Selling Insurance Tom Boy Style

Lynda is smart, ambitious, resourceful, and determined. As the only daughter in a family of sons, she was a Tom boy growing up and thought she could adjust herself to the world of men. Yet she could not overcome the male-dominated culture of selling insurance. True to the statistics that 90% of agents leave within 2 years, Lynda was another casualty. What happened?

Well into her 40’s, Lynda came to insurance after enjoying success in other ventures. She had been a serial entrepreneur and was used to hard work and long hours. She was attracted to her new career because it offered residual income. The firm she chose was prestigious and she went through a rigorous interviewing process before being selected. Her trait of wanting the best trumped her inner intuition that cautioned against what she observed. The company was dominated by men and few women were chosen or remained.

The company provided excellent training both in the products and their procedures. Lynda quickly grasped the expectation that she should network at country clubs and make lots of cold calls. The company preached the numbers game –keep continuously prospecting and you’ll eventually find the ready sale. Most of her male counterparts seemed to excel employing this method.

Lynda’s style preferred to cultivate relationships. In her mind, making friends is a vital first step in gaining trust before closing the sale. It takes time to build trusting connections. She was criticized for her lack of production.

Yet it wasn’t this factor that prompted her to leave. Instead Lynda felt betrayed by the company’s practices. Repeatedly she heard the message that as a new agent she should get help from the senior partners. Happily she availed herself of this opportunity. Yet, each time when the sale closed, her commissions were drastically reduced, with the other agent getting the lion’s share. She thought to herself, “What kind of help was this?” Her conclusion: the price paid far exceeded the value gained.

Lynda left the firm. In reflecting on the experience, she feels pleased that she got her own financial future in order. However, she still tastes the bitterness of feeling used and abused. It boiled down to a difference in personality style that led to her exit. Without drive being tempered by amiability, it became ruthless and self-serving.

Persuading Gus

People like Gus pop up from time to time and can be very disturbing to people like Natalie and Steve. Who is Gus? He’s the know-it-all prospect who feels entitled and full of himself. At first glance, he may come across as an average person, nothing out of the ordinary. Yet within minutes the interaction can turn ugly. Here’s what happened to Natalie.

She met Gus briefly at a networking event. About a month later he appeared at another group that she attends and when the members rose to exchange business cards, they came face-to-face. Gus recalled having seen her and was trying to remember where. She filled in the missing information at which point he made a negative statement about the other group. Meaning to be helpful, she offered an explanation. He replied with additional judgmental comments. After a few exchanges along this same vein, he abruptly stormed from the room, leaving Natalie bewildered and stunned. She turned to Steve, who was in the vicinity, and asked how she had offended Gus.

Steve was just as surprised as she was. He then related a story about his worst sales experience. He had established a positive relationship with a COO who was excited by his proposal. The solutions Steve offered would save the company in excess of $4000 per month. They arranged for him to make a presentation to the founder.

The day arrived and, although the weather conditions were horrendous, Steve drove 2 hours in an ice storm for the meeting. As he was setting up his laptop, the founder walked in and immediately challenged him about his knowledge, credentials, capability, and expertise. Initially Steve responded to each concern. Then understanding that “his” Gus had already made up his mind, Steve stopped and said, “Since I can’t be of help, I’ll leave.” And he did.

While people like Gus are often highly intelligent individuals and knowledgeable about their field, they may lack emotional IQ and social graces. Venders, co-workers, colleagues, and bosses find it challenging to work with them. When Gus meets other individuals, he makes sure to broadcast his intellectual prowess. He strives to be precise, exact, and correct. Other people usually fail to meet these standards.

This buying style is extremely difficult for most people. Yet these people have needs, and thus have to buy. Would you be able to serve them well? Knowing personality styles gives you an edge in building rapport and closing the deal. To sell to Gus, refer to an outside expert, because it takes the focus off you and onto the subject matter. Another suggestion, praise what he knows and ask carefully constructed questions to open his mind to learn more.

