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What Do Customers Expect From Agents?

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We all know what we expect from customers — or at least we think we do. We want them to give us their attention, give us a fair hearing, and be open to our recommendations and pay what they owe us. Some customers live up to this standard and some don’t make the cut. Just about everyone in sales, including life insurance agents, also works at making sure customers like them, the cornerstone of a good relationship.

(Related: How To Keep Going When You Want It All To Go Away)

That’s not all. Agents also expect customers to be frank and open, even though some have an agenda they keep well hidden, leaving us guessing and suspicious.

Whether accurate or not, most sales reps expect buyers to believe their representations are in the customer’s best interest. All this shouldn’t be surprising to anyone in sales, since this is how most reps like to think of themselves.

What Customers Expect From Sales Reps

Even so, all this is only half the story. What’s missing is at least equally or more important today when it comes to success in sales. In other words, it’s time to ask, “In the current state of the economy, and considering what consumers have been going through the past year of the pandemic, what do customers expect from agents?”

1. Customers want to do business with someone who understands them. Working with an agent is like dating, except for one major difference. The conversation goes from, “Hi, I’m Bob. Should we get married now, or see how things go in the next seven minutes?” If customers are going to spend time with you, they expect some indication of “instant friendship” or compatibility that tells them it’s going to be OK. They’re going to be comfortable. This is what people mean when they say, “That’s a great agent.” If this message isn’t clear, they’re gone.

2. Customers expect an agent to be responsive to their situation. Or, to put it another way many customers want to tell you their “story” as the way for you to understand and help them. Don’t cut them short and plow ahead with your own spiel. If you do, they will be offended and feel rejected. Most customers know what they want to say, but they may not know how to express it. They are hoping that you will figure it out. If you do, they will reward you by giving you the sale.

3. Patience sends the message to customers that you want the sale. It’s not what you say, but how you act that demonstrates you get it. If you do, then it’s time to slow down, both in terms of your manner and how fast you are speaking. It takes time for information to sink in. That’s why consumers don’t want to be rushed or pushed. While they may have tolerated some nudging or even a little push in the past, not now. No matter what it is, consumers will find what they want at a price they want to pay, sitting in their sweats in front of a screen.

4. Customers expect agents to be reliable. Or, to put it more accurately, there are no second chances; customers don’t come crawling back. They know their options; they’re not alone. Social networking is empowering. They trust their friends, relatives and neighbors, which just happens to be an interesting description of small communities, places where people watch out for each other. When an agent gets a bad reputation, the news spreads like a virus

5. Customers expect agents to be a resource. But there is only one reason Jeff Bezos is one of the largest retailers in the world: Consumers are suckers for convenience (read: immediate gratification). Something happens in the human brain when we see the words, “You’ll have it tomorrow.” But there’s another part of the brain that pulls toward “due diligence,” taking responsibility for making good decisions. Finding an agent who fuels that desire by sharing their knowledge and expertise, along with a give-and-take, is immensely rewarding.

6. They expect you to be candid with them. Some in sales think it takes painting a perfect picture of what they’re selling to make the sale. It isn’t. Everyone knows nothing is perfect. What’s refreshing is when an agent says, “This is a terrific product. My customers are more than satisfied with it, but it’s important that you understand the policy exclusions.” Customers equate candor with honesty and transparency.

7. Customers expect follow-through. It’s a useful way to judge an agent’s performance before signing the order. “I’ll get back to you late this afternoon with answers to your questions,” says a smiling agent, who gets busy and forgets about it and then blames on someone else. Whatever picture the customer had of the agent changed, and not for the better.

All of this may come across as unnecessarily obvious to both customers and agents. Perhaps. But even physicians can turn their backs on the Hippocratic Oath to “do no harm” and some agents play by their own rules, which may not be life threatening, but do harm, nevertheless, both to them and their customers.

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John GrahamJohn Graham of GrahamComm is a marketing and sales strategy consultant and business writer. He is the creator of “Magnet Marketing” and publishes a free monthly eBulletin, “No Nonsense Marketing & Sales Ideas.”