By Jack Singer, Ph.D.
Susan has been doing well in her insurance sales career for many years. She understands how to prospect, how to follow up on leads and referrals and how to offer excellent customer service. Yet, she’s amazed at how much more successful her colleague, Michael, is, when she puts much more time and sweat into her work than Michael seems to do. She wonders what is missing in her approach.
The key difference between Michael’s and Susan’s approaches is the fact that Michael has trained himself to be an ““active listener.” He uses my sales T.R.I.U.M.P.H.S. model to not only help him maximize his sales deals, but even when he is not “selling” anything, it is a powerful technique that helps him communicate effectively with his wife and teenagers.
This model works wonderfully for virtually any product or service that one is selling.
Here are the components of your sales T.R.I.U.M.P.H.S.:
T Treat your client/customer with respect and value. Developing rapport with the prospective client/customer is a crucial first step. Smile, position yourself at the same level (sitting or standing, depending on what the client/customer is doing), and slightly lean toward him, maintaining eye contact. Make sure your cell phone is on silent and you can give undivided attention to the customer.
Listen to what the prospective customer is saying and don’t shuffle papers or start thinking about your response. Just listen to her. Regardless of what the person asks, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to answer immediately. It’s ok to say, “That’s a great question. Give me a day or so to research our products to find the one that precisely addresses your goals and needs.” Some prospective customers can be long-winded, nervously asking a lot of questions, especially with expensive products. Cutting off a speaker may lose you the rapport you need to develop. Always give the speaker the courtesy of finishing a point before you interject yours. Again, take notes so you won’t forget what you wanted to say.
R Reflect the meaning of what your client is telling you before you actually respond. The best way to understand your prospective customer is to make sure you are listening carefully and the best way to do that is to reflect or paraphrase what you heard him say before you comment on it. An example is, “What I’m hearing is that you are not certain that this particular annuity product will serve your goals and needs.”
I “I statements” are powerful. As you paraphrase and reflect back what the buyer is saying, you can use “I statements,” which are very powerful. For example, “I am getting the feeling that you are uncomfortable with this product and would like some other options.” For you to start with “You” would be much more threatening for the buyer. “You don’t like this product.”?
It is important to realize that by understanding what the listener is saying, doesn’t mean necessarily agreeing with him. You are simply showing that you are hearing his concerns. Example, “Fred, I hear your concerns because of your last experience with a similar annuity product. Let me get the information you will need to make you feel better about this.” Always acknowledge the speaker and his position before voicing your opinion.
U Understand the needs and goals of your client/customer. If you are genuine and sell quality products that will truly satisfy your customer’s needs and desires, the customer will trust you. That includes not selling him the most expensive product if you believe it is not right for him. Nothing gains their trust more than you being honest with him.
M Monitor the tone and mannerisms of the prospective customer. Body language is so important that studies point out that only a small percentage of what is “heard” by a listener are the words of the speaker. Most of what is “heard” by the listener is tone of voice, smiling, facial expressions, vocal inflections, etc. Watch for all of these indices of your customer’s mood and attitude. You might even wait for a pause and make an interpretation of what you are sensing. An example is, “I am getting the feeling as if you believe that I am trying to force you to buy this product. Is that what’s going on in your head, Alice?”
P Probe gently and with respect. Your job is to try to understand what your prospective client/customer needs and how you can accommodate those needs. The only way to show people that you have exactly the product to satisfy those needs is to ask gentle questions about their goals and hopes (related to your product). An example is, “If you could describe the ideal insurance product to give you peace of mind, what would it be like?”
H Help your client feel safe in the conversation. For major purchases, such as insurance policies, clients needs to feel safe discussing her specific money issues. Gently probing about personal and family situations that affect their pocket book requires them being able to trust you. This entails ensuring confidentiality and showing genuine concern for their needs. If you expect them to share their biggest fears and insecurities, you must focus in on what they’re saying, be sensitive and assure them that you will help them to meet their goals.
S Summarize. You’d be amazed at how much you show the speaker you are listening by frequently summarizing what you just heard. This will also help you to focus and remember what the speaker is telling you. If you have hit the key points in your summary, the speaker will feel validated and closer to you. If you missed key points that he is trying to convey, he can inform you about that at this time. Practice this with friends and family. It’s easy to get the hang of it and it really works!
Sticking to this Sales TRIUMPHS model will surely bring you your share of triumphs over your competition!
Please feel free to print this graphic and keep it handy!