All too often, salespeople selling commercial insurance products fail to add a key ingredient to the sales process: a sense of personal conviction regarding the suitability of the product for the customer’s situation. This is often reflected by a tendency to incorporate tired or conventional talking points when attempting to close the sale. Other culprits include broad and general statements trotted out to validate the strength of the firm or carrier you represent, or vague references about policy differences.
But the piece I often find missing is that the salesperson doesn’t seem personally vested in the process or in a successful outcome. This is unfortunate because selling commercial insurance is highly complex, involves a long sales cycle, and is significantly dependent on the credibility, conviction and sense of urgency that the salesperson is uniquely positioned to deliver.
That said, broker or carrier strengths, and policy and servicing differences delivered in a compelling and convincing way can help to close a sale. The “difference maker” that I’m referring to means changing your mindset about how you make your closing argument. Consider putting yourself in your customer’s shoes in the language you use.
Let’s say you are asking your customer to pay a significant premium for a coverage you believe they seriously need. Explain why you would purchase the coverage if you were the buyer. What do you see as the potential consequences of foregoing this coverage? Be as specific as possible when explaining the outcomes, both pro and con, from the customer’s perspective.
It might sound like this:
You: Chris, I know you have some reservations about purchasing this Directors & Officers Liability coverage. It is expensive, and you have gotten by without needing such coverage in the past.
Chris: You’re right about that. I really don’t see the need. This is a family-owned business, we all get along, and we’ve been pretty successful at what we’ve been doing for a long time.
You: I can understand that. But you can be sued for a lot of different reasons by a lot of different stakeholders, including customers, employees, regulators and, in certain cases, shareholders. If this were my business, I wouldn’t want to leave myself and my family exposed this way. The financial and reputational consequences of avoidable losses could be catastrophic.
Chris: I know, but it hasn’t happened and we don’t expect it to happen.
You: Chris, no one expects a bad thing to happen. We’re always hoping they don’t. I’m trying to view this from your perspective. If it were my business, I’d be concerned about putting at risk everything I – and the rest of my family – have built over the past 50 years. Everyone in the family may get along well now, but everything is subject to change. A marriage can bring someone into the business who does not have sufficient expertise or experience. A divorce or death can result in losing a key executive. I wouldn’t want to expose my business to lawsuits resulting from wrongful acts or failures in business judgment from people who now or in the future may act in ways I can neither predict nor control.
Chris: I see your point…
Of course, I wouldn’t expect the customer at this point to just roll over and sign on the dotted line. Things are rarely that easy. All I’m saying is that your sales presentation may be enhanced and made more dramatic and effective by making your case from the customer’s perspective. It provides the additional benefit of demonstrating your sense of urgency and personal conviction in the outcome, the importance of which can’t be underestimated. Most buyers want to work with advisers and vendors who are as excited and passionate about their business as they are.
This approach obviously needs to be practiced and should be deployed strategically, when you think it would resonate most. But used wisely, it can make the difference in winning or losing a sale. And given how competitive commercial insurance selling is, wouldn’t you want every advantage you can get?
As always, I appreciate your feedback (positive or negative), questions, or comments. Please email me with your thoughts.
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