Conversation Improves Results
An auto insurance company contacted me to request some help. According to management, the marketing department had done a nice job, foot traffic was up but policy count was down. Leaders were frustrated, as they watched potential clients walk in to their branch offices but leave empty handed.
We travelled to 6 states to watch Agents in action. We sat desk-side and observed many customer interactions. In typical meetings customers arrived at the office and were immediately bombarded with questions about their car insurance:
Do you currently have insurance?
What type of coverage?
Who is it with?
How much does it cost?
Have you had any accidents or speeding tickets in the last three years?
For home policies the questions would be:
When was your home built
What is the roof made of?
Are you in a flood zone?
What is the square footage?
Agents asked questions until they had enough information to give a quote. If the customer heard the price and objected the Agent would then try and build rapport, if you think that is a bit like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, I agree.
We suspected that many of this Company’s issues could be solved in the first three or four minutes of an interaction. We believe that “How it starts is how it goes” so, we set about teaching Agents how to build more rapport using a conversation process in the opening minutes.
The conversation process
Humans have a remarkable ability to remember pictures. Here is a vivid visual picture to guide you through a conversation: Commit these items to memory and I will explain how to use them in the next section.
Name-Plate (See a picture of a name-plate)
Two story house (The house is standing on top of the name plate)
Family portrait (When you walk into the house, you see this hanging on the wall)
Golf clubs (The family in the picture are each holding a golf club on their shoulder)
Work glove (On the roof of the house is a chimney, but you cannot see it, as it is covered by a large dirty, greasy work glove)
Airplane (The glove is holding an airplane)
Flashing yellow lights (Inside the cockpit of the plane are yellow flashing lights
Flowers (The flight attendants are giving all the passengers flowers)
Got all of that? Go over the process one more time and add rich detail, it will help you remember. What is your nameplate made of? What color is your house? Whose family is in the portrait?
These are the questions that each item represents. Ask these questions as you move from one picture to the next.
Name-plate: The first thing you do when you meet someone is get their name. Pay attention and remember it. Be fanatical about pronouncing their name correctly.
Two story house: The house reminds you to ask questions like:
Where do you live?
How long have you lived there?
Where did you grow up?
Tell me about your family
Do you have children?
How old are they?
What do they like to do?
Golf clubs: The clubs represent hobbies.
What do you do for fun?
What are you passionate about?
What do you do in your spare time
What have you got planned for the weekend?
What is your favorite sport?
Who is your team?
What do you do for a living?
How long have you been doing that?
What do you like about…?
What would you like to do?
Airplane Lots of people enjoy talking about travel, vacations and places they like going
Do you travel for work?
Where do you go?
Where do you like to go on vacation?
Where is your favorite place on earth?
Yellow flashing lights. The lights represent topical questions.
Recent news items
Practice: My challenge to you is: Practice the conversation process. When you get good at this skill you will see dramatic improvements in your performance.
Agents used to talk about themselves and their products. Customers in turn would put up their defenses and say: “I don’t have a lot of time” or “I am in a bit of a rush”
Once Agents started using the conversation process and started asking great questions about customers and listening to their answers. Customers started to have a lot more time. It seems that people can always make time to talk about themselves. Shocker!
If you want to get more of your customer’s time and attention, stop talking about yourself, your products and your services and start asking questions and listening to your customers.
Over the next ten weeks average monthly premium increased by 41%. In every post training meeting and huddle, Agents shared that the conversation process was the tool most responsible for their success.
I spend my time training sales people and their managers to become the best that they can be. I am based in Los Angeles. I have no idea if I can help your business but let’s have a chat or a cup of coffee and find out.