In my many years managing the agency distribution, I can never understand why there are so many Singapore insurance agents who are ill prepared to meet clients. By ill prepared, I need to clarify that I am not referring to compliance or regulation related matters but rather, the soft skills aspect of the job. And how did I reach this conclusion? Throughout my insurance career, I have conducted many talks and clinics on objection handling, an important part of the sales cycle agents have to go through to secure the sale. In those clinics, I will normally ask the class or the auditorium full of participants how to handle the most common of all objections – “Let me think about it.”
What I Realise
Simple as it is, I found that many agents, both new and old are not able to handle it. A common response I got was, “Mr Prsopect, how long do you need to think about it?” And if I reply 2 days, I normally get the agent asking me if he can call back again in 2 days time. The sad thing we all know is that 2 days later, the client is more likely to say no to the sale rather than yes. Sales are thus commonly lost this way and families who need the production often end up with none, all because an agent cannot handle this one simple objection.
The second group of agents I get are those who are trained to ask exactly which part of the presentation the client is thinking about. These agents then goes back to that part pointed out by the client, clarify it and try a test close all over again. At this point, they may be then be thrown a variant of the “let me think about it” objection, namely the “but I still need to think about it.” Should this happen, they will again asked which part the client is unclear about, clarify it and go for the close again. The reason why I don’t particularly like this approach is that it can lead to high pressure selling, with the agent not giving up and repeating the presentation over and over again (in the name of clarification) in hope of a sale. In this day and age, with the CPFTA extended to cover financial products and services, agents should be mindful of exerting undue pressure or influence on prospects and clients.
My Approach to Handling the Same Objection
My approach has always been simple; I note the objection, agree with them (that puts the prospect at ease), then draw another analogy to show them why it is better to go ahead with the sale and then attempt to close again. This way, I do not have to go over the same presentation repeatedly. Instead all I need is a sufficient number of analogies to convince the client.
One common analogy I often use is this, “Mr Prospect, just the other day I saw an accident on the road. The victim was trapped in the car and bleeding profusely. Even though I am a guy, my knees often wobble when I see blood. I remembered it took me 3 days before the image of the horrible accident slowly disappeared and I could properly eat again. Mr Prospect, I take great comfort with you telling me you wish to think about it. Why? Because it tells me that the things we discussed today warrants your attention. The only problem is that just like that image of the accident slowly fading away, by tomorrow, you may only remember 50% of what we discussed and by the time I call again, perhaps only 10%. More importantly, my question is this – for decisions this important, which involves the financial well-being of your family, would you rather make with 100% of the information provided or just 10%?
I will then pause for a while (i.e total silence) for the facts to sink in and then go for an assume close. With the right tone of voice, this method works like a charm, at least for me during my own selling days. And if the client again insist on thinking about it, I simply draw on my next analogy and the next. And needless to say, all my analogies are fresh (i.e not used during the presentation) and designed to bring my point across. Hence there is no repeat of the same old presentation, unless the client is genuinely confused and ask that I explain things again.
Why Not Share Your Thoughts?
What are your thoughts? Do you feel that most Singapore insurance agents are skillful enough to handle clients? We would love to hear from you.
(Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net)