To the Natalies and Steves of this world, it’s not your fault. It’s not personal. You didn’t offend. It’s just a matter of style.

Personality Type is the Key to Sales

People hate to be sold, but they love to buy. That’s why there is a wide variation in the amount of time it takes for individuals to make up their minds. In making a decision to purchase a product or service, people fall into one of 4 timeframes.

First is the Speedy Gonzalez. Within one or two contacts, these buyers pull the trigger. They compose about 15% of the population. They are impulsive, spontaneous, and always in a hurry. Because they multi-task, they are eager to decide now so they can go on to other activities. Sellers take warning. While these impetuous buyers are quick to decide, they are also just as quick to choose a competitor’s product or service. Whatever catches their eyes at the moment, earns their dollars.

Almost as fast are the buyers who enjoy connecting and establishing a relationship. These friendly people are eager to trust the seller, and take about 2-3 contacts before they can decide. Experience has shown them, however, that their trust may be abused. Consequently, they need reassurance. Sellers take note. Reach out to them within 24 hours after the transaction. Otherwise, they are most likely to return the item and cancel the sale.

A large percentage of buyers (35%) require 4-5 contacts. They do their due diligence, making sure that the company has fulfilled its commitments over time. They prefer products and services that are tried and true, and will read the fine print on any contract or paperwork. These buyers appreciate when sellers are professional, organized, and efficient. Because they are risk adverse, they respond well to guarantees. Although slower in making up their minds, these conservative buyers stick with their choice over time and can be cultivated as an excellent source of referrals.

The last category of buyers takes 7 or more contacts. They research, read, think, question, and reflect thoroughly before going forward. Their slow, methodical approach often frustrates sellers who are ambitious and fast-paced. Sellers must exercise caution. Because if the seller interrupts their thinking process, these buyers have to start from the beginning, which often means that they postpone deciding altogether. Although it takes more time to finalize this transaction, once they make up their minds, they doggedly stick with their choice.

Knowing which buyer is your prospect can help sellers close more sales. The sales transaction is most successful when sellers assess, diagnose, and match the buyer’s style. Since there is a wide variation in the number of contacts needed to make the sale, follow-up activities are essential. Get daily coaching support for keeping on track on your prospecting and follow-up activities through the Rapport Builderz Club. Learn more about this proven system that provides the tools you need to develop daily success habits.

Reading Personality Type to Make the Sale

Myra called in a panic. Could this sale be saved? A new customer was unhappy with his custom-made shirt, and returned it a third time for alternations. The custom-made trousers and jacket, which he ordered at the same time as the shirt, fit the burly individual precisely, and he kept them.

Myra had done everything possible to accommodate his schedule, coming to his office, taking measurements, submitting the order, delivering the items, and checking the fit. She repeatedly messaged him about the logistics and went out of her way to meet him on his terms. She was caring, considerate, professional, and polite.

When the third shirt arrived, she wrote him an email to arrange a drop-off. His response indicated that he was pulling back from the sale. His schedule was tight for the next two weeks, and, in his words, “I refuse to use any time on the weekend to buy a shirt. I’m leaning towards canceling it as this process has been far too cumbersome and inconvenient.”

Myra replied anxiously: “I really care about you and I’m focused on assisting you with clothes that fit comfortably. So far the trousers and jacket have both fit well. So if you will graciously let me know when it’s convenient, I will deliver it and confirm the fit.”

Have you guessed the contents of his next email? Unconditionally and unequivocally, he canceled the order.

So why did the customer stop the sale? In Myra’s opinion, when she told him about company’s money-back guarantee, which included paying for shipping, it initiated a desire to take advantage of the situation. She thought he was frustrated with his own position as a traveling salesman (as he longed to stay home) and was venting on her. At the same time she couldn’t understand why he wasn’t more sympathetic to her as a fellow sales professional.

