has taken the time to meet with you and talk at length about your product.
If you sense the prospect might not really mean “no,” the best thing to do is go back into probing-question mode. And certainly don’t get defensive or start worrying. Those reactions are counterproductive.
Ask them about their concerns and hesitations. Chances are good that you misunderstood one of their answers or failed to ask a key question in the first place. Listen carefully to the answers and truly absorb what the prospect says (instead of going through the motions, making it look like you’re listening).
Katt and Hopkins then recommend you confirm the buyer is ready to take action. At this point, you simply say something like “If I can adequately address your concerns, would you be ready to move forward with the purchase?”
Then you provide an appropriately customized answer and ask for the business again.
When you go the extra step, and make one more effort, you are not just helping yourself. You could be making a huge difference for your prospective clients. They just might not initially realize what a big favor you are doing for them.
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