My insurance agent came over last week to update my portfolio of policies. I like to make sure I’m more than covered. I consider insurance an asset, not an expense. Peace-of-mind and protection, not a cost.
I also consider insurance among the toughest sales in the world. No one wants it, and many insurance salespeople are somewhere between bad and pushy. It’s hard to get an appointment, and even harder to make a sale once you get there.
Here’s the key: Pre-existing relationships musat be in place to make the sale palatable, nay possible. But that’s just the premise for this message.
I asked my agent (who I have been friends with, and loyal to, for 15 years) how he engages a prospective customer.
“Well, first I try to find their pain,” he said with that all-knowing smile.
“WHAT!?” I screamed. “When did you learn that? 1972?”
He hemmed and hawed about the sales strategy he was using, but it was obvious he was embarrassed about admitting it.
Why aren’t you trying to find positive things instead of negative things? I’ve been your customer for 15 years and you never found my pain. I never had any pain. I just needed some insurance. I wasn’t hurting for insurance. The only pain I had was writing you a check. In fact, that’s still a pain.
We laughed. But “finding the pain” is not a bit funny in sales. In fact it’s somewhere between sad and manipulative. Somewhere between negative and dark. In short, if you want to find pain, become a doctor – people will come to you with pain by the thousands. If you want to make it in sales, there are other things to find.
Pain does not drive a sale. If you’re in a prospective customer’s office or on any sales call, here’s what to look for and here’s what to uncover:
Find the friendly. All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends. No pain there.
Find the common ground. What is there in the rapport-building that “clicks.” Something that sparks the conversation and takes it deeper. Smiles, things of common interest. Things that build initial comfort – maybe even trust. No pain there.
Find the engagement. How meaningful can you make your questions so that you get to the heart of the prospect’s important issues? No pain there.
Find the need. In conversation and two-way dialog precipitated by your questions, uncover the real needs. Find the symptoms and address the needs. Needs are not painful, they’re challenges that you can convert to sales. No pain there.
Find the desire. By exposing desire you at once understand (beyond need) how important your product or service is to the prospect. No pain there.
Find the opportunity. Common ground, engagement, need, and desire will expose the one element necessary for you to make sales: opportunity. Your job is to discover how to take advantage of it. No pain there.
Find the difference. The difference between you and your competition that the customer perceives. There may be some pain here – if the prospect thinks the competition is better than you. Ouch!
Find the unknown. Uncover something. Discover an answer that the prospect finds valuable. No pain there.
Find the value. And prove it. Perceived value is the basis for moving forward. No pain there.
Find the trust. Trust is the oil that glides the pen across the contract. No pain there.
Find the improvement or productivity. Everyone wants to improve and become more productive. No pain there.
Find the quality. I want Lexus, not Ford. Pain is selling price. Ouch!
Find the profit. Don’t “save me money.” Show me how I put money in my pocket. No pain there.
Find the decision maker. Aha! Focus attention on the person who can say yes! Spend time finding him or her. Talking to non-deciders is a pain. Ouch!
Find the elements that will make the sale happen. Uncover past history and buying motives. No pain there.
Find the urgency to buy. Once you find this, your sales cycle will be cut in half, or more. No pain there.
Once you find all these positive elements, you’ll find the final prize: the money.
The only pain in sales is self-inflicted. You shoot yourself in the foot with manipulation, old sales tactics, being too pushy, speaking poorly about the competition and being unprepared.
Chances are, if you go looking for pain, you’ll lose to someone looking for a positive, meaningful, engaging, value-driven relationship. One that not only leads to an order, it leads to a relationship, testimonials, and referrals. Those are pleasures. Find those, and you’ll get rid of the pain in your wallet.