While she can point to any number of external conditions, the answer lies in understanding the buying and selling styles of the two major players in this drama. As a Nurturer, Myra bent over backwards to serve her customer. Creating a genuine, caring relationship was paramount to her. To the customer, whose style was Action, he saw these qualities as weak, insecure, and vulnerable. He valued winning and being dominant.

So Myra lost the sale and is feeling beaten up and bullied. Going forward she has two choices. She can seek out prospects that respect and appreciate her desire to be in a caring relationship and reciprocate. This means that she narrows her customer pool. Or she can learn to read personality styles and respond in kind. This will enable her to serve more people, make more money, and “save” more sales.

Find the Right People

Chad towered above everyone in his field, not just because of his height, more so due to his business savvy. He was unconsciously competent. He knew how to sell ice to an Eskimo. He seemed to possess the Midas touch because almost every person he met used his services.

Younger professionals flocked to his feet begging for a chance to shadow him. Chad was generous with his time because he was both flattered and desirous of finding an apprentice. Plus he benefited from their work. Yet despite investing in the next generation, he was baffled why they were unable to achieve the same results when left on their own. What was the explanation?

One of Chad’s main strategies for growing his business was membership in referral groups. He collected COINs — Centers of Influential Networks. So that he could meet a couple dozen prospects at once, Chad organized his own events where he invited selected colleagues to bring their best clients. He would do the same. Strangely enough, only a few seized this opportunity. He wondered why.

Unquestionable Chad is personable, smart, ambitious, and industrious. He mistakenly assumes others are just like him. He needs to differentiate between shooters from bench warmers. Whether intern, employee, or business associate, some people have a propensity for action and others don’t. Chad fires while others aim. When he learns to read people’s personality style throughout his business relationships, he’ll have more success in finding the “right” apprentice and associating with the “right” colleagues.

Communication Style Impacts More Than Just Business

Bill and Marie met in college and instantly bonded because of their keen intellects, love of learning, and interest in current events. The courtship was quick and unromantic especially hastened by graduation and plans to attend university in another state. He pursued the law and eventually specialized in taxation. She studied Victorian literature and became a college professor.

Within the first decade of marriage they had conceived three sons. Financially they were comfortable and easily handled the various trials and tribulations of raising children, seeing parents age and pass away, and the obligations of two careers. Overall life was good to them without any major challenges. Yet unbeknownst to Bill, Marie had decided to initiate divorce proceedings when their youngest child graduated college.
What happened?

Bill’s personality was black and white – literally. He did everything by the book. It annoyed him, later infuriated him, when Marie interrupted any conversation, whether it was between them or not. They had had long discussions about this behavior, which Marie seemed unable to change. She was upset with his rigidity and inability to understand that her comments were meant to be supportive and not intended to be disrespectful. She felt demeaned by his caustic judgment and it eroded her self-esteem and positive regard for Bill.

Something changed which saved their marriage. Marie learned about personality types. This decision was based on professional not personal goals. During the course of her individual consultations, she never once mentioned her difficult marital relationship or plans to divorce. She enjoyed the twice monthly sessions absorbing the information like a parched flower and within a short time had developed proficiency in understanding the differences between the 4 types.

Upon completion she was asked to name the biggest benefit. Immediately she replied, “It saved my marriage!” By realizing that Bill was behaving true to his personality style, she no longer was bothered by his inflexibility. She also found it easier to check her impulse to comment because she could let go of her own tendencies to bond through conversation.

It’s been over a year since her youngest son graduated college. Now empty nesters, Bill and Marie have more discretionary funds with which to enjoy cultural activities and visit their children who now live throughout the United States and Asia. They are truly enjoying life and each other.

Tips for Building Rapport : Part I

Building rapport is fundamental to attracting clients, developing a profitable business, and closing more sales. Of course you must smile, look people directly in the eye, and offer a firm handshake when you confidently say “Hello.” But there’s so much more to building rapport.
The first tip to building rapport is to listen – really listen. Active listening takes a lot of energy and few people practice it routinely. It requires tuning into the message, the vocal qualities, and the underlying emotions or feelings being conveyed by the speaker.

