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The Winning Way To Work Past Objects

As an insurance professional, working with objections can be difficult. The only way to grow is to show people that you’re a professional and offer suggestions to help them solve problems based on your products or services.We need to work through objections and not try to overcome them. When we try to overcome objections, someone wins and someone loses.

Objections are not only a natural part of the sales process, they help you to clarify what is on the prospect’s or customer’s mind. For you to help the prospect or customer with a problem, it’s important to understand what and where are the roadblocks. In other words, what concerns do they have about what you are offering?

Their perception is their reality. Asking questions is the way to learn where they are coming from, what their reality is.

Who

Consider the people you are going to contact. What is the best time to call them? Misunderstanding can cause a loss of rapport and potentially a sale.

What

Test yourself on all of the questions that could possibly come your way so you are fully prepared. Continue to learn regarding the offers and services you are providing.

However, when you receive an objection, it’s common to start explaining all the reasons why the prospect or customer should choose your offers and services. We’ve been taught by the “professionals” to respond that way. Well, guess what? It doesn’t work. If you are patient and listen closely, an opportunity will present itself for you to begin to ask questions instead of explaining. Ask first, then tell.

Why

Let’s face it, most people do not like being approached by a salesperson. Why? Because they have probably had a bad experience. Prospects or customers might believe that if they needed your products or services they would have contacted you. The reason for a sales call is to remind potential or past customers of what you have to offer and how you can potentially solve their problems, even problems they might not be aware of.

How

The best way to work with objections when making sales calls is to attend sales training sessions, learn from other people and learn from your mistakes. You should also care for your customers and take their feelings and families into consideration. When you do these things, you’ll have more success.

How many times have you heard the objection, “I’m working with someone else” or “I’m happy where I am”? It happens all the time, doesn’t it?

If you want to engage the prospect, you must begin by asking questions. Stay focused on the purpose of the call and be persistent. However, you always want to leave them better than you found them. When you state the purpose of your call, be sure to listen. If the prospect reveals something to you, capture it. Don’t be so focused on your script and saying what you want to say that you miss an opportunity to engage the customer.

Formula for Success:

  • Listen and don’t get defensive
  • Begin to ask a series of questions
  • Get of of the objections and focus back on the purpose of the call.

Examples of questions begin with:

  • Who
    • Who are you currently working with?
  • What
    • What type of strategies have you implemented that will ____?
  • When
    • When was the last time you sat down with your adviser and reviewed your plan?
  • Where
    • Where are you in the process?
  • How
    • How long until you ____?

After you have asked a series of questions, ask for the appointment again. Say things such as:

“I am not asking you to change anything, and I don’t want to duplicate anything you are doing. The purpose of the meeting would be to give you an opportunity to compare our unique approach with what you have done and see if it makes sense. Okay?”

Always focus back on the purpose of the call.

Refrain from getting defensive. Focus on asking questions and listening to responses. Re-engage the prospect, then restate the purpose, be persistent and ask for the meeting or sale.

Remember, you must offer suggestions to help prospects solve problems based on your products or services. Work through objections without trying to overcome them, seek to leave the prospect better than you found him and focus on win-win results. This is the way to work with objections as a professional.

Are You Using Your Opportunities?

Someone could be searching for a way to fix a television and watch a favorite show, or finding a way to bring in a few extra dollars so that bills can be paid on time. Everyone faces hardships now and again. How a person uses those hardships can be an indication of how successful they will become.

Consider this: Nearly every opportunity that later transformed into a successful endeavor was first found in a moment of adversity or to fill a need.

Think of a paper clip. Was it invented because someone thought it would be fun to twist a piece of wire into a funny shape? The paper clip was invented so that people could hold papers together without damaging them. Previous methods included pins, string or even wax. Each of these methods damaged the paper.

The situations we deal with on a regular basis are life’s way of providing us with opportunity. Think of the various hardships that you have faced over the years, both large and small. How have they changed you? How did you work to alleviate the afflictions of yourself or those around you?

Think back to when you first were learning how to ride a bike. Remember all the skinned knees and false starts, slamming on the breaks too hard because you were so nervous? Remember the feeling you had, that exhilaration you felt when finally, finally, you could race down the street without the training wheels?

In your life today, there are opportunities to feel that feeling again, to become something better than you were before. Just around the corner is an opportunity waiting to help you transform yourself and the world around you into something you have dreamed about.

The real skill is recognizing within the adversity that there is a potential opportunity if you look hard enough.

