“Life is hard, deliver easy.” — John C. Maxwell
We live in a complex and noisy world. If you ask 10 people how their week is going, I venture to guess that at least half will answer, “busy.”
It’s often said that knowledge is power. I firmly believe in the power of knowledge and education, but is knowledge really power? When it comes to effective communication, your knowledge can actually be a hindrance when expressed outwardly. Let me explain why.
Early my in my insurance sales career, I had little knowledge. I often joke that I could barely spell the word insurance let alone try to explain it. While that certainly is an exaggeration, the bottom line was that I was very uncomfortable sharing technical knowledge.
To offset this inexperience, I focused on building relationships and getting to know the business owner I was speaking with. After all, I didn’t want to ask questions or start a discussion I was uncomfortable with, but I could certainly discuss their business goals, needs and frustrations, as well as connect with them.
Although I was less experienced than almost all of my competition, I still was able to achieve some small wins due to the fact that I was building positive relationships. Many of the business owners assumed I knew something about insurance, but more importantly, they were impressed that I wanted to know more about them. By connecting, I was increasing my influence in every situation.
In the next few years, I attended various training classes and programs. I achieved my certified insurance counselor (CIC) designation and learned much more about specific coverages and lines of insurance. This information was powerful and helped to make me a better agent.
This knowledge also caused me to sometimes lose sight of the client’s needs and focus on my new-found expertise. If I learned a new coverage or product, I would often try to dazzle them with my big words and impressive phrases.
I started doing what my first sales trainer told me not to do. He told me never to “technobarf” on your prospects or clients. Guess what?I became a technobarfer!
Let me be clear. I am not saying that acquiring knowledge is not important. In fact, quite the contrary. However, what I am saying is that using this knowledge to impress your prospects is not effective and often makes their lives more complex.
Regardless of the product or service that you are selling, you must use phrases and concepts that your listener can fully understand and relate with.
Focus on making anything complicated in your business simple. Use stories, examples, analogies.
Instead of describing how an insurance coverage works, use a personal story to explain how it’s used.
Let me offer an example. Let’s pretend there are two agents. Agent A is super smart and sophisticated — and talks like it. Agent B is also super smart but understands how to connect using simplicity.
Both of them are meeting with a business owner to discuss business interruption.
Agent A: “There are many important coverages to consider and it’s my job to walk you through your options. One of those important coverages is business interruption insurance. This quote is for ALS, that means actual loss sustained, but there other options including co-insurance and monthly indemnity. If you have a large claim it will protect your business from continued incurred expenses you will face such as payroll and utilities. Is this something you would want?”
Agent B: “Last year, one of our clients suffered a fire at their restaurant. It was terrible, can you even imagine? His policy covered the building and contents inside, but there was another key aspect he had never considered.
After the fire, he came to our office noticeably upset. He thanked us for our quick response, but asked us how he was going to survive the next year due to the fact that he wouldn’t be able to pay to keep his key employees, or afford ongoing monthly expenses while they were rebuilding and not operating.
See, what he didn’t understand was that our policy included business interruption coverage, which covered these often overlooked expenses. Would this type of coverage be important for you and your business?”
Agent B used a powerful story to tell the same fact about this particular coverage. Even though the coverage amount and type of coverage may have been the same, agent B painted an emotional picture that was simple to understand. Agent B connected, while Agent A focused on his own knowledge.
Knowledge will only take you so far. If you want to be successful in transferring this knowledge to those you want to influence, you must learn to simplify your message.
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