The natural laws which rule our universe are explained through physics, mathematics, chemistry, and other disciplines. These include Einstein’s theory of relativity, Kepler’s laws on planetary motion, and Newton’s and laws on gravitation. There is another group of natural laws that attempt to explain the mysteries of life, and the human condition. These include the laws of attraction, vibration, gestation, and karma. The first group is documented, scientific, and proven. The later is unexplained and unproven, but not without merit.

I have my own set of laws that I have accumulated and refined over the years to help me understand what influences human behavior. I call them Universal Truths: When considering these natural laws, my pragmatic mindset is hardwired to ask, ” How does this apply to sales?” Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing my universal truths, and how I think they apply to the sales process.

The Truth about Questions

Questions are the fastest way to build rapport: Everyone’s favorite subject is himself or herself. Experienced producers understand this fact of human nature and use it to their advantage. Always begin a new business interview by asking open ended questions about the prospect, their history, and their business. Direct the topic of conversations with questions, but allow the prospects to control the conversation by talking about themselves. This does several things. First, it relieves any tension in an initial appointment by making the first few minutes conversational. Next, it gives you time to mirror and match your prospect effectively to build rapport. Last, it immediately takes the focus of the conversation off you, and puts it on the prospect where it belongs.

Questions require prospects to reveal their personality Just about every personality profile system I have seen groups human personality into 4 distinct styles, or a combinations of these 4 styles. It is very difficult to determine the personality style of the person sitting across from you when you are talking. The best way to learn more about your prospect, and who they are, is by asking questions, listening, and studying them as they respond. Once you have accurately assessed the personality style of your prospect, you can begin to adjust your style, and approach to become Simpatico with your prospect or client, greatly improving your chances of winning.

Intelligent questions engage your prospect: I am sometimes amazed at the lack of ingenuity, care, and creativity displayed in questions I hear on new business interviews. Prospects often hear the same tired old questions they have heard from every insurance schlep who came before you. Differentiate yourself by the quality of questions you ask. Each set of questions you ask should have a specific purpose. Building rapport, establishing comparisons, determining needs, consultation, and qualification, etc. Craft your questions based upon research done about your prospect and their industry in preparation for your meeting.

Intelligent questions get your prospects to think before they respond, unlike the majority of predictable insurance related questions asked by most producers. When was the last time you asked a question, and got a response like “wow, that’s a good question” or “I never thought about it”. or “let me think about that”. Think about your questions, and prepare and rehearse before you ask them.

Questions control the conversation: Do you like being in control? Ask many questions and you will control the conversation.

Example: ” Where did you grow up? What is your favorite sport? Are you married? Do you like ice cream? ”

I just took you from your youth, to sports, to your marital status, and whether or not you like ice cream in 30 seconds by asking the questions. Who is in control? The person asking questions. In addition, the person listening is in control. They can choose to listen to the responses and participate, or they can choose to interrupt, change the subject, or ignore the person talking. That is control.

Questions are required to qualify: One of the major qualities shared by all high performance agents, is that they ask checking questions that require value judgments, and decisions on the part of their prospect before they will move on to the next step in the sales process. Often these are not easy questions, but they ask them anyway. Because they know that by asking difficult, and sometimes challenging questions, they will qualify their prospects before they waste time on applications, gathering information, or developing proposals only to get rolled by the incumbent who got last look.

You will write more business by asking intelligent questions: Whenever possible, people prefer to do business with intelligent, professional insurance agents. Your ability to construct and deliver well timed, and properly articulated questions will distinguish you from most agents. Intelligent questions are proof of your knowledge, and understanding of their business, and your knowledge and understanding of your business. They are also evidence of a healthy level of curiosity which is present in all professionals.

I have just scratched the surface. Perhaps you could write, and share some of your intelligent questions, and the reasons why you ask them.

Next week:

The Truth about People: Human behavior in the sales process

Join me February 19th for the PIA Webinar on pre- call preparation