If you spend any time on the phone prospecting, you’ve probably had this challenge thrown at you. I know I have. And it’s often in the first 5 seconds of the call, virtually as soon as I explained why I was calling.
It’s not an unreasonable question, but it can definitely throw you off balance — especially when it’s shot like an arrow.
If you’re clear about your value proposition you might immediately shoot back something like, “We work with more than 40 different carriers,” or “we don’t use voicemail, so our clients never have to talk to a recording.”
But even if your retort is, “We save 80% of the businesses we meet with at least 20% on their insurance costs,” you probably won’t capture their attention. People hear business brags all the time and are pretty weary of all those attempts at seduction.
(Well, maybe that carrot of saving 20% will pull people in, but accolades like “…lots of markets” and “…great service” don’t do much to impress prospects these days.)
And even when you’re fully present, it’s hard to respond nimbly to the “What makes you different?” challenge without sounding defensive; without sounding like you’re trying to prove something. And sounding defensive won’t help you engage with prospects.
Behind those sales challenges, though, beats a heart that wants to engage and trust.
People are busy and usually engaged in something entirely different when you call. They may be stressed, or dealing with their own challenges. They may have been frustrated by agents in the past who weren’t able to deliver on their promises.
Initially, most prospects don’t care about your bullet point differentiators. But they do want to know that you understand and appreciate their challenges.
Another pithy way I’ve heard this said is, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” The exact provenance of that quote is lost to the ages – it’s sometimes attributed to Teddy Roosevelt – but whoever said it knew something about human nature.
The Proof of the Pudding is in the Tasting
I visit insurance websites all the time. And mostly it’s the same old thing. But once in a while I find an agency that differentiates itself so uniquely, and with so much style, that I’m immediately drawn into their marketing orbit. I feel a strong sense of attraction, appreciation and even admiration. It’s a gut feeling.
And that gut feeling doesn’t come from the logic of facts and figures. It’s visceral – the emotional brain’s big-picture assessment.
It’s a fundamental and well-substantiated principle that people don’t make choices based on reason and logic alone. Emotion is what drives buying decisions.
So the best way to respond when you’re confronted by those “What makes you different?” challenges is to connect with the feelings of the person who’s asking, instead of trying to provide a smart, sensible answer.
What might happen if, instead of reacting to the challenge with bragging points, you focused on uncovering the prospect’s broader concerns instead?
What makes me different?
I’m glad to tell you how we do things differently, but first I’d like ask two quick questions, if you’ll allow me…
First, do you ever investigate ways to lower insurance costs and improve your risk exposure beyond what your current agent might be doing?
And if you do, what kinds of improvements in price, coverage, or service would motivate you to investigate further and to become our client?
The point is not to seem evasive, but to lean into the conversation so you can engage with the prospect in a meaningful way.
At this point the conversation can go in multiple directions. But however that unfolds you’ve changed the focus from proving your superiority (a virtually impossible charge in any situation) to your interest in understanding what the prospect needs and wants. And that’s the right starting place for mutual engagement to develop.
How do you handle challenges like this? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And share this post with friends and colleagues who might find it useful.