Stop short circuiting your sales processBy Jim Ruta | August 23 2013 05:57PM
How can I improve my falling closing ratio?
Your problem is likely not what you think. In my coaching lately, I’m discovering that many otherwise great advisors are getting poorer results than they expect. When I dig a little deeper, their problem isn’t closing. It’s opening. They have been short circuiting their sales process.
Have you ever short circuited a light socket with your thumb? I have... ouch! Short-circuiting your sales can be just as painful for your results. When you short an electrical circuit, you make you cut out part of the system and you don’t get light. When you short your sales process, you also cut out some of the system and don’t get business.
Short circuiting your sales means excluding a part or parts of the process. You don’t do what has to be done and therefore get less performance than you expect. It isn’t that complicated.
Consider this. The sales process is just the advisor’s side of the buying process. The parts match so that the buyer gets the information and encouragement needed to buy. If you pull a piece of it out, you short circuit the process and get “shocked” when they don’t buy. We often see that as bad closing but it’s really bad opening. You have to open properly to close successfully. Prospects need a full process to buy what you’re selling too.
A full sales process requires the
- 1. Pre-Approach is introducing yourself with advertising, marketing and making the initial contact. People like to know who they are dealing with in the relationship. Pre-approach gets that started.2
- Approach is building their interest to proceed. You do this by “enticing engagement”. It’s the real first step to an advisor/client relationship. You have to attract their attention; build their interest and encourage their desire to move forward productively. Now, they want to work with you.3. Fact Finding is where you get all the information you need to customize your advice and recommendations for your prospect. This part shows that you know who they are and that you can be on target with your recommendations. It is trust building. Buyers need trust.
- Presentation shows prospects how you can help them solve the problems they’ve identified with your help. We use the “situation – issues – recommendation” process to lay it all out there for them clearly. That way they can see for themselves what needs to be done. You can then motivate them to implement and get the results they want.5
- Close or Ask is the natural conclusion to a complete sales process. But, it has to be natural. Make it easy to move forward to the next steps and you help people act. When you help more, you sell more. Then, prospects can benefit from your expertise, experience and advice. Asking is helping prospects help themselves.
Are you missing any part of the process? That’s likely your problem. Stop short circuiting your sales process and making it harder for prospects to buy. Include the full sales cycle. You’ll cut out a lot of your pain, help a lot more people and dramatically improve your closing ratio.
How can I stay life insurance compliant and sane at the same time?
It’s no surprise that compliance is a hot topic again for insurance agents. The surprise is that it is such a surprise to so many of them.
The part of the “new” compliance regime that you can control is just good business practice. If you follow these rules, you will be more professional and productive. Don’t view compliance as a stumbling block to performance. Instead, make it a stepping stone to greater business success.
Here are some key compliance obligations and how they can help you build your business:
Privacy – The Personal Information Privacy and Electronic Documents Act is relatively new but keeping client information secure has been around since I started in the 1970s. Then, we were kept out of areas of the office to protect client information. Confidentiality has always been a good practice. Clients expect it and always did. It attracts business.
Good Files – Recording client meeting notes, keeping orderly files, retaining correspondence and only necessary illustrations is not new. And, it’s critical if you are to help people update their life insurance portfolios. We were never allowed to keep medical information. Keeping wills and policies was out too. When you have good files, you show yourself to be a professional. You are also more litigation resistant. Building and protecting good client files is what professionals do.
Suitability – Since when is getting the full facts and then basing your recommendations on them, so radical? Being needs-based is the height of professionalism. We always needed a fact finder, computerized or otherwise. I’ve talked for many years about my SIR presentation template (Situation, Issues, and Recommendations) to document your advice and demonstrate your thinking. Lawyer Harold Geller says “Show your work”. Keeping your advice suitable is also critical. That’s why I recommend SMART Service and policy audits. Client interest is priority one.
Disclosure – Transparency equals trust today. That’s disclosure. It makes good sense to lay your cards on the table so people know what it means to work with you. Advisors have been using my “Relationship Engagement Document” for more than 15 years and the response is amazing. People love getting the whole story in writing and understanding it. Counsellor-type sales courses preached a similar strategy more than 30 years ago.
Replacement – Replacement can only ever be in the client’s best interest. Why else? Even then, clients must understand the situation, the cost-benefit and the restarting of contestability and suicide clauses. That’s your responsibility. The forms have changed but the principle remains the same. Churning business is still bad.
Product Illustrations and Descriptions – Prospects expect you to be fair, honest and accurate when describing products. That’s the essence of professional selling.
Complaints – If you’re not sensitive to client concerns, you’ll never stay in business. Use complaints as a way to get better. Soliciting them in surveys even increases loyalty.
This brief look at compliance gives you the key to your sanity. Use compliance obligations as your “professional rule book” to be your best. That’s the winn