Super Agent

Posts Tagged ‘conversation’

Are You Taking Advantage of This Untapped Opportunity?

Last week, we discussed Al Lewis’ dynamic presentation at our recent annual event, but we also wanted to share an opportunity touched on by two other engaging speakers. Don Phin and Joy Justus of ThinkHR encouraged the group to think about the impact uninsurable HR related risks have on employers and how agents can step in to help them mitigate those risks.

Consider these questions:

  • How much did bad hires cost your employer clients over the last 12 months?
  • How much did losing any good employee cost them over the last 12 months?
  • What would be the bottom-line impact of improving total productivity by only 5%?
  • What is it costing them to keep poor employees?
  • What added costs are your clients paying due to poor risk management or return to work practices?

If they have employees, your clients are facing these issues. Are you ready to have a conversation with them around HR Risk Management to position yourself as an advisor, bring more value, and build a consultative relationship?

Face-to-Face

With the rise of new communication technologies and the Internet, face-to-face interaction has been largely replaced by conference calls, emails, or text messages. But, although these modes of communication are necessary and important, don’t underestimate the value of engaging with someone in person.

In one of our first blog posts, we talked about an agent with a difficult issue who discussed the challenge with us and set a strategy for moving forward. Then, the agent asked: “Should I send my client an email detailing what we’ve discussed?”

In these types of situations, where important issues need to be resolved or discussed, an email doesn’t leverage the most powerful aspects of communication. In an article on Forbes, contributor Carol Goman wrote: “In face-to-face meetings, our brains process the continual cascade of nonverbal cues that we use as the basis for building trust and professional intimacy. Face-to-face interaction is information-rich. We interpret what people say to us only partially from the words they use. We get most of the message (and all of the emotional nuance behind the words) from vocal tone, pacing, facial expressions and body language.”

Investing your time and attention with your clients by having a conversation in person is the best way to resolve the tough issues. And, it’s also important to check in (in-person) periodically with your most important clients in order to sustain and grow the business relationship.

When was the last time you had a face-to-face meeting with a long-time client? Did you have an in-person meeting with a client the last time you were working to resolve a big issue?

Apply the Power of Brain Science

In a recent article on Inc.com, Geoffrey James talks about ways to use neuroscience in order to improve presentations. He says that all of the effort and money put in to understanding how the mind works is good news for every business person, because there are significant insights that can be used to make business relationships better.

We’ve talked about the science of decision making before, and the huge impact it has on driving successful sales meetings. But, this article offers a few additional pearls we thought were worth breaking down:

- The first tip is to customize your presentations. Although the way we process information and make decisions is the same, each individual (even within the same organization) has a different set of objectives, goals and desires. In other words, don’t have the same conversation with the CEO that you have with the CFO. Do your research on what might be important to them and on what unique challenges they may be facing and tailor your stories and questions for each meeting.

- Next up, show and tell. James explains that “the latest neuroscience research has revealed that human beings process words and pictures in different physical areas of the brain.” In order to really engage people, it’s best to try to access both areas. If you do, they will be more likely to remember your message.

- Lastly, stick to the basics of your message. Don’t provide confusing and complex information or data up-front. Humans are naturally drawn to stories, and are likely to dismiss what you’re saying if it’s presented to them before they’ve become emotionally engaged and invested.

How are you applying the power of brain science during your sales conversations? Let us know in the comments.

6 Questions to Ask CFO’s

Many of the agents that we talk to, especially those working with larger accounts, struggle to drive sales conversations with CFO’s. The good news is, part of the role of the CFO is to have a long-view of the success of their organization, and so managing risk is often of special interest to them. But, most CFO’s want risk to be clearly identified and defined, and managed with specific responsibilities assigned. So, if your dialog with them is jargon-filled and vague then they’re likely to lose interest and take you back to price.

In order for a CFO to see the value of engaging with you, it’s necessary that you bring strategic ideas, data connected to strategy and, most importantly, thought-provoking questions to the table. Dialog is the pathway to discovery and change behavior, so here are 6 questions you might consider asking a CFO in a sales conversation:

How confident are you that…

1- …your risk profile and risk management strategies are in alignment with what you want to achieve as an organization?

2- …you are using non-financial information (along with financial information) to build your organization’s risk profile?

3- … you’re adequately assessing how risk events can potentially affect your business strategy?

4- … you’ve identified the smart risks that will create opportunities for success?

5- … risks are well integrated with operational management goals?

