Straight talk about selling insurance
December 23, 2015 by KENNETH L. FIELDS,CIC,CPCU
Mark Twain once said, “The difference between similar words and the right words is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.” In sales, your choice of words can make the difference between getting the sale — or at least, getting closer to the sale — and having no opportunity at all.
For example, have you ever asked prospects when their insurance renews? What does the word “renew” suggest? Does it give your prospect the impression that insurance automatically continues year after year, when in fact the current carrier will re-underwrite the account, and may decide not to “renew” at all. And if the insured is offered a “renewal,” it will be at a different premium, and possibly different terms.
Isn’t the appropriate word “expire?” That is, after all, where the term “ex-date” comes from. So when you say to a prospect, “When does your policy expire?” what message do you convey?
Cheap or inexpensive?
Have you ever told a prospect your policy is “cheaper?” Your proposal should never be the cheapest. Do you want to drive the cheapest car? I don’t. Do you go to the cheapest doctor?
Focus on value, not on price. The aggressive ad campaigns on the part of some national carriers suggest low price is the only criteria for the purchase of insurance. You and your agency bring so much more than that to the table.
Stay away from using the words “quote” or “bid.” Those words suggest your product is a commodity, the same as everyone else’s, with the only difference being price. It’s a huge red flag to learn that your prospect puts the insurance out to bid periodically. Do you really want to bid on an account knowing that more than 90% of all commercial accounts are going to remain with the incumbent agent in any given year?
Another word to avoid is “deal.” Do you look for the best deal from the surgeon who’s going to do your heart bypass operation? Probably not.
Avoid these additional words and phrases:
- “Truthfully” or “honestly” or “trust me.” Have you been untruthful or dishonest up until now? The use of these words may plant a seed of doubt in your prospect’s mind.
- “Contract.” This suggests red tape, lawyers and cause for caution. Say “agreement” instead.
- “Sign here” or “I’ll need your signature.” We’ve all been cautioned about signing a contract. Instead say, “I’ll need your approval on this agreement,” or “Write your name at the bottom of the agreement.”
- “Customer.” You’re a professional, and professionals have clients. Walmart has customers. Which would you rather have?
Avoid speaking in “Insurance-ease.” Don’t talk to a prospect or client using the language you would use with a coworker or underwriter. Remember, even most commercial insurance prospects deal with insurance just once each year. How much expertise would you have if you looked at insurance only at the expiration? That doesn’t mean commercial insurance prospects will ask you to explain yourself when they don’t understand. What they typically will do is lead you to believe they understand. Then, you’ll walk away scratching your head when you don’t make the sale even though your proposal includes critical coverages missing from their current program. You didn’t make the sale because the prospect didn’t understand the value of your product.
Always approach things from the perspective of your prospect. Imagine the letters “WIIFM” stamped on your prospect’s forehead. WIIFM, of course, stands for “What’s in it for me?” Focus on benefits to your prospect. Describe how your prospect will benefit from the program you are recommending. Describe too, how they will be hurt if they don’t accept your proposal. For example: “Without host liquor liability coverage, if one of your employees should be involved in an automobile accident on the way home from the annual company Christmas party, the resulting lawsuit could threaten everything you’ve worked for.”
Your words should suggest that you expect your prospect to buy. Never say, “If you buy,” instead say, “As my client, you can expect …” If your words suggest uncertainty on your part, why should your prospect have confidence in you? A lack of confidence on your part will quickly be reflected by your prospect who will then lose confidence in you.
Remember, people make decisions based on emotion, and then justify their decision with logic. Professional sales people appeal to both. The words you use help establish expectations. Be sure the words you choose convey a positive message, and move the prospect toward the sale.
Ken Fields is an assistant vice president of sales development with the State Auto Insurance Cos. He also serves on the national faculty for the National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research. For information on the Dynamics of Selling program or the National Alliance Producer School, go to:www.thenationalalliance.com.