It’s no secret that moving towards the close is the most bewildering aspect of the sales process – it’s a process hard-working producers spend a career perfecting. There are, however, a series of steps along the way to getting prospects to feel comfortable enough to sign on the dotted line.
And as most producers’ demographic begins to move into that new and challenging customer, the baby boomer – well-informed buyers who are exceptionally dubious of traditional sales techniques – your closing tools will have to adapt.
We consulted with a couple of top advisors for their take on 10 useful steps to help head towards home base: Marty Guzman, CSA, president of Peoria, Ariz.-based Arizona Estate Planners, Inc. and Michael Zmistowski, RFC, president of First Gulf Advisors in Tampa, Fla. What follows is an overview of their best steps to “yes.”
1. Be well informed prior to making any recommendations.
Guzman says the industry has recently taken significant steps to better assure that recommendations made by producers are suitable for the customer.
“Prior to doing any fact finding, I use an insurance agent disclosure form.The form helps me outline my relationship with the prospect and identifies exactly how I fit into their financial world. This defines how we are going to proceed.” Guzman says this easily leads to the next step, which is collecting the detailed information needed prior to making any suitable recommendation.
“This may be the most significant assistance your marketing firm can do for you,” he says. “Your marketing organization should be able to properly prepare you with the necessary disclosures and fact-finding tools that will help you unlock all of the prospect’s key issues.” Without this knowledge, says Guzman, it isn’t possible to make a suitable recommendation. Although insurance companies provide a suitability form when selling annuities, he has found this form lacks the true detail necessary to make a recommendation to the customer.
2. Master your products.
Product mastery must come before sales mastery, Guzman explains. “All financial professionals operate in the world of ideas. I mean, think about it. When you deliver a policy, you are handing your customer a stack of paper. That’s not really what they bought from you. They purchased the ideas and concepts put forward by the words on those papers that help them accomplish their goals and dreams. If you are working in this industry, you must be equipped with every feature of every product you work with.
“For example: If you are a relatively new agent and have a few good ideas, you can make a few good sales when those circumstances arise. However, if you had total product mastery, you would know there are actually many more ideas or concepts that can work within a given product to help your customers. Mastering a product could mean increased sales because you now have the knowledge and vision to recognize opportunities when they are in front of you. Having true understanding of all your product’s benefits will lead you to opportunities you may have overlooked in the past.”
3. Be confident.
People want to work with someone who is confident in their chosen profession. Confidence comes from knowing what is important in your field, Guzman says. “Product mastery leads you on a path of confidence. It is as simple as knowing what you are talking about.
“It has been my experience people do not want to work with someone who is unsure of themselves or intimidated by others. Be a pro. Prepare before you ever meet the prospect. Have a plan of action in place. Sometimes the sale that did not happen is more valuable than the one that did. Have you ever left a meeting thinking, ?Oh, I should have said this or suggested that?’ Keep honing your skills. Make note of what you wish you had done or said so that when that situation arises again, you will be ready for it.
“Ultimately, people can sense your confidence level. Knowledge and sincerity must be present or you may fall into the trap of being viewed as arrogant. Arrogant agents might make sales, but lose referrals or repeat business.