Think of the last time you were frustrated about something not working or an item not quite living up to the standards that you set. Did you say, “I wish someone would make a better…” or “I wish they would find a better way…”? Why couldn’t that someone be you?

One of my favorite things to do, both as a child and as an adult, is to sit down with a big tub of popcorn and soda in front of a huge movie screen and see it come to vibrant life. I learn a lot and find myself using various lessons and inspirations directly from the movies that I have seen over the years. One such movie is “Miracle on Ice,” the story of the 1980 Olympic hockey team, coached by Herb Brooks, that beat the supposedly unbeatable Soviet team and won the gold medal. The movie is one of my favorites, and my wife always chuckles each time I watch it. You see I’m always looking for inspiring things to pass along to my readers, so every time I watch it, there is a pen and paper in my hand. No matter how many times I watch it, there are some gems. Here are a few of my favorites:

“It’s a pretty lofty goal, Herb.” “That’s why I want to pursue it.”

“Win, lose, or tie, we are going to play like champions.”

“Great moments are born from great opportunities. That’s what you have here tonight. That’s what you’ve earned. This is your time. You were born to be hockey players. You were meant to be here.”

You really can’t get words more encouraging words than those.

How many of us strive to play as champions, no matter the outcome?

How many times in our lives do we find out what we are meant to do? How many of us know we are “hockey players” in our own right?

It’s true that opportunities abound, but so very few of us actually meet the challenges of daily life head on and make our own opportunities.

It’s just like Herb Brooks said in the movie – he wants to pursue the lofty goal simply because it is lofty, a challenge. Nothing truly worth anything is easy to obtain, and sometimes the sheer challenge makes it that much more valuable.

You have the intelligence, and you certainly have the passion and drive. As for expertise and knowledge, that can be gained, either through research or talking with knowledgeable people. You know your ideas are needed, and bringing them to life is possible, so why not get started?

Begin by looking around you, searching out the opportunities that are presented in the everyday adversity that you see. Remember, every problem has a solution; it is just a matter of time and effort until it is found.

Make a list of the hardships you see every day. What could be done about them? Maybe your neighbor is having trouble getting his lawn mower to start. What could you make so that starting that lawnmower becomes easier? Or perhaps you have a bathroom shower curtain that can never stay clean. Maybe you need to come up with a new way to do the job.

No matter which opportunity you find, no matter which hardship you try to alleviate, remember that you and your happiness are part of the equation. While the ability to offer a service to others is laudable indeed, it is important to realize that you are just as important. Don’t be afraid to charge for your product or service. After all, fair is fair, and you should be compensated for all your time and effort.

Remember, the adversity you face can be revealed as an opportunity for your success if you simply know how to look.

So the question becomes, what is your “Miracle” story?

What lofty goal will you tackle and achieve next?

What are you willing to sacrifice to reach the goal and become who you truly are?

How to Make Your Numbers Jump

Do you want to know a secret? Want to know how to make your numbers almost jump right off the page? It’s a simple idea, really, but most insurance professionals don’t know it. When they find it out, they keep the idea under lock and key. But I’ve never been one to keep secrets, especially if they can help others get ahead in business.

So, are you ready? Here it is, the big secret: Make connections.

That's it. Just take the time to contact as many quality people as you can in a given week. Plant some seeds, as if in fertile ground. It really is that simple.

But remember, just as plants need time and nurturing to bear fruit, your potential sales leads can only become sales customers with the right mixture of time and effort on your part.

One of my favorite books is How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Sales by Frank Bettger. He provides a wealth of information and some extremely valuable insights. Here are a few that still offer a new look or inspiration every time I read them:

“You can’t collect your commission until you make the sale; you can’t make the sale ‘til you write the order; you can’t write the order ‘til you have an interview; and you can’t have an interview ‘til you make the call!”

As Bettger points out, very directly, it all begins with the call. Yes, sometimes you will be rejected, but other times you won’t be. You simply won’t know until you pick up the phone or send that email. Don’t think of the potential risk, which is really rather small. Rather, think of the potential reward.

Here’s another one of my favorites:

“Selling is the easiest job in the world if you work it hard — but the hardest job in the world if you try to work it easy.”

More than any other activity in the world, selling is about preparation and consistency. It takes effort and time to bring in potential clients; sometimes a good insurance professional will spend a month or two on one client, learning their needs, their wants, their various habits, all to make sure that the sales presentation and product will meet the client’s needs without question. A good insurance professional realizes that this business is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It’s about making money over the long term so that you and your family can be provided for.

