When you hear someone say, “I’ve been with my agent for 20 years,” what are they actually telling you? It could be that they have a trusting and enduring relationship, or maybe they’ve just been going along complacently without giving a second thought to the value they have been getting—or not getting.
The meaning behind people’s comments isn’t always clear. And sometimes we assume we understand someone’s intentions, when in fact we misunderstand them.
There’s an old story that gets to the heart of how easy it is to jump to the wrong conclusions. One day eight-year-old Timmy asks his father, “Where did I come from?” and the dad, after clearing his throat a few times, launches into a nervous explanation about the new litter of kittens and how he and Mom love each other. Before he gets very far, his son interrupts, “Dad, I know all about that birds and the bees stuff. But I mean Jane came from New Jersey, and Billy’s from California, where did I come from?”
Making the wrong assumptions can land you against the ropes and waste everyone’s time. The questions prospects ask give you a great opportunity to engage and find out what’s important to them. But you have to be clear about what they are really asking.
One way to relate to prospects’ questions, especially ones that might seem challenging, is to adapt the improv skill of responding to statements and questions as if they are “offers”—and learning to always accept the other person’s offer.
The seemingly negative “I don’t think we’d be interested now” could be regarded as an offer for you to ask again at another time, or even to help them think of reasons they might be interested. You could reply with, “Is there another time when you may want to consider a competitive insurance review?”
Here’s another example of seeing the offer in a seemingly dead-end response:
Producer – What’s your relationship like with your current agent?
Prospect – Good. No real complaints.
Producer – What about minor frustrations? Any of those?
Prospect – Well, we had a boat stored offsite and during a storm part of the roof collapsed–destroyed a $25k engine. We didn’t get compensated for that one…
And it turned out that the conversation led to the discovery of a serious coverage gap that the producer was able to fix, and, as a result, win the account. The moral of this story, and many others like it, is to keep an open mind, ask questions, and find the silver lining right behind the gray clouds.
“I’m not planning on meeting with any insurance agents this year” may very well be an invitation to ask about scheduling that meeting next year.