Annuity selling: How to handle the dreaded 'shopper'

As you meet with prospects and hope to get a sale, you may soon realize that they were just "shoppers," and they wasted your time and effort. Why not find out--up front--if these individuals are serious about seeking your help?

The first step is no different than the first step with any potential client. You need to build rapport with them, and demonstrate value. You need to separate yourself from the other advisors, by letting them know that you have mastered your craft.

Here's an example: A client comes in and he has already been proposed a product with XYZ company. It may be the best product available, but more often than not it isn't. If you are familiar with the product, and you know it well, you can instantly be perceived as an expert by recapping the terms of the product and more importantly, share with them a strategy to use the terms to their advantage. Maybe point out a few sweet spots that they have not seen or may not have been explained.

The next step, which is really the secret to dealing with these shoppers, is identifying them as a buyer or time waster. Here's the language you could use to do this: Ask them to make one decision and it will tell you whether or not you should be spending more time with them.

Examples:

  • "You know what... Here's the thing. I'm going to go shopping with all of these companies. It doesn't necessarily matter what the product is; it matters what the best terms within the product are and how you utilize those terms to get the best outcome. My question for you, as your coach, if I can get you the best terms and help to be sure you use them correctly, can I be the agent of record on the policies?
  • "Mr. Client, if I can help you to get the best XYZ benefit, and it puts you in a much better position than you are currently in, is there any reason we wouldn't do the business together?"

Here's another real example using guaranteed income as the desired benefit:

  • "Mr. Client, if I can help you get the best possible income plan for you and your wife, which gives you the maximum income for life without you losing control of your money - if I can do that for you, is there any reason we wouldn't do business together?"

This step inherently places a decision on your prospects. If you are able to provide everything they are looking for, they need to decide whether or not they'll use you or another advisor.

If a prospect happens to say no at this point, don't be disappointed; you've saved yourself a great deal of time by finding this out up front. If a prospect wavers, giving you a response such as "maybe" or "well, it depends," your direct response might be:

"Mr. Client, if it were that simple...if I could put together a plan that gives you the best terms and gives you the XYZ benefit you are looking for, will you do the business with me?"

Any time a prospect is asking you a "shopper's question" and comparing your product to others, consider their mindset and why they are posing their questions. It's important to not go into the appointment upset that you have shopper on your hands. Be excited and confident because you are hopefully a master at your craft and can set yourself apart from the rest.

For more on closing the deal, see:

Soft selling: Simple closing basics

'Always be closing' and other lame sales advice

The 4 most important things to do with a sales lead

Shawn Sparks is an annuity consultant with Advisors Excel. He can be reached at www.shawncsparks.com.

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