So… once you have identified your target audience, and what tools you are going to use to connect, engage and communicate with your audience, you move on to your tactics, which determine how you are going to make meaningful connections.

Tactics has six parts:

1.   Approach. Approach is the most critical part of the entire process. The approach sets the stage for all future conversations by phone, email or otherwise. Always respect other people's time, and realize that you never know where you have caught them or what frame of mind they are in.

2.   Purpose. Remember this: The purpose of the call, tweet, email, voicemail is to keep the purpose of the call the purpose of the call. Confused people will not respond with action.

3.   Questions. Design questions to engage or guide your audience. Questions are the answer to the entire sales process. Think of questions like a piece of jigsaw puzzle. With each piece that you put together, the picture becomes clearer and clearer.

4.   Listening. In every conversation or connection, something is being revealed to you. How you respond will determine where the relationship goes from there.

5.   Objections. Working with objections is easy when you see things from another person's point of view. Don't argue, don't do battle and don't contradict everything prospects say. It doesn't work. Their perception is their reality. The only way to understand their reality is to ask questions.

6.   Action. What action do you want this person to take? Will your product or service benefit this person? If not, don't ask. Always treat others as you would want someone to treat you. That is the Golden Rule.

Think about the last time someone really took the time to connect with you. They approached you positively and with purpose. They asked questions to learn more about you, genuinely listened to your answers and tried to see things from your point of view. Then, they walked you through a process or a sale. It may have taken time and effort for them, but how did that make the experience for you?  Probably very pleasant. And, what are the chances you will recommend them to someone else because of that connection?

So here's your Sales Nugget: See how you can integrate all six tactical components and make connections.

Five Steps to Improve Your Sales Process

Early in my sales career, I had the privilege of being under the leadership of Tom Vanyo, a master salesman, motivator, mentor and friend, who said to me one day in the spring of 1984, “If you don't make a major change today, you will be doing the same thing next week, next month and next year.”

Tom had underscored on several occasions the importance of keeping track of my numbers. I typically responded, “What does it matter? I'm already one of your top producers.” I made all the excuses: “I'm too busy. It's more paperwork. I don't have time.”

Here was the bottom line: Did I really want to know? It was too easy to go home at the end of the day, pat myself on the back and say I had a busy day. But busy doing what?

There was something in Tom's tone that day in 1984 that really got my attention. It was a day I will never forget.

I went back into my office and started making some major changes to my sales process. I kept track of every dial, contact, appointment, sale and how many times each day I would ask for a referral. The numbers revealed how little I was actually doing each day. I thought I was really productive, but I wasn't. I got faked out by being busy. My paycheck revealed I was one of Tom's top producers, but my daily numbers told the whole truth.

Over the next year, I made several significant changes, and those changes showed in my results. I doubled my income that year and — what I found interesting — didn't work more hours. I was simply more productive.

You will never know what's working and what's not unless you keep track.

Are the fundamentals of sales the same today as they were in 1984 or even 100 years ago? My answer is yes! I love what Jim Rohn, the great business philosopher, said many years ago, “There are no new basics and fundamentals.” It's so true. The basics of sales have not changed in thousands of years of recorded history.

What has changed is how we connect, educate and engage with our prospects and customers. Years ago, we connected by foot or horseback. Then along came the railroad, then the telegraph and telephone, then the Internet, websites, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and so on.

Selling is a contact sport. In other words, you have to be in the presence of the prospect or customer, but certain principles always apply, whether the connection is by phone, voicemail, email, face-to-face or even through social media.

Do you have a sales process? If you do, and it is documented and honed, it will serve you as you grow.

Here are the five most important steps in a sales process:

Step 1: What is the purpose of this phone call, email, voicemail or meeting? This step establishes the “why.” Sticking to the purpose of a call, meeting or voicemail will keep you on track throughout your presentation.

Step 2: Who is the right person I need to talk with to get the right results? This step identifies the “who” — it will point you to the decision maker. It is important that you are speaking with the right people.

  • How much time do you waste talking with the wrong people?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • Where are they located?

Step 3: What is the game plan for this call or meeting? This step establishes the “how” — preparing for each call or meeting is how you project knowledge, confidence and a professional tone.

