Former agent and business coach says listening is the key to sales success

Open your ears and listen to this advice – it will make your customers love you

Former agent and business coach says listening is the key to sales success

Business Strategy

By Sam Boyer

The key to clinching insurance sales: be more likeable.

Simple, right? Well, OK, perhaps not that simple.

But fortunately a veteran insurance-agent-turned-business-coach has a simple fix to help you engage with customers and increase your sales: engage and listen.

Brent Kelly, a 15-year Midwest commercial lines veteran, now trains and coaches insurance management.

“To add value to people, you’ve got to first value people,” he says.

“If I called you on the phone and tried to sell you insurance, and I didn’t really value you and you were just another line on a spreadsheet that I had to call, you’re going to see and feel that, even if I tried to fake it. You’re going to know that.”

Relationship building is most important aspect of sales, he says.

The top salespeople all agree, he says: “Their number one skill isn’t their knowledge of insurance; it’s their ability to build relationships”.

And the key to building those relationships is listening, Kelly says – as simple as that sounds.

Rather than simply rattling off the usual underwriting questions, he recommends taking time to ask your customer questions to engage them personally – disarm them by showing a genuine interest in them, and listen to their answers.

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“Most people are like, OK, we’ve got 10 minutes, let’s get to the insurance stuff. And you look and you sound like you’re here for one thing, just to get my business, and I know this and you know this,” he said.

“At the end of the day, of course, you’ve got to write the business”, Kelly says, but you can disarm clients by showing them a human element during the transaction.

In a practical sense, he says, you can do little things to make your customer feel appreciated and engaged.

“I can tell you that when you offer someone your full 100% attention, it feels different and they know it,” he explained. “People feel really valued with that.”

For example, put your phone away in face-to-face meetings. Just by having your smartphone on the table, it sends the signal that you may have more important things on your mind, Kelly says.

“I always tell people, with listening, it comes out of curiosity,” he said. “So it comes back to using questions with emotion – for example, ‘what did that feel like?’ – because it’ll draw more out.

“I’m much more into getting to know why people started their business, what they’re most proud of in the business…

“I think oftentimes people lead in with, ‘hey, I’m an insurance guy, so tell me about your employees, and tell me about your building, and tell me about what claims you’ve had. And those are important, but what I always tell people is: people buy emotionally. If you start getting into data and facts, they’re going to tune out. Emotional questions are very powerful.”

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