6- … risks and performance indicators are being continually monitored to gauge progress toward business objectives?

Having conversations with CFO’s around growth and sustainability, more effective and efficient use of their premium dollars, improved outcomes and a future based on their vision for their business is something that most agents aren’t doing. So, assess your prospect list, talk to your current clients… take advantage of this opportunity to differentiate and grow your business.

Who Is Your Biggest Competitor?

We say it all the time: many agents make the mistake of thinking that their biggest competitor is the agent down the street. In reality, it is the status quo creating the biggest obstacles to their success. The majority of prospects you meet are following an ineffective process to manage risk and buy insurance, but they’re unaware of the dangers they’re in and too risk averse to be actively considering making a change.

It would be nice if there were a large number of prospects in the “action stage” of change. But, most need leadership and a push in order to get there. In a recent Forbes article, Tim Riesterer of Corporate Visions was interviewed on this subject. He talks about the need to engage a buyer’s emotions in order to get them moving toward the action stage and offers these three tips to do it:

  1. Context- He says: “if a tornado siren sounds on a sunny day, most people don’t take action. But, on a cloudy windy day that same siren can lead people to take action. A simple change in context makes all the difference.” For agents, this means asking thought provoking questions and bringing forward new ideas in order to help prospects see the problems and challenges of the status quo
  2. Contrast- In other words, bring a sense of urgency to the conversation. If you create a stark enough contrast between what is and what could be, they’ll want to know more.
  3. Concrete- As we’ve discussed in the past, in order to engage the emotional centers of the brain that lead to change behavior, skip over talking about complex “features and benefits” that require heavy mental lifting. Talking about your capabilities should come later on, after agreements have been made to move forward and around existing issues in need of being addressed.

How are you taking on the status-quo? We want to hear your stories! And, if you’re interested in attending a unique conference for insurance professionals focused on overcoming the status-quo, you can check out more information here.

It’s All About the Conversation

A common practice that we see during coaching calls with producers is that many of them are using language that creates push back or resistance from the prospect. They have the capabilities necessary to help employers get better, and they want to engage in a consultative way but they’re too quick to revert back to agency focused assertions rather than having an open dialog. So, they’ll say “we have this unique process”, “we don’t go out for bids”, or “the way you’re engaging is flawed and puts you in danger.”

These statements may all be true, but a more effective approach is to invite the prospect into the conversation with conditional language. Conditional language means you’re not telling the prospect what’s wrong or what you do differently. Instead, you’re asking pointed questions that help them to gain new insights about their current state, self-discover risks, and move toward that “Aha” moment that leads to change. Think about using phrases like, “Let’s assume…” or “What if it were the case that…”

The RAIN Group says this about the power of conditional language: “Open-ended sales questions are great for helping us to find out what’s going on in our prospects’ and clients’ worlds. They help us connect with buyers personally, understand their needs, understand what’s important to them, and help them create better futures for themselves.”

Here is an example of a question that uses conditional language to achieve a better response and effect than “we have a unique process”:

“What if you were to discover that the process you’re engaged in is actually creating barriers to what you’re trying to achieve?”

Changing the conversation in this way can make a big impact when you’re goal is to lead a prospect to see a future that you’re a part of. We challenge you to try out this approach during your next sales meeting. Did you see better results? Let us know in the comments.

Having Difficult Sales Conversations: Part 2

Last week we discussed the common reluctance to having sales conversations that push the boundaries of comfort and tackle big issues other agents likely aren’t addressing. But, creating positive tension during the sales process isn’t the only difficult task producers struggle to master in order to truly differentiate.

Another similar area is developing a willingness to be vulnerable and transparent with clients and prospects, which can help producers build lasting business relationships but is a point of issue for many. According to Patrick Lencioni, author of the business fable Getting Naked, “those who get comfortable being vulnerable are rewarded with levels of client loyalty that other[s] can only dream of….naked service is rare, which means it provides an opportunity for a powerful and tangible competitive advantage for those who embrace it.”

This means letting go of the fear of being embarrassed, asking questions or raising suggestions even if they could turn out to be wrong, and admitting to errors rather than hiding them. As James Joyce said, “mistakes are the portals of discovery.” In return, those you work with will be attracted to your honesty, trust that your intentions are to help them achieve the best outcomes, and appreciate your directness.

Are you comfortable with both types of difficult conversations that we touched on in this two-part series? If not, there are big opportunities waiting for you.