  • How often have you found yourself in the middle of a meeting or phone call not prepared?
  • What happens to your confidence?
  • What communication tools are you going to use to connect with your prospect or customer?
  • What days and times during the week are the best times to contact your prospect or customer?
  • What skills have you developed to work though their objections?

Remember this, if you are confident, others will be confident in you.

Step 4: What is the solution for this prospect or customer? This step defines the “what” — key questions will help you identify their problems, which will allow you to recommend the right products and services. So often a customer is not even aware of his problems or is not sure what he wants. It's important to help prospective customers become aware of the problems they may experience without your product or service. 

Step 5: Have I clearly communicated the next step? This step directs the “where” — communicating the next step helps guide the prospect or client to make decisions that serve her well.

  • Is the prospect or customer clear about the next steps that will help her solve her problems?
  • How are you going to ask for her business?

Following these five steps will help you develop a simple, repeatable sales methodology that will take the guesswork out of each call you make or meeting you conduct. You'll be prepared for anything you face, even the tough ones.

What does your list look like?

Are You Telling a Good Story?

Think back to the last time you listened to a great story. There was a fantastic cast of characters, breathtaking scenery and, of course, a plot line that hooked you. For a brief moment, you were there, right in the middle of it, living the story.

Each time a successful salesman sit downs with a potential customer or client, he weaves together a story in which the product or service has already become an integral part of the listener’s life. The customers, through the picture painted by the salesman’s words, soon realize how beneficial this particular product or service could be and start to wonder how they existed without it for so long.

Does this sound like some sort of trick?    

Does it seem like some sort of mind game played on unsuspecting victims? 

No. By painting a picture with words, by telling a story rich in substance, the insurance professional accomplishes a number of things. First, he helps to develop the conversation with the potential client. By offering details, and making sure that everyone is seeing the same picture, he can see where miscommunication may occur. Also, the potential customer is more likely to think of more detailed questions to ask to help fill out the remaining part of the picture.

Remember that people make the connection with an item or a service not through rational thought but through emotion. Sure, a potential client needs to know the good points, the bad points and the mechanics of how something is going to work, but the final decision is greatly influenced by how he feels about something.

Does your product or service instill confidence? 

Does it feel familiar? 

Does it cause excitement? 

All these feelings and emotions can help make the sales process a success.

So, how do you craft an emotionally engaging story?

First, it is important that you, as the storyteller, believe and are emotionally connected to your story. Remember, a client will hear the sincerity in your voice, or the lack thereof. This is where the knowledge and personal use of your service or product can be so important. By using your own experience, or that of other customers, you can easily convey a believable story that extols the virtues of your product or service.

Second, a great story has structure. We have all heard stories that seemed to go on forever, with no point in sight. We have also all heard stories that jump around so much we tune out because we are lost. There are different ways to structure a story. One is called a “hero’s journey” model. The hero’s journey follows a departure, an initiation and a return.

Steve Jobs was a master storyteller. Watch one of his keynote speeches and observe how he weaves a story throughout his entire presentation. Case in point: his Stanford commencement speech in 2005. (Text is here. Video is here.) His first story connects the dots of his childhood to his success. The second story tells about his loves and losses. The final story is about death. He really gets personal, connecting with his audience on an emotional level. You hear jeers, cheers, laughter, and when the camera pans the audience in the video you see tears. His message is to trust the process, love what you do and don’t settle. Don’t live anyone else’s life. When you listen to this speech, as well as his others… you pay attention, you listen and you feel. You are emotionally connected.

As you formulate your presentation, remember how we, as humans, communicate. Surprisingly, when a person is talking, research shows that most people only give a fraction of their attention (7%) to the words that are being spoken. Over half (55%) is given to the various pictures and images that are created during the conversation. The remaining amount of attention is allotted to the mechanics of speaking itself, such as our mannerisms and body language.

To be an effective sales person, you must engage your potential client and make the entire story memorable. Like an artist, you need to create an emotional picture with your words and bring what you are trying to communicate to life. Don’t be a stick in the mud while talking; use your hands naturally. If you feel enthusiastic about your product or service, don’t be afraid to let those around you know. Chances are the excitement that is coming from you will encourage them to take a second look at what you have.

The art of selling isn’t really about selling at all. It is about sharing a story and bringing your potential client into the creation of the next chapter. By guiding them to a vision where their success and their satisfaction is an integral part of this story, you’ll have a great chance of convincing them of what they truly need.

Are you connecting emotionally to your audience? 

When was the last time you told a good story?