What if insurance agents had a sort of magic lamp they could use to identify their business strengths and weaknesses — or their insurance agency’s strengths and weaknesses? All you’d have to do is rub it, say those magic words and all the wonderful things people think and say about you would be revealed to you?
And maybe some not so wonderful things too. You could learn what works best and what needs improvement in your presentations, your products, your service.
Would you believe me if I told you that such a thing actually exists?
The device you use is not really a lamp and you don’t rub it. It’s more like a phone or a strange device we call the Internet. But the device itself is not important. You may not even need the device if you are speaking to your client in person. It’s the words you must speak or type into the device that are magical. You must phrase these words as questions and pose them to your clients.
Then all will be revealed.
But what words have such awesome power? Can a humble insurance agent really summon the inner thoughts of his or her customers, like a genie or a wizard? Must these words be spoken in an ancient tongue, uttered while standing in a chalked circle of mystical symbols?
Not really. Here are the six magical questions to ask your clients, as adapted from Sean D’Sousa’s brilliant book on the psychology of selling, “The Brain Audit.” From the answers you get you will learn much. Improve your strengths, diminish your weaknesses, formulate the basis of your positioning strategy and, as a bonus, get some high-powered testimonials as well.
- If you hesitated or had to think a while before deciding to do business with me (us), what was the obstacle or factor that made you hesitate?
- What did you learn as a result of making the decision to do business with me (us)?
- What specific feature of the insurance program we presented did you like the most?
- Can you name three other benefits you’ve experienced from the plan we presented?
- Would you recommend our agency to someone else? If so, why?
- Would you like to add anything else?
If you have any misconceptions about how consumers perceive you or your firm, asking this question should root them out. Maybe you think people like to do business with you because you have an outstanding reputation for service. What if you find out the client thought you had the best presentation and insurance plan, but they didn’t think your service would be very good?
Whatever the obstacle to making the decision to do business with you was, it gets defused with this answer. If service was the concern, the client may say something like, “I was really impressed with the level of service. Every time I called about a problem, it was resolved within a few hours.” Most agents boast about their great service, but not many back it up with this kind of feedback. Now you’ve got more than platitudes.
Detail like this can be even more valuable than hearing that you provide “great service.” Maybe clients will say that your disability product knowledge is awesome. Or maybe they never thought they’d find such a comprehensive insurance program for their pizza parlor at such a great price.
You can also say two or even one. The point is to see if you can get a little more feedback, which could be useful. Clients may give you an answer that’s even better than the first benefit they received. On the other hand, they may say something like, “The contingent business interruption coverage from anchor stores is a really good feature,” which is going to be kind of hard to translate as a compelling reason for most other people to do business with you. But maybe they’ll name a couple of other benefits you can work with.
Hopefully the answer is yes. This is important because customers are putting their integrity on the line here for you. If you want to take the client interview on a tangent for a moment, you could ask for names of others you might be able to help.
Your clients may have nothing to add or they may talk your ear off at this point, now that you’ve opened them up with your first five questions.
This magical series of six questions will help you home in how clients perceive your strengths and your weaknesses. Use them to reveal what is truly unique about yourself or your agency. If you hear things you like about yourself, emphasize them in your dealings with the public. If you hear things you do not like about yourself, be guided in ways to improve. Determine what is truly unique about yourself and your agency and craft a unique selling proposition. And finally, take the best of what people say and, with their permission of course, use their words for testimonials and referrals.
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