4 Principles of Sustainable Selling

Sustainable business is higher-quality business. It’s achieved by getting clients to not just buy but to also “buy-in.”

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A reliable stream of renewal income from the policies agents sell will ensure a comfortable retirement. Although the retirement income their renewal stream will generate may be years away, there is something agents can do now to optimize it. They can make sure that the business they’re writing today will be sustainable for the future.

Sustainable business is higher-quality business. It’s achieved by getting clients to not just buy but to also “buy-in.” The art of gaining client buy-in can be mastered with the right intention and by following four simple principles. Agents will reap the benefits of applying these four principles for years to come.

Principle #1: Have clients feel as included as possible in their financial planning process.

Clients who buy-in to their purchasing decision will keep their policies in force over the long term. Agents must invite clients to be as personally involved as possible in their purchasing decision and financial planning.

It’s tempting for agents to want to sound smart. An agent may think that, if they assume an authoritative demeanor, then the client will defer the decision-making to them. Even if this strategy is successful, it’s short-term thinking.

Once the agent is gone, that client assumes the role of decision-maker. The decision to keep a policy in force ultimately rests with the client, not the agent.

Taking a back seat may not be ego-gratifying to an agent who wants to assert maximum control. However, agents who allow clients to assume a larger role in their own planning will secure a higher degree of client buy-in.

Principle #2: Be the learner, not the teacher. 

For agents to maximize their client’s personal involvement, the agent must learn about the clients’ own beliefs, values, priorities and concerns. Once those are understood, an agent can integrate reasons for buying with those thoughts and feelings expressed by the client. Clients will assume a higher degree of personal ownership for purchasing a policy as a result.

See also: The Power of Lifecycle Marketing

Strategy #3: Join your client’s team.

A team cannot exist without a common goal. The client’s goal is to make the best decision about whether to invest in the agent’s product. Most agents are not pursuing this goal. The typical agent’s goal is to just get their clients to buy.

Divergent goals make teamwork impossible. Agents can only be their client’s team member by redefining their goal to match their clients’ goal. Agents must take on the role of helping clients make the best investment decision for their unique circumstances.

There are many advantages to having clients consider their agent to be on their team. Clients will be more forthcoming. They will be more willing to be vulnerable and admit when they’re uncertain about something. Agents learn about their clients more quickly when their clients are being upfront and transparent. 

Joining a client’s team reduces the negative judgments agents typically harbor during client interaction. When agents harbor an agenda of wanting to get the sale regardless of the client’s true need, they’re more prone to making judgments. For example, agents will be likely to judge if the interaction with their client is going their way or not going their way. These judgments are distracting. Agents need to be learning as much from their clients as possible. If an agent is listening to their own inner talk instead, then they’re not paying full attention to their client.

These negative judgments can also interfere with establishing client rapport. Agents who think they need to steer a conversation toward their own self-interest are often met by client resistance. Clients who want to make a decision that best suits their circumstances won’t go along with agents trying to steer the conversation toward a different aim. A client may end up buying anyway, but they’re less likely to buy-in. 

Principle #4: Be more customer-conscious than self-conscious.

Prioritize the importance of your client’s buying performance over your own selling performance. 

Every sale involves two conversations rather than just one. Agents can only hear one of these conversations; the other one is silent. The conversation agents hear is the conversation between them and their client. The conversation they don’t hear is the buying conversation happening between their clients’ ears. We commonly refer to it as decision-making.

It’s ultimately the outcome of the silent conversation that determines sales success. In other words, an agent doesn’t get a sale unless their client decides first that the agent will be getting that sale. 

A good decision performance by your client ensures that the policies they buy will stay in force. The quality of your clients’ decision performance depends on the quality of their inner conversation. Agents need to pay attention to this inner conversation by asking questions about clients' thoughts and feelings. It’s the salesperson’s equivalent of “keeping one’s eye on the ball.”

Agents can act now to secure a financially secure future by consciously approaching client interactions by following these four principles. Agents will empower their clients to make the best decisions for themselves. Just compare the level of rapport that develops when someone is empowering you rather than disempowering you. Consciously approaching client interactions with this intention fortifies an element of sustainability in every sale. Agents will enjoy a reliable renewal stream, financial security, plus have a lot more fun in the process!

Jeffrey Lipsius

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Jeffrey Lipsius

Jeffrey Lipsius is the director of The Inner Game School of Sales Leadership™ and author of the award winning book, Selling To The Point. He co-created The Inner Game approach for sales leadership with Timothy Gallwey. Timothy Gallwey is widely regarded to be as the father of modern coaching. Lipsius is a certified Inner Game coach and has over 40 years experience training in the selling profession. Lipsius and Gallwey train sales forces world-wide to achieve their peak selling performance through The Inner Game sales leadership method.


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