Just for fun, notice the pace with which the speaker talks. Is it fast-paced or slow; steady or sporadic? Do you hear a solid period at the end of a sentence? Or does the individual run on and on and on and on adding idea after idea after idea without pause?

Once you’ve tuned your ears to catch their pace, try matching it. It’s like walking a mile in their moccasins. This technique gives you a leg up on building rapport and developing an authentic bond with prospects that lead to closing more sales.

I’ll be curious to know how you easy or challenging it is to do this exercise. Text, call, or send me a quick note with your results.

Tips for Building Rapport: Part II

Do you recall the message about Active Listening? Have you tried to tune your ears to hear the pace of the speaker? Here’s a second way to build rapport and connect authentically with prospects to close more sales.

As an active listener, observe the speaker’s inflection. Some people speak in a monotone and have very little change in their pitch. Others practically sing their words, drawing out some syllables and prolong vowel sounds. Another set of individuals have clipped speech. They answer with one word or use acronyms. Still other people speak in short bursts while different people sound like news reporters, well-paced, well-pitched and modulated.

Most people have a particular way of speaking and don’t vary it. However, to build rapport, practice matching the inflection of your prospect. Because when you do, the other individual will perceive you as being alike. Consequently, they will be more receptive to tune into your message.
Let me know how this exercise works for you. Make it a game and have fun with it. As you continue to both observe and practice, you’ll be learning the skills for building rapport and creating authentic relationships that lead to closing more sales.

Tips for Building Rapport: Part III

As listening skills improve, so will your ability to build rapport. Today’s tip about rapport building also relies on active listening. To close more sales this time, focus on picking up specific words or phrases used by your speaker.

What words do your prospects use? One group will talk about orderliness. Their words paint a picture of organization, structure, systems, process, and formality. They like conventions, traditions, rules and routines. They speak with complete sentences and full paragraphs.
Other individuals talk about relationships. Their words make connections, bridge people together, create bonds, and involve team work. Peace, harmony, getting along, being together and feeling good are words and phrases that these prospects use frequently. Extending a verbal hug, they invite you to be with them.

Another group of individuals speak with detachment and objectivity. They may use outside research and experts to carry their ideas. Words such as logic, intelligent, smart, thinking and learning are interspersed in their communication. Their sentence structure may even sound academic.

With a different type of prospect, you may hear a lot of emotional words such as excitement, awesome, and fantastic. These people talk about experiences and use lots of adjectives. They enjoy quality upgrades, red carpet treatment, over-the-top events, and super-sized adventures.

Having listened closely to catch these telling words and phrases, your mission is to sprinkle in your reply one or two that match your prospect. The result is an immediate sense of being alike. You’ve created rapport. Now you’re ready to move forward to the know-like-and-trust phase of the relationship and close more sales.

Tips for Building Rapport: Part IV

The previous three tips have focused on being an active listener. We’ve examined the pace, inflection, and even words used in speaking. What if you hear silence? How can you build rapport and close more sales?

For many people silence stops communication. But it doesn’t have to. You can still listen closely and discern meaning behind the lack of words. It helps if there are visual signs. However, let’s focus solely on verbal information.

Turn up the volume of the silence. Is it a pause? Or is it a signal of being turned-off? Listen and judge whether the other person is thinking, pondering, and forming a response.

Some people need more time and are not quick to reply. They choose carefully the right words or phrases to express their ideas. They’re very diplomatic in articulating their thoughts and feelings. Giving them time and space, i.e., silence, is extremely beneficial to building rapport. They will respect you for your patience and tolerance. Match silence with silence and you’ll be in rapport and on the way to a healthy business relationship and closing more sales.

What if . . . the silence is a reply to something you said and was a rapport buster? Look for Part V in this series of tips for building rapport and closing more sales.