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Defining the sales process, part 1

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First, let’s define selling. In its broadest sense, selling is the process that brings about a desired change in the behavior of prospects using needs-based techniques.

The agent’s role

Prospects have many avenues available to them to purchase insurance, whether life policies or annuities, from telemarketers who sell insurance over the phone to carriers who provide insurance products over the Internet. One reason carriers have contracted with agents is that it is easy for people to procrastinate when purchasing insurance. Agents help in bringing action on the part of the prospect.

The primary function of an insurance agent, as it relates to selling, is to:

  • Uncover sources of dissatisfaction
  • Disturb the prospect
  • Remove complacency
  • Instill a desire for changing the status quo
  • Offer an intelligent and acceptable solution
  • Effect a decision to buytoday!

Learning what your prospect expects helps you create a buying experience that motivates your prospect to purchase from you.

Prospects tune in to “WIIFM” radio, meaning, “What’s in it for me?” Thinking from that perspective allows you to uncover the information that triggers your prospect’s buying motivation.

Understanding prospects and the way they buy enables sales professionals to succeed in their chosen profession. However, simply understanding the prospect’s motives doesn’t accomplish anything. Successful salespeople not only figure out the buying motives, but they then use these motives to make a sale.

Human relations in sales

Selling includes both objective facts and subjective impressions. Remember, prospects will do business with someone they like. Therefore:

  • Be yourself. If you try to be someone you are not, you will be regarded as insincere.
  • Know your products. This is a sales strength. It promotes confidence.
  • Expect the best from your prospects.
  • Express empathy and sympathy

Much of what we have talked about so far involves communication, verbal and non-verbal. Everything we say, how we say it and what we do communicates a message. How the prospect feels about the message they receive from us plays a part in the sales process.

  • Empathy/sympathy means trying to see, hear and think like the other person.
  • Empathy is understanding a person, looking from the inside out, as he or she does.
  • Listening is the key skill for acquiring this kind of understanding.

Verbal communication

  • Use an everyday vocabulary.
  • Avoid using technical terms and acronyms that only you understand.
  • Speak distinctly and clearly.
  • Let the prospect set the pace.
  • How you speak is important–monitor your tone, inflection and emphasis when speaking.

Non-verbal communication

Non-verbal cues are those expressions and gestures, which communicate to your prospect without you speaking. They can work both for you and against you.

Positive non-verbal communication

  • Good eye contact
  • Relaxed mannerisms
  • Uncrossed arms and legs
  • Nodding in agreement
  • Smiling

Handling objections

One of the biggest mistakes many sales professionals make is to try and fight their prospects’ objections. When you fight an objection, your prospect’s sales resistance goes up, and the sales process becomes much more difficult.

Instead of battling with your prospect, you want to align yourself with them and reinforce that you are on their side. By aligning with your prospect, you validate their concerns, thereby lowering their sales resistance and making their objection much easier to handle.

The phrase “overcoming objections” implies an adversarial or win/lose situation. It shouldn’t be.

Two questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you do better when you feel good or when you feel bad?
  • Do you feel good when you win or when you lose?

If you do better when you feel good and you feel good when you win why would you ever want your prospect to be wrong (or for example lose a point they are making)?

Four basic objections

Most objections fall into one of these four categories:

  1. No money
  2. No need
  3. No hurry
  4. No confidence

Two types of objections

Prospects will have objections that you must overcome before you can close them on a particular product and complete the sale.

1. Emotional objection

a. “I don’t like it.”

b. “I don’t want it.”

c. “I want to think about it/talk it over with someone.”

2. Logical thinking, or specific

a. Waiting for check

b. Lower premium

c. Comparing benefits

Two forms of objections

  1. Broad objection
  2. Specific objection

When prospects use a broad objection they do not reveal the reasons behind their objections.

Examples of a broad objection:

  • “I don’t want it.”
  • “I don’t like it.”
  • “I don’t need it.”

When prospects use specific objections they do reveal the reasons behind their objections.


  • “It cost too much.”
  • “I don’t like the deductible.”
  • “I don’t like the copay.”

You must bring a broad objection down to a specific objection in order to address the underlying buying motive and close the sale. You do this through asking effective questions. In our next article we will look at effective questions.

For more from Lloyd Lofton, see: