Wouldn’t life be easier if we all walked around with a seven-second delay button, so after we say something out loud we would have seven seconds to “take it back”? It sure would make life better if we had the opportunity to delete something we said just like they can bleep out stuff on talk radio.
I worked in radio for decades, and I did have that seven-second delay button. I could bleep out something a listener said on the air, cut out my cough or even stop something stupid I was saying. It was very helpful from time to time, as I am sure you can imagine.
In sales, salespeople tend to want to talk a lot. In selling long-term care insurance, it seems agents tend to talk even more than normal. In fact, we do more talking than we do listening.
Sometimes we can tell a prospect how much we know. We give them facts and figures and everything we know about features and benefits, yet we get the same answer almost every time: “Mr. Agent, that was a great presentation; one of the best we ever heard. You gave us a lot of things to think about. Let us think about it and if we ever decide to do anything we will be sure to call you.” But they almost never call back.
Sometimes we say the most stupid things, and these dim-witted statements can cost us an appointment or a sale. What are we thinking? It just seems we are talking too much.
Long-term care insurance really is not a product you can “sell.” You have to help people decide that long-term care insurance is the best solution to their problem. You do this by asking questions, listening to the answers and asking follow-up questions to build need and urgency. Sure, we help them come to this conclusion, but we do it in a way that builds need — not in a way that sells features and benefits. We do it by listening and not talking. We do it by asking the right follow-up questions and expressing a true interest in what your prospect is telling you.
We all have the habit of wanting to talk a lot. We all do it. I do it; heck, I do it on the phone with the ACSIA agents in the western division who call me all the time. The agents call wanting me just to listen and what do I do? I want to talk back and try to solve their problem. There is a time and place for that, but what they need from me many times and what your prospects need from you is to listen.
Dead air in radio is bad, very bad. Dead air in a long-term care insurance appointment is good, very good. You should always allow time for you to think before you respond. In addition, allow time for the prospect to respond to your question before you talk again. Yes, it does seem uncomfortable to you, but the reality is it allows the prospect to share with you… they will fill the “dead air.” When they respond, think about what they said before speaking. This gives you an opportunity really to focus on what the prospect is sharing with you.
My suggestion is simple. Learn to relax and listen… then think before you respond. Use your internal seven-second delay.
As with all questions, you want to ask open-ended questions that engage the prospect to discuss with you how they feel and discuss their favorite subject — them. Avoid those questions that tend to invite a yes or no answer.
Imagine you are speaking with a prospect who has expressed interest in learning more about long-term care planning. Then think about this series of questions:
- “Tell me what you really want out of long-term care planning.”
- “What exactly do you mean by that?”
- “What does that look like?”
- “Tell me more about that.”
- “Why is that important to you?”
- “What does having that mean to you?”
As you see, we really keep pressing, in a nice way, to get at the real concern, the real issues. Some call this “peeling the onion.” After asking a series of questions, follow up by summarizing what they told you. For example:
“What I hear you saying is that because of your experience taking care of your mother in your home and seeing her savings disappear you don’t want to place a similar burden on your two daughters; is that correct?”
Then remember the “who, what, where, when, why and how.” These rules of journalism can apply to our business as well, especially as we develop need and urgency. Don’t accept the first answer; keep digging deep into the real answers. The prospect will then tell you why they want long-term care insurance!
Remembering this will make life much better for you and you will see the results in your business (and maybe in your personal life, as well).