At the core of what we do at Q4intelligence is what most would describe as sales training. We work with producers and the broader team to take more effective conversations to their prospects and clients.
I’m guessing sales training has been around since the first caveman wheel salesman (no gender equality in the workplace back then, I’m sure) tried to scale in order to meet the growing need/demand for the product. I’m also guessing it wasn’t long after that when the first sales trainee grunted, “Zog no need sales process. Zog sell wheel many years."
In the millennium that have passed, the products/services being sold have become much more complex, but a couple of things haven’t changed:
- Too many salespeople feel that a sales process isn’t necessary
- Too many buyers are reluctant to embrace change
Wouldn’t you think it would have been easy for those early cave-salesmen to sell their fire and wheels? I mean, it doesn’t seem like it would be too hard to convince your fellow cave-folk how their lives would be improved with fire or wheels, would you? However, I’m sure there were plenty of buyers who said, “This fire and wheel trend will pass.”
But, then again, you wouldn’t think it would be hard to convince your prospects how their lives and businesses would be improved with the right insurance strategy, technology platform, or compliance resources, would you?
However, we hear stories every week where prospects stayed on their current paths, ignoring savings in the tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars, or chose to accept the risk that comes with not addressing compliance exposures.
It’s not like the “good ol' days”
It used to be that the only real decision you needed a prospect to make was about their carrier and plan design. Nothing about that decision required new effort on their part; you were simply tweaking the decision they had already made to offer insurance.
But, you are no longer simply in the insurance product business are you? Nope.
You are in the advice and results business and the areas in which you need to be giving advice and delivering results have grown exponentially in both number and complexity. You are now expected to be quasi-lawyer, technology expert, HR professional, financial whiz, and on and on.
Change is kinda scary
As obvious as you likely feel it is that your prospects/clients would benefit from the multiple solutions you offer, it’s rarely that obvious to them. People, in general, don’t like change and your buyers are no different. Your prospects need you to take these big, hairy, scary decisions you are now asking them to make (self-funding, new technology, even the very decision to hire you) and break them down into easier to digest, much-less-threatening decisions.
When the only way you present these new, complex solutions is through a capabilities presentation, all the buyer sees is BIG CHANGE.
You may feel you are showing them a picture of a brighter future, but the thought going through their mind is,
“Holy crap, I can’t even get through my current list of to-dos, how in the world am I going to find the time to make THAT happen?! HOW would I make it happen if I had time? And, would doing so even be a good use of my time?”
Several small decisions are easier to make than one big one
Instead of asking them to make one big decision and commit to intimidating change, you need to break the decisions and change path down into smaller, easier-to-make decisions and easier-to-envision steps.
This is where your sales conversation comes into play. Stop thinking about it as a conversation to help you sell, and start thinking about it as a conversation to help them make the right buying decisions.
1. Establish the target
As early in the sales conversation as possible, define what it is that will earn you the business.
This may seem like a bold move during a first meeting, but it’s actually a show of respect of their time. If a prospect is willing to meet with you, it should be fair to assume they are willing to offer a legitimate opportunity for you to earn that business. Why ask for more of their time if there isn’t a clearly defined outcome you are trying to accomplish?
Our suggestion is to tell the prospect that you won’t ask for their business until it becomes obvious to both of you that there is an opportunity for meaningful improvement to their business and you’re both confident in your ability to put the right solutions in place to bring that improvement.
No serious prospect is going to see this standard as anything other than fair and in their best interest. As much as it will need further clarification and refinement, you now have a firm target for which to aim.
2. Reset expectations
They expect you to talk about their insurance needs.
However, it is up to you to explain how the role of a broker has changed. They need a broker/advisor who not only can help with insurance, but can also help sort through the maze of needs they have around compliance, technology, communication, etc.
It is up to you to help them understand how inter-connected all of these needs are and how, only when addressing them in concert with one another, they can achieve the outcomes they want and need for their business.
When explained logically, most buyers see this inner-connectivity as painfully obvious. You have now helped them buy into the fact that a better reality does exist. However desirable they may see that potential reality, they are still blinded and overwhelmed by its size and perceived distance.
3. Focus on the problem, not the product
Make their understanding of a complex picture easier to absorb.
You would never show up to meet with a prospect for the first time and deliver them an insurance proposal. You discuss the insurance part of their business to help them (and you) see where they have opportunities for the insurance part of their business.
And through the solutions you have in your capabilities binder, you have the potential to impact broader areas of their business.
Instead of showing off your solutions as a capabilities presentation, slow down enough to have a conversation about each non-insurance part of their business you can impact to see what list of non-insurance needs they really have.
And, by doing this, you have directly addressed the target you mutually established and determined that there is, in fact, an opportunity for meaningful improvement.
4. The final decision
At this point, all that's left is to earn the confidence that you can put the right solutions in place.
This is NOT a time to get out the same capabilities presentation and overwhelm them with everything you can offer. Instead, take out the individual solutions you would use to address the identified needs.
Introduce these solutions one at a time, being very careful to explain what is included in the solution, how it works, the results it has helped deliver to other clients, and a specific plan of how you would implement it for this prospect.
Your job is less about selling and much more about educating buyers as to how they can make more effective buying decisions.
It’s not enough to show them the “after” picture. You have to educate them to the point where they understand how great the “after” is and want to attain it. They also understand why their business even needs it in the first place.
And, most important of all, you have to lay out a path that makes achieving the “after” results as predictable and attainable as possible.
Photo by larryrains