It’s great news when a prospective customer agrees to speak to you about their insurance needs. It can mean they are willing to tell you everything you need to know to make a sale. You might only need to listen.
However, if you are the extroverted type, giving another person free reign to talk could be a challenge. Unfortunately, learning to hold your tongue is actually the easy part. Effective listening requires commitment and active mental engagement.
Before anything else, resolve to put customer needs first. It won’t help your concentration if half your brain (or more) is focused on what you want to get out of the exchange. Once you have the proper mindset, divide your active listening skills into two parts: Information Gathering and Understanding.
Information Gathering 🖥️
Your prospective clients have the information you need. Remove any impediments to receiving all the insights that are available to you.
- Put your agenda aside – Eliminate any pre-conceived notions about what you should sell the customer so you can accurately match your products with their needs … after you have all the information.
- Turn off your phone – That doesn’t mean putting it “on vibrate” either. Give the customer your undivided attention. You shouldn’t be wondering who is trying to reach you while the client is talking.
- Be encouraging with your body language – Make your customer feel appreciated by outwardly demonstrating your interest. Maintain eye contact, lean in as they speak and nod to show that their words resonate.
- Respect their train of thought – Politely set aside witty comments or “that reminds me” stories you may be tempted to interject. Otherwise, your client might forget something important that he or she wanted to say.
- Let them finish – Be careful not to cut customers off. To be safe, pause for a moment after they have (apparently) finished speaking.
Ensure a meeting of the minds by striving to fully comprehend everything your customers say. As a bonus, your effort to understand will reassure customers that you were paying attention.
Say back what you heard – Repeating your customers’ words ensures you didn’t mishear anything. Plus, the exercise helps you commit those words to memory. Because words may mean different things to different people, try paraphrasing as well.
Ask questions – If you don’t quite grasp what your customer is telling you, let them help you understand. Follow-up inquiries also allow you to better assess which products will best serve your customer’s needs.
Summarize – Finally, here is your chance to talk! Just remember that “brevity is the soul of wit.” Be sure to capture in your summary what you took to be your customer’s biggest concern or point of interest. Ask for confirmation that you “got it right.”
Make Active Listening an All-the-Time Habit 🔊
As an agent, you may not always be able to close a sale, no matter how good a listener you are. Yet by diligently employing active listening skills with all your prospective customers, you will be better prepared to make the most of true sales opportunities